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Reading the label is the most difficult to ensure our cosmetics are healthy to apply on our skin. As we try to make sense of an endless list of chemicals that are not in our vocabulary, the lack of regulation doesn’t make it any easier. Here’s an extensive dirty list of ingredients in beauty you should avoid. Let’s have some fun!
We promise we have tried very hard to keep this guide as simple as we could. But let’s be honest here: the list of names in this guide are just not part of our daily’s life vocabulary.
If you also aren’t a chemist, welcome to the world of reading the labels: it’s bloody difficult. Not only is there a lack of regulation, but also there are some compounds hidden in ingredients (aka different names) that are not necessarily specified on the label as you would expect. Or the fragrances, which don’t even need to be listed!
Regulations of cosmetic ingredients
There is almost zero federal regulation of the cosmetics industry in the United States. There are over 1,300 chemicals banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union due to questions over their safety. In comparison, the U.S. has only banned 11.
A product can go straight from manufacturing to store shelves without any type of approval or mandatory safety testing. The Food and Drug Administration only regulates misbranding or false advertising on packages—not what actually goes inside the packages.
Certifications of cosmetic ingredients
Eco-Certifications definitely help a lot to trust certain brands or products. However, there is a black whole in the cosmetic ingredients legislation, so we have to keep up with very toxic chemicals in our daily products. And that’s just supposed to be okay?
Combine this challenge with the fact that each certification considers a different angle (ie, ensuring it is organic, vegan, cruelty free, etc), which adds another layer of confusion to a consumer who just wants to buy a decent shampoo.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of good, ethically made, organic brands that being a small business cannot afford to pay an expensive certification.
How to use this guide to find ingredients
To make things a little easier to the daunting task of reading a label, we’d suggest you to use this guide as a reference point (of course we didn’t intend you to read the whole thing, hell no!). So here the two steps:
- Use the finder: if you use a Windows, press CTRL+F; if you are an Apple computer, press Command+F. A small finder tool will pop-up in which you can search terms.
- Choose either to find the ingredient or the type of cosmetic it may contain this ingredient:
- By ingredient: read the label of the product and start researching. If the ingredient appears on this list then it means it is one of the nasties. For example: “Coal Tar”
- By product type: if you are trying to find out what type of products are generally risk to contain any of the nasty ingredients, then type in “soap”, “shampoo”, “make-up”. This is a little more challenging in case you wish to familiarise yourself with some of the most common ingredients to watch out for!
- The guide is in alphabetical order, hoping this will also make it easier!
Pro Tip: Share this page with your friends and family on socials, bookmark it for future occasions. This is a go-to-guide to inspire more people in your circle to embrace a more sustainable way of living! Now let’s dig into those naughties!
Dirty list with 50 ingredients in beauty
Why is it bad: This ingredient that has poor biodegradability, and is preservative that could lead to sensitization of the skin (methylisothiazolinone).
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Acrylates are ingredients found in artificial nail products.
Ingredients to look for on the label: Ethyl acrylate, ethyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate.
Why is it bad: Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that accumulates in your fat cells. There is also some debated research that links it to Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer. It has been found in breast tissue. Aluminum antiperspirants have been shown to produce oxidative skin damage.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in antiperspirants, used to help to kill bacteria that causes odor and seal the sweat glands.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromide, and aluminum zirconium.
Why is it bad: This chemical is linked to cancer.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Benzophenone is used in cosmetics such as lip balm and nail polish to protect the products from UV light.
Why is it bad: Concerns about organ-system toxicity and endocrine disruption led the European Union to prohibit the preservative butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) from cosmetics.
Why is it bad: Carbon black has been linked to increased incidence of cancer.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Carbon black is a dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick that
Why is it bad: Coal Tar is a known carcinogen that is banned in Europe. Coal tar is derived from petroleum. It can be contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Coal can be found in hair dyes, dandruff, and psoriasis shampoo, soaps, anti-itch creams, lotions, and cosmetics, mouthwash, and toothpaste.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Coal Tar or FD&C color pigments (made from coal tar)
Why is it bad: It has bioaccumulative properties, made from silicon which is a polluting toxin in wildlife. Studies have shown it to be a skin irritant at moderate doses. It is a synthetic silicon-based product. It will actually break down PVC based bottles, releasing toxins and possible carcinogens.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Used in moisturizers, foundations, and deodorants as a fragrance carrier and gives sprays and body mists a “dry” feeling.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: This is a cheap alternative to vegetable glycerin and other actually beneficial ingredients. You could potentially find “organic” brands containing this chemical.
Diethanolamine (DEA Compounds)
Why is it bad: Diethanolamine is a foaming agent. It’s a known carcinogen and respiratory toxin, which is why the EU has restricted its use in personal care products. Despite this, it’s still used in the US, and it’s often abbreviated as DEA on cosmetic labels.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: DEA (diethanolamine) and DEA compounds are used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy. DEA also acts as a pH adjuster, counteracting the acidity of other ingredients. DEA is mainly found in moisturizers and sunscreens, while cocamide and lauramide DEA are found in soaps, cleansers, and shampoos.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Triethanolamine, TEA lauryl sulfate, cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-CETYL, phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, lin oleamide MEA, myristamide, DEA, Oleamide DEA, steramide MEA.
Why is it bad: Dimethicone is technically called a silicone-based polymer. More simply, it’s a silicone oil with certain properties that make it extremely popular in today’s personal care properties. Prolonged exposure can increase skin irritation and create a dependency on the product. Just like petroleum jelly, dimethicone can actually end up drying your skin the more you use it, as it interferes with the natural hydrating processes, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: For skincare products, it fills in uneven texture and fine lines, which helps create a smooth and flawless look in products like primers, foundations, and lotions. It also provides a protective cover on the skin, which is supposed to help keep moisture in, leaving skin hydrated for longer. In hair care products, dimethicone is used to provide smoothness, particularly in conditioners and detanglers, where the ingredient helps smooth hair and provides better comb-through. Because dimethicone leaves a sort of covering on the hair strands, it can also make the hair appear shinier.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Dimethicone is also known as polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS.
Why is it bad: Not listed on ingredient labels, 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant linked to cancer found in products that create suds, such as shampoo and liquid soap.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in baby products, children’s bath products such as body soaps, baby shampoos, and bubble bath, hair relaxers, curl creams, dyes, shampoo, sunless tanners, body lotions, detergents, face creams and anti-aging products. 1,4-dioxane is found in 22% of all personal care products and 67% of children’s bath products according to the Environmental Working Group.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: polyethylene, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polyoxyethylene, ethoxylated ingredients, sodium laureate sulfate, polysorbate, -eth – or oxynol-, oleths. It may also be found in Sodium laureth sulfate.
Ethanolamine compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA AND OTHERS)
Why is it bad: Diethanolamine (DEA) is a type of ethanolamines, chemicals widely used in cosmetics. The European Union prohibits DEA in cosmetics due to concerns about the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Why is it bad: Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used as a preservative in cosmetics. Formaldehyde it’s a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Cancer-causing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are often found in shampoos and liquid baby soaps.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3 diol; Diazolidinyl urea; DMDM Hydantoin; imidazolidinyl urea; quaternium -15, Cormalin, formic aldehyde, sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, methenamine, bronopol
Fragrances (this can be any of 4,000 chemicals)
Why is it bad: Fragrance can hide up to 100 different chemicals. Some fragrance ingredients are known neurotoxins, and many can irritate the skin. Some also make asthma worse. Fragrances could actually be a cocktail of carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disruptors, and irritants.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Almost every single conventional skincare and cosmetic product (even “unscented” ones) contains artificial fragrances. Manufacturers aren’t required to reveal what’s actually in their fragrances
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in almost everything! It can be legally hidden because it is regarded as a “trade secret”. One clue, it is often (75%) a hidden source of chemicals like phthalates.
Why is it bad: Homosalate is a potential endocrine disruptor.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Homosalate is a widely used chemical in sunscreens and skincare products with SPF.
Why is it bad: Some evidence suggests that it is linked to cancer in lab animals. Severe reactions can occur with ingestion in even small amounts and death as low as 5 grams.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: One of the most toxic ingredients used in personal care products, hydroquinone is primarily associated with use in skin lighteners marketed to women of color. Found in skin lighteners, sunscreens, nail treatments, and anti-aging creams
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Hydroquinone, variations of dihydroxybenzene or 1,4-benzene or variations of hydroxyphenyl
Why is it bad: Imidazolidinyl urea and Diazolidinyl urea are synthesized by the chemical reaction of allantoin and formaldehyde. These compounds are well-known formaldehyde releasers and could cause contact allergies
Why is it bad: Known to be comedogenic (pore-clogging), it also causes flare-ups of pustular acne. The thickness of the chemicals in isopropyl palmitate can deprive the skin of nutrients such as oxygen. If the skin doesn’t breathe, your pores can become clogged and healthy skin cells can die. This can also lead to dry, flaky skin. In addition, industry tests on rabbits indicate the chemical can cause skin irritation and dermatitis. This is a cheap way to make products feel nice and last longer but it’s bad for your skin, especially if you’re prone to breakouts!
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Fatty Acids & Derivatives – an emollient and moisturizer, it also acts as a binder, solvent. A compound of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid is used commonly as a thickening agent. It is an easily spreadable man-made thickening and emollient agent; its main function is to make products feel soft and look shiny. Isopropyl myristate can often be found in beauty products.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: It is produced from the combination of palmitic acid (coconut or palm oil) and isopropyl alcohol.
Why is it bad: Isothiazolinones is known as sensitizers, which have been linked to allergic contact dermatitis.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Isothiazolinones are synthetic preservatives used in a range of products including cleaning, laundry, and personal care.
Why is it bad: Although lanolin is listed as an approved substance by the EPA, multiple studies have found lanolin samples to contain several types of pesticide residue, some that could accumulate in fat tissue, and some could accumulate in the milk of breastfeeding women. Lanolin can also be an allergen. If you or your child has an allergy to wool, do not use lanolin-based cream. Always check with your doctor to verify if a lanolin-based cream is safe for you and your baby.
Lead and other heavy metals
Why is it bad: Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, are contaminants found in a wide variety of personal care products including lipstick, lip glosses, lip conditioners, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, and nail color, and hair dye.
Why is it bad: Also called MIT, this ingredient is often found in antibacterial products. Unlike some synthetic chemicals, however, this one isn’t just a mild skin irritant. A recent study found the chemical may actually be linked to nerve damage, and it’s also known to be toxic in several other ways.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: You’ll find MIT and chemicals like it at low concentrations in “rinse-off” products like shampoos, conditioners, hair colors, body washes, laundry detergents, liquid hand soaps, bubble bath, hand dishwashing soaps, and shampoo/conditioner combinations.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) Octylisothiazolinone (OIT) Dichlorooctylisothiazolinone (DCOIT)
Why is it bad: Mica is a naturally occurring mineral dust that works as insulation material and this mineral glimmer is largely used in cosmetics, consumer goods; cosmetics, electrical components, building materials, and car paint are just a few. The finer the powder the more micronized it is, and it’s the same grade as nano-particles that can be easily absorbed by the skin and transferred to our internal organs, playing havoc on our hormones. Mica has been reported for harming the respiratory organs when inhaled – causing irritations and possibly inflammations.
Why is it bad: Mineral oil is a petroleum ingredient. It coats the skin much like plastic wrap. This inhibits its ability to breathe and absorb natural moisture and nutrition. It can promote acne and may lead to premature aging.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in moisturizers and skin treatments.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: White oil, liquid paraffin, pariffinum liquidum (Latin), and Baby Oil
Why is it bad: Insoluble nanoparticles in cosmetic products are essentially used as UV-filters or preservatives. It is believed that they easily penetrate the skin due to the smallness. This includes penetrating the human brain. They may cause cellular damage, cancer, gene damage, and bioaccumulation in the body.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in sunscreens, makeup, acne treatments, anti-aging creams, blush, mineral sunscreens.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: In the United States and Canada, nanoparticles aren’t listed at all. A new law in Europe will require labeling on future products. If zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are listed, you want the particles to be larger than 100 nanometers. The best advice is to call the company and ask.
Why is it bad: Nitrosamines are impurities linked to cancer that can show up in a wide array of cosmetics ingredients—including diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA)—and products.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: An endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen, octinoxate is found in hair color products and shampoos, sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish, skin creams.
Why is it bad: Sunscreens come in two different forms: chemical and mineral filters. The most common sunscreens on the market use chemical filters such as oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a known endocrine disruptor and can alter thyroid function. It’s also linked to skin allergies.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Chemical sunscreens should be avoided at all costs—especially with children. Oxybenzone can also be found in moisturizers, lip balm, and makeup.
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
Why is it bad: PABA and PABA derivatives are commonly used in sunscreens as ultraviolet B (UVB) filters. Skin Deep has listed the effects of PABA as cancer, skin irritation, rashes and has linked it to deficiencies in blood and the brain and nervous systems.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: PABA use has declined over the years, but we can still find it in shampoos and conditioners, body washes and cleansers, hair-loss treatments, facial moisturizers and treatments, hairspray, sunless tanning cream.
Why is it bad: Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum, coal, or shale oil, it has been found to contain known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) such as toluene & benzene. Toluene is a colorless, water-insoluble liquid that occurs naturally in crude oil. It is emitted from gasoline fumes, and it is in vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. It can cause headaches, cancer, kidney damage, birth defects, bone marrow damage, respiratory issues, and nausea.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Toluene is used as a solvent to make paint products, nail polish, lacquers, glue, and adhesives. Benzene is also a colorless liquid derived from natural gas & crude oil that is used as a solvent.
Why is it bad: Parabens are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances, and possibly even breast cancer. For example, a recent study found concentrations of parabens, specifically methylparaben, in human breast tumors. Another study found 99% of all cancerous breast tumors contained parabens.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Parabens are preservatives found in everything from soap to lotion to makeup. If it has water in it, it probably has a paraben to keep it from growing bacteria. If “paraben” is in the word, avoid it. It is estimated that parabens are between 75% and 95% of all products.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Examples include: methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropylparaben, and isobutylparaben, hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroxybenzoate or ester.
PETROLATUM, PETROLEUM JELLY
Why is it bad: Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, derived from petroleum. An EPA report indicates that breathing in small amounts can lead to chemical pneumonia, pulmonary damage, and death. There is also evidence that people who are exposed have an increased risk of developing undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in cosmetic products and also as a stabilizer in perfumes and soaps. Found in many different products across the board. It is common to find it in face cleansers and lotions. It can also be used in fragrance. This preservative is an alternative to parabens and has become very popular with companies who are greenwashing their products.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Phenoxyethanol, 2-phenoxy, ethanol, 2-hydroxyethyl phenyl ether
Why is it bad: A phthalate is a plasticizer that is added to plastic to keep it from becoming brittle. Like parabens, phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormonal and reproductive problems and birth defects.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Phthalates are used in cosmetics primarily in fragrances, and can also be found in other personal care products, such as hair spray and nail polish. Banned from cosmetics in the European Union, phthalates are widely used in color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes, and other products sold in the United States.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: DBP, DEHP, DEP, and others.
Why is it bad: Polyacrylamide is a polymer of acrylamide monomers. Polyacrylamide dries to form a thin coating on the skin, hair, or nails. When used in hair care products, Polyacrylamide helps hair hold its style by inhibiting the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. In makeup, Polyacrylamide holds together the ingredients of a compressed tablet or cake. It can also be found in sunscreen products to aid in retaining sunscreen on the skin after immersion in water. Small Polyacrylamide beads may be used in skin cleansing products as an abrasive.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: In cosmetics and personal care products, Polyacrylamide is used in the formulation of may product types including skin cleansers, moisturizers, lotions and creams, self-tanning products, makeup, and hair care and nail care products, and more, polyacrylamide can break down into known carcinogen acrylamide.
POLYTETRAFLUOROETHYLENE (PTFE, AKA TEFLON®)
Why is it bad: Teflon® is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which belongs to a subset of a larger class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Because Teflon is extremely stable (it doesn’t react with other chemicals) and can provide an almost frictionless surface, it has been utilized in a variety of commercial applications since the 1940s.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE; Teflon) is an ingredient used to improve the cosmetic feel of some products that are applied to the skin. While people are most familiar with its property as a non-stick coating surface for pans and other cookware, it is also used in many other products, including cosmetics to improve product feel and fabric protectors to provide stain resistance.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: PTFE appears on the label of any product that contains it.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Why is it bad: PEG is often contaminated with both ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) and 1,4-Dioxane (which causes respiratory problems and is banned in Canada).
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used is many types of cosmetics as a thickener, especially in lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: PEG and other “ethoxylated” ingredients (which usually have chemical names including the letters “eth”) may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.
Why is it bad: Consumers and salon workers may be exposed to p-phenylenediamine through many forms of permanent hair dyes called oxidative dyes. It has been linked to bladder cancer, and there is evidence that it may be a neurotoxin. Exposure can cause allergic reactions, bronchial issues, and nervous system damage.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in hair dyes, hair bleach, colored shampoo, henna dyes
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: 1,4-Benzenediamine, p-Phenylenediamine, 4-Phenylenediamine
Why is it bad: PVP/VA Copolymer is the synthetic ingredient that is derived from petroleum found in most mainstream hair care products that provide the hold factor. So it is very common in most Hairsprays but also found in gel’s, wax’s, pomades and styling creams.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: VP/VA Copolymer is a film former used primarily in hair care products, but also found in mascaras, nail polishes, and some skincare products, because of its ability to inhibit the hair (or lashes) from absorbing moisture; it dries and forms a thin barrier on hair, nails or skin.
Quaternium -7, -15, -31, etc.
Why is it bad: Quaternium-15, a known skin toxicant and allergen, may be especially dangerous for hairdressers and janitors, who are sometimes exposed to the ingredient. It’s a carcinogenic impurity, skin irritations, high rates of skin allergy reactions, and rashes.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Quaternium is found in nail products, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, color cosmetics
Why is it bad: According to a 2011 report, in the presence of sunlight, it enhances skin cancer lesions by 21%. It has been linked to cancer and other types of reproductive toxicity.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in makeup, skincare, self-tanners, sunscreens and moisturizers.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: retinyl palmitate, axerophthol palmitate, hexadecanoate retinol, retinol palmitate, retinoil, hexadecanoate, vitamin A palmitate
Why is it bad: Resorcinol can irritate the skin, and has been linked with thyroid dysfunction when used in large quantities on broken skin over a long period of time.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Resorcinol is used as an antiseptic and disinfectant found in topical treatments for acne, seborrhoeic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, corns, and warts. It’s also found in hair dyes.
Retinol and Retinol compounds
Why is it bad: Retinol is the chemical name of the essential micronutrient vitamin A which can be harmful to your health when it’s added to cosmetic. Side effects of retinol are so pronounced, these little knowledge nuggets on the “retinol uglies” are commonplace. There’s even a term for conditions associated with using retinol: retinoid dermatitis. Symptoms include excessive inflammation, redness, flaking skin, burning, itching, and increased sensitivity to the sun. The skin’s protective inflammatory response produces red, irritated skin. With sunburns or damaged skin cells, this response eliminates the risk of cells becoming cancerous, and triggers the healing process. On healthy skin, inducing inflammation though skincare products like retinol could simply lead to more damage and even cell death.
Why is it bad: Siloxanes are believed to be endocrine disruptors that have the capacity to impair fertility. Research has also linked to uterine tumors, immune system compromise, and nervous system issues.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Found in hair products, facial treatments, deodorants, and moisturizers.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending ins “siloxane”.
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Why is it bad: They are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. Additionally, chemical compounds known as “nitrosamines” are common by-products of the sulphation process. 90% of nitrosamines are believed to be carcinogenic.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: SLS/SLES are foaming agents used in a slew of personal care products, including skin care and cosmetics, shampoo, and toothpaste.
Why is it bad: Stearalkonium Chloride is derived from stearic acid, a fatty acid found in plants and animals. Stearalkonium chloride is primarily used as an anti-static agent, a surfactant and an antimicrobial. This chemical has been shown to cause irritation to the skin and eyes and has potential negative effects on the nervous system. Products with this ingredient should be avoided.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Stearalkonium Chloride was designed by the fabric industry for use as a fabric softener, this toxic chemical has somehow found its way into many hair and skin care products. Some companies have started using it as a key conditioning ingredient in their products, as it’s a cheaper alternative to natural ingredients that achieve the same task, like certain conditioning proteins.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Benzalkonium, cetrimonium, cetalkonium
Why is it bad: Styrene acrylates copolymer is a chain of polymers consisting of styrene and acrylate which is added to cosmetics for color. There is the potential for styrena acrylates copolymer to be contaminated with styrene. Styrene acrylates copolymer is considered safe because there is a low likelihood of absorption of the full compound. However, contamination with the possible carcinogen styrene is a concern.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Styrene acrylates copolymer and related styrene-based polymers are most often found in nail polish, sunscreen (SPF greater than 30), sunscreen moisturizer, body wash/cleanser, shampoo, and eyeliner.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Styrene/acrylates copolymer, styrene butadiene copolymer, polystyrene, styrene copolymer, styrene resin, ethylbenzene, and vinylbenzene.
Why is it bad: Some talc may contain the known carcinogen asbestos, therefore it should be avoided in powders and other personal care products. It is known to cause lung cancer and other deadly lung diseases. Aside from the overt risks and concerns of ovarian cancer, Talc inhalation is directly linked to lung cancer and respiratory issues, a fact that had already led doctors to steer parents away from using the product on their children years ago.
Why is it bad: Toluene is a chemical commonly found in nail polish and hair dyes. Toluene is a volatile petrochemical solvent that can be toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. If you’re pregnant, be especially careful and avoid nail polish containing toluene entirely. The ingredient is restricted for use in the European Union, but not in the United States.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: Toluene, toluol, fragrance, phenylmethane, methylbenzene
Why is it bad: Triclosan is an antibacterial agent once used in antibacterial soaps. In 2016, it was banned from soap used in health-care settings, but it is still allowed in personal cosmetics. Triclosan, which has been linked to hormone disruption and antibiotic resistance, can be found in soaps, detergents, toothpaste, deodorants, and more.
What type of cosmetic products could contain the ingredients: chloro and dichloro phenoxy – there is a long and confusing list of how it can be listed.
We truly hope this guide is helpful, and if you have ever encountered “organic” or “natural” labeled products that list any of these ingredients please share them with us in the comments below!