INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

It would be impossible to create a handy graphic with all the ingredients to look out for, but these are the most dangerous and most commonly used. Save this graphic on your phone for easy access. I think it’s SO important to remember that NO ONE is perfect. I highly doubt there is anyone on this planet who makes completely toxin free choices 100% of the time. I know it can seem overwhelming at first, but every small swap is a huge win in terms of toxic body burden.

 
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WHY ARE ALL THESE INGREDIENTS HARMFUL?! SCROLL ON FOR AN IN-DEPTH EXPLANATION.


 

1,4-DIOXANE

This is not an ingredient that you'll ever see on an ingredient label, but it's one of the most important ingredients to avoid. It's a by-product of the ethoxylation process in which carcinogenic ethylene oxide is reacted with other ingredients to make them less harsh on the skin. The EPA has classified 1,4-dioxane as likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  • PEG compounds

  • Chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth

FOUND IN: 

  • Products that create suds (such as shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath)

  • Hair relaxers

  • Others

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

ACRYLATES

Found in artificial nail products. We are mainly exposed to these chemicals through inhalation or skin contact. Despite evidence of adverse skin, eye, and throat reactions to these chemicals, they continue to be used in nail products.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

Ethyl acrylate

Acrylic acid ethyl ester

Ethyl propenoate

EA; ethyl methacrylate: ethyl methacrylate

Ethyl ester

Methacrylic acid

Ethyl ester

Ethyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate

EMA; methyl methacrylate: Methacrylate monomer

Methyl ester of methacrylic acid

Methyl-2-methyl-2-propenoate

MMA

FOUND IN: 

  • Artificial Nail Products 

  • Acrylic Nails

  • Nail Enhancing Polishes

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Cellular and neurological damage 

  • Irritation

ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE (CI 77002)

Used as a colorant in many types of cosmetics and personal care products. "Aluminum production" has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the the international agency for research on cancer.

Sources: 1, 2

BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE

Used as a foaming and cleansing agent or as an antimicrobial preservative. It is a well known irritant, and there is evidence that it may cause a contact allergy at concentrations as low as 0.1%. When used to clean the cages of mice, both sexes had decreased fertility.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Alkyldimethylbenzylammonium Chloride

BENZOPHENONES & RELATED COMPOUNDS

Used as photostabilizers in cosmetics. Photostabilizers have a photoprotective effect on the skin. Added as a carcinogen to the california EPA’s proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity in 2012. Different benzophenones may have different hormone disrupting effects. They were declared the contact allergen of the year for 2014 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS).

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Benzophenone-1

  • Benzophenone-2

  • Benzophenone-3 aka Oxybenzone

  • Benzophenone-4

  • Benzophenone-5

  • Benzophenone-6 Benzophenone-8

  • Benzophenone-9

  • Benzophenone-11

  • Benzophenone-12

  • Sulisobenzone

  • Sulisobenzone sodium

  • Benzophenone ingredients containing the word benzophenone (for example benzophenone-2)

  • BP# (for example BP2)

FOUND IN: 

  • Lip balm

  • Nail polish

  • Foundations

  • Baby sunscreens

  • Fragrance

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Hair spray

  • Moisturizers

  • Foundation

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Irritation

  • Ecotoxicity

BHA is used as an antioxidant in cosmetic products, especially lipstick and eyeshadow. The U.S. National Toxicology Program has classified BHA as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," and it has been added as a carcinogen to the California EPA's proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. BHA also exhibits some endocrine disrupting effects, and the European Union has listed it as an endocrine disruptor. BHT is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative. BHT is suspected to be potentially endocrine disrupting and have carcinogenic effects. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • BHA

  • BHT

FOUND IN: 

  • Lip products

  • Hair products

  • Makeup

  • Sunscreen

  • Antiperspirant/deodorant

  • Fragrance

  • Creams

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Organ-system toxicity

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

  • Cancer

  • Irritation

BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE

Used to give a shiny effect in makeup. Synthetically manufactured from bismuth, oxygen, and chlorine. It causes many people to break out or itch.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

BISPHENOL A (BPA)

Used in the plastic packaging of products. BPA may leach from the plastic into the product we apply on our skin. The FDA has banned BPA in a few products based on some evidence of its effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children. BPA has been added to the California EPA’s proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

BORAX

Used as a preservative, emulsifier, and ph adjuster in cosmetics and personal care products. Can also be used as a pesticide that poisons insects, fungus, and weeds. At high doses, boric acid causes testicular atrophy, impaired fetal skeletal development, and decreased birth weight in animals.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Boric Acid, Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetra-borate or Disodium Tetra-borate

BUTOXYETHANOL

Used as a solvent in hair dyes, nail polishes, lacquers, vanishes, and inks. In one study, people exposed to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol for several hours reported irritation of the nose and eyes, headache, a metallic taste in their mouths, and vomiting. Animal studies show destruction of red blood cells and damage to organs from exposure to butoxyethanol.

Sources: 1, 2

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    2-butoxyethanol

Used as a pigment in cosmetics. It is manufactured by the combustion of aromatic petroleum oil feedstock and consists essentially of pure carbon. The international agency for research on cancer has classified it as possibly carcinogenic to humans. It may contain carcinogenic PAHS (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) as a contaminant.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Carbon black

  • D & C Black No. 2

  • Acetylene black

  • Channel black

  • Furnace black

  • Lamp black

  • Thermal black

  • Black 2

  • CI 77266

FOUND IN: 

  • Eyeliner

  • Mascara

  • Nail polish

  • Eye shadow

  • Brush-on-brow

  • Lipstick

  • Blushers

  • Rouge

  • Makeup

  • Foundation

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer (possible)

  • Organ system toxicity

Coal tar is a known carcinogen derived from burning coal. It is a complex mixture of hundreds of compounds, many of which are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Coal tar is used in food, textiles, cosmetics and personal care products. Experimental studies have found that application of and exposure to coal tar produce skin tumors and neurological damage.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: ​

  • Coal tar solution

  • Tar

  • Coal

  • Carbo-cort

  • Coal tar solution

  • Coal tar solution USP

  • Crude coal tar

  • Estar

  • Impervotar

  • KC 261

  • Lavatar

  • Picis carbonis

  • Naphtha

  • High solvent naphtha

  • Naphtha distillate

  • Benzin B70

  • Petroleum benzin

FOUND IN: 

  • Shampoo

  • Scalp treatments

  • Soaps

  • Hair dyes

  • Lotions

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Organ system toxicity

Clear, colorless, thick liquids with ammonia like odors. At higher concentrations, ethanolamines may increase the risk of asthma and skin irritation. They may break down in the product and form nitrosamines that are linked to cancer.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:  

  • Triethanolamine

  • Diethanolamine

  • DEA

  • TEA

  • Cocamide DEA

  • Cocamide MEA

  • DEA-cetyl phosphate

  • DEA oleth-3 phosphate

  • Lauramide DEA

  • Linoleamide MEA

  • Myristamide DEA

  • Oleamide DEA

  • Stearamide MEA

  • TEA-lauryl sulfate

FOUND IN: 

  • Soaps

  • Shampoos, 

  • Hair conditioners and dyes

  • Lotions

  • Shaving cream

  • Paraffin and waxes

  • Household cleaning products

  • Pharmaceutical ointments

  • Eyeliners

  • Mascara

  • Eye shadows

  • Blush

  • Make-up bases

  • Foundations

  • Fragrances

  • Sunscreens

HEALTH CONCERNS:

  • Cancer

  • Environmental concerns (bioaccumulation)

  • Organ system toxicity

Made by the process of ethoxylation in which carcinogenic ethylene oxide is reacted with other ingredients to make them less harsh on the skin. As a result of the ethoxylation process, 1,4-dioxane is created and can be left behind in the product. see1,4-dioxane for more.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • PEG-prefix

  • PPG

  • Polysorbate

  • Polyethylene Glycol 

  • Phenoxyethanol

  • Any ingredient that ends in -eth (like Steareth, Laureth, Ceteareth) Example: Sodium Laureth Sulfate

FOUND IN: 

  • Shampoo

  • Liquid soap

  • Bubble bath

  • Hair relaxers

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

This manufacturing process can result in two toxic contaminants linked to breast cancer and other cancers:

  • Ethylene oxide

  • 1,4-dioxane

ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETIC ACID (EDTA)

This ingredient is not harmful in itself, but they enhance the dermal penetration of other ingredients contained in a product, so they can be very harmful when paired with toxic ingredients.

Sources: 1

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Calcium Disodium EDTA, Diammonium EDTA, Dipotassium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tripotassium EDTA, or Trisodium EDTA

These ingredients release a small amount of formaldehyde into a product over time. The International Agency for Research on carcinogens has classified formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans. The American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists it as one of the core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 1%. Temperature and storage time can increase the amount of formaldehyde released.  

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • DMDM Hydantoin

  • Diazolidinyl Urea,

  • Imidazolidinyl Urea

  • Quaternium-15

  • 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol (bromopol) and Glyoxal

  • Methenamine

  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

  • Formaldehyde

  • Polyoxymethylene urea

FOUND IN: 

  • Nail polish

  • Nail glue,

  • Eyelash glue

  • Hair gel

  • Hair-smoothing products

  • Baby shampoo

  • Body soap

  • Body wash

  • Color cosmetics

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Skin irritation

The FDA does not require the disclosure of individual ingredients used to create fragrances. There are over 3,000 ingredients that can make up for the term "fragrance", and many of them are toxic.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Fragrance

  • Perfume 

  • Parfum

  • Essential oil blend

  • Aroma

FOUND IN: 

  • Sunscreen

  • Shampoo

  • Soap

  • Body wash

  • Deodorant

  • Body lotion

  • Makeup

  • Facial cream

  • Skin toner

  • Serums

  • Exfoliating scrubs

  • Perfume

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Reproductive toxicity

  • Allergies

  • Sensitivities 

GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT

Used as an antimicrobial preservative in cosmetic products. Numerous tests by independent researchers have shown that its antimicrobial properties are due to synthetic preservatives contained in it, not the extract itself. The synthetic preservatives found in GSE include benzalkonium chloride, triclosan, and/or methylparaben.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, or GSE

Used as a UV filter in sunscreens and skincare with SPF to protect from short-wave UVB rays. It penetrates the skin and has been found in mother’s milk. Studies have shown that it may be a weak hormone disruptor.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Homosalate

  • Homomenthyl salicylate

  • HMS

  • HS; 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate

FOUND IN: 

  • Sunscreen

  • Skin Care Products with Sun Protection

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Skin absorption

HYDROQUINONE

Used in skin lightening cosmetic products. It is also an impurity of synthetic tocopheryl acetate. While it has been classified as a carcinogen, in vitro and in vivo studies show that it exhibits some mutagenic properties. Hydroquinone is banned in the European Union.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • Hydroquinone 

  • Tocopheryl Acetate

FOUND IN: 

  • Skin lighteners

  • Facial and skin cleansers

  • Facial moisturizers

  • Hair conditioners

  • Finger nail coating products

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Organ-system toxicity

  • Respiratory tract irritation

IODOPROPYNYL BUTYLCARBAMATE (IPBC)

Used as a preservative in cosmetic, personal care, and industrial products. It may cause dermal irritation or contact allergy. The American Society of Contact Dermatitis lists it as one of the core allergens, even in concentrations as low as 0.1%. When inhaled, it is toxic to the lungs.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE EXTRACT

Used as an antimicrobial preservative in cosmetics. The Japanese honeysuckle plant naturally contains para-hydroxy benzoic acid (PHBA), which might behave in a very similar way to synthetic parabens. See parabens for more.

Sources: 1, 2

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Lonicera Japonica Extract

Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium and iron are found in a wide variety of personal care products including lipstick, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner and nail color. Some metals are intentionally added as ingredients, while others are contaminants. Exposure to metals has been linked to health concerns including reproductive, immune and nervous system toxicity.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • Lead acetate

  • Chromium

  • Thimerosal

  • Hydrogenated cotton seed oil

  • Sodium hexametaphosphate

  • Note: products that contain contaminant metals will not list them on ingredient labels

FOUND IN: ​

  • Lip products

  • Whitening toothpaste

  • Eyeliner

  • Nail color

  • Foundations

  • Sunscreens

  • Eye shadows

  • Blush

  • Concealer

  • Moisturizers

  • Eye drops

HEALTH CONCERNS: ​

  • Cancer

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Environmental concerns (bioaccumulation)

Used as a UV filter in sunscreens and as a pigment in makeup. Based on experimental evidence from animal inhalation studies, titanium dioxide nanoparticles are classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the international agency for research on cancer.

Sources: 1, 2

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Titanium dioxide

  • TiO2

FOUND IN: 

  • Sunscreen

  • Pressed powder (very little concern)

  • Loose powder

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Lung Cancer

Used as a preservative mixture in cosmetic products, household cleaning products, and industrial applications. MI was The American Contact Dermatitis Society contact allergen of the year for 2013. In addition, studies show that prolonged exposure to low levels of MI may have damaging consequences to the developing nervous system. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI)

  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)

  • Benzisothiazolinone (BIT)

  • Octylisothiazolione (OIT)

  • Dichlorocthylisothiazolinone (DCOIT)

FOUND IN: 

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Hair color

  • Body wash

  • Lotion

  • Sunscreen

  • Mascara

  • Shaving cream

  • Baby lotion

  • Baby shampoo

  • Hairspray

  • Makeup remover

  • Liquid soaps and detergents

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Inhalation toxicity

  • Allergies 

  • Possible neurotoxicity

MINERAL OIL

Used as a skin moisturizer. It's a liquid mixture that is obtained from crude petroleum. It may contain various amounts of carcinogenic PAHS (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other petroleum contaminants, depending on the level to which it has been refined. There is consistent evidence that untreated or mildly treated mineral oils cause cancer of the skin in humans. 

Sources: 1, 2

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin

Evidence suggests that these chemicals may cause reproductive harm and organ toxicity. They are a serious concern for nail salon workers and pregnant women.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Isopropyl Acetone: Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK)

  • Hexone

  • 2-pentanone; Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK): 2-butanone

  • 3-butanone, acetone; N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone (NMP): n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone

  • 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone

FOUND IN: 

  • Nail polish removers


HEALTH CONCERNS: 

Irritation of the skin

Eyes and lungs

Organ toxicity

Cancer

Nitrosamines are impurities that can show up in a wide array of personal care products. Nitrosamines are not listed on product labels because they are impurities, but avoiding products with DEA and TEA is a start.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • DEA

  • TEA 

FOUND IN:  

  • Nearly every kind of personal care product

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Cancer

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Organ system toxicity

OCTINOXATE

A UV filter protecting the skin from UVB rays. It penetrates the skin and has been found in mother’s milk. Studies have shown that it may have some weak hormone mimicking effects.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 
Octinoxate,o methoxycinnamate (OMC), parsol, parsol MCX, parsol MOX, escalol, 2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate

Octyl Methoxycinnamate or Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate

OXYBENZONE

A UV filter to protect against UVB and short UVA rays. The National Health and Nutrition Survey has found it to be present in 96.8% of human urine samples surveyed. See benzophenones for more.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

  • ON LABELS LOOK FOR FOR THESE INGREDIENTS:
    Benzophenone-3

Consumers encounter p-phenylenediamine in many forms of permanent hair dyes called oxidative dyes. As a known skin sensitizer, it leads to allergic reactions. P-phenylenediamine, as well as the products of its reactions with hydrogen, can alter the genetic material of cells.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

P-phenylenediamine

Para-phenylenediamine

4-aminoaniline; 1,4-benzenediamine; p-diaminobenzene; 1,4-diaminobenzene; 1,4-phenylene diamine

FOUND IN: 

  • Hair dyes

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Skin sensitization

  • Cancer

  • Mutagenicity

  • Organ system toxicity

PABA and PABA derivatives are commonly used in sunscreens as ultraviolet B (UVB) filters. PABA use has declined over the years, but its derivatives are still around today. PABA may alter thyroid activity and PABA derivatives may have additional endocrine disrupting properties.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • PABA

  • OD-PABA

  • Padimate O

  • 4-aminobenzoic acid

  • Para-aminobenzoic acid

  • P-aminobenzoic acid

  • Et-PABA

  • 2-ethylhexyl ester

  • P-carboxyaniline

FOUND IN: 

  • Sunscreens

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Sensitization and bioaccumulation

Used as preservatives in food, pharmaceuticals, and beauty products. There is some evidence that parabens can accumulate in human breast tissue. Clinical studies on animals have indicated that parabens may mimic estrogen and act as a endocrine disruptor.  

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Ethylparaben

  • Benzylparaben

  • Butylparaben

  • Isobutylparaben

  • Isopropylparaben

  • Methylparaben

  • Propylparaben

  • Other ingredients ending in –paraben

FOUND IN: 

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Lotion

  • Facial/shower cleansers and scrubs

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Cancer

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

Used as a skin moisturizer/barrier. Petroleum jelly contains high amounts of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Hydrocarbons have been shown to accumulate in the body over time, meaning that continued exposure can have cumulative, adverse effects. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Paraffin

  • Mineral Oil

  • Petroleum Jelly

  • Petrolatum

  • White Petrolatum (NOTE: Avoid products with petrolatum, unless the company clearly indicates petrolatum is fully refined as white petrolatum (on the label or their company website)

FOUND IN: 

  • Lotions 

  • Cosmetics

HEALTH CONCERN: 

  • Cancer

Used in cosmetics, skincare, and personal care products. It is a member of the glycol ether family and is the product of the reaction of highly corrosive phenol with carcinogenic ethylene oxide. As a result, it may contain residue amounts of both.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Phenoxyethanol

  • 2-Phenoxyethanol

  • Euxyl K® 400 (mixture of Phenoxyethanol and 1,2-dibromo-2,4-dicyanobutane)

  • PhE

FOUND IN: 

  • Moisturizer

  • Eye shadow

  • Foundation

  • Sunscreen

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Mascara

  • Eye liner

  • Lip gloss

  • Concealer

  • Body wash

  • Hand cream

  • Blush

  • Hair color

  • Hair spray

  • Lip balm

  • Lotion

  • Nail polish

  • Baby wipes

  • Baby lotions and soaps

  • Soap (liquid and bar)

  • Shaving cream

  • Deodorant

  • Toothpaste

  • Fragrance

  • Hair removal waxes

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Ultrasound gel

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Allergies

  • Nervous system effects (infants) 

DBP, DEHP, and BBP, are banned in the European Union from use in cosmetics due to their potential to disrupt the endocrine system and cause birth defects. DEP is commonly used as a fixative in synthetic fragrances.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • Phthalate

  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP)

  • Diethyl Phthalate (DEP)

  • Dimethyl Phthalate (DMP)

  • Butyl Benzyl Phthalate (BBP)

  • Fragrance

​FOUND IN:

  • Color cosmetics

  • Fragranced lotions

  • Body wash 

  • Hair care products 

  • Nail polish and treatment

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Developmental Reproductive Toxicity

  • Cancer

Polyacrylamide is used as a stabilizer and binder in lotions and other products. Though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen and has been linked to mammary tumors. The European Union (EU) sets limits for the amount of acrylamide allowed in products containing polyacrylamide, but the United States does not currently regulate it.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Polyacrylamide

  • Acrylamide

  • Polyacrylate

  • Polyquaternium

  • Acrylate

FOUND IN: 

  • Facial moisturizers

  • Anti-aging products

  • Color cosmetics

  • Lotions

  • Hair products

  • Sunscreens

  • And more

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Reproductive and developmental toxicity

Teflon® in your makeup? Yuck. This non-stick ingredient and other fluorinated compounds have been associated with delayed menstruation, later breast development and cancer.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

  • Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether

  • DEA-C8-18 Perfluoroalkylethyl Phosphate

  • Teflon

FOUND IN: 

  • Foundation

  • Pressed powder

  • Loose powder

  • Bronzer

  • Blush

  • Eye shadow

  • Mascara

  • Shave gel

  • Lip balm

  • Anti-aging lotion

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Potential contamination with perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA) which is associated with cancer; mammary cancer; reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and environmental bioaccumulation and persistence 

PROPYLENE GLYCOL

Used in skin care, cosmetics, and even in some processed food. It’s a main component in anti-freeze products. It is a known skin irritant and is frequently associated with contact dermatitis.

Sources: 1, 2

Used in permanent hair dye formulations and in acne treatment products. Studies have shown that it may disrupt thyroid hormone synthesis.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Resorcinol

  • 1,3-benzenediol

  • Resorcin

  • 1,3-dihydroxybenzene(m-hydroxybenze 

  • M-dihydroxyphenol) 

FOUND IN: 

  • Hair dyes

  • Shampoos

  • Hair lotions

  • Peels

  • Products used to treat acne, eczema and other dermatological issues 

HEALTH CONCERNS:

  • Skin and eye irritant

  • Skin sensitizer

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Possible endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC)

Forms of vitamin A. Not recommended to use during the day when exposed to the sun. Animal studies have shown that retinyl palmitate speeds up the photo-carcinogenic effects of the sun and the development of skin tumors and lesions. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • Retinol

  • Vitamin A

  • Retinyl Acetate

  • Retinyl Palmitate

  • All-Trans Retinoic Acid 

  • Tretinoin

FOUND IN:

  • Anti-aging creams

  • Lotions

  • Moisturizers

  • Foundation

HEALTH CONCERNS:

  • Cancer (Possible)

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicity

SYNTHETIC FLAVORS

Used in cosmetic products to create or mask a specific taste that may be ingested, such as lipstick. Like fragrance, the FDA does not require the disclosure of individual ingredients used to create flavors.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Synthetic musks are chemicals used in personal care product fragrances. They are rarely listed on the label, since fragrance ingredients are often not disclosed. Synthetic musks bioaccumulate in the environment and have been detected in human breast milk, body fat, blood, and umbilical cords. Studies show that these compounds can disrupt cell functioning and hormone systems.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON LABELS:

  • Fragrance

  • Galaxolide

  • Musk Ketone

  • Musk Xylene

  • Tonalide

WHAT IT'S IN:

  • Perfumes

  • Cologne

  • Scented soap

  • Body wash

  • Sprays

  • Lotions

  • Hair products

  • Detergents

  • Softeners

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Reproductive toxicity and bioaccumulation

Used in pressed and loose powder makeup and baby powder. It's a naturally occurring mineral, but it can be contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. There is evidence that even asbestos-free talc can be carcinogenic.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: 

  • Talcum Powder

  • Cosmetic Talc

  • Hydrous Magnesium Silicate

FOUND IN: 

  • Baby powder

  • Body and shower products

  • Lotions 

  • Feminine hygiene products

  •  Eyeshadow

  • Foundation

  • Lipstick

  • Deodorants

  • Face masks.

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Irritation

  • Cancer

  • Organ System Toxicity

HOW TO AVOID: 

  • Choose companies that certify their talc is free of asbestos.

Used as an antibacterial agent in toothpaste and in hand and body washes, and as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses is associated with a decrease in thyroid hormones. Triclosan may interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system. Triclosan exposure may contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Triclosan imported from India and China may contain dioxins linked to cancer and endocrine-disruption. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:

  • 5-Chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol

  • Triclosan (TSC)

  • Triclocarban (TCC)

FOUND IN: 

  • Antibacterial soaps and detergents

  • Toothpaste 

  • Tooth whitening products

  • Antiperspirants/deodorants

  • Shaving products

  • Creams

  • Color cosmetics

HEALTH CONCERNS: 

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Triclosan-resistant bacteria

  • Environmental toxicity (bioaccumulation)