- 1,4 Dioxane
Purpose/Usage: a chemical by-product of ethoxylation, an ingredient processing method used to make petro-ingredients less irritating to skin
Why to avoid: carcinogenic, suspected cardiovascular and blood toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immunotoxicant, kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, respiratory toxicant, skin toxicant
Products found in: shampoo, facial cleansers, body wash, bubble bath, baby bath, liquid soap
Often appears on a label as:: because 1,4 Dioxane is a contaminant produced during the manufacturing process, FDA does not require it to be listed on a product ingredient listing. EWG.org recommends looking for common ingredients which may contain the impurity, identifiable by the prefix or designations of ‘PEG,’ ‘–eth–,’ ‘Polyethylene,’ ‘Polyethylene glycol’ ‘Polyoxyethylene,’ or ‘–oxynol–’ (FDA 2007).
- DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (Triethanolamine)
Purpose/Usage: foaming agent
Why to avoid: skin sensitizer, can form carcinogenic compounds when mixed with certain cosmetic ingredients, These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. In the United States however, they are still used despite the fact that Americans may be exposed to them 10-20 times per day with products such as shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths.
Products found in: makeup, body wash, shampoo, skincare
Often appears on a label as:: DEA, Diethanolamine, TEA, Triethanolamine
- Formaldehyde & Urea (Imidazolidinyl)
Purpose/Usage: an impurity released by some chemical preservatives
Why to avoid: carcinogenic, skin and lung irritant, gastrointestinal or liver toxicant and neurotoxin, may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure may also irritate the respiratory system, trigger heart palpitations or asthma, and aggravate coughs and colds. Other possible side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer.
Products found in: nail polish, deodorant, shampoo
Often appears on a label as: Formaldehyde, Formalin, Urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, and Sodium hydroxylmethylglycinate
- Isopropyl (SD-40)
Purpose/Usage: a contaminant of chemical color additives
Why to avoid: a known neurotoxin, linked to brain damage, miscarriage, lowered IQ, increased aggression, and learning disabilities
Products found in: many conventionally produced lipsticks contain lead, as do some nail polish, hair color, and whitening toothpastes
Often appears on a label as: C.I. 77575; Glover; Ks-4; Lead (Acgih) ; Lead Flake; Lead Inorganic; Lead S2; Olow (Polish) ; Omaha ; Grant (as taken from ewg.org), also look for chemical color additives (synthetic colorants above)
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
Purpose/Usage: widely used as a preservative
Why to avoid: possible neurotoxin, possible health risks to unborn babies, allergic reactions
Products found in: hair care, body wash, sunscreen, skin care
Often appears on a label as: > 3 (2h) -Isothiazolone, 2-Methyl-; Methylchloroisothiazolinone225methylisothiazolinone Solution; 2-Methyl-3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-4-Isothiazolin-3-One; 2-Methyl- 3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-2h-Isothiazol-3-One; 3 (2h) Isothiazolone, 2methyl; 2-Methyl-3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-4-Isothiazolin-3-One
- Mineral Oil
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products such as baby oil which is 100% mineral oil!
Alternatives – Moisture Magnets (Saccharide Isomerate) from beets; Ceramides, Jojoba and other vegetable oils, etc.
Purpose/Usage: synthetic preservative
Why to avoid: found in breast tissue, acts like estrogen in the body, could lead to impaired fertility or fetal development
Products found in: soap, skincare, body care, hair care, toothpaste, deodorant
Often appears on a label as: alkyl parahydroxybenzoate, butylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparabens
Purpose/Usage: used as an emollient or lubricant
Why to avoid: commonly contains impurities linked to cancer
Products found in: skincare, body care, lip balm, makeup
Often appears on a label as:: petrolatum, petroleum jelly, mineral oil
Purpose/Usage: often used as a carrier for synthetic fragrance
Why to avoid: can negatively affect fertility and fetal development, considered a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization
Products found in: hair spray, lipstick, perfume and nail polish
Often appears on a label as:: Benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP), Di-n-butyl phthalate or Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), Diethyl phthalate (DEP), and sometimes Fragrance
- Polyethylene Glycol
Potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor. This could increase the appearance of aging and leave you more vulnerable to bacteria. Used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease. It adjusts the melting point and thickens products. Also used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners.
- Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol
Purpose/Usage: helps a product to retain moisture
Why to avoid: penetration enhancer (alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to more easily enter the system), They easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles and to dispose of any PG solutions by burying them in the ground. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent consequences such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.
Products found in: skincare, hair care, body care, makeup, baby care products, contact lens cleaner
Often appears on a label as:: Propylene Glycol, Proptylene Glycol, 1,2-Propanediol.
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate
Purpose/Usage: makes a product foamy
Why to avoid: penetration enhancer (alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to more easily enter the system),Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS because proteins are dissolved. SLS may also damage the skins immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame.
Products found in: shampoo, facial cleansers, body wash, bubble bath, baby bath, toothpaste
Often appears on a label as: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Anhydrous Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Irium
- Synthetic Colorants
Purpose/Usage: coal tar (petroleum) derived and commonly tested on animals due to their carcinogenic properties, used to artificially color a cosmetic product
Why to avoid: can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.
Products found in: shampoo, facial cleansers, body wash, skincare, baby care products, hair care, makeup
Often appears on a label as: FD&C or D&C followed by a name and number (FD&C RED NO. 40)
- Synthetic Fragrances
Why to avoid: can cause allergic reactions, headache, dizziness, and rash (children tend to be particularly sensitive), respiratory distress, and possible effects to reproductive system
Products found in: hair care, skin care, makeup, body care, perfume
Often appears on a label as:: fragrance, parfum (It is important to note that the terms “fragrance” or “parfum” sometimes occur on an ingredient listing which contains natural fragrance ingredients and no chemical ingredients. This is most often due to manufacturer trade secret and should be disclosed on the label.)
Alternative – Organic Essential Oils.
- Synthetic Sunscreens
Why to avoid: have been found to mimic estrogen in the body potentially causing hormonal disruption, can also cause skin irritation and easily absorb in to the skin
Products found in: sunscreens, facial moisturizer, lip protection
Often appears on a label as:: 4-Methyl-Benzylidencamphor (4-MBC), Oxybenzone Benzophenone-3, Octyl-methoyl-cinnamates (OMC), Octyl-Dimethyl-Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid (OD-PABA), Homosalate(HMS)
Synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient – with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It is classified as a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Its manufacturing process may produce dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in the parts per trillion; that is only one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools! Hormone disruptors pose enormous long-term chronic health risks by interfering with the way hormones perform, such as changing genetic material, decreasing fertility and sexual function, and fostering birth defects. It can temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings, so contact with it often causes little or no pain.
Alternative – Therapeutic Essential Oils.