1. BHA and BHT
aka: Butylated Hydroxyanisole & Butylated Hydroxytoluene
Formulated in: Skincare, makeup products & personal care products.
Synthetic antioxidants used as a preservative to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens. May also disrupt hormones, as well as cause liver, thyroid, and kidney problems.
2. MEA, TEA, DEA:
aka: diethanolamine, Cocamide DEA, and Lauramide DEA
Formulated in: Soaps, cleansers & shampoo (suds)
aka: diethyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate
Formulated in: Synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray
A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. They have been linked to damage to the kidneys, lungs, and liver, as well. (see also Synthetic Fragrances)
4. FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS:
aka: DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate
Formulated in: Nail polish, shampoo, body wash, eyelash glue, and hair products, the Brazilian Blowout and other straightening treatments
You won’t find this listed as “formaldehyde” except perhaps in a few remaining brands of nail polish. It hides behind ingredient names such as quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), glyoxal and oxaldehyde. Recognized by the EPA as a carcinogen, it’s linked to lung cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, and myeloid leukemia. It permeates through inhalation and can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; reproductive and developmental toxicity; asthma; neurologic and
Recognized by the EPA as a carcinogen, it’s linked to lung cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, and myeloid leukemia. It permeates through inhalation and can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; reproductive and developmental toxicity; asthma; neurologic and behavioral toxicity; and immunological toxicity. It’s banned for use in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan.
aka: Isobutyl paraben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
Formulated in: Skincare, Makeup & Personal Care Products.
Parabens are preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. They have been known to cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis and rosacea in individuals with paraben allergies. On a scarier note, they can mimic hormones, disrupting the endocrine system, which has been shown to play a role in the development of breast cancers. Studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage. Parabens are also known endocrine disruptors and have been linked to fertility problems.
6. SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE/PARFUM
Formulated in: most personal care products, and anything with a scent.
The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are because formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets. On the label, it will simply read “fragrance.” Some problems caused by these chemicals include including hormone disruption, headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation—the list goes on. Don’t buy a cosmetic that has the word “fragrance” on the ingredients label. Look for labels that say, “phthalate–free”.
aka: Polyethylene glycols, propylene glycol
Formulated in: cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases.
Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide can also harm the nervous system ii and the California Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a developmental toxicant based on evidence that it may interfere with human development. iii 1,4-dioxane is also persistent
aka: Mineral oil, petroleum distillates
Formulated in: baby oil, lip balm, lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, moisturizers, concealer, foundation, face powder, hair gel, body wash, eyeshadow, paraffin treatments, petroleum jelly, and hair conditioner
A petrochemical pollutant derived from crude oil, found in an overwhelming number of products. It seals off the skin creating a barrier which feels slick but doesn’t allow the skin to breathe, which is essential for the proper functioning of this organ. Ultimately causes slowing down skin’s function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging and many other health and skin disorders such as contact dermatitis.
9. SLS AND SLES:
aka: Sodium laureate sulfate, Sodium laurel sulfate
Formulated in: just about anything that foams; shampoo, body wash, face wash, hand soap, toothpaste, bubble bath
A foaming agent used to break down water in grease. It’s so powerful that it’s also used in concrete floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash detergents. A well-known skin irritant, it is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart, and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. It can slow healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent children’s eyes from developing properly, corrode hair follicles and impair the ability to grow hair. These surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with formaldehyde-releasing 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation.
Formulated in: antibacterial products such as soap, hand sanitizer, deodorants, toothpaste, and cosmetics
Studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and enables bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. The CDC states that it is found in 75% of the population’s urine. The American Medical Association advises against the use of antibacterial soap at home to prevent the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap has been found no more effective than regular soap. Antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems.
aka: Thimerosal, Merthiolate
Formulated in: ear and eye drops; may be used in mascara
Metallic element used as a preservative and antiseptic are known to damage brain function.
aka: benzene-1,4-diol, quinol
Formulated in: skin lightening creams
A skin lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is a linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation.