Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

















Did you know that the average woman is exposed to over 250 chemicals and the average man to over 100 on a regular basis? What is even more alarming is that 60% of these chemicals are absorbed through our skin and is in our blood stream in minutes. One would think that companies would err on the side of caution and not use ingredients unless they have been proven to be safe. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true. Products and/or their ingredients need to be proven dangerous before they're universally discontinued. Sadly, in order for ingredients or products to be proven to be unsafe, many people have to report having severe side effects. 

Many lives have been irrevocably damaged by synthetic chemicals used in products that are supposed to promote health and well-being.  It is our belief that if an ingredient or product is unsafe to consume, then it's too dangerous to be absorbed by our skin. The cosmetic industry falls under the FDA's jurisdiction. But with limited funding and staff, the cosmetic industry is practically self-regulated. With limited resources, nonprofit organizations are beginning to take on the difficult task of proving which ingredients are dangerous. 

Too often, big business has demonstrated over the years that where there is significant profit to be made, ethical considerations for the health and safety of customers are deprioritized. The tobacco industry is a prime example. For many years they marketed a product that was known to kill people, and did so knowing this, whilst trying to convince people that smoking didn’t do any harm. Even now, when it has been proven incontrovertibly, they are still selling this deadly product. They have given up trying to maintain that it’s harmless.

 So, what are some examples of ingredients that are toxic, and are certainly not proven to be safe?

Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40) A very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips the skin’s natural acid mantle, making us more vulnerable to bacteria, molds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative. It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin.


Ammonium ingredients Toxic, carcinogenic


Benzoates Implicated in a wide variety of health problems including testicular cancer, cell mutation and other cancers.


Benzoyl peroxide Produces extremely dangerous free radicals in the skin that increases the chances of cancer. It also causes over-drying of the skin. The FDA has now changed the safety rating of benzoyl peroxide from category I to category III.


BHA and BHT Encourages the breakdown of vitamins such as vitamin D, can cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase, known as an endocrine disruptor and to be toxic.


DEA ingredients All ingredients with DEA after the first word such as concamid-dea, have been linked to cancer. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects.


Fragrances Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.


Hydroquinone  A toxic irritant, hydroquinone has been shown to cause leukemia in mice and other animals. The European Union banned it from cosmetics in 2001. Can cause hyper-pigmentation.


Lanolin (also called wool wax or grease) is secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. Any chemicals used on sheep will contaminate the lanolin obtained from the wool. The majority of lanolin used in cosmetics is highly contaminated with organochlorine pesticides like DDT.


Laureth family (research Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Laureth, or Lauryl in the name- make sure you research the particular name) A carcinogen, these skin irritants may be contaminated with large amounts of toxins in the manufacturing process. Contains ammonium salts, mutagen, acne and dermatitis, producing hair loss.


PEG, Polyethylene, Polyethylene Glycol, Polyoxyethylene A potential carcinogen, these petroleum ingredients can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor. This could increase the appearance of aging and leave the skin more vulnerable to bacteria. Used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease, it adjusts the melting point and thickens products. It is also used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners.


Parabens – (Paraben family: Methyl, Propyl, etc.) Implicated in a multitude of health problems, estrogenic, cancer causing, allergenic, found in breast tissue, replicates in DNA, stored in fat cells.


Petrochemicals (Paraffin, Mineral Oil, Petroleum, Petrolatum, Vaseline) Coats the skin like plastic, clogging pores, slowing down skin function and cell development. This can cause premature aging and acne. They may be carcinogenic, cause dry skin, may cause dizziness, and function as a respiratory toxin. Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).


Phenol Carbolic Acid Tied to circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and even death.


Phthalates (found in squeeze bottles, soft and other plastics) Carcinogenic, mutation agents, and can be stored in fat cells.


Propylene/Butylene Glycol A petroleum derivative that penetrates the skin very quickly and causes contact dermatitis, skin irritations, acne, and allergies. The EPA considers PG so toxic that it warns against skin contact to prevent consequences such as brain, liver and kidney abnormalities, and can also weaken protein and cellular structure.


Retinol, or Retinyl Palmitate/Acetate Sunlight breaks down these synthetic vitamin A compounds and creates free radicals that increase the risk of skin cancers. Avoid all skin and lip products with any of these vitamin A chemicals.


Octyl Stearate Acne producing, contact dermatitis, and allergic reactions.


Oxybenzone (used in sunscreens to absorb UV light) In humans, this chemical causes skin irritation and allergic reactions. Animal studies report it acts as an endocrine disruptor and interferes with hormone activity.


Silicone derived emollients (Dimethicone Copolyol, Cyclomethicone, etc.) Occlusive – that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to breathe (much like plastic wrap would do).


TEA ingredients (not tea, but rather ingredients with TEA in front such as Tea lauryl sulfate) Severe irritant, eye irritant, sensitizers, highly acidic, and can contain ammonium slats. Over 40% of cosmetics containing Triethanolamine (TEA) have been found to be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens.


Toluene (may appear on ingredient labels as phenylmethane, methylbenzene, or toluol and is found in nail products) Can cause dermatitis, liver or kidney damage; affects central nervous system; considered highly toxic. Inhaling large amounts during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects, limited mental abilities and even miscarriage.