What Beauty Product Ingredients to Avoid Like the Plague - Part 1

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

It may seem a little dramatic, but I am appalled at how many horrible ingredients are used in everyday beauty products. This includes shampoo, deodorant, sunscreen, lipstick, and facial cleanser. Half of these ingredients are banned in other countries, but not America. Why? Today, I am bringing out the top 22 (I know...random) ingredients you should avoid like the plague and which companies usually use them. Don't worry, I'll be breaking this up into a 2-part series to help lessen the shock (haha). At the end, I will also give you a short list of some of my favorite beauty companies that avoid all of the following ingredients in their products. Enjoy!


1. Triclosan

This antimicrobial agent can be found in antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorants. It is linked to cancer (a study conducted through the University of California) and endocrine disruption. Triclosan also creates resistant bacteria (what is this?).


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Maple Holistics

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


2. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT or MI)

This chemical is a preservative used in lotions and baby wipes. It has been linked to skin irritations and allergic reactions. MIT is also shown to have neurotoxic effects (that doesn't sound too good). It can be found in shampoo, conditioner, hair color, body wash, lotion, sunscreen, mascara, shaving cream, baby lotion and shampoo, hairspray, and more.


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and 1,4 Dioxane

This ingredient can be found in so many products. It is usually first on the list. They are both toxic to the environment and your body and are oftentimes contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane. They are put in products to help them absorb into the skin easily. SLS and SLES are linked to eye, skin, and lung irritation as well as organ toxicity and cancer. 1,4 Dioxane is a carcinogen (meaning it's a substance that can cause cancer [breakdown of DNA] in living tissue) that is added to nearly 50% of personal care products.


The companies that use these products:

Here is a comprehensive list for Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Household Products Database

Here is a comprehensive list for 1,4 Dioxane: Household Products Database

Find out all the names they go by:

Safe Cosmetics


4. Ethoxylated Surfactants

Often found as a byproduct of ethylene oxide to make other chemicals less harsh. It is also a carcinogen and is not often listed as an ingredient. You want to avoid any ingredients that begin with "eth". Products such as baby wash, bubble bath, and shampoo contain ethylene oxide.


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


5. Oxybenzone

This ingredient is an active ingredient in most spray-on sunscreens. It is a major hormone disruptor and tends to accumulate in fatty tissue. It is also linked to allergies, cellular damage, and changes in the biochemical makeup of cells. Easily absorbed in the skin, oxybenzone "has been determined to contaminate the bodies of 97% of Americans." You will also find this ingredient in nail polish, hairspray, foundation, fragrance, and moisturizers.


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


6. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

These products are banned in Europe because of their harmful effects on the human body. BHA is another carcinogen and BHT can cause tumors. These ingredients can be found in pretty much everything.


The companies that use these products:

Here is a comprehensive list for BHA: Household Product Database

Here is a comprehensive list for BHT: Household Product Database

Find out all the names they go by:

Safe Cosmetics


7. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

These ingredients foam, which is why you will probably find them in foaming cleansers, hand soaps, and shampoos. They are skin irritants and carcinogenic. Nitrates can activate both DEA and TEA's carcinogenic effects, which means that eating foods with nitrates while using products with these ingredients, can increase your risk of cancer.


The companies that use these products:

Here is comprehensive list for DEA: Household Products Database

Here is a comprehensive list for TEA: Household Products Database

Find out all the names they go by:

Safe Cosmetics


8. Petrolatum

This ingredient is sneaky because it is often used under seemingly harmless looking names. It is a conditioning agent and is similar to mineral oil (this will be in part 2). All petroleum-based ingredients contain cancer-causing chemicals and are linked to allergic reactions and skin irritation.


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


9. Coal Tar

Another ingredient that is banned in Europe. It is a known carcinogen and is used to treat dry skin, lice, and dandruff. It is often accompanied by artificial colors (part 2).


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


10. Formaldehyde

This is what they store dead animal in for Biology dissection. That doesn't sound like something I'd want on my body. It can be found in nail products, hair dye, false eyelash adhesive, and shampoos. It is also banned in Europe (come on America!) because it is, yet again, another carcinogen that can cause cancer.


The companies that use this product:

Here is a comprehensive list: Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics


11. Fragrance/Parfum

So many different chemicals are hidden under this name, including phthalates (part 2). It can cause headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies as well as cancer and hormone disruptions.


The companies that use this product:

Here is comprehensive list (just a warning...it's long!): Household Products Database

Find out all the names it goes by:

Safe Cosmetics



Okay, now take a deep breath. That's a lot of information for one post. Especially since it eliminates so many products from our list of favorites. As I was going through this list, my mom and I started checking our laundry detergent and soaps. It's so crazy how many so-called "natural" products contain some of these ingredients.


So, since I took you through the hell of personal care products, here is one company that I've found to be consistent with their claims at being natural.

Dr. Bronner's

This company sells pure castille soap. No harmful chemicals or additives. They make soaps, lotions, shampoos, shaving cream, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and house cleaner.


I will keep searching for companies that stay true to being natural. Thanks for sticking with me on this! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and feel free to do your own research using the website links I have provided.


Until next time,

Amanda


Resources: Organic Authority and Tree Hugger

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