Ingredients to Avoid

The list of toxic ingredients in many products today is a long one, therefore I always recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for more information. You can type in any ingredient you may be unsure of and get its overall hazard score, as well as the health concerns related to the use of that chemical.

Below you will find a starter list for ingredients to avoid, as well as those that you may want to keep on your radar. This is by no means comprehensive but I will update it as I continue my compulsive research of bad toxins. Just as a general hint: if you have trouble pronouncing an ingredient, you probably don’t want it in your body.

As a note, because I am color coding the ingredient lists in my product reviews, I am also going to use the coding on this page. Each ingredient below will be red, orange, or green (high, moderate, low hazard) and include EWG’s rating, as well as a brief overview of potential concerns. Some of the lower hazard ingredients listed here may be used in products I review. This is a work in progress, so please check back for updates!

 

  • 1,4 Dioxane (8)
  • ALS (Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate)
  • Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex Gly
  • Benzyl Benzoate (6)
  • Benzyl Salicylate (7)
  • BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) (9-10)
  • BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) (6)
  • Bismuth Oxychloride
  • BPA (Bisphenol A)
  • Castor Oil (2): Can be a skin irritant and there may be safety concerns with the processing and harvesting of the plant, depending on the source.
  • Chromium oxide green (2): Mineral pigments with persistence and bioaccumulation concerns.
  • Coal Tar (10)
  • DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)
  • Dimethicone & Trimethicone
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • EDTAs (Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA)
  • Formaldehyde (10)
  • GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
  • Grapefruit seed extract (3): There can be risk of contamination with Benzethonium Chloride, Methylparaben, and Triclosan.
  • Hydroquinone (9)
  • Iron Oxides (2): Colorants with persistence and bioaccumulation concerns.
  • Isopropyl (SD-40)
  • Lead (10)
  • Methylchlorisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Mineral Oil
  • Nano particles
  • Oxybenzone (BENZOPHENONE-3)
  • Parabens (Ethyl, Methyl, Propyl, & Butyl)
  • Petrolatum (4)
  • Phenoxyethanol (4)
  • Phthalates
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Propylene Glycol & Butylene Glycol
  • Retinyl Palmitate (Retinol, Vitamin A) (8)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Synthetic Colorants (FD&C, D&C, Lake colors)
  • Synthetic Fragrances
  • Synthetic Sunscreens
  • Toluene (10)
  • Triclosan (7)
  • Unspecified Minerals (4): A “Mineral Blend” can be a problem because we don’t necessarily know what the blend contains.
  • Ureas (Diazolidinyl & Imidazolidinyl) (6)
  • Vitamin E (1): Also called Tocopherol and has risk of contamination with Hydroquinone.