Toxins do more harm than good when it comes to our health and the health of the planet. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on toxins in skincare for an upcoming project that I have been working on, more on this exciting news at a later date.
It got me thinking about how hard it is to figure out how to read skincare labels. So, I’ve put together an extensive list of 13 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid. How they Can Harm You + How They Appear On A Label.
- Dibutyl Phthalates
Found in: Nail polish; hair spray; lipstick; Perfume.
Possible endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant.
Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
How it appears on the label: Benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP); Di-n-butyl phthalate or Dibutyl phthalate (DBP); Diethyl phthalate (DEP); and sometimes Fragrance.
2. Parfum (also know as synthetic fragrances)
Found in: Perfume; hair products; moisturizers; makeup; body care.
Can cause allergies and asthma. Linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
How it appears on the label: Fragrance; parfum.
3. Parabens (preservatives)
Found In: Toothpaste; deodorant; soap; body care; hair products
Possible endocrine disruptors. interferes with male reproductive functions in aquatic life.
How it appears on the label: Aalkyl parahydroxybenzoate; butylparaben; methylparaben; ethylparaben; propylparaben; isobutylparabens.
4. Petrolatum (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Found in: lip balm; makeup; skin; body care products.
Possible link to cancer. Effects eggs of certain aquatic species.
How it appears on the label: mineral oil; petrolatum; petroleum jelly.
5. BHA and BHT (preservatives)
Found In: in lipsticks and moisturizers
Possible human carcinogen. Toxicity to aquatic organisms and potential to bioaccumulate.
How it appears on the label: Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene.
6. Sodium Laureth sulfate or SLES
Found in: shampoos; cleansers; gels; bubble bath.
May contain 1;4 dioxine, a possible cancer-causing agent. It doesn’t degrade and remains in the environment after it is rinsed down the drain.
How it appears on the label: Sodium Laureth Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate; Anhydrous Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; Irium; PEG;’ ‘–eth–;’ ‘Polyethylene;’ ‘Polyethylene glycol’ ‘Polyoxyethylene;’ or ‘–oxynol–’.
Releasing preservatives found in nail polish; deodorant; shampoo and many more.
Know human carcinogen; can mess with kidneys; neurotoxin. Adds to poor indoor air quality and can be persistent in the enviro.
How it appears on the label: DMDM hydantoin; Diazolidinyl urea; imidazolidinyl urea; methenamine; quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
8. DEA; cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA
Used in some creamy and foaming products;
Found In: such as moisturizers and shampoos; also found in makeup.
Harmful to fish and other wildlife. May cause cancer.
How it appears on the label: DEA; Diethanolamine; TEA; Triethanolamine.
9. Coal Tar Dyes
Found in: hair dyes
High risk of cancer, very toxic to aquatic organisms; may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment
How it appears on the label: identified by a five-digit Colour Index (C.I.) number; P-phenylenediamine.
Found In: some antibacterial cosmetics; such as toothpaste; cleansers and antiperspirants.
Suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, Harmful to fish and other wildlife
How it appears on the label: Triclosan/triclocarban
Found in: lipstick; nail polish and hair products
Linked to brain damage and fetal issues. Aquatic concerns
How it appears on the label: C.I. 77575; Glover; Ks-4
12. Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol
Found in: skin care; hair care; body care; makeup; baby care products; contact lens cleaner; moisturizers; foundations; sunscreens; eye creams; mascara and more.
Toxic to the human brain and organs. Glycerol; a byproduct of biodiesel production is harmful to waterways and aquatic life,
How it appears on the label: Propylene Glycol; Proptylene Glycol; 1;2-Propanediol. Related synthetics: PEG (polyethylene glycol) and PPG (polypropylene glycol)
13. Oxybenzone (BP-3/ benzophenone) and octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate)
Found in: sunscreens and sun care products
May disrupt our hormone system and that can trigger allergic reactions, associated with endometriosis in women, alters sperm production in animals
How it appears on the label: BP-3/ benzophenone) and octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate).
U.S. National Library of Medicine, in Haz-Map: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents, 2010, http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov.
IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans vol. 17 (Paris: International Agency for Research on Cancer), vol. 40 (1986).
Study on Enhancing the Endocrine Disrupter Priority List with a Focus on Low Production Volume Chemicals, Revised Report to DG Environment (Hersholm, Denmark: DHI Water and Environment, 2007).
UNEP and OECD, 2,6-di-tert-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) Screening Information Data Set: Initial Assessment Report (Paris: OECD, 2002)
Epstein, S. with Fitzgerald, R. Toxic Beauty. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2009.
Ye et al. (2006) Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(2):1843-1846, 2006
Ye et al., (2007) J. Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 17(6):567-572
Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. _Guide to Less Toxic Products._Halifax: EHANS, 2004. http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=personal#commo.
CIR. Alert for Sodium Laureth Sulfide and Sodium Lauryl Sulfide. http://www.cir-safety.org/staff_files/alerts.pdf (viewed Mar 17, 2010)