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July 17, 2018

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Bad Ingredients

a reference guide to goodness

Our commitment to our customers and the planet's well being is our first priority. For your reference, we've compiled a list of ingredients that we believe should be avoided.

Aluminum Zirconium and Other Aluminum Compounds

Find it in: Antiperspirant and cosmetic astringent.

Health Concern: Skin irritant; potential link to breast cancer; strong evidence of human neurotoxicity; respiratory and developmental toxin. Banned by EU.

Used as: Used to control sweat.

Also seen as: Aluminum Chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromide.

Benzalkonium Chloride and Benezethonium Chloride

Find it in:  Moisturizers, sunscreens, facial cleansers and acne treatments

Health Concern: Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain, nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen. Restricted in Japan and Canada.

Used as: Antimicrobial agent; Deodorant; Preservative; Cosmetic biocide; Surfactant.

Benzyl Acetate

Find it in: Many cosmetics and personal care products.

Health Concern: Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.

Used as: Solvent; often hidden within “fragrance”.



Find it in: Many cosmetics and personal care products.

Health concerns:  Immune system, lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects.  Restricted in Canada.

Used as: Preservative.

Butylated Hydroxtoluene (BHT)

Find it in:  Many cosmetics and personal care products.

Health Concern: Immune system toxicant; probable human skin toxicant; encourages the breakdown of vitamin D, can cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.

Used as: Anti-oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color; Fragrance ingredient.

Butylated Hyrdoxyanisole (BHA)

Find it in: Cosmetics and moisturizers

Health concerns: Known human immune system toxicant; strong evidence of human endocrine disruptor, based on evidence of carcinogenicity in animal studies it is anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

Used as: Antioxidant; Fragrance ingredient.


Coal Tar

Find it in: Shampoos, hair dyes, hair treatments and cosmetics.

Health concerns:  Known human carcinogen; skin and respiratory toxicant.  Banned by Canada and EU.

Used as: Anti-dandruff agent; Cosmetic biocide; Denaturant.

Cocomide DEA/Lauramide DEA

Find it in: Hair care, body and hand washes.

Health concerns:  Human immune system toxicant; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents; animal studies show sense organ effects and skin irritation; many contain harmful impurities.

Used as: Surfactant; foam booster; emulsifying agent.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

Find it in: Sunscreens, moisturizer foundations and hair colors.

Health concerns:  Probable skin and immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; skin irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and neuro developmental; brain and nervous system effects; may trigger asthma.

Used as: PH adjuster; Skin softener; Humectant.

Ethoxylated Ingredients

Find it in: Cosmetics, personal and hair care products.

Health concerns: Animal studies show brain, nervous system and sense organ effects; irritant; reproductive and skin toxin, alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; may contain harmful impurities.  Trace contaminants in some ethoxylates have been implicated as potential carcinogens.

Used as: Surfactant; Emulsifying or cleansing agent; Penetration enhancer.

Also seen on labels as: Laureth, Myreth, Ceteth, Ceteareth, Glycereth, etc

Ethyl Acetate

Find it in: Nail polish treatment products, perfume.

Health concerns:  Probable neurotoxin; possible nervous system toxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; highly flammable.

Used as: Solvent; Fragrance ingredient; Perfume.


Find it in: Deodorants, nail polish and treatments, soap, shampoos and shaving creams.

Health concerns: Immune system, hematological, and skin toxicant; known carcinogen and possible cardiovascular toxicant; can damage DNA; may trigger asthma; animal studies show sense organ, brain, and nervous system effects; possible human development toxicant. Restricted in Canada and EU.

Used as: Cosmetic biocide; Denaturant; Preservative.

Also seen as: Cormalin, Formic aldehyde, Methanol, Methyl aldehyde.

Formaldehyde – releasing preservative

Find it in: Many cosmetics and personal care products.

Health concerns: Forms nitrosamines when in the presence of amines such as MEA, DEA and TEA; probable immune system, blood, cardiovascular and skin toxicant..

Used as: Anti-microbial preservative.

Also seen on labels as: Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea, DEA, MEA, TEA


Find it in: Many cosmetics, personal and hair care products.

Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; possible neurotoxin; can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals, many of which have never been tested for safety; see phthalates. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis; respiratory destruction.

Used as: Deodorant; Masking; Perfuming.

Also seen on labels as: Parfum


Find it in: Skin fading/lighteners, anti-aging creams, sunscreens.

Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption. Restricted in Canada.

Used as: Antioxidant; Fragrance ingredient; Skin-bleaching agent; Hair colorant.

Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

Find it in: Many cosmetics and personal care products

Health concerns:  Human toxicant; possible liver immune system toxin; allergenic. Restricted in Japan.

Used as: Preservative

Lead and Lead Compounds

Find it in: Hair dye and Hair products. Traces found in some red lipstick

Health concerns: Probable carcinogen; developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive toxicant; reduced fertility; animal effects; suspected nano-scale ingredients with potential to absorb into the skin; Banned in Canada and EU.

Used as:  Colorant

Also listed as: Thimerosal, but usually not listed as it’s a contaminant.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI/MCI) and Methylchloroisothaizolinone

Find it in: many cosmetics and personal care products, shampoos and hand creams and widely used in industrial settings

Health concerns: immune system toxicant; animal studies show restricted growth of the axons and dendrites of immature nerves, neurotoxicity and positive mutation results; can lead to a malUsed as in the way neurons communicate with each other; especially detrimental to a developing nervous system, prolonged exposure to low levels of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) may have potentially damaging consequences to a developing nervous system

Used as: preservatives, antimicrobial agent, it inhibits the development of particular neuron structures that are essential for transmitting signals between cells.


Find it in: Hair care products.

Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; eczema; possible nervous system, skin, kidney and liver toxicant; irritant; may trigger asthma and gastritis; shown to cause cancer in animal studies.  Restricted in Canada.

Used as:  Hair colorant.


Find it in: Many cosmetics, personal care and hair care products.

Health concerns: May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risk for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child; studies have found parabens in breast tumors; probable skin toxicant; animal studies show brain and nervous system effects

Used as: Preservatives; Anti-bacterial agent; Fragrance ingredient.

Also known as: Methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl