Ingredients to Avoid

This page is dedicated to inform readers of the dangers of toxic chemicals in products including – but not limited to – shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup and more. You should be aware of what you put on your body as most of it is absorbed by your skin and enters your bloodstream flowing through your whole body. 

I use EWG as a guide for myself and this page to help others. There is an EWG hazard key at the bottom of this post.

Also check out the Think Dirty app to scan products and get ratings and detailed information on the products ingredients.

See bottom of post for extra helpful tips and links.

*This is my personal opinion and is only meant to inform you. It is not meant to persuade you in what to buy, use or do as I do. Do your own research and decide for yourself what ingredients/products you want to use. *


It takes your skin, the largest organ on your body, absorbs what you put on it. Do you want to slather your self with chemicals that cause dermatitis or even cancer? No? Then read below to avoid the toxic ingredients.


Aluminium chlorohydrate & aluminium-zirconium tetrachlorohydrate gly (antiperspirant): prevent toxins from being expelled by the body. These toxins clog up lymph nodes around the armpits and breasts and cause breast cancer. The aluminium in deodorants is absorbed by the skin. It affects the blood brain barrier and has been linked with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Amodimethicone: is a silicon-based polymer, which rates a 1 on EWG. 

Avobenzone, benzphenone, ethoxycinnamate, PABA (Sunscreen chemicals): are commonly used ingredients that are known free radical generators and are believed to damage DNA or lead to cancers. 

Benzoyl Peroxide: Used in acne products, the MSDS states: Possible tumor promoter. May act as mutagen; produces DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells. Also, toxic by inhalation. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant. 

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA): is a preservative, stabilizer and fragrance ingredient. U.S. National Toxicology Program, a part of the National Institutes of Health, has classified BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Endocrine disruption, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation; Ecotoxicology.

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative in food and personal care products. Fragrance ingredient, masking. Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Endocrine disruption.

Caramel (color): is a concentrated sugary material obtained from heating sucrose or glucose solutions (usually corn-which can be genetically modified). There are four types of caramel coloring, two of which containing chemicals implicated in cancer in laboratory animals.

The four types of caramel coloring include: (1) plain caramel; (2) a type that reacts sugar with sulfites; (3) one that reacts sugars with ammonium compounds; and (4) one that reacts sugars with both ammonium and sulfite compounds — the type of coloring used in most sodas. Caramel coloring is also found in brown bread, chocolate, cough drops, vinegars, custards, fillings, doughnuts, gravy browning and many other food products. As far as food goes, real caramel contains sugar, cream, butter and vanilla.

Coal Tar: is a thick liquid or semi-solid obtained as a by-product in the destructive distillation ofbituminous coal. Known human carcinogen. Human skin toxicant or allergen. Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Known human respiratory toxicant. Classified as a high human health priority. Classified as expected to be toxic or harmful.

Cocamidopropyl betaine: is a surfactant; it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine. Restricted in cosmetics; use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions – Unsafe in products left on skin and not rinsed off (only for products that are intended to be left on the skin).

Coumarin: is a naturally occurring component of essential oils, such as Lavender Oil and Tonka. It is also a synthetically produced scent chemical; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis and possible link to cancer. 

Cyclopentasiloxane (cyclomethicone): a silicon-based cyclic compound; may be associated with environmental toxicity. Persistence and bioaccumulation in wildlife. Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Neurotoxicity.

DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine): This foam booster is a skin/eye irritant and causes contact dermatitis. Easily absorbed through skin to accumulate in body organs and the brain. 

Dioxin: Won’t appear in ingredients. Often in antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, emulsifiers, PEGs and ethoxylated cleansers like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Dioxin causes cancer, reduced immunity, nervous system disorders, miscarriages and birth deformity. 

Dipropylene Glycol: Fragrance ingredient, solvent, viscosity decreasing agent/viscosity controlling, masking. Skin irritant, around the eyes, on the skin, or may be aerosolized (airborne).

Disodium EDTA: Increases absorbsion of products into the skin. When combined with toxic ingredients it can be very harmful. 

DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl): two preservatives that release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness and insomnia. 

Eugenol: is a naturally occuring scent chemical found in clove oil; also manufactured synthetically. Synthetic version has been associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.

FD&C Color & Pigments: Synthetic colors from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins in skin, causing skin sensitivity/irritation. Absorption can cause depletion of oxygen and death. Animal studies show almost all are carcinogenic. Examples: Blue #1, Red #2, etc.

Formaldehyde: Do I really need to explain this? No. Just don’t use it, it will kill you. Labeled with compliance notice on items that it was used on (wood, metal, etc.).

Hydroquinone: is an aromatic compound. In the United States, Hydroquinone may be used as an active ingredient in OTC drug products. Human skin toxicant or allergen. Evidence of immune system toxicity or allergies. Known human respiratory toxicant. Classified as expected to be toxic or harmful. May cause cancer.

Mineral Oil: is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. Used as a fragrance ingredient, hair conditioning agent, skin-conditioning/emollient, skin protectant, solvent. Is an immune and respiratory toxicant or allergen. May cause cancer (airborne only).

Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl): Used as preservatives. Not always labeled. Used in deodorants and other skin care products, have been found in breast cancer tumors. May contribute to sterility in males, hormone imbalance in females and early puberty. 

PEG (Polyethylene Glycol): Made by ethoxylating Propylene Glycol. Dangerous levels of dioxin have been found as a by-product of the ethoxylation process. PEGs are in everything including personal care, baby care and sunscreens. 

Phenoxyethanol: A chemical preservative, a glycol ether, found in all forms of personal care products. Side effects include skin irritations, reproductive and developmental complications, and damages to the brain and nervous system. Can cause allergies like Eczema and may have nervous systems effects on infants. Has a rating of 4 on EWG and a rating of 5 on the Think Dirty app. 

There are no reports of this compound being found in natural extracts. Japan has banned the use of phenoxyethanol in all cosmetics, while most other countries have limited the use of it to 1% concentration. 

Phthalates (fragrance/parfum): Found in many products, usually not listed on labels. Health effects include damage to liver/kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in girls and boys. 

*Medical Problems Fragrance Have Been Linked To:*

-Allergies. Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes.

-Asthma. Fragrance is suspected to contribute to asthma development in children.

-Cancer. Yeah, because many of these chemicals are known human carcinogens, according to the FDA.

-Central nervous system disorders. These include autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and more.

-Dermatitis. Red, scaly, dry patches on the skin, either from ingesting problem foods or from putting products with fragrance on your skin in the form of lotions or makeup.

-Depression. In people who are highly sensitive, these scents can affect brain chemistry and even lead to people being more prone to panic attacks.

-Dizziness and Nausea. These symptoms happen when your central nervous system is impacted by these toxins.

-Headaches and migraines. Whew! That girl that walked by you that took a bath in parfume (we all know that girl). She could just have been responsible for your migraine later that day.

-Upper respiratory problems. 

Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol: petroleum plastics. EPA considers PG so toxic it requires gloves, clothing, goggles and disposal by burning. EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. 

Retinyl Palmintate: A very high health hazard because of its ability to cause cellular changes (possible carcinogen) and its potential to cause organ toxicity.

Silicone(s): an oil that coats the skin trapping everything underneath it. This includes bacteria, sebum, etc. This thin rubber-like coating interferes with skin’s natural processes, like sweating, temperature regulating, sloughing off dead skin cells, etc. Non-biodegradable.

Also known as: 

• Amodimethicone

• Amino Bispropyl Dimethicone

• Aminopropyl Dimethicone

• Cetearyl Methicone

• Cyclomethicone

• Amodimethicone Hydroxystearate

• Behenoxy Dimethicone

• C24-28 Alkyl Dimethicone

• C30-45 Alkyl Dimethicone

• C30-45 Alkyl Methicone

• Dimethicone

• Methicone

• Trimethicone,

• Nylon

• Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

• Dimethiconol

• Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane

• Triethoxycaprylylsilane

• Triethoxycaprylylsilane crosspolymer

• Cyclopentasiloxane

• Polydimethylsiloxane

• Siloxane

• Polyvinylpyrrolidone

• Dimethicone copolyol

• Cyclohexasiloxane

• Stearoxy Dimethicone

• Stearyl Dimethicone 

• Stearyl Methicone

• Phenyl Trimethicone

•Lauryl Methicone Copolyol

Check out Beauty Heroes blog post about silicones in Skin Care [here]

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90% of personal-care products that foam. Eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, skin irritation and death. 

Talc: is usually found in baby powder, face powders and body powders. There has been lawsuits that have claimed Talc causing cancer. It may also cause irritation and organ system toxicity.

Tetrasodium EDTA: A water softener and preservative. Concerns are cancer, enhanced skin absorbsion, organ system toxicity and irritation (due to animal studies that showed skin irritation at low doses). It is classified as a high human health priority and expected to be toxic or harmful.

Triclosan: Synthetic antibacterial ingredient. EPA registers it as a pesticide, posing risks to human health and environment. Classified as a chlorophenol, chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. 

So, what’s in your products?


Helpful Links:

Download the Think Dirty app [here]. A great app that you can use to scan your beauty products and see what they rate (0-10), 0 being the best and 10 being the worst.

And visit EWG [here]. A great way to search ingredients and read articles about the beauty and cosmetic industry.