Our Dirty List is where we share the health-harming ingredients we will never use in our formulations.
Aluminium or aluminium compounds
Aluminium and aluminium-containing compounds are used in various cosmetic products and can be toxic in high levels or with repeated use. In antiperspirants aluminium salts are used to narrow the pores and reduce the perspiration temporarily. It's also used in tradtional lipsticks, toothpaste, haircare, lotions and makeup.
A disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant in sunscreens and moisturisers, it's associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies.
Benzene is used in cosmetics containing hair dyes, shampoos, scalp treatments and rosacea treatment and is a known human carcinogen.
Benzophenone and related products
Benzophenone is used in personal care products such as lip balm and nail polish to protect the products from UV light. Benzophenone is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) and has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity.
Butylatedhydroxy Anisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life commonly used in traditional lipsticks , moisturisers and other cosmetics. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients
A byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent in shampoos and other hair products.
Ethanolamines (DEA, TEA, MEA, ETA)
Surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. It's commonly used in hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint, pharmaceuticals.
The process of ethoxylation is used to produce foaming, cleansing or solvent properties in cleansers and toothpastes, but it also produces 1,4 Dioxane as a by-product, which is a known carcinogen. These include Magnesium Laureth Sulfate, Magnesium Oleth Sulfate, PEG’s – ingredients listed as a polyethylene glycol or with a PEG- prefix such as PEG-20, PEG 40 etc, Phenoxyethanol, Polyoxyethylene, Polysorbate-20, -40, -60, -80, Steareth-2, -4, -10, -16, -20, -21, Sodium Coceth Sulfate, Sodium Deceth Sulfate, Sodium Oleth Sulfate , Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Myreth Sulfate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Zinc Coceth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, Ceteareth -12, -20, -25 and -30, Ceteareth Glycol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Emulsifying Wax, Isoseareth - 20, Laureth -7, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). See also Petrochemicals.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)
EDTA or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is a common ingredient in skincare and body care products. EDTA helps to improve the foaming of cleansers, soaps, and body washes. EDTA is mainly used as a preservative, but it is also used to improve the foaming abilities of products. Disodium EDTA is a ‘penetration enhancer’. Although it doesn’t absorb particularly well into the skin, it disrupts the surface of skin cells so that other chemicals can get in more easily. See also Ethoxylated ingredients and Petrochemicals.
Formaldehyde (and formaldehyde releasing agents)
Used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. It's commonly used in shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
A skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. It's commonly used in skin-lightening creams.
Lead, lead acetate and heavy metals
Used to smooth and thicken cosmetic formulations, lead and heavy metals are damaging to organs including the brain, kidney, lungs and liver. Long-term exposure may cause cancer.
Methyl cellosolve and methoxyethanol
Methyl Cellosolve and Methoxyethanol is used as a solvent for many different purposes such as varnishes, dyes, and resins.
Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone
Chemical preservatives that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies. It's commonly used in shampoo, conditioner, body wash.
Mineral oil is an occlusive emollient, meaning that it helps to keep your skin hydrated by locking in moisture by forming a barrier on your skin's surface but it can clog pores, cause breakouts and irritate skin. See also Petrochemicals.
Oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate
Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. It's commonly used in sunscreen, moisturizer.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others)
Parabens are chemical preservatives derived from petroleum commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Studies suggest parabens are endocrine disruptors, negatively affecting fertility and increasing breast cancer risk. It's commonly used in shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation. See also Petrochemicals.
Petroleum based, paraffin wax is used as a moisturiser in beauty products because it has a melting point close to natural human body temperatures, meaning it easily spreads upon contact with skin and can serve as a kind of hot wax treatment without the threat of burns. It's used in traditional moisturisers and lipsticks. See also Petrochemicals.
Derived from petroleum and used for a variety of reasons in cosmetics petrochemicals are a huge health concern because they can generate 1,4-dioxane, a substance known to potentially contribute to some cancers. It’s also a kidney toxin, neurotoxin, and a respiratory toxin and have been linked to hormonal disorders and birth defects. See also Parabens, Paraffin wax, Mineral oil, Toluene, Benzene, Polyethylene glycol (PEG), Diethanolamine (DEA) and Ethanolamine (MEA), Butanol and any word with butyl: butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), Propylene glycol, Ethoxylated ingredients, and Synthetic parfum or fragrance.
A preservative that can damage the liver, kidneys and nervous system, as well as irritating the lungs. The new European Union organic certification standard bans its use. See also Ethoxylated ingredients.
Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others)
Binding agents that make plastics flexible or fragrances bind the the skin, phthalates have concerning links to behaviour disorders (including autism and ADHD), asthma, breast cancer, obesity and fertility issues. They are banned in the European Union. It's commonly used in synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.
Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long used in many cosmetics including exfoliating scrubs, face washes, toothpaste. They can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.
Polyacrylamide and acrylamide
Polyacrylamide is used as a stabilizer and binder in lotions and other products. Though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen and has been linked to mammary tumors. The European Union (EU) sets limits for the amount of acrylamide allowed in products containing polyacrylamide.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds)
Polyethylene glycol or with a PEG- prefix such as PEG-20, PEG 40 are used as thickeners and solvents in cosmetics, and are known carcinogens that can also harm the nervous system. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. It's commonly used in creams, sunscreen, shampoo. See also Ethoxylated ingredients.
Propylene glycol is a petrochemical used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions and is potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys.
Resorcinol is commonly used in hair dyes and acne medication. In higher doses it is toxic and can disrupt the function of the central nervous system and lead to respiratory problems. It has also been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, specifically thyroid function.
Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate)
Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient composed of palmitic acid and retinol (Vitamin A). Data from an FDA study indicate that retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may result in adverse health consequences like lesions and photosensitization.
Used as emulsifiers, emollients and surfactants in cosmetics, silicones are inferior skin moisturisers when compared with plant oils as they do not contain any nutrients. Some commonly known silicone ingredients are dimethicone, cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, amodimethicone, PEG-12 dimethicone, dimethiconol, phenyl trimethicone, and dimethicone copolymer to name a few.
Sodium borate and boric acid
Sodium borate and boric acid is mostly used as a preservative or softener. It prevents or retards bacterial growth, and thus protect cosmetics and personal care products from spoilage. They are also used to control pH and to minimize the change in the pH of a solution when an acid or a base is added and can be used to help to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. They are also used to alter the thickness of liquid cosmetics and personal care products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES)
SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. It's commonly used in shampoo, body wash, bubble bath. See also Ethoxylated ingredients.
Synthetic dyes and colourants
Irritating and inflaming, synthetic dyes are often made from coal tar, which can contain lead and arsenic.
Synthetic parfum or fragrance
Synthetic fragrances can contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates, as well as benzene derivatives which are known carcinogens. See also Petrochemicals.
See Formaldehyde, Phenoxyethanol, Parabens, and Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders, as well as in a number of other consumer products. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. Even asbestos-free talc should be avoided in the pelvic areas.
A volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. It's commonly used in nail polish. See also Petrochemicals.
Triclosan and triclocarban
Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterial agents with very similar properties. They're used in different types of product. For example, triclosan is used more often in liquid soaps, while triclocarban is used mainly in soap bars. There has been concerns over both ingredients due to negative health effects such as bacterial resistance or hormone disruptive effects.