This Guide will help you understand what toxic ingredients are, which need to be avoided at all costs, why they’re unhealthy, and which non-toxic brands you should be using. It’s easy to feel upset about the madness of it all. We think we’re just putting on body lotion, but now we know we may be putting on a whole lot more. Serious health problems have been linked to many common toxic ingredients we have all been exposed to. But don’t worry, some are worse than others.
Why You Should Use Non Toxic Skin Care Products
Studies have shown using skin care products with toxins can have harmful effects. These may be as minor as a rash or as major as cancer and autoimmune disorders. They can cause adverse (or unwanted) reactions in our bodies and some, along with genetics and environmental factors, may cause serious harm and chronic illness.
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to certain toxins, like Parabens, Triclosan, and Triclocarban, because they cross to the fetus during pregnancy. Exposure has been linked to decreased birth weight, gestational age, and body length.
Other toxins are less well known.
28 Toxic Ingredients Found in Skin Care Products
- Parabens, esterified hydroxybenzoic acid compounds, are widely used as preservatives in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products and are classified as a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They’re linked to obesity and hormonal health problems, breast cancer, and are especially dangerous for pregnant women. Nanoparticles are linked to parabens,
- Diethanolamine is commonly used in soaps, skin care products, and cosmetics. It has been linked to cause liver and kidney tumors in mice and is an irritant to human skin.
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) & BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) is an endocrine disruptor used as an antioxidant in skin care products. It has been linked to long-term liver, lung, and forestomach toxicity.
- Hydroquinone is a skin bleaching agent used for whitening skin and teeth which has actually been banned from many countries. It’s still legal in the United States. The active ingredient Arbutin has been found to cause skin cancer and cancer because it is cytotoxic (kills cells).
- Triclosan, triclocarban, and microban are antimicrobial agents used in >2,000 products such as soaps, toothpastes, detergents, paints, plastics, carpets, clothing, and toys. It is an endocrine disruptor and associated with negative reproductive and developmental impacts. When they accumulate in the environment, they become toxic and carcinogenic.
- Talcum powder or Talc, is used in baby powders, makeup, and cosmetic powders. When it enters the lungs it may cause lung cancer (especially in women) and increase risk of ovarian cancer.
- Ureas are fixative agents used in many products for hair and eye makeup. They have been found to release formaldehyde which is carcinogenic and genotoxic. For this reason, these are strictly forbidden during pregnancy.
- Phthalates are used in nail polish, fixatives, and fragrances. They are Endocrine Disruptors that have been proven to cause changes to the prostate and testes, reduced sperm count, and other reproductive changes. In young children, they may cause liver and kidney failure when used for a long period of time. Pregnant women especially should avoid them because they cause developmental and behavioral problems.
- Synthetic fragrances are in loads of everyday products, including soaps, shampoos, laundry and cleaning products, perfumes, and lotions. Companies are not required by law to disclose the ingredients in “fragrance” to consumers. They are linked to headaches, dizziness, forgetfulness, and irritation of the respiratory tract. Some fragrances may have coumarins or phethleugenol are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors.
- Microbeads are tiny plastic beads and may be found in some exfoliators and cleaning products. They end up in the environment and are ingested by humans or animals. This causes internal bleeding, ulcers, and blockages of the digestive tracts.
- BPA is an ingredient found in baby bottles, water bottles, food packaging, cosmetics, dental sealants, and more. It’s a hormone disruptor linked to breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- Siloxanes are used in many cosmetics, hair and skin care products. They are silicones and help create a smooth and silky texture. The most common types of siloxanes get into the environment and pollute water and aquatic life, which humans later eat. When ingested by humans, they are endocrine disruptors causing impaired fertility and reproductive toxicity.
- Benzalkonium Chloride is a preservative found in eye and skin care products, pharmaceuticals, and cleaners. It’s toxic to eyes and may cause Dry Eye Disease in some people along with severe irritations. If inhaled medications have Benzalkonium Chloride, they may cause lung toxicity.
- Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens. It is toxic to coral reef and in some people causes contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, and more severe problems like Hirschsprung’s disease. It is a possible Endocrine Disruptor.
- Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are used in some hair, dental, and skin care products, usually as a foaming agent. O skin, they may cause dryness and irritation, and inflammation.
- Toluene is found commonly in nail polish, as well as industrial uses. Short-term exposure may cause headache, nausea, and skin irritations. Long-term exposure causes more serious problems including heart and breathing problems.
- Mineral Oil is used in many lip and skin care products. It is linked to local and systemic manifestations of autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvant (ASIA). This is a group of syndromes that include Systemic Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Systemic Sclerosis. The most risk is posed to the areas where the product is applied because risk of absorption into the bloodstream is very low.
- Amyl-cinnamaldehyde and cinnamaldehyde is often used a fragrance in skin care products. It may cause contact dermatitis and delayed sensitivity. Most severely it may cause anaphylaxis in some people who have this severe allergic reaction.
- Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are found in skin care products often as a thickener for creams and lotions, baby products, pharmaceuticals, and foods. They may cause allergic reactions and run the risk of being contaminated during production with 1, 4-dioxane which may cause cancer and genotoxicity. There’s no way for you to know if it’s been contaminated.
- Resorcinol, chemical names 1,3-benzenediol and 1,3-dihydroxybenzene, are found in hair care, dye, bleach, makeup, skin care, tanning products, and some crustaceans as an additive. It’s a phenolic compound which causes water pollution when it gets into the environment. The EU is evaluating it as a possible endocrine disruptor.
- Polyacrylamide is used in makeup, food processing, and industrial uses. It’s ranked by EWG as a toxic substance. When ingested, through cooking processed foods, it is known to cause cancer.
- Quaternium and polyquaternium are used in soaps, cleansers, lotions, hair products, makeup, and baby products. Most types of this group are OK to use and don’t cause toxicity or allergic reactions. But Quaternium-15 may be a toxic form of it which releases formaldehyde and is cancer-causing, but the jury is still out on this claim.
- Butylphenyl Methlypropional, or Lilial, is found in fragrance, skin care products, laundry products, cleaners, and perfumes. It may cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions. It’s linked to breast cancer when applied near breast tissue, so it is an Endocrine Disruptor.
- Petroleum jelly is found in lipsticks, lotions, baby products, hair products, and pharmaceuticals. They contain parafins which may cause dermatitis in some people. Imrpoper refining may cause polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and are linked to cancer.
- Monoethanolamine (MEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are used in cosmetics and skin are products. They’re safe except if mixed with other products where N-nitroso compounds may be formed, as these are cancer causing.
- Benzoyl peroxide is effective against acne vulgaris when used on skin. It can cause dryness, redness, scaling, and skin bleaching, but is otherwise safe.
- Polybutene is used often in lip care products. It’s relatively harmless.
- EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic), Tetrasodium EDTA and Disodium EDTA are used in skin and hair care products and cosmetics. It helps destroy microorganisms so it acts as a preservative. They are used in the EU and pose no known risk to human or environmental health.
The No List
When checking labels on skin care products, you’ll want to see a lot “no’s.” No Parabens. No Petrochemicals. No PEG. No Fragrance. No Phenoxyethanol. No Fillers. But it’s not just about what isn’t in the product, it’s also about what is in it.
The more ingredients that you know are natural herbs, fruits, pulps, and botanicals, the better. These will not only treat your skin to a luxurious experience, but you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re free of toxins.
Non Toxic Skin Care Brands
It’s wonderful to see so many skin care companies recognize the health hazards in these toxic ingredients. Using these brands will help you avoid these toxic ingredients. All have found totally natural and organic ways to get amazing results without compromising your health.
While there are still many skin care lines that need to get on board, here are some of our favorite non toxic skin care brands:
- 100% Pure
- Absolute Joi
- Acne Treatment Inc
- Andalou Naturals
- Aria Starr
- Bare Minerals
- Beauty Bakerie
- Beauty By Earth
- BeeFriendly Skin Care
- Bella Terra
- Botanical Tree
- Burts Bees
- Christina Moss Naturals
- DeVita Natural Skin Care
- Drunk Elephant
- Eavara Organic
- Eminence Organic Skin Care
- Era Organics
- Eve Hansen
- iLike Organic Skin Care
- Inika Organic
- Juice Beauty
- Just Nutritive Skin Care (formerly Just Natural)
- Kate Somerville
- Kiss Red E
- La Mav
- Lilyana Naturals
- Mad Hippie
- Mae Love
- Mary Ann Organic
- Mary Ann’s Naturals
- Odacité Skin Care
- Organic Wear
- Paula’s Choice
- Physicians Formula Organic Wear
- Shea Moisture African Black Soap
- Skin 2 Spirit
- Specific Beauty
- Sunday Riley
- Suzanne Organics
- Tata Harper
- Thena Natural Wellness
- The Ordinary
- Urban Skin Rx
- Ursa Major
- W3ll People
- Youth To The People
To Sum It Up
Checking labels and continuing to research and learn about companies and toxic ingredients is the best way to avoid putting them on, or in, your body. We think our list of non toxic skin care companies will just keep growing as we keep searching for natural skin care products and new companies keep popping up.