1.All parabens (ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben…)
Where you can find them: almost everywhere: shampoos, soap, skin lotions, sunscreens, make-up, you name it!Â Besides their long name, they can also be identified by their codes: E214 for ethylparaben, E218 for methylparaben, E216 for propylparaben.
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: they are preservatives that give products a longer shelf life.
Why you shouldn’t use them: So many products contain them that they build up in our bodies, where they can act on our hormones, and have been found to be estrogen-disruptors. Washed off in the shower, parabens accumulate in waterways and also disrupt the hormonal system of animals who drink or swim in that water.
2.Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES)
Where you can find them: shampoos and soaps
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: they are a foaming agent
Why you shouldn’t use them: They can enter the heart, brain and liver through the skin, where they can accumulate. Moreover, SLS and SLES react with many other ingredients to form nitrosomines (or nitrates), which are potential carcinogenics.
3.DMDM Hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl Urea
Where you can find them: shampoos, hair conditioners, skin care products, moisturizers, bath products, and makeup bases and foundations
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: They are antimicrobial preservatives used to prevent molds and bacterial spoilage.
Why you shouldn’t use them: Although not suspected to be environmental toxins, they are known human immune system toxicants as well as human skin toxicants. They work by releasing formaldehyde into the products.
Where you can find them: any product, not just perfumes.
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: to either give a pleasant smell or cover up a bad one.
Why you shouldn’t use them:Any ingredient, included phthalates, can be hidden behind the word Fragrance: cosmetic industries are not required to divulge all their ingredients and play the trade secret card. Fragrances cause allergies, are linked to cancer and can attack the nervous system.
5.Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
Where you can find them: creams, lotions, shampoos and conditioners
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: They are preservatives with antibacterial and antifungal effects, effective against fungus and yeast.
Why you shouldn’t use them: they cause allergies and attack the nervous system
6.PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
Where you can find it: surfactants, lotions, cleansing agents, emulsifiers, skin conditioners. The number next to PEG indicates the molecular weight of the compounds that make up PEG.
Why it is used by the cosmetic industry: for penetration enhancing effect.
Why you shouldn’t use it: PEG is a toxic contaminant and possible carcinogen. It should not be used on damaged skin as it can cause itch and rash.It also contains various harmful impurities, including lead.
7.Triclosan and Triclocarban
Where you can find them: soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, and toothpastes
Why they are used by the cosmetic industry: antibacterial and antifungal agents
Why you shouldn’t use them: They have an impact on our thyroid and are suspected to cause cancer. They also pose environmental concerns: they are persistent organic pollutants, acutely and chronically toxic to aquatic organisms.
Where you can find it: face and body moisturizers, mascaras, shampoos, baby products
Why it is used by the cosmetic industry: to balance pH
Why you shouldn’t use it: it is a potential carcinogen, as it combines with other ingredients to create nitrosamines, which cause cancer. It can also
trigger allergies. As it accumulates in our bodies, it can become toxic. DEA (diethanolamines) and MEA (coconut oil amide of monoethanolamine) are close relatives which pose similar concerns.