Nine Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

ANTIBACTERIALS

  • Overuse of antibacterials can prevent them from effectively fighting disease-causing germs like E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Triclosan, widely used in soaps, toothpastes, and deodorants, has been detected in breast milk, and one recent study found that it interferes with testosterone activity in cells. Numerous studies have found that washing with regular soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs.

COAL TAR

  • Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used as an active ingrdient in dandruff shampoos and anti-itch creams. Coal-tar-based dyes such as FD&C Blue 1, used in toothpastes, and FD&C Green 3, used in mouthwash, have been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies when injected under skin.

DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA)

  • DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, has shown limited evidence of carcinogenicity and depletes the body of choline needed for fetal brain development.  DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.

1,4-DIOXANE

  • 1,4 -Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms “PEG,” “-xynol,” “ceteareth,” oleth” and most other ethoxylated “eth” ingredients.

FORMALDEHYDE

  • Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans. Yet it still turns up in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium compounds.

FRAGRANCE

  • The catchall term “fragrance” may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.

LEAD AND MERCURY

  • Neurotic lead may appear in products asa naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, one of the ingredients in toothpaste. Brain-damaging mercury, found in the preservative thimerosol, is used in some mascaras.

PARABENS

  • (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butylparaben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.

PETROLEUM DISTILLATES

  • Possible carcinogens, they are prohibited or restricted for use in the E.U.but are found in several U.S.brands of mascara, foot-odor powder and other products. Look out for  “petroleum” or “liquid paraffin.”