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12 Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products

July 28, 2010

12 Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products

The Dirty Dozen 12 Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products
(Info from

* Antibacterials
* Coal tar colors: FD&C Blue 1, Green 3
* Diethanolamine (DEA)
* Formaldehyde from quaternium 15
* Fragrance
* Hydroquinone
* Mercury and lead
* Nanoparticles
* Methyl-, propyl-, butyl- and ethyl parabens
* Petroleum distillates* Phenylenediamine (PPD)

Here are some ingredients to look for on labels and avoid:

Coal-Tar Dyes: These coloring agents can be carcinogens. Avoid cosmetics containing FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Green 3, D&C Red 33, FD&C Yellow 5, FC&C Yellow 6.

Glycol Ethers: Some glycol ethers have been linked to reproductive-system harm or birth defects, and overexposure can also result in kidney damage and liver abnormalities. Propylene glycol is a common skin irritant.

Fragrance: This blanket term generally covers synthetic fragrance using phthalates, a family of chemical plasticizers that have been shown to cause birth defects, reproductive impairments and liver damage in lab animals. And, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrance is the number-one cause of allergic reactions from cosmetics.

Petrolatum: Although studies confirm that petroleum jelly, or Vaseline, is safe, it is derived from a non-renewable resource and can cause allergic skin reactions. And if you accidentally eat too much—not an impossibility if you are slathering it on your lips—you may wind up with diarrhea.

Preservatives: Parabens, including methyl-, butyl-, ethyl- and propyl-, often cause skin irritation and have been found in tissue samples from human breast tumors. Consumers should also avoid bronopol (often listed as 2-brono-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantion, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium 15, all of which can release formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen.

Hypoallergenic: Don’t be seduced by this meaningless term. The FDA states that “there are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term ‘hypoallergenic.'” Some products labeled “hypoallergenic,” for example, contain known allergens, such as quaternium 15 and propylene glycol.
Look for these “goodies,” generally less irritating and less risky for health and the environment, in a variety of personal care products. (You download and print this list as part of a comprehensive cosmetics guide, available at “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly“).
Candelilla wax
Iron oxides
Jojoba oil
Pycnogenol (from pine trees)
Rice bran oil
Shea butter
Sunflower oil
Sweet almond oil
Titanium dioxide
Vitamins A,C,E

Stay tuned for my homemade household cleaner recipes.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Nicole permalink
    August 15, 2010 11:13 am

    Very interesting list of ingredients. A few weeks ago I was looking through “” and was blown away by the research they have conducted on many products marketed to consumers as safe (many of which we currently were using). Very scary but eye opening!

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