KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: 20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

Do you really know what you are putting on your face? Every day we use cosmetic products that we think are safe but most products are actually NOT safe. In a typical day, you might be exposed to over 200 chemicals and many are known to be harmful and can even cause cancer and lead to other health problems. Therefore, It is important to know how to check ingredient list on your products to see if they are made with safe ingredients for your face and body. Body’s largest organ is skin and absorbs what you put onto it. What you put on your skin will be absorbed and can affect your health. There are increase number of smart consumers, they are more careful about avoiding hazardous ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. How do you read Ingredients labels with full of unfamiliar terms? JO:AH has listed some ingredients to avoid and also about how to reading cosmetic labels.

DECODING INGREDIENT LISTING
Ingredients are listed in descending order, from greatest to least. If a product is aloe based, aloe would be listed first on the ingredient listing and so on.   

COSMETICS CONTAINING “KEY INGREDIENTS"
A specific component in the product name is emphasized. Sometimes only key ingredients are listed so make sure to check ALL the ingredients of the product.

IN A RUSH?
It would be nice if we can check the ingredient label for all toxic ingredients but sometimes you can't remember all the chemicals or you are just in a rush. Check the first and last five ingredients on ingredient listing. The first five make up most of the product and the last five are usually fragrance and preservatives. If these are clean, product is probably safe.

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20 INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

BENZOPHENONE - 3 / OXYBENZONE
Linked to cancer and organ system toxicity. Common ingredient in sunscreen.

BUTYLATED COMPOUNDS (BHA / BHT)
Used as an antioxidant and preservatives. Found in lipstick, eye shadow hair products, sunscreen, deodorant, fragrance and creams.

BUTYL METHOXYDIBENZOYLMETHANE (AVOBENZONE)
Absorbs UV rays, when applied to the skin. Could cause sunburn, raging of the skin and cancer. Found in sun protection products, also in bath, skin, cleansing, hair, nail and fragrance products.  

COAL TAR
Known carcinogen, banned in the EU but used in North America. Found in dry skin treatments, hair dyes, scalp treatment and dandruff shampoos.

DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA) / MONOETHANOLAMINE (MEA) / TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)
Possible carcinogen, restricted in EU but used in America. Used to produce rich lather and create a creamy texture. Could cause skin and eye irritation. Found in shampoos, shaving creams, bubble baths, shower gel, body washes and soaps. 

DIAZOLIDINYL UREA
Used as preservatives. Found in facial and eye makeup, aftershave, nail, bath, hair and skin care products.

DMDM HYDANTOIN (FORMALDEHYDE RELEASER) 
Preservatives and found in shampoos, hair conditioners, moisturisers, bath products, makeup bases and foundations. Possible side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer.

COLORANTS / SYNTHETIC COLORING
Synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts. Deposit toxins into the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Almost all of them to be carcinogenic.

FRAGRANCE / PARFUM
Mostly synthetic ingredients, used in a wide variety of cosmetic products to impart pleasant order and also to hide smell of some ingredients. Fragrance can cause headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies.

IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA
Preservatives. Found in lotions, creams, hair conditioners, shampoos and deodorants.  

ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL
Made from propylene, a petroleum derivative. Very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrates your skin. Found in makeup, lotions, fragrance, oral care, shaving, skin care, hair care ad antibacterial hand washes. 

MINERAL OIL
By-product of petroleum which coats the skin like plastic and clogs pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in aging. Found in moisturizers, styling gels and baby oil which is 100% mineral oil!  

PARABENS
Preservatives. Found in wide variety of cosmetic and personal care products. 

POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG)
Petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor. It adjusts the melting point and thickens products. Found in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease.

PHENOXYETHANOL
Preservatives in cosmetic products and stabiliser in perfumes and soaps. 

SODIUM AURYL SULFATE (SLS) / SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES)
Used to produce lather and create foam. Found in cleansing products, bubble baths. Gets absorbed into the body and irritates skin.  

SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE
Cleansing agents in cosmetic and personal care products. Found primarily in shampoos, bath products, hair colorings, facial makeup, deodorants, perfumes.  

SORBIC ACID
Preservatives. Found in facial and eye makeup and ski care and hair products.

TRICLOSAN
A synthetic antibacterial ingredient that is linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, deodorants.  

THYMOL
Used as preservatives and fragrance. Found in bath, skin, personal care, hair products, hair dyes and mouthwashes. Cause ski irritation and headache.


Hopefully this list was helpful to get to know some of the hazardous chemicals. Many times ingredient list is ignored by consumers but it is best to always read ingredient labels carefully to know what’s in your products and also to avoid harmful chemicals. Some ingredients are used widely but that doesn’t mean they are always safe. Most of these ingredients have long names that are hard to remember but just get educated so you can avoid these harmful, hazardous and toxic chemicals! You can also use Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to get information on ingredients.