Following is a list of the top 10 chemicals to avoid that are contained in many cosmetic ingredients that you should stop applying to your skin from this day forward.

Examples: diazolindyl urea, imidazolindyl urea
Common preservatives that release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, that is irritating to the mucous membranes and known to cause contact dermatitis, headaches and internal bleeding.

Examples: butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben
Common preservatives that are linked to breast cancer.

Examples: di-butyl-phthalate, di-ethylhexyl-phthalate
Commonly used as a plasticizer in everything from skincare, cosmetics, nail polish, perfume to hair products and deodorants. Known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. Suspected of causing birth defects, lowering sperm counts and a breast cancer risk.

Petroleum By-Products
Examples: mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, dipropylene, glycol, butylene glycol, disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, polybutene, triclosan, polyethylene
Petroleum by-products interfere with the skin’s natural functions, clog the pores, exacerbates acne, and are highly likely to be contaminated with carcinogens that are linked to breast cancer.

Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Made from the same chemical that is used to create anti-freeze, this chemical easily penetrates the skin and is linked to damage of the liver, kidneys and brain.

Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate
Commonly used foaming agent that is considered a skin irritant and carcinogen, and is known to cause skin rashes and allergic reactions. SLS is absorbed into the body via skin application and mimics the activity of estrogen. This has a variety of health implications ranging from PMS, decreased fertility in men as well as an increase in cancers such as breast cancer in women. It is often disguised in “natural” products with the term “derived from coconut”. It is particularly irritating to the eyes. SLS is often contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
These chemicals can react with other ingredients in the cosmetic product to form potent carcinogenic chemicals called nitrosamines, that are linked with liver, stomach, bladder and esophagus cancers.

Commonly found in nail products, this chemical is a known carcinogen, allergen and irritant. Commonly used synthetic preservatives, such as diazolindyl and imidazolindyl urea, break down to release formaldehyde.

Synthetic Fragrances
eg. parfum, vanillyl butyl ether
The simple term “fragrance” on an ingredient list can refer to a combination of any of the thousand separate ingredients used to make up the “fragrance”, many of which are phthalates (ie. toxic carcinogens and hormone disruptors). Fragrances are considered to be one of the top 5 known allergens and are known to cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks.

Commonly found in mineral makeup, as well as eyeshadows, lip glosses and other cosmetics. Not only is mica linked to child labour, it may also irritate the skin by causing micro tears on the skin, especially around the nose and mouth, due to the way in which the shimmery mica frosts are cut. Mica may enhance fine lines and dry areas of the skin and has no beneficial properties for the skin. Mica is also a big concern in loose mineral makeup, due to the potential of the little fine dust being inhaled, which may potentially result in micro tears / scarring of the lungs. There is no valid data on the “safe” amounts of Mica in dry-texture-cosmetics such as eye shadow, mineral makeup or powder. 

Minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, commonly used in sunscreen lotions, foundation and other liquid types of lotions are harmless in their normal size. They simply sit on the skin since they are too large to penetrate its protective barrier. However, when these ingredients are broken down into nanoparticles (i.e. very small), they are easily absorbed into the skin. The tiny size gives these particles the ability to travel throughout the body and is what enhances their toxicity. There is research showing that nanoparticles of zinc oxide and other ingredients like aluminum collect in parts of the brain and cause cell death. Furthermore, these particles are so easily absorbed that they are detectable in all areas of the body, including vital organs.

Ok, so that was more than ten top 10 chemicals to avoid 🙂 but whilst it’s a good start, these are certainly not the only ingredients that you should avoid. Other known nasties include: cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone Copolyol, dimethicone, methicone, phenyl trimethicone, polyquaternium-7, disodium EDTA, EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, silicones.

If you’re keen to shop for products that are pure, safe and toxin-free check out our carefully curated collection of genuine natural and organic products that work here.

15 Comments on “TOP 10 CHEMICALS TO AVOID

  1. Pingback: Five Alive Friday | Checks and Spots

  2. Pingback: Going Chemical Free | Beautiful [+] Functional [=] Perfect

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  4. Thank for for sharing this helpful list! I am keeping this on my phone for the next make-up shopping trip. It is so important to know what you are putting on your skin. I have always avoided petroleum, but will now also know to avoid the others as well.

  5. I have just checked this essential list before purchasing a hand-cream that is claiming to be 93% natural, unfortunately 7% of the ingredients are listed here. I have avoided using the nasty chemicals on my skin for many years and it is so helpful to be able to refer to this dangerous chemicals list if ever I should forget what harm they do cause. Thank you!

  6. I am studying chemical engineering at school, so I love reading articles about fine chemicals. It’s interesting how mica is found in some mineral makeup, I’ll make sure to look at the ingredients in make up products so that I can avoid some harsh chemicals. I’ll share this to my sister who is studying chemistry in school.

  7. Hi Alice,
    So lovely to hear that you’re finding the information interesting. Big hugs and best wishes to you and your sister
    x Samantha

  8. What make up line does not have Disodium EDTA? I have an allergy.

  9. what skin care lines do you recommend for facial moisturizers? I have several skin allergies.

  10. Hi Samantha,
    Great article!! that contains really useful information. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.

    Your right! Everyone must be acknowledged of the main ingredients of the any product that is included as a part daily skin care.You should search for the ingredient list, research and read reviews regarding them. Sometimes these skin-care products like shampoos, creams, moisturizers may be composed of irritants that may trigger skin allergy OR Eczema in few individuals.

    Everyone must shuold be check while the purchagin any skin care prouduct. what ingredients containg that products.. is it useful for your skin.

    In Additionally I have written article on :- Shampoo for Eczema Scalp – Watch Out For These Key Ingredients –

    Please have a look and provide your feedback.


  11. Wow! I am blown away and at the same time terribly upset and disgusted with the 1000’s of dollars I’ve spent well over $2K in the past 3.5 years on skin products, that said on live TV that they are natural and good for you and that they don’t use any bad ingredients & that their products are made with Cancer & Burn Patients in mind and made for the most sensitive skin types by Plastic Surgeon’s & Dermatologists…
    First, I want to Thank You for listing these Harmful ingredients and Second, Thank You for letting A Healthier alternative…
    3 brands I feel have totally LIED to me and many other users out there!
    IT Cosmetics/Skin Care, Skinn Cosmetics/Skin Care & Elizabeth Grant Cosmetics/Skin Care….
    I just recently, as of last weekend, discovered they ALL use Disodium EDTA, Butylene, Alcohols and sooo many horrible & HARMFUL ingredients!
    I feel sick to my stomach as I wonder how much I’ve been Poisoned!!
    * If I’m not allowed to list these 3 products, please omit from my comment..

    I will be throwing away all my products and reinvesting in a much Healthier and Honest brand(s).

    Thank You once again!

  12. Have been a sufferer of dyshidrotic eczema for… too long now. (A chronic condition perpetuated by allergic reactions either contact or food-which im just beginning to explore and continual handwashing; my profession, surgical assistant). Have been allergy tested and plan to get more, and visited dermatologist regularly). Recently tried a topical rx that would “improve the symptoms (thoasands of tiny intensely itchy blisters, red irritated aching debilitating skin) or make it worse. It got worse. I just compared my dermatologist recommended lotion to your list and again, am overwhelmed that the help i sought has likely been more harm than good. Thank you for the research i have been unsuccessful to accomplish on my own and the information that i can apply in hopes of healing!! UGghh!!

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