Personal Care Products: Top 10 ingredients to avoid

Personal care products have recently become the target of much scrutiny in the media and by leading health experts due to the toxic compounds many of them contain. Personal care products encompass various commonly used substances like lotions, creams, sunscreens, cosmetics, toners, skin lightening creams, mascara, soaps, hair straighteners, and nail polish. Following is a top 10 list of personal care productive additives that are best avoided. Following is a more in depth explanation of how these compounds can be dangerous to your health.


Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid

  1. Parabens
  2. Phthalates
  3. Triclosan & Triclocarban
  4. Fragrance
  5. Formaldehyde releasers (Quaternium-15, Bronopol, DMDM. Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea, Hydantoin)
  6. Oxybenzone
  7. Toluene
  8. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  9. Hydroquinone
  10. Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinon


  1. Parabens

    These are compounds that are added to lotions, creams, and cosmetics as preservative agents extending their shelf life. When applied to the skin they enter the body and act as endocrine disruptors: they negatively effect your hormonal system. These compounds may cause reproductive problems in men, women, and children. They are commonly listed with the word ‘paraben’ in their name on ingredient labels as isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, etc.


  1. Phthalates

    These are compounds that are commonly added to lotions, nail polish, and cosmetics. Phthalates are also endocrine disrupting molecules that affect the hormonal system of both men and women. They are typically listed on labels with the word phthalate in their name like ‘dibutyl phthalate.’ They also may be included under the umbrella term ‘fragrance’ on labels and not explicitly listed


  1. Triclosan & Triclocarban

    These are extremely prevalent antimicrobial pesticides that are added to cleaning products and in both liquid soaps (triclosan), and bar soaps (triclocarban). These compounds are toxic to aquatic habitats and in humans have been shown to disrupt thyroid hormones and reproductive hormones. Commonly marketed in ‘antimicrobial’ or ‘antibiotic’ soaps, the American Medical Association and American Academy of Microbiology have noted that regular soap and water works just fine to prevent infection, so these additives are best avoided.


  1. Fragrance

    This additive is found in a wide range of products from detergent to shampoos, lotions, and conditioners. Federal law does not require to list the chemicals in these fragrance mixtures. They commonly contain hormone disrupting compounds and are therefore best avoided.


  1. Formaldehyde releasers

    (Quaternium-15, Bronopol, DMDM. Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea, Hydantoin). These are compounds that are designed to slowly release formaldehyde over a long period of time as a deterrent to bacterial growth. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, neurotoxin, can contribute to hair loss, and may worsen asthma symptoms. These compounds are found in cosmetics, hair straighteners, and other products and are best avoided.


  1. Oxybenzone

    This is the most common active ingredient in sun-loations and sunscreens. It functions to absorb UV rays to protect your skin from damage. This compound has been linked to allergies, irritation and decreased birth weight in baby girls and may disrupt hormonal functioning.


  1. Toluene

    This is a volatile organic solvent that is extensively used in industry, pains, thinners, as well as personal care products. It is a potent neurotoxin, can negatively affect lung function, and may impair normal fetal development. Some studies have also linked Toluene exposure to certain types of lymphoma.


  1. Butylated Hydroxyanisole

    (BHA)- This compound found in foods, packaging, and personal care products has been linked to stomach cancers, liver damage, and can affect both thyroid and sex hormone levels. The National Toxicology Program lists it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” and is therefore best avoided.


  1. Hydroquinone

    This compounds is commonly added to skin lightening creams and lotions. It can cause blue-black lesions in some people as well as permanent black bumps of the skin. It has also been shown in animal studies to cause tumors and is therefore best avoided


  1. Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone,

    benzisothiazolinone These compounds are preservatives that are commonly added to personal care products. They are also come of the most common causes of contact skin allergies and may be neurotoxic as well.

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