Higher Health Risk:  There have been many studies linking these ingredients to various health conditions.

  • Triclosans/Triclocarbans: Triclosans are active ingredients found in liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, and detergents.  Triclocarbons are similar, but found in the solid, bar forms of these products.  Both chemicals are synthetic and are usually active ingredients used for their anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties.  Studies have shown that triclosans and triclocarbans often interfere with thyroid function and hormone production, increasing levels of androgens, estrogens, and cortisol.  Some scientists also believe that triclosans and triclocarbans can cause antibiotic resistance.
  • Phthalates:   Phthalates are used in personal care products to carry out a variety of functions including acting as a lubricant and emulsifier as well as controlling viscosity.  However, some of the health risks associated with heavy use of phthalates are birth defects and disruption of sex hormones, which can be potentially carcinogenic.  In some cases, phthalates may also be linked to decreased fertility in women.
  • Parabens:  Parabens are a commonly used preservative in cosmetic products.  Different forms of parabens include methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens (the most potent form), and ethylparabens.  Parabens mimic estrogens in the body.  There has been growing evidence recently that even the small amounts used in personal care products can be linked to breast cancer.     

Moderate Health Risk:  There have been some studies linking these ingredients to various health conditions.

  • Aluminum:  Aluminum is most often used in powders and deodorants for its antiperspirant properties.   However, many researchers believe that aluminum interferes with brain function and blood flow, which can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease as well as learning disabilities.  In addition, researchers have suggested that exposure to aluminum is related to breast cancer.  
  • BHT/BHA:  Butylated hydroxtoluene/hydroanisole is a synthetic antioxidant that is used as a preservative in cosmetics.   Due to its chemical properties and metabolites, BHA/BHT can be potentially carcinogenic.
  • GMO:  Genetically modified organisms are more common in soy or corn-based plants.  Since they have been genetically altered, they may be able to influence the body’s resistance to things such as antibiotics. 
  • Talc:  Talc is a mineral used in powders to help the skin with absorption and to decrease caking.  Studies on animals have shown that frequent inhalation of talc can increase your risk of respiratory conditions such as lung tumors.  Although not much research has been conducted on this claim, some scientists believe that talc can increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Propylene-Glycol:  Propylene-Glycol is an organic alcohol that acts as a solvent and stabilizer in many products.  It can not only be irritating, but also damaging to the skin and may be connected to various liver, kidney, and reproductive abnormalities.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride: Bismuth Oxychloride is derived from a processed form of lead and is generally used in mineral makeup to improve the product’s texture and long-lasting effect.  Many consumers find this ingredient extremely irritating and like talc, some research shows that inhaling bismuth oxychloride may be associated with respiratory disorders.
  • Mineral Oil/Petrolatum:  Mineral Oil/Petrolatum are found in a variety of lotions, lip balms, and other products and can have very negative effects on the skin.  First, the ingredient attracts sunlight and increase risks of sun damage.  In addition, mineral oil/petrolatum simply sits on top of the skin.  It creates a barrier between the skin and environment preventing the skin from breathing and absorbing moisture.  As a result, your skin cell development and functioning can be altered.  It can not only cause premature aging, but researchers also suggest that it may increase the risks of developing certain cancers (lung and skin).
  • Synthetic DyesSynthetic dyes usually include a color and a number in their names and are derived from coal tar and are thought to increase the risk of cancer. 
  • PABA:  Synthetic PABA (not the naturally occurring form found in foods like rice) is often used as a UV filter in products with SPF.  However, it can stimulate the production of hormones like estrogen.
  • Chemical Sunscreens: Certain chemical sunscreens including oxybenzone and homosalate can mimic estrogens and cause hormone disruption.  They can also release free radicals as a byproduct when absorbing sunlight and can be linked to skin cancer.

Ingredients That Can Damage or Irritate Skin:

  • Sulfates:  Sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are used in many cleaning products because it is a synthetic surfactant that helps create foaming properties.  Sulfates are very aggressive and can be both irritating and damaging to your hair and skin.  In fact, they are so aggressive that they are commonly used in car cleaning products to clean greasy surfaces.  Some sulfates are combined with other substances so that they cannot be absorbed into the skin because of they could have a corrosive effect on your internal organs. 
  • Fragrance/Parfum:  Fragrances often are common skin irritants.  Don’t be fooled by labels that say “Fragrance-Free.” These products can still be irritating, for they often contain fragrances to neutralize other fragrances.  Also, many fragrances contain phthalates.
  • Alcohol:  Alcohol is commonly found in skin care products.  Although it does not pose any serious risks to your health or to your skin, alcohol can often cause irritation, inflammation, and drying of the skin.  It can also aggravate any existing skin conditions like acne.  Look for labels that say “alcohol-free.”
  • Gluten:  Gluten is a common allergen.  For people with celiac disease, gluten, not only in food, but also in cosmetics can damage the intestines.

"The Big Three" Ingredients to Avoid in Nail Polish:

  • DBP:  Dibutyl phthalate is used to make a substance flexible that may cause severe reproductive disorders and birth defects.
  • Toluene:  Toluene is a solvent that can damage the respiratory and immune systems, cause birth defects.  It has also been known for its neurotoxicity and for its association with blood cancer.
  • Formaldehyde:  Formaldehyde is a preservative that is not only a common allergen, but is considered a carcinogenic substance.
Ingredients That Can Damage or Irritate Nails:
  • Camphor Camphor is a plasticizer that makes substances flexible.  It is poisonous if ingested and can cause skin and nail redness and irritation.
  • Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin Formaldehyde resin is derived from formaldehyde and is typically used as a thickener.  It is a common allergen.