Parabens are common preservatives used in many personal care and food products. They are commonly found in shampoo, lotion, and shower gel.

Parabens are carcinogens that mimic estrogen and can cause endocrine disruption. Avoid any ingredient that ends with paraben. The most common are methylparaben, propylparaben, ethelparaben, butelparaben.


Phthalates are commonly found in nail polish, color cosmetics, hair products, and can potentially be found in any product that lists fragrance or color as an ingredient.

Phthalates are known reproductive and developmental toxins. They can disrupt hormones, have been linked to lowered sperm count in men, and are especially risky for pregnant women and children. The most common are Phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance.


You can find artificial fragrance in any and all types of personal care, beauty and baby products. The term ‘fragrance’ can include as many as 25 ingredients that companies do not have to disclose because it is considered a trade secret. The most common toxic chemical likely included in the bunch is phthalates. Fragrance has been linked to allergies, respiratory issues and skin irritations.

Please avoid: Fragrance, perfume, parfum, aroma. Even if it says ‘natural fragrance’ it’s best to steer clear since you don’t know what it is actually composed of. Look for products scented with natural essential oils instead (and make sure they list every one!).

Top 10 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care Products


Colors are used in everything from baby shampoo to makeup products. Coal Tar based colors are often found in hair dyes. If the product you’re looking at has any sort of color to it, check for synthetic colors.

Synthetic colors, like synthetic fragrance, contain a whole list of toxic ingredients themselves that are unknown to the consumer. Many synthetic colors are derived from coal tar, which is a known carcinogen as well as skin and respiratory irritant. Please avoid synthetic colors. They are easy to spot on a label. They are typically labeled ‘FD&C’ or ‘D&C’, followed by the color and number.

Occasionally they will just list the color name and number. Examples: FD&C Blue No. 4, D&C Green No. 6, Red No. 2.

5. HEAVY METALS (lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc and iron)

Metals are added to a number of beauty products and are most commonly used in lipstick, eye makeup, whitening toothpaste, nail polish and other makeup products. Heavy metals are known carcinogens that can cause developmental, reproductive and organ system toxicity. Please avoid: Lead acetate, chromium, thimerosal, hydrogenated cotton seed oil, sodium hexametaphosphate.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and it’s close cousin Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are foaming agents used most often in shampoo. These ingredients make your shampoo super sudsy. SLS and SLES are known to irritant to skin, eyes and lungs. Please avoid:. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and a number of combinations with ‘lauryl sulfate’ in the name

Toxic Skincare


There are a number of sunscreen chemicals that are used to prevent UV Rays. They are used in sunscreen (of course!) and many face products that have UV protection. Basically if your product provides any sort of UV protection, you need to read the ingredients carefully. Sunscreen ingredients are a tricky bunch to navigate. On the one hand, we know sun damage is bad for us and we need to protect our skin.

On the other hand, there is researching showing that some chemical sunscreens may be WORSE for our skin than the sun damage they prevent. This is because they also contain vitamin A (also known as retinol and retinyl palmitate) which can speed up the rate at which malignant cells develop. Many chemical sunscreens mimic hormones (which is especially scary for children who are still developing) and some cause skin irritation.

In addition, sunscreen chemicals have been found in blood, urine and breastmilk samples, showing that they are readily absorbed in to the body. Please avoid: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.


Formaldehyde has been linked to skin irritations and cancer and is something I definitely don’t want on my body! Please avoid: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.

FRPs: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal.



Petroleum based ingredients have been used in cosmetics for many years (I’m looking at you, Vaseline), and are commonly found in lip products and lotions. Petroleum ingredients form a barrier on the skin.

The biggest concern about petroleum ingredients is the large chance of contamination from the petroleum it is refined from. When it is not properly refined, it contains contaminates that can cause cancer. Since there is no way to know if the petroleum in a certain product has been properly refined, it is best to avoid all products containing petroleum I’d rather slather something like shea butter on my skin anyway!

Please avoid: Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin Oil, Mineral Oil and White Petrolatum


Triclosan is an antibacterial agent most commonly used in hand soaps, antibacterial hand gel and toothpaste. It has been associated with endocrine disruption, skin irritation and trisclosan resistant bacteria. Please avoid: Triclosan (TSC) and triclocarban (TCC)

It is definitely a time consuming task to check labels and ingredients, but worth it in the end. Knowledge is power and power fuels your health.

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About The Author

Julie Bishop, RDH

Hi, I am Julie Bishop, a mother to an awesome daughter named Mackenzie. I reside in Cincinnati, OH and I help others heal and feel whole again. I have guided many people for healing through an awesome detoxification protocol, infrared therapy, and practicing a holistic lifestyle. I want my journey to be an inspiration for you.

  • Registered Dental Hygienist
  • Senior Skin Consultant – Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic
  • Infrared Specialist – Clearlight Infrared® Sauna
  • Detox Consultant – Microbe Formulas
  • Health & Wellness Blogger
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