LuvLola Blog – Natural Organic Skin Care Solutions

Cosmetics Industry’s Dirty Dozen Ingredients To Avoid

SOURCE: Photo by Кристина Александрова from Pexels

You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” in cosmetics product. More specifically you may have heard that some of the ingredients in cosmetics aren’t very safe to be using on your body. 

Research has uncovered 82,000 ingredients in cosmetics products that are actually industrial chemicals including: pesticides, hormone disruptors, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins.

Many cosmetics include ingredients that are also used for keeping concrete soft these are known as plasticisers, ingredients used to get grease off mechanical instruments known as degreasers, ingredients used to reduce surface tension in water such as ink and paint. 

Considering how active these ingredients need to be to get those types of industrial jobs done, how do you think these ingredients effect your skin and body. Think about both the short term and long term effects. Scary right?

A study of US and Canadian cosmetics products revealed that 80% of the products tested had at least one of these “dirty dozen” toxic chemicals.  

Here is a list of the Cosmetics Industry’s Dirty Dozen ingredient to avoid at all costs!

#1 BHA & BHT

BHA stands for butylated hydroxyanisole, and BHT stands for butylated hydroxytoluene. Both chemicals are used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, and other cosmetics. 

BHA and BHT can cause allergic reactions and irritation on the skin.

BHA is classified by The International Agency for Research on Cancer  as a possible human carcinogen. 

BHA is listed by The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption  as a Category 1 priority substance, based on evidence that it interferes with hormone function

#2 Coal Tar Dyes including p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number

Both coal tar dyes and natural, inorganic pigments are used in cosmetics, they are commonly found in hair dyes.  Darker colors will contain more of the substance, as opposed to lighter colored hair dyes. 

Coal tar is a petroleum product, which is a mix of serval chemicals. Coal tar is recognized as a human carcinogen. The main health concern is coal tar colors which have a potential to cause cancer. The colors also add a risk of contamination with heavy metals, some containing aluminum substrate which is toxic to the brain. 

P-phenylenediamine is has caused tumors in lab tests conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. There are assications between the use of hair dye and several types cancer specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is cancer of the lymphatic system.

#3 DEA & related ingredients

DEA stands for diethanolamineand. DEA mixtures are used to make cosmetics creamy or bubbly. It can also be used to change PH levels. DEA is more commonly used in moisturizer and sunscreen.  The DEA compounds Cocamide and lauramide are found in shampoo, soap, and cleansers. 

DEA and DEA mixtures have been proven to cause skin and eye irritation.

Lab testing has proven that high doses of these chemicals causes liver cancer, as well as pre cancerous conditions of the thyroid. These substances are considered a serious heath risk. 

#4 Dibutyl Phthalate

Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP for short is mainly used nail care cosmetics. This is a solvent that prevents nail polish from becoming brittle. Phthalates are also found in other cosmetics such as fragrances, again this will not be found on the label due to secrecy of fragrance ingredients.


#5 Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde-releasing substances are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetic products.

This types of ingredients are unsafe because they slowly, and continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Cosmetics containing formaldehyde may off-gas, and the inhalation of the off-gas is what poses the main cancer risk. 


#6 Parabens

Parabens are commonly used in fragrances, and remain the most frequently used preservative in cosmetics. Since fragrance producers are not required to disclose all of their secret ingredients the presence of parabens is not always known to the purchaser. It is estimated that 70-90% of cosmetics contain parabens.

Parabens have been proven to interfere with hormone function by mimicking estrogen which is the primary female sex hormone.  They have been detected in human breast tissue, which bridges a link between parabens in cosmetics and breast cancer. Since parabens easily penetrate the skin they pose a high toxicity risk. 


#7 Parfum

Fragrance is another word for perfume. As a cosmetic ingredient fragrance is generally a mixture of several chemicals. There could be up to 3000 chemicals in a fragrance. Generally all cosmetics and personal care products contain fragrance even the ones that claim to be un-scented or fragrance free.

Some of the top perfume and cologne brands have tested positive for 14 chemicals that are not listed on their labels.

Many fragrance ingredients have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.Phthalates are associated with premature puberty in girls. In males reduced sperm count, as well as reproductive defects in the developing male fetus. Obesity and insulin resistance in men is associated with phthalate metabolites. This could be one of the worst toxins to try to avoid. 

#8 PEG Compounds

PEGs is short for polyethylene glycols. These are petroleum-based mixtures are used widely as thickening agents in cosmetics. They can also be used as softeners, solvents, and moisture-carriers. Most common use of PEGs are in cream bases of cosmetic products.

PEGs contain carcinogenic substances, and the mixtures are linked to geneotoxicity. This substance is not safe to use on broken or damaged skin due to risk of systemic toxicity and skin irritation. This substance is also a penetration enhancer which means it increases the rate in which substances can be absorbed through the skin. This makes any other harmful ingredient it is mixed with even more dangerous.


#9 Petrolatum

Petrolatum is a gel form of mineral oil AKA petroleum jelly. Its used in cosmetics as a barrier to lock moisture into the skin. This substance is found in moisturizers, hair products, and a variety of other cosmetics.

Petrolatum often contains substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Exposure to PAHs has been linked to cancer with regular exposure over long periods of time. This substance is also known to cause skin irritation. Europe has banned the use of petrolatum in cosmetics due to the fact that it has been classified by the European Union as a carcinogen.

#10 Siloxanes

Silicone based mixtures that are used in cosmetics for several purposes including: softening, smoothing, and moistening. They are commonly used in hair products, moisturizers, and various facial products.  


Cyclotetrasiloxane AKA D4 and cylcopentasiloxane AKA D5 have been listed as  toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms by Environment Canada. D4 is listed as endocrine disruptor since there is evidence that it interferes with human hormone function. D5 has been proven to cause uterine tumours and harm to the reproductive and immune systems with high exposure. D5 is also a disruptor of neurotransmitters in the nervous system 


#11 Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium laureth sulfate or SLES for short is found in cosmetics as a detergent and a foaming agent. Commonly in shampoos, body wash and face cleansers.

Sodium laureth sulfate can contaminated with high amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane this dependson how it is manufactured; these are known carcinogens. Ethylene oxide is harmful to the nervous system, and may it may interfere with human development.

#12 Triclosan

Triclosan is found in antiperspirants, deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers as a preservative and anti bac ingredient.

Triclosan easily absorbs through the skin. This substance creates interference with hormone functions. Scientific testing done on a random set of 2517 people aged 6 and up had a 75% positive urine trace of this toxin.