Why this matters:

Many customers are becoming more aware of harmful ingredients.  Because most of these ingredients have difficult chemical names, are difficult to pronounce and sometimes have very similar spelling, customers are often confused, questioning health food store staff about the ingredients listed on natural product packages.  Store staff should learn and remember the main types of ingredients to avoid so they are prepared for customer questions and so they can understand marketing claims made on packages.

  • Aluminum or Alcloxa – Aluminium chloride, Aluminium Chlorohydrate, Aluminum-zirconium, Aluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly are just some of the different forms of aluminum that are used as antiperspirant agents, cosmetic astringents, and deodorant agents.  These aluminum compounds prevent sweating by clogging the pores and preventing sweat from reaching the skin’s surface.  There is evidence that the forms of aluminum utilized most commonly in commercial antiperspirant products are human toxins/allergens with possible links to breast cancer.
  • Antibacterial soaps – Contains antibacterial agents (such as triclosan) that work as an antibiotic.  Researchers are concerned about bacteria that survive exposure to antibacterial agents and can pass along their resistant genes, making the next generation even tougher to combat.
  • Artificial colors (FD&C, D&C) – There are currently seven artificial (synthetic) coal-tar based dyes on the market, four of which have shown in research to contribute the growth of cancer in laboratory animals.  Six of the seven artificial colors used in the US have been banned in other countries.
  • Artificial fragrances - Artificial fragrances commonly cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, and possible organ system toxicity.  They also contain phthalates which are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers.  The phthalates found in the majority of artificial fragrances are known endocrine disruptors.
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) – BHA is a preservative, stabilizer, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  It is suspected to be an endocrine disruptor and is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence in experimental animals.
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Butylhydroxytoluene) – BHT is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  Human case studies show significant allergenic effects.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride – Bismuth oxychloride is a naturally occurring mineral used as a filler ingredient in cosmetics to achieve a shiny effect.  It is typically a byproduct of lead/copper refining and may cause extreme irritation, redness, burning, itching, and worsening of some skin conditions (particularly when perspiring or in hot weather).
  • Chemical Sunscreens (avobenzone/oxybenzone) - synthetic sunscreens can get absorbed and potentially disrupt hormone balance.
  • Coal Tar – Coal Tar is a thick liquid or semi-solid obtained as a byproduct in the destructive distillation of coal.  It is commonly used as an anti-dandruff agent, cosmetic biocide, denaturant, and is a known human carcinogen.
  • DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate) – DBP is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent.  It is classified as a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin.
  • DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) – This insecticide can be found in most over-the-counter insect repellents. However, there are some concerns about its toxicity.  With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors, and shortness of breath.
  • Ethoxylated ingredients like Sodium Myreth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEGs or PPGs – These ingredients are made, in part, with the petrochemical ethylene oxide which results in a contaminant that has been classified as a possible carcinogen.
  • Ethanolamines like MEA/DEA/TEA – These are foam and viscosity boosting ingredients that can interact with other ingredients to form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen, and widespread organic pollutant.
  • Formaldehyde Donors (DMDM Hydantoin/Diazolidinyl Urea) – These are preservatives that work by releasing formaldehyde.
  • Glycols – Petroleum derived synthetic chemicals that can potentially draw other chemicals into the bloodstream.  Propylene glycol is one example of a compound used as a moisturizer in deodorants and antiperspirants which studies have shown is a neurotoxin and may lead to organ damage.
  • Hydroquinone – Hydroquinone is an aromatic organic compound used as a fragrance ingredient, hair colorant, reducing agent, & skin bleaching agent.  There is strong evidence that this ingredient is a human skin toxin and allergen.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – Isopropyl alcohol is a common solvent used as an anti-foaming agent, fragrance ingredient, and a viscosity decreasing/controlling agent.  It can cause skin, eye, and/or lung irritation, possible organ system toxicity.
  • Parabens - Synthetic preservatives that are potential endocrine disrupters.
  • Petrolatum/Mineral Oil/Paraffin – Are non-renewable byproducts of crude oil with potentially dangerous impurities.
  • Phthalates – Synthetic fragrance components that are potential toxins.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – This is a harsh cleansing agent that can potentially damage the lipid layer of the skin and cause irritation.
  • Synthetic fragrances – These are fragrances that use petroleum-based solvents for extraction as well as purely synthetic additives.  Prohibited fragrance ingredients include absolutes, concretes, gums, resins, exudates, some essential oils, isolates, and chemicals.
  • Synthetic polymers (PVP/Acrylates) – These ingredients are synthetic stabilizers that may contain residual PAH's (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
  • Talc - This anti-caking agent is used in some dry powdery foods and personal powder products (bath, baby, face, etc.), creams, and supplements.  Prolonged inhalation of talc (magnesium silicate) can cause lung problems because it is similar in chemical composition to asbestos, a known lung irritant and cancer-causing agent.  Talc is not considered food grade by the FDA.
  • Testosterone Cream - Although some men may benefit from testosterone, the use of any steroid hormone should be supervised by a trained physician. Even bio-identical hormones can be dangerous in excess. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it does increase the growth rate of a cancer that is already there.  So it is important to not take more than directed by a physician after adequate assessments.
  • Toluene – Toluene is a volatile petrochemical solvent that is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea.

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