A guide based on scientific evidence and research to help you navigate frequently used ingredients in skincare and supplements – from those considered safe and effective, to endocrine disruptors and toxins that harm your hormones and health.
Endocrine Disrupting & Toxic
Aluminum salts are found in all antiperspirant deodorants as they are the only FDA-approved ingredient that stops sweat by temporarily blocking your pores.
Benzophenone Related Compounds
Benzophenone is commonly used in chemical sunscreen products, lip balm, and nail polish as it has properties that protect from UV rays.
Butoxyethanol is a substance that is mainly used in beauty products to thin out liquids like hair dyes and nail polishes.
Chemical UV Filters
Chemical sunscreens rely on chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate to prevent UV rays from infiltrating skin.
Coal tar is a by-product of the coal production process that is used in some hair dyes and cosmetics.
Cyclic Silicones Family
This family of silicones, including D4, D5, D6, and cyclomethicone, is primarily used in skincare products like moisturizers and serums as well as deodorants and lotions to create a soft and smooth texture.
Ethanolamines (DEA, TEA, MEA, ETA) are one class of ingredients used to create lather and suds in beauty products.
Ethoxylated ingredients help water bind with dirt and oil in order to clean skin and hair.
Formaldehyde / Formaldehyde Releasers
Formaldehyde is a commonly used preservative and a known carcinogen.
Fragrance / Parfum (Nitromusks, Polycyclic Musks)
Fragrance (or parfum) is a general term that refers to the complex mixture of chemicals that creates a luxurious and unique scent in a particular product.
Heavy Metal Compounds
Heavy metals (including but not limited to lead, arsenic, and mercury) are not deliberately incorporated into beauty product formulas, but they can be found as contaminates often in the color pigments of cosmetics.
Chemicals in the isothiazolinone family, particularly methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, are used as preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria in mostly liquid products.
Lecithin belongs to a class of chemicals known as phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring plant compounds found in soy that are commonly used as emollients in cosmetics to help soften and soothe skin.
Mercury compounds such as thimerosal are another preservative sometimes used in cosmetics.
As their name suggests, nanoparticles are extremely small molecules that are added to skincare products and cosmetics to change the function of an ingredient and enhance delivery mechanisms of active ingredients.
Papaya extract is thought to work as an exfoliator, though research is scarce on its specific benefits to skin.
Parabens (butylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben) are the most common preservatives used in cosmetics.
Perfluorinated Compounds (PFAS or PFC)
Perfluorinated compounds (also known as PFA or PFC) are considered one of the main categories of endocrine disrupting chemicals (or EDCs).
Petrolatum and Paraffin
Petrolatum and paraffin are both byproducts of the petroleum (oil/gas) refining process.
Phthalates, including DBP, DMP, and DEP (the most common in skincare), have been included in some cosmetics and fragrances to make products more flexible and to set their formulas.
Resorcinol is a chemical that can be found in some acne medications as well as hair dyes.
Retinol and retinol compounds are forms of vitamin A, popularly used for their ability to treat aging, acne, and hyperpigmentation.
Salicylic Acid (BHA)
Salicylic acid, which is a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), is a skin exfoliant that is commonly used in the treatment and prevention of acne.
Soy Protein Derived Materials (Phytoestrogens)
Phytoestrogens, such as lecithin, are naturally occurring plant compounds found in soy that are commonly used as emollients in cosmetics to help soften and soothe skin.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in shampoos and cleansers to help give these products a bubbling and foaming effect.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is often used in face and body powders and can also be found in some cosmetics like liquid foundations and skincare products as an absorbent.