Back In January 2019, I started paying attention to ingredients in beauty, personal care, and household products. I made drastic changes to remove and replace products containing ingredients that are endocrine disruptors, sensitizers, carcinogens, or organ system toxicants. So naturally, when outlining some of Sailaal’s top values in the early stages, the use of clean and nontoxic materials in our garments was non-negotiable.

In our previous post, we explored the potential hazards associated with chemicals commonly found in clothing—and ways to avoid them. Since what we put on our body is just as important as what we put inside, I wanted to provide a list of concerning chemicals found in beauty, personal care, and household products. People should be informed on what they’re using, especially on a daily basis.

Consider this blog as your quick cheat sheet, but please remember, there's always more detail per ingredient that you can delve into through our sources at the bottom of this page. This is also not an exhaustive list—these are among the most common concerning ingredients, but there are others.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge that seeing this might induce a sense of helplessness since it’s not always realistic to completely avoid all these ingredients for financial and functional reasons. However, the goal with this blog is to create awareness so you can make informed decisions about the products you buy and use. You get to decide what you're comfortable tolerating and what you're willing to avoid.

Health Concerns Explained

A carcinogen is a substance that can cause cancer.
An allergen or irritant is anything that might cause an allergic reaction or irritation, whether it’s systemically or isolated to the skin, eyes, nose, and/or throat.
A substance linked to organ system toxicity affects the development and/or function of certain organs such as the brain, liver, lung, kidney, skin, and reproductive organs.
An endocrine disruptor affects your endocrine (hormone) system, which regulates every biological processes in the body. This includes metabolism and blood sugar levels, development of the brain and nervous system, function of the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, as well as the reproductive system. One experiencing fertility issues should look into their exposure to these ingredients. Endocrine disrupting compounds can also increase risk of hormone related cancers, like breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

Even though we’re being exposed to microscopic levels of harmful substances, these trace “non-detectable” amounts add up overtime with prolonged exposure. In addition, the “dose makes the poison” paradigm does not always apply to hormone-disrupting substances, as they’ve been shown to have an effect in lower doses. Furthermore, there may be adverse interactions when combining some of them together.

Concerning Chemicals in Beauty, Personal Care, and Household Products:
(and other related names or derivatives)
Use Concern
  • Aluminum 
  • Anti-perspirant
  • Linked to organ system toxicity (particularly nerve tissue)
  • Benzophenone or anything with benzophenone, such as benzophenone-2)
  • BP# (e.g BP2)
  • Oxybenzone (BP3)
  • Sulisobenzone (BP4)
  • Sulisobenzone sodium
  • UV filter
  • Potential carcinogen
  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Aquatic life toxicity
  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Preservative
  • Antioxidant
  • Endocrine disruptor (BHA)
  • Potential carcinogen (BHA)
  • Organ system toxicity
  • Skin and respiratory irritant
  • Coal Tar
  • Reduce itch, flake, & irritation
  • Hair dyeing
  • Carcinogen
  • Allergic reactions or skin irritation that can result in hair loss
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Monoethanolamine (MEA)
  • Any word with DEA, TEA, or MEA such as cocamide DEA, lauramide DEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate
  • Emulsifier
  • TEA used as fragrance or PH adjuster
  • Reacts with other ingredients to become nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known carcinogen
  • Male reproductive system toxicity (DEA)
  • Bioaccumulates (persists in body)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol (AKA 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol), and glyoxal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Carcinogen (formaldehyde)
  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions; named Allergen of the Year in 2015 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society
  • Eyes, nose, and throat irritant
  • Fragrance
  • Parfum
  • Provide scent
  • Stabilize scent
  • Considered “trade secret” (which means fragrance can include >3600 varieties of chemicals, including phthalates and BHA).
  • Skin irritant and allergic reactions
  • Reproductive and respiratory system toxicity
  • Homosalate
  • Homomenthyl salicylate
  • HMS
  • HS
  • 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate
  • UV filter
  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Hydroquinone
  • Tocopheryl acetate
  • Skin lightener
  • Carcinogen (skin)
  • Respiratory tract irritant
  • Organ system toxicity (skin and eyes)
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)
  • Other -isothiazolinones, ex.
  • 2-methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one
  • 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one
  • MCI
  • Neolone 950 preservative
  • MI
  • OriStar MIT
  • Microcare MT
  • Preservative
  • Organ system toxicity (lung)
  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions; named Allergen of the Year in 2013 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society
  • Octinoxate AKA octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • UV filter
  • Potential endocrine disruptor
  • Aquatic life toxicity
  • Paraben or anything ending in -paraben, such as ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben
  • Preservative
  • Endocrine disruptor (most parabens mimic estrogen and increase risk for breast cancer)
  • UV induced skin damage
  • Certain types also cause:
  • Reproductive toxicity in both males and females
  • Developmental abnormalities through maternal exposure
  • Petrolatum
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Paraffin Oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Moisturize
  • May be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic.
  • White petrolatum is fully refined and safe to use.
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • 2-Phenoxyethanol
  • PhE
  • Preservative
  • Stabilizer
  • Skin allergic reactions
  • If not allergic, considered relatively safe (within limits)
  • Phthalate or anything ending in -phthalate, such as dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), diethylphthalate (DEP), di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP)
  • Fragrance
  • Lubricate
  • Help stabilize/carry scents
  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Reproductive system toxicity and decreased fertility
  • Developmental toxicity
  • Potential carcinogen (DBP, DEHP)
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) or any word with PEG
  • Polypropylene glycol (PPG)
  • Any word with polysorbate
  • Ingredients that end in -eth, such as laureth, steareth, ceteareth
  • Emulsify
  • Help carry moisture
  • May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and/or ethylene oxide, which are carcinogenic
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE aka Teflon)
  • Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether
  • DEA-C8-18 perfluoroalkylethyl phosphate
  • Anti-aging
  • Enhances durability
  • Non-stick
  • May contain perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA), a potential carcinogen and endocrine disruptor
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) or polyquaterniums
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Benzethonium chloride
  • Quaternium-15
  • Centrimonium bromide
  • Polyquaternium – followed by a number (i.e. polyquaternium-7)
  • Preservative
  • Skin and eye irritant
  • Allergic reactions
  • Aquatic life toxicity
  • Resorcinol
  • 1,3-benzenediol
  • 1,3-dihydroxybenzene
  • Acne control
  • Hair dyeing
  • Endocrine disruptor (specifically thyroid)
  • Skin and eye irritant
  • Organ system toxicity (in high amounts)
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Retinoic acid
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-aging
  • Enhances skin cancer lesions in presence of sunlight
  • Siloxane or anything ending in in siloxane, ex. cyclopentasiloxane (D5), cyclotetrasiloxane (D4)
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Soften, smooth, and moisten
  • Potential endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant (D4)
  • Environmental and aquatic life toxicity
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • Create suds and foam
  • May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and/or ethylene oxide, which are carcinogenic (SLES)
  • Skin and eye irritant
  • Talc
  • Talcum powder
  • Absorb moisture
  • Soften
  • Prevent sticking and caking
  • Organ system toxicity (lung)
  • May contain asbestos, which is carcinogenic
  • Avoid in genital and pelvic areas
  • Titanium dioxide
  • TiO2
  • UV filter
  • Whitening agent
  • Carcinogenic when inhaled in powder form, however, TiO2 is a safe option in sunscreens
  • Toluene
  • Adhesive
  • Hair dyeing
  • Nail care
  • Organ system toxicity (nervous system)
  • Skin irritant
  • Triclosan (TSC)
  • Triclocarban (TCC)
  • Antimicrobial; registered as a pesticide
  • Endocrine disruptor (particularly thyroid)
  • Emergence of resistant bacteria (to antibiotic meds and antimicrobial products)
  • Environmental and aquatic life toxicity
  • Bioaccumulates (persists in body)

If you want recommendations on what I’ve personally been using for years, feel free to email me at Thanks!





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