Ingredients in conventional cosmetics

Next, we present a list of the most questionable ingredients widely used in conventional cosmetics, the products in which they are commonly used, the names under which we can find them, their function within cosmetics, their most known effects and their categorization for our health according to the sources consulted, which we indicate by means of the symbology that you will find for each substance (red = very questionable, orange = questionable, yellow = something questionable and green = harmless).

There are many more components, here we present only a few, which are the best known.


very questionable

Isobutylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparaben

They are used in many products such as face creams, shampoos, shower gels, body lotions, toothpastes, etc.

They act as preservatives that inhibit the appearance of bacteria and fungi. They are widely spread because they are very cheap. The problem is that they can alter the hormonal balance of the body, an action known as hormonal or endocrine disruptor, and have been linked to the promotion of breast cancer and infertility. In addition, they can cause allergic skin reactions. Its use is especially delicate during pregnancy and in young children.

In 2014, the European Union banned the use of Isopropylparaben and Isobutylparaben. The others are still allowed as long as the limits below which they are considered "safe" are not exceeded. Source: OCU /salud /cuidado-piel /noticias /parabenos-cosmeticos (15.03.2016).


very questionable

BP-1, BP-2, BP-3, BP-5, BP-7, BP-9, BP-11, Oxibenzon, Benzophenone, CAS NUMBER: 119-61-9

They are used in protective lotions, gels, protective oils, creams to prevent premature aging, lip creams, shampoos, conditioners, etc.

They act as sunscreen so they are used in many solar creams even for children. Additionally they help to mask the smell of the product.

The problem is that they are considered carcinogenic and also act as hormonal disruptors. Its use is especially serious in the case of pregnant women, since these sunscreens and other toxic substances cross the skin of the mother by dermal absorption and accumulate in the placenta and in the fetus, as demonstrated by a study of the CSIC in collaboration with the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu of Barcelona and published in the magazine Environment International /science /article /pii /S0160412015301380 (March 2016).

The results show concentrations of these toxic 500 times higher than expected, a fact of gravity given that the effects of these hormonal contaminants for the baby are irreversible (neurodevelopmental problems, malformations and other damages that can be revealed many years after birth, as loss of fertility or cancer).

Other sources: California Department of Public Health occupational health branch California Safe Cosmetics Program (01.06.16); European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances; TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange /interactive-tools /tedx-list-of-potential-endocrine-disruptors /search-the-tedx-list#sname=119-61-9 (13.07.2016).



Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, SLS, SLES

They are found in almost everything that makes foam: shampoos, hand soaps, shower gels, toothpastes, etc. They are very cheap and their use is very widespread.

They belong to the family of surfactants, influencing the surface tension. They have a strong cleaning action and generate foam, dissolve dirt well, the problem is that they are very aggressive and also remove the natural oils of the body and scalp. They weaken the protective barrier function of the skin and can cause irritation and sensitization. They also cause eye irritation.

Sources: European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances; Verbraucherzentrale /wissen /umwelt-haushalt /produkte /kosmetik-inhaltsstoffe-kennzeichnung-und-unerwuenschte-wirkungen-26338 (20.08.2018).


some questionable

Dimethicone, polymethylsiloxane, dimethyl silicone, polysiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane

They are found in almost all conventional creams and shampoos. They are an economic substitute for vegetable oils and fats, very easy to produce for the industry and therefore the widely used cheap option.

Silicones are a plastic in liquid form, they make the skin feel soft, that's why they are used in so many creams even in those of the most recognized brands. In the shampoo they cover the hair with a film that makes it look shiny in a superficial way. It is a treacherous ingredient, because at first it has a nice effect on the skin and the hair looks bright, without frizz. The problem is that the hair under that film is damaged, the contact with the air is blocked, which prevents the natural oxygenation and humidification of the hair. In the long term, the damage is apparent and difficult to repair. In the skin it blocks the pores preventing natural perspiration.

When starting to use a shampoo without silicones or sulfates soon the true appearance of the hair appears. The first few days without silicones the hair looks rougher and less shiny, which is normal. After a few weeks, the hair appears cleaner and healthier, much less greasy. They also reduce the problems of dandruff. Many people believe that they have oily hair and dandruff when in fact the problem is silicones. After a few months using non-silicone shampoo the hair will have regained its natural shine and will be much stronger. If you also eliminate the sulfates, the hair will recover its natural oils. It is a detoxification process that requires patience, but it is very worthwhile.

And beware: many products make reference that they are "silicone-free" and instead use Polyquaternium, a quaternary ammonium salt that in concentrated form is considered very toxic for aquatic organisms and is very difficult to degrade biologically.

The widespread use of silicones and other liquid and microplastic plastics is causing serious environmental problems. When leaving the drain of our shower they end up in the seas. There they act as a magnet for chemical contaminants. The aquatic organisms absorb all these substances together with the dissolved plastic. We are finding remains of microplastics in fish for our consumption.

Sources: NDR /ratgeber /verbraucher /Plastik-in-Kosmetik-Gefahr-fuer-die-Umwelt ,plastik236.html (23.03.2018); EL PAÍS /elpais /2017 /08 /28 /planeta_futuro /1503917273_178105.html (28.08.2017); EUROPA PRESS /ciencia /habitat-y-clima /noticia-altos-niveles-microplasticos-peces-atlantico-noroeste-20180220173924.html (20.02.2018).

Other microplastics

some questionable

Acrylic compounds: Styrene / Acrylates copolymer

Others: Polyethylene

The acrylic compounds are found in soaps, shower gels and exfoliants. Its function is as thickeners, and as clouding or stability of the consistency. Biologically they are very difficult to degrade. They may contain traces of toxic substances such as acrylamide (carcinogenic).

Sources: NDR /ratgeber /verbraucher /Plastik-in-Kosmetik-Gefahr-fuer-die-Umwelt ,plastik236.html (23.03.2018); EL PAÍS /elpais /2016 06 /01 /ciencia /1464767999_847691.html (07.06.2016).

The microplastics of polyethylene provide a mechanical cleansing action to cosmetic products such as exfoliants and some toothpastes. Some contain them in amounts of up to 10%.

Many experts warn of the danger of the indiscriminate use of microplastics in cosmetic products. They are distributed uncontrollably throughout the environment. Microplastics have even been found in mineral water, in honey, and even in rainwater. For this reason, many guilds demand that its use in cosmetics products be banned once and for all. Source: NDR /ratgeber /verbraucher /Plastikteilchen-in-Lebensmitteln-gefunden,mikroplastik101.html (02.02.2015).


very questionable


It is found in baby oils (even in the most famous brand), in moisturizers, hand creams, lip balms and makeup, shower gels, etc. Its use is very widespread. Helps control the viscosity of the product and applied to the skin makes it feel soft.

It is a component of wax and oils from petroleum. They contain potentially carcinogenic substances.

Sources: European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances; Verbraucherzentrale /wissen /umwelt-haushalt /produkte /kosmetik-inhaltsstoffe-kennzeichnung-und-unerwuenschte-wirkungen-26338 (20.08.2018).

Polyethylene glycol


PEG, PEG -2, -8, -12, -20, -32, -40, -5, -100 y 150

We find it in moisturizers, deodorants, conditioners, shampoos, etc.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is used as an emulsifier (it helps to mix the ingredients based on water and oils properly). Its effects on the skin are emollient and favor penetration through the skin. PEGs are cheap to produce and that's why they are so widespread in conventional cosmetics. The number followed by PEG- refers to the size of the molecule, the smaller the value, the smaller the PEG molecule and the easier it will penetrate the skin. They weaken the protective barrier function of the skin and are suspected of irritating the sense organs.

If the product also contains a significant amount of potentially toxic substances, the skin-enhancing effect of the PEG will help them to enter all of our skin. Another problem of the PEG is that according to their manufacture they can present impurities such as ethylene oxide, 1,4-dioxane, heavy metals, etc. Many of these impurities are seriously related to cancer and DNA alterations.

Sources: European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances; Verbraucherzentrale /wissen /umwelt-haushalt /produkte /kosmetik-inhaltsstoffe-kennzeichnung-und-unerwuenschte-wirkungen-26338 (20.08.2018).



Phthalic Anhydride/Benzoic Acid/Trimethylolpropane Copolymer, Phthalic Anhydride/Glycerin/Glycidyl Decanoate Copolymer, DBP, DEHP, DEP

They are found in synthetic fragrances, nail polish, hair sprays, shampoos and conditioners.

They act as plasticizers. Its function is to form a film when applied on the skin, nails or hair. They are suspected of having effects on the hormonal / endocrine system and producing infertility.

Sources: Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR). Fragen und Antworten zu Phthalat-Weichmachern. 7. Mai 2013; European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances.

Synthetic fragrances / synthetic perfumes

questionablevery questionable

(The evaluation will depend on the compound itself, since there are hundreds of substances that are used as perfume, here we only mention some of them).

Lyral, HMPCC, BHT, Butylphenyl Methylpropional and many others

They are found in almost all conventional hygiene and cosmetic products, and obviously in perfumes and colognes. They help to mask the natural smell and provide odor and aroma.

They are very powerful allergens with high sensitization potential. People with asthma and respiratory problems should completely avoid its use.

Sources: Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund e.V. (DAAB); Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) /health /scientific_committees /consumer_safety /docs /sccs_o_189.pdf. OPINION ON Butylphenyl methylpropional (BMHCA), COLIPA n° C189. August 2015; European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances.

Synthetic dyes

very questionable

Tartazin, aromatic amines, CI-XXXXXX

(The evaluation will depend on the compound itself, since there are hundreds of substances that are used as colorants in cosmetics, here we only mention some of them).

They are found in makeup, creams, soaps, perfumes, toothpastes, bath gels, etc. and they provide color to the product and / or the skin.

Not all are toxic, although most carry impurities, but in the nomenclatures, the endings "-anilin" or "-anilid", "-amine" or "-diamine" alert of potentially carcinogenic substances according to animal tests.

Sources: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND); Bundesinstitut für Risikoforschung (BfR), Primäre aromatische Amine aus bedruckten Lebensmittelbedarfsgegenständen wie Servietten oder Bäckertüten, Stellungnahme Nr. 021/2014 des BfR vom 24. Juli 2013.

Other UV Filters

very questionable

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate

They are found in creams, shampoos, conditioners, etc.

Its function is to filter UV rays and avoid their effect on the skin and hair. They in turn protect the product itself by absorbing UV rays and keeping it stable.

The problem is that they act as hormonal disruptors. Animal malformations have been documented in animal tests.

Sources: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND); European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances.


very questionable

It is found in toothpastes, lotions, deodorants, shower gels, soaps, etc.

Its function is as a preservative, it inhibits the formation of microorganisms. Helps mask or block unpleasant body odors.

The problem is that they are attributed hormonal effects and contributes to the formation of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Sources: European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances; U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) NewsEvents Newsroom /PressAnnouncements /ucm517478.htm (15.09.2016).


very questionable

It is found in nail polishes, shower gels and shampoos and hair products, lipsticks, etc.

It is used as an antiseptic and preservative. Many times it is not used directly, but instead substances are used that are gradually releasing formaldehyde, such as for example DMDM hydantoin, Hmidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinylurea, Quaternium-15 Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane - 1, 3 -diol), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, hydroxymethylglycinate.

It is an irritant that contaminates through inhalation, produces allergies, irritates the skin, produces dermatitis and is also well known as a carcinogen.

Quelle: Verbraucherzentrale /wissen /umwelt-haushalt /produkte /kosmetik-inhaltsstoffe-kennzeichnung-und-unerwuenschte-wirkungen-26338 (20.08.2018).

Propylene glycol

some questionable

It is found in toothpastes (including children's), creams, deodorants, shampoos, cleansing wipes, makeup, etc.

It is used as a solvent and also to regulate the viscosity of cosmetic products. Helps retain moisture

It is suspected that it can affect the immune system. It is a potential allergen. It can cause irritation. Possibly toxic or harmful to health (pending investigation).

Source: Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR). 2006. CIR Compendium, containing abstracts, discussions, and conclusions of CIR cosmetic ingredient safety assessments. Washington DC. Environment Canada. 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act Environmental Registry. European Commission, Cosmetic Ingredients & Substances

If you want to use products free of all these substances, take a look around our page. Take care of yourself and your family, with products of our nature.