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  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) - These are agents that make products sudsy and are commonly used in soaps, shampoos, body washes, bubble baths and dish liquids for their foaming properties. Tests by consumer and environmental groups have found that these chemicals are sometimes contaminated with carcinogen 1,4 dioxane. These chemicals also cause eye irritations, pose allergy risks and can remain stored in the body for long periods of time.

  • Polyethelene Glycol or (PEGs) - These are cleansers that are used to thicken products and are used to dissolve grease and oil. They dehydrate skin by stripping it of natural oils and are potentially carcinogenic.

  • Propylene Glycol (petroleum derived) - This colorless chemical is derived from natural gas and is used as a solvent and wetting agent. It is an active component in antifreeze and is found in many consumer products such as deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste and hair products. This chemical causes irritation, is toxic, and potentially carcinogenic.

  • Parabens (methylparabens, polyparabens - paraben family) - Parabens are a group of preservatives that prevent the growth of microbes and extend product shelf-life. They are linked to allergies, and are also suspected of hormone-disrupting properties. (Studies have shown parabens mimic estrogen.) They are commonly found in personal care products containing significant amounts of water such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and facial cleansers.

  • Petroleum Based Ingredients - Petro-chemicals are derived from crude oil and petroleum products that include mineral oil. These ingredients are widely used in personal care products for their emollient qualities. However, they can cause photosensitivity and skin problems by creating an impenetrable chemical barrier that prevents skin from "breathing." This leads to chapping and dry skin.

  • Artificial Colors (labeled as FD&C or D&C) - Synthetic colors are commonly used in personal care products to mask ingredients and give the product a more appealing appearance. However, artificial colors have been linked to skin allergies and sensitivities.

  • Artificial Fragrances - Artificial fragrances can be a combination of unknown chemicals and it is often difficult to determine what is in a product "fragrance" or if the ingredients used are safe. That's because companies don't have to tell consumers what is in a "fragrance." This information is considered proprietary. Many synthetic fragrances contain phthalates which are toxic to the reproductive system and have been linked to health problems such as allergies, birth defects, cancer, and respiratory disorders.

  • Urea/Formaldehydes - Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea are commonly used preservatives-second only to parabens. These are chemicals release formaldehyde, which has been linked to chronic skin allergies (contact dermatitis), cancer and weakened immune systems.

  • Triethanolamine (TEA) - These are chemicals used in cosmetics to adjust PH levels, and are often the base for cleansers. Problems associated with TEA include allergic reactions and dryness of skin and hair. They can also be toxic to persons exposed over long periods of time.

  • Pthalates-A group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and resilient. They are found in products such as detergents, hairspray, shampoo, moisturizers and nail polish. These chemicals have been found to be hormone-disrupting, and are linked to cancer and damage to reproductive organs.


1. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Chemicals of Concern;

2. Environmental Working Group: Body Burden;

3. Skin Deep Research - Cosmetic Safety Database: "Why This Matters;"

4. Organic Consumers Association: "Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid."