Clean Cosmetics, Toxic Ingredients to Really Avoid

Why choose Natural and Organic Beauty?

It is challenging to wade through all the information, misinformation (or alternative facts ?), conjecture and myth to understand Clean Beauty. It is sometimes so difficult to know which products or chemicals MUST be avoided, and which others it is only 'recommended' to steer clear from.

The bottom line is that it is down to you to decide where you draw your lines. I always think that something is better than nothing, & every little helps.  For some, Organic is very Important, while for others it is Ethical Business Practice , and some it is Levels of Toxins in the ingredients.

Beauty Companies are savvy and they want our money. That is not a problem, they are businesses after all. What is a problem:  Marketing.

How do I know a product is safe?

It is up to the consumer (you) to READ THE LABEL.

I know, this is a lot of work and a pain. I know. But unfortunately, only you are responsible for your own health.

I have also noticed that the Beauty industry has started following in the footsteps of the food industry. Remember when we found out that everything that was labelled "FAT FREE" actually had loads of Sugar in it, or that "Sugar Free" Meant Aspartame (a carcinogen) was used in its place?

Same for the beauty industry. I have bought products because they contain No Parabens, only to see the SLS was in the first 3 ingredients (more on SLS below)! So buyer beware, the shiny front of a package may be distracting you from some nasty stuff on the back.

I wanted to try to de-misitfy a few ingredients for you. I state now, I AM NOT A CHEMIST, A DOCTOR, or A PHARMACIST, and frankly, there is SO much information out there it is hard to keep on top of it all, but I am curious, a researcher, a student of all this and I am making my own way to cleaner and greener Beauty practices.

My personal philosophy on Natural/Clean Beauty:

  • Chemicals in products are absorbed through the skin, and I want to be aware, as much as I can be, to make decisions about this, so my Beauty should contain as few known irritants, toxins or hazardous chemicals as possible.
  • Ethical Buisness practice including consideration for the environment is important to me as I believe that we should treat people, plants and animals with respect.
  • I feel that marketing and "Greenwashing" can mislead consumers to believing they are buying products that are in fact not as "Clean" as they sound, and I want to inform myself, and hopefully my readers about products so they can make the decision for themselves.
  • Products with toxins in them force toxins into our system and the environment creating more pollution.

What the Experts Say: 

I asked Pedro Catalá, Botanist/ Cosmetologist/Chemist+ Founder of beautiful Skincare brand Twelve Beauty what Toxins he would definitely avoid and here are his top 3 (Pedro's words are in Italics) By the way, Twelve Products are divine!

DMDM Hydantoin

Releases formaldehyde which can cause irritation. This chemical compound is used as a preservative in Shampoos, Conditionners and Hair Gels. David Suzuki also warns against the potential danger of known Carcinogen Formaldehyde in his Dirty Dozen Ingredients to Avoid


I always find it a scary is a generic name that potentially could hide some harmful compounds that can lead to dermatitis and also can cause respiratory distress. Once Again, Dr. Suzuki warns against Fragrance: Of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms (David Suzuki Foundation).  The article also points out that some products labelled "Unscented" or "Fragrance Free" may still contain Mystery Fragrance.

Lactic acid:

This very much surprised me as I thought Lactic Acid was good for exfoliating. Pedro says: Despite its origin being natural (most of the time) it is used to regulate the pH of a cosmetic product, sometimes as an alternative to preservatives to make the product very acidic so no bacteria can grow. However it leaves the skin very sensitive and can have a strong exfoliating effect leaving the skin very vulnerable.

dr suzuki's dirty dozen

SLES: Sodium Laureth Sulfate:

This is an agent that causes bubbles or suds and is found in many commercial shampoos. 1,4-Dioxane can be found in SLS and has been linked to Cancer when it combines with other chemicals, (Campaign for safe Cosmetics) It is also considered a skin irritant, and can cause an allergy. Chemicals found in SLS and SLES can be hormone disruptors and can cause fertility problems (David Suzuki) Look also for SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)

Petrolatum/ Petroleum products + Mineral Oil

These are byproducts of derived from the production of Gasoline (yes you read that right) and are contained in many balms and lotions (yes, even Products that are supposedly safe for babies) I don't like it for several reasons: They give the illusion of having skin benefits because of the smooth texture, but really It forms a barrier that does not let moisture evaporate, but also clogs pores and can trap dirt and bacteria (Dr. Lippman), there is a risk of containing Cancer Causing PAHs (David Suzuki), as well as being an extensive pollutant. These can be found in everything from lip balms to hand creams to shampoos and hair styling products.


My issue with silicone is similar as above as it coats hair and skin, giving the APPEARANCE of being smooth, healthy and in the case of hair, shiny. But over time this can cause build up. Pedro Catalá states that Dimethicone ( a form of silicone)  is not as bad as people say but it can be occlusive to the skin , i.e. Can block the skin.

why a natural beauty routine?

I choose for a more natural Beauty regime because it fits with my values as stated above and soveer towards Brands that I feel areworking towards making the industry cleaner and safer, and work with people and our planet. I choose products I think not only will be beneficial for my health and skin, but will actually PERFORM what they are meant to do, with out causing unecessary harm.



  1. Sarita Coren
  2. Dirty Dozen
  3. Think Dirty
  4. Paula's Choice
  5. Twelve Beauty Blog

photo by Tiff Mumford , style by Vickie Hillman , Makeup by me