10 Ingredients to Ban from your bathroom and life

By Kathryn Dickinson

We all hear people rattle off ingredients are bad for us – avoid Parabens, Phthalates etc, but often we don’t know exactly WHY they are bad, what other names sneaky manufacturers use to hide the ingredient and where to look for them so you can avoid them. Here is a list of 10 ingredients that you should ban from your bathroom (and life) immediately. And a better understanding why you should toss them!

1. TRICLOSAN: The government recently banned this substance from hand soaps, but it is still used as an antibacterial agent in products such as toothpaste.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Microban, Irgasan, Bio Fresh, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac and Cloxifenolum.

  • Known endocrine disruptor

  • Suspected carcinogen

  • Contributes to antibiotic resistance

  • Reduced Heart muscle function in mice by 25%

  • Weakens immune system

  • Linked to allergies, asthma, eczema in children

2. FORMALDEHYDE: Used to prevent bacterial growth in products such baby shampoo, body wash, eye lash glue and cosmetics.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Formalin, Formic aldehyde, Methanediol, Methanal, Mthyl aldehyde, Mythylene glycol

Links to:

  • Leukemia

  • Cancerous tumors

  • Endocrine disruption

  • Skin irritation

3. PARABENS: The most widely used preservative in cosmetics such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, proplyben, isobutylparaben

  • Mimics estrogen

  • May be linked to cancer

  • Can impact male reproductive function

  • Often a hidden ingredient in fragrances

4. OXYBENZONE: Used in sunscreens, nail polish, fragrances, hair spray, and cosmetics as a photo stabilizer.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Milestab 9, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567, Kahscreen BZ-3

Links to:

  • Endometriosis

  • Early puberty

  • Low sperm count

  • Male infertility

  • Hormone related cancers

5. COAL TAR DYES: Mixture of petroleum derived chemicals that are used extensively as artificial coloring in many cosmetics, hair dyes and nail polishes.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: P-phenylenediamine

Links to:

  • Cancer


  • Skin Allergies

  • Asthma

6. TOLUENE: Used in paint thinner, adhesive and rubber that is added to nail polishes, nail treatments and hair dyes.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Methylbenzene, Phenylmethane

Links to:

  • Birth defects

  • Organ system toxicity

  • Reproductive toxicity

  • Head aches

  • Rashes

7. BUTOXYETHANOL: Used to dissolve other substances. Is used to decrease viscosity of products primarily nail and hair products and household cleaning products.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: Butyl cellosolve, Butyl glycol, Butl monoether glycol, EGBE, Dowanol, Bane- Clene

Links to:

  • Cancer

  • Developmental/Reproductive toxicity

  • Organ toxicity

  • Neurotoxicity

8. PHTHALATES: Plasticizers used to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity of plastics. Also used in personal products and perfumes to help scent “stick” to skin.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: DEHP, di-(2-ethylhexyl), BzBP, benzylbutyl phthalate

Links to:

  • ADHD

  • Breast Cancer

  • Obesity and Type II Diabetes

  • Low IQ

  • Neurodevelopment issues

  • Behavioral Issues

  • Autism spectrum disorders

  • Altered reproductive development

  • Male fertility issues

*Often used in fragrances; do not disclose ingredients as they are considered a trade secret- avoid anything with the ingredient “perfume” or “fragrance”

9. SULFATES: Used as a detergent and to make products foam.

OFTEN DISGUISED AS: sodium lauryl ether sulfate, SLES

  • May be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide which is a known carcinogen

  • May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which is a probably carcinogen

10. FRAGRANCE: Used in perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, cosmetics, fabric softeners, candles and laundry detergents.

There are over 500 potential chemicals that could be disguised as the word “fragrance”.

  • Many fragrances are considered neurotoxins which means they can act as a “poison” on the brain and nervous system.

  • Disrupt out natural hormone balance

  • Emotional effects: anxiety mood swings and depression. 

 If all of this is still overwhelming, there are 2 handy apps you can download on your phone – Healthy Living from the Environmental Working Group and Think Dirty. Both have a huge database of products that you can scan and look up, drill in to ingredient lists and see their overall ratings. They both use the same scale – grading everything from 1 to 10, with 1 being the safest and 10 being the most toxic.