The Purist List of Harmful Chemicals & Toxins

“So… Why should I have to care about this?”

The honest truth is… you don’t. It’s your body and no one is in a position to tell you what to do with it, what to put in it, or what to apply to it.

Having said that, there is a massive grey area in the cosmetics and beauty industry when it comes to being clear about the contents of their products. Most synthetic ingredients won’t do you much harm at all. But some, with repeated exposure or when used in large volumes, can start taking a toll on your organs, circulation and even your reproductive process.

These chemicals range in toxicity to the human body, and their over-all effect is in relation to a) how much of it is in the product and b) how frequently you use the product.

A simple illustration of this concept: Picture using a product to quickly wash your hands at the sink. The soap lathers and gets washed down the drain. … Versus … Washing your entire body with a product in the bathtub, soaking for an hour, and then repeating this ritual three times a week. See what I mean? The later has a much larger window of time to absorb deep into your skin.

What the heck is really in your beauty and body products?

I have created a list of chemicals I scan for and prefer to avoid, whenever possible.

Until now, this list lived inside my head. I’m publishing this list here to share with you all, so you have a reliable resource of what to look out for when shopping.

Don’t feel discouraged or overwhelmed. (Trust me, the first few ones are in evvverrryyything.) Just be aware of what you are putting onto and into your body.

Remember, you are the consumer. The power to make change is possible, and it starts with what you select when shopping. Our market works on supply and demand.

This list is in no particular order except the frequency I see them on labels:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate.  A skin-irritating foaming/bubbling agent. S.L.S. can be especially drying to the skin when it is the primary ingredient. The majority of liquid hand soaps, bodywashes and shampoos on the market use this ingredient to produce a rich lather. S.L.S. can build up in the human body’s major organs and takes a few days to expel; however is not overall extremely hazardous. For application to the skin, The International Journal Of Toxicology recommends no more than 1% concentration of sodium lauryl sulfate and notes that anything higher causes minor to severe skin irritation. (Their trials were preformed on animals and humans.)
    For further reading you may want to read here,  here, or here.
  • Sodium laureth sulfate.  Although the name is similar to the previous item on the list, Sodium laureth sulfate is chemically different. One of the primary concerns of this ingredient is that it is frequently contaiminated by carcinogenic chemicals during its processing. EWG flags this item as contamination concerns for ETHYLENE OXIDE and 1,4-DIOXANE— both have been linked to cancer and organ toxicity in humans. An opposing view is often held by the cosmetics industry that it is safe for use.
  • Parfum/Fragrance.  A catch-all label for synthetic fragrance . At this time, companies do not have to disclose what chemical combinations they use to make synthetic fragrances.


Note: If you know of a common chemical or additive you think should be included, please comment below to share with us. This list will be updated from time to time.