8 Toxins to Avoid in Skin + Hair Products

If you want to clean up your shower + beauty routine, these 8 common toxins are a great place to start. Many of the chemicals to avoid in skin + hair products are the same as those found in other skincare. These are toxins that are bad in a number of ways, from disrupting hormones to causing cancer. They are also easy to avoid, and you can refer to my list of toxin-free products if you need to restock your bathroom (many of these are inexpensive, this is not Goop).

  1. Triclosan [FDA now recommends not using antibacterial soaps with triclosan; it’s similar to the pesticide Agent Orange and can cause decreased fertility, birth defects, and damage to major body organs; endocrine disruptor and thyroid disruptor; when combined with chlorine in tap water it becomes carcinogenic]
  2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) [hair loss, irritation; linked to skin and eye irritation, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicological, and biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer, as reported by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database]
  3. Dioxane [although proven to cause cancer, and banned in California, it’s considered a ‘contaminant’ or ‘by-product’ of the ethoxylation process, rather than an ingredient, hence it is not listed on ingredient labels; however, it is in all synthetic ethoxylated ingredients, including those with myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other “eth,” PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol, in their names]
  4. Parabens [hormone-disrupting; have been detected in human breast tumors. This is concerning because parabens have been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, which can encourage the growth of human breast tumors]
  5. Propylene glycol, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) [yes, this is the main ingredient in anti-freeze; linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity]
  6. Synthetic fragrance [aka, phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic hormones and may alter genital development]
  7. Cocamidopropyl Betaine [Despite being made “from coconut”, it’s actually a chemical derivative, and contains traces of nitrosamines, a human carcinogen]
  8. Diethanolamine (DEA) [recent FDA report showed that approximately 42% of all cosmetics were contaminated with NDEA; it’s linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies/immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity; really bad for pregnant ladies + kids]

It can be super overwhelming to have to look at labels and decipher what is toxic and what is just the scientific name for vitamin e. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created a sweet database of cosmetics chemicals and ranked them, giving them a hazard score.