Sometimes, it’s hard to be a consumer. Giving all your love to just the right kind of products isn’t simple or cheap, so we rely hard on lists like “the dirty dozen” to make us smarter shoppers. We’re thrilled to find a dirty dozen list for our cosmetics; when it comes to shampoo and eyeshadow, it’s hard to remember which chemicals we should care about (or even how to pronounce them). The David Suzuki foundation, a charitable Canadian group dedicated to environmental conservation and education, finally made a list to help us decipher what we should toss out of our medicine cabinets.
Their “dirty dozen” list of toxic chemicals includes carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors that are all found in every day cosmetics (and all are seriously worth avoiding). Check out the list, below, and compare notes with the ingredients list on your favorite products:
1. BHA and BHT — Used in moisturizers and makeup, these preservatives may cause cancer, are suspected endocrine disruptors, and are harmful to fish and other wildlife.
2. Coal tar dyes (p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as “Cl” followed by 5 digits) — Used in hair dyes and cosmetics, these dyes are potential carcinogens and can be contaminated with heavy metals, which are toxic to the nervous system.
3. DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA — Used in creamy and foaming products, like moisturizers and shampoos, DEAs can react to form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer.
4. Dibutyl phthalate — Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products, this is a suspected endocrine disruptor and reprodutive toxin.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate) — Found in cosmetics, these slowly release cancer-causing formaldehyde in small amounts.
6. Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben — Used as preservates, parabens are suspected endocrine disruptors and can interfere with male reproductive fuctions.
7. Parfum — Artificial fragrances used in all kinds of cosmetics can trigger allergic reactions, asthma, and some are linked to cancer. Some are even linked to neurotoxicity (do you need to smell good that badly?).
8. PEGs — Used as a cream base for some cosmetics, these can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer.
9. Petrolatum — Used in hair products, lip balms, moisturizers, and lipsticks, this petroleum product can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10. Siloxanes (cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclomethicone) — Used to soften, smooth and moisten, these appear in a variety of cosmetics and are suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins. They’re also harmful to fish and wildlife.
11. Sodium laureth sulfate — Used in foaming cosmetics like shampoos, cleansers, and even toothpaste, this can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer.
12. Triclosan — This antibacterial agent is a suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacterial strains.