Chemical Glossary


 

1,2-Butanediol

Description: 1,2-Butanediol is a skin-conditioning agent, humectant and viscosity-decreasing agent used in personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review on 1,2-Butanediol stated that high doses caused narcosis in rats (often leading to death in a few hours), dilation of the blood vessels, and kidney damage. Additionally, 1,2-butanediol has been shown to enhance the penetration of other ingredients in the same formula, which can thus increase the potency of concerning chemicals when formulated with 1,2-butanediol.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2011)


 

1,2-Hexanediol

Description: Caprylyl glycol and related 1,2-glycols (including 1,2-hexanediol) are used mostly as skin and hair conditioning agents and viscosity agents in cosmetic products.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) 1,2-Hexanediol causes serious eye irritation.

ECHA: 1,2-hexanediol 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: 1,2-Hexanediol (2012)


 

1,4-Dioxane

Group: Solvent

Description: 1,4-Dioxane is a contaminant created when common ingredients are mixed together. It is not found on ingredient labels. 

Sources of Exposure: Likely to be present where ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate, PEG’s, ceteareth, xynol, and oleth are listed on ingredient labels.

Health Impacts: It is considered a probable human carcinogen, toxic to organs and the respiratory system, and a skin irritant.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: 1,4-Dioxane (accessed April 20, 2020)


 

2-naphthol

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: 2-naphthol is a naphthol, a group of organic compounds that belong to the phenol family. 2-naphthol has a role as an antinematodal drug, a genotoxin, a human xenobiotic metabolite and a mouse metabolite.

Sources of Exposure: Dyes and pigments, and to make other chemicals for drugs, textiles, personal care products (cosmetics, tattoo inks, hair dye), food colorants, and inks for printing; medicines, (specifically, tolnaftate, naproxen and nafcillin); perfumes; synthetic rubber; smoke from wood fires and tire fires; food packaging, paper plates, cutlery, small appliances such as roasters, etc.

Health Impacts: Classified as a genotoxin and a human xenobiotic metabolite

Pubchem: 2-Naphthol (Accessed December 2020) 
Science Direct: Naphthol (Accessed December 2020)
Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI): 2-Naphthol (Accessed December 2020)


2-oleamido-1,3-octadecanediol

Description: 2-oleamido-1,3-octadecanediol is a type of ceramide, a group of chemicals that function in cosmetics primarily as hair conditioning agents and skin conditioning agents. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: In animal studies, 2-oleamido-1,3-octadecanediol has been found to be irritating to the eye.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2014)


8-prenylnaringenin

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: 8-prenylnaringenin structurally belongs to the group of prenylated flavonoids and has been shown to be a potent phytoestrogen. The estrogenic potential of prenylated flavonoids from hops has been shown to alleviate menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms in women. In particular, 8-prenylnaringenin, is considered to be the most potent phytoestrogen thus far discovered.

Sources of Exposure: Hop (Humulus lupulus L.), a key ingredient for beer brewing

Health Impacts: Aids in the treatment of menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms, prevents bone-resorption; prevents inhibition of tumor growth; alleviates menopausal symptoms like osteoporosis, vasomotor complaints, and sexual motivation. 

Ososki, A.L. et al., 2003
Terao, J. et al., 2014 
Stulikova, K. et al., 2018
Keiler, A.M. et al., 2013


Acesulfame

Group: Artificial sweeteners 

Description: Acesulfame is a commonly used FDA-approved artificial sweetener. We include artificial sweeteners in our ingredients of concern list, as they can be in oral care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouth wash, artificially-sweetened food and beverages

Health Impacts: Studies have found that consumption of acesulfame perturbs the gut microbiome. In mice, it caused body weight gain, shifts in the gut bacterial community composition, and fecal metabolomic changes.

Bian, Xiaoming et al., 2017


Acrylate Crosspolymers (e.g. C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer)

Description: Acrylate copolymers are a group of chemicals that function as film formers and viscosity-controlling agents in personal care products and cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: These acrylate copolymers are typically produced via polymerization using solvents, one of which being benzene. Thus, benzene, a carcinogen, likely to be present in acrylate copolymers. Finally, because some of the acrylates copolymers are used in cosmetic sprays and powders that could possibly be inhaled, there is a potential for inhalation toxicity.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2018)


Allantoin

Description: Allantoin is an emollient found in personal care products and cosmetics.
Sources of Exposure:
Cosmetics, personal care products

Health Impacts: Allantoin has been found to contain impurities of sulphated ash, sulphate, chloride, lead, arsenic, urea, and glycoluril. Allantoin may be carcinogenic when combined with nitrite.

PubChem: Allantoin

Becker et al., 2010


Alternariol

Group: Mycotoxin

Description: Alternariol is a toxic metabolite of Alternaria fungi. It is a contaminant in cereals and fruits.

Sources of Exposure: Cereal and wheat

Health Impacts: Antifungal and phytotoxic, inhibits cholinesterase enzymes.

Davis, V.M. et al., 1994 
Brugger, E-M. et al., 2006
Scott, P.M. et al., 2014
Fermentek: Alternariol (Accessed December 2020)


Alternariol monomethyl ether

Group: Mycotoxin

Description: Alternariol monomethyl ether has a role as an antifungal agent and a fungal metabolite. It is a benzochromenone and an aromatic ether. It derives from an alternariol. 

Sources of Exposure: Cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and sorghum

Health Impacts: Induces cell death in human colon carcinoma cells.

Pubchem: Alternariol monomethyl ether (Accessed December 2020) 
Cayman Chemical: Alternariol monomethyl ether (Accessed December 2020) 
Bensassi, F. et al., 2011


Aluminum

Group: Metal

Description: Aluminum is often used in antiperspirant and aluminum powder. Finely ground particles of aluminum are also used as a colorant in some make-up.

Sources of Exposure: Antiperspirant and deodorant

Health Impacts: Aluminum has been found to impair parathyroid functioning.

Gonzelez-Suerez, I. et al., 2005


Amidopropyl Dimethylamine

Description: Amidopropyl dimethylamines function primarily as antistatic agents in cosmetic products.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: Amidopropyl dimethylamines may undergo nitrosation, which produces carcinogenic nitrosamines. They are also potential dermal sensitizers due to containing a sensitizing impurity, 3,3-dimethylaminopropylamine.

Burnett et al., 2019


Aminomethyl Propanol

Description: Aminomethyl Propanol functions as a pH adjuster in personal care products and cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to the harmonised classification and labelling approved by the European Union, Aminomethyl Propanol causes serious eye irritation, is harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects and causes skin irritation. Additionally, aminomethyl propanol may contain secondary amines as impurities in finished products that may undergo N-nitrosation, creating carcinogens.

European Chemicals Agency: Aminomethyl Propanol (Accessed April 1, 2021) 
Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Aminomethyl Propanol (Accessed April 12, 2021)


Aminophenols

Description: Aminophenols are oxidizing agents used in hair dyes. 

Sources of Exposure: Hair dye

Health Impacts: Aminophenols are highly toxic, may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through skin, and suspected of causing genetic defects.

PubChem: Aminophenols


Ammonium Acrylates Copolymer

Description: Ammonium acrylates copolymer is a type of acrylate copolymer. It is used in cosmetics and personal care products as a binder, film-former, and viscosity-increasing agent.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care

Health Impacts: The principal concern regarding the use of these polymer ingredients is the presence of toxic residual monomers (impurities).

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2019)


Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (Ammonium lauryl ether sulfate)

Description: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate functions as a surfactant in personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products

Health Impacts: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate is known to be corrosive and an irritant to the skin and eyes. 

PubChem: Ammonium lauryl ether sulfate


Aspartame

Group: Artificial sweeteners

Description:  Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has been used since the 1980s, now present in over 6,000 products, including over 500 pharmaceuticals. The safety of aspartame has been controversial since its discovery in 1965, and its first approval by the FDA in 1981. We include artificial sweeteners in our ingredients of concern list, for they may appear in oral care products. Individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid products containing aspartame as it is converted to phenylalanine in the body.

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouth wash, and artificially-sweetened food and beverages

Health Impacts: There is consistent evidence of aspartame's carcinogenic potential. In light of the evidence of aspartame's carcinogenic risk, it has been recommended to substantially decrease the intake of aspartame.

Soffritti, M. et al., 2014


Avobenzone (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane)

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: Avobenzone is a UV filter used in sunscreens in order to block harmful UV rays on the skin and for product stability.

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and SPF lip balm

Health Impacts: Avobenzone is classified as an endocrine-disrupting chemical. It can also break down into bromoform, a substance that can harm the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

Schreurs, R.H. et al., 2005
Wang, C. et al., 2017

Behentrimonium Chloride

Description: Behentrimonium chloride is a quaternary ammonium salt used as a preservative. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are antimicrobial disinfectants commonly used in commercial and household settings.

Sources of Exposure: detergents
Health Impacts:
 Exposure to a common QAC disinfectant mixture significantly impaired reproductive health in mice.

Melin, V. E., et al. (2014)

Behentrimonium methosulfate

Description: Behentrimonium methosulfate functions as an antistatic agent, conditioner, and surfactant in personal care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Behentrimonium methosulfate carries the following GHS Hazard Statements: "causes serious eye damage," "causes skin irritation," "causes serious eye irritation," and "Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure."

PubChem: Behentrimonium methosulfate

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Behentrimonium methosulfate (2012)

Benzaldehyde

Description: Benzaldehyde is used as a preservative in cosmetics, personal care products, food and car detailing products. It is used as a solvent for oils, flavoring, and in synthetic perfumes. It may be a tobacco additive and e-cigarette flavoring ingredient. 

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics, perfumes, personal care products, food, select car detailing products, tobacco, and e-cigarettes
Health Impacts:
Vapors can be irritating to the eye and respiratory tract at high dose. Convulsions and death can occur at a very high oral dose. Benzaldehyde is a moderate skin irritant and a slight eye irritant in laboratory animals; may cause contact dermatitis in people.

PubChem: Benzaldehyde (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Benzalkonium Chlorides (BAC)

Description: Benzalkonium chlorides (BACs) are antimicrobial chemicals with widespread applications in fighting bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products; detergents; disinfectants in residential, industrial, agricultural and clinical settings
Health Impacts:
According to an article published in the Applied Environment Biology journal, "most studies and governmental agencies agree that BACs are not innocuous substances, even when used in small concentrations." This same article states that benzalkonium chloride (BAC) is a known skin irritant, with occasional, rarer reports as allergens (skin sensitizer). 

Merchel Piovesan Pereira, B., et al. (2019)

Benzenesulfonic acid and its derivatives

Description: Sodium C10-16 Alkylbenzenesulfonate is a derivative of benzenesulfonic acid, a group of chemicals used as surfactants in detergents. 

Sources of Exposure: Detergents
Health Impacts: Benzenesulfonic acid and its derivatives (which includes Sodium C10-16 Alkylbenzenesulfonate) are harmful if swallowed, cause serious eye damage, cause skin irritation and may cause respiratory irritation.  

PubChem: Sodium C10-16 Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate (Accessed April 1, 2021)

Benzoic Acid

Group: Alcohol

Description: Benzoic acid is a metabolite of benzyl alcohol. It is an aromatic acid used in a wide variety of cosmetics as a pH adjuster and preservative.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: It has been associated with reduced growth and an increased number of malformations in hamsters.

Nair, B., 2001

Benzophenone

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: Benzophenone is a fragrance ingredient that prevents UV light from damaging scents and colors.

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and SPF lip balm

Health Impacts: Benzophenone is linked to cancer and hormone disruption.

Buck Louis, G.M. et al., 2014

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Benzophenone (Accessed Apr 20, 2020)

Schlumpf, M. et al., 2001

Downs, C. A. et al., 2021

Benzophenone 1

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Benzophenone prevents ultraviolet light from damaging scents and colors in products such as perfumes and soaps. Benzophenone can also be added to plastic packaging as a UV blocker to prevent photo-degradation of the packaging polymers or its contents.

Sources of Exposure: Used as a photoinitiator in UV-curing applications such as inks, imaging, and clear coatings in the printing industry; clear plastic bottles; perfumes and soaps

Health Impacts: Endocrine disruptor capable of binding to the pregnane X receptor.

Carroll, G.T. et al., 2010
Arctander, S.. Perfume And Flavor Chemicals: (Aroma Chemicals). Allured Publishing Co., 1969.
Mikamo, E. et al., 2003

Benzyl Alcohol

Group: Alcohol

Description: Benzyl Alcohol is an aromatic alcohol used in a wide variety of cosmetic formulations as a fragrance component, preservative, solvent, and viscosity-decreasing agent. Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: Benzyl alcohol is severely toxic and highly irritating to the eye.

Contact with benzyl alcohol causes mild to moderate skin irritation. Hypersensitivity reactions may occur in some individuals. 

Bruhe, F. et al., 2012
Pubchem: Benzyl alcohol (Accessed 5 August, 2020)Bruhe, F. et al., 2012

Benzylbutylphthalate

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Benzyl butyl phthalate is a member of the phthalates family. 

Sources of Exposure: PVC plastic; vinyl foams (often used as floor tiles); traffic cones, food conveyor belts, artificial leather; binding agent in paints and coatings or adhesives; metal, wooden and plastic construction and building materials; flooring, furniture, toys, construction materials, curtains, foot-wear, leather products, paper and cardboard products, electronic equipment

Health Impacts: BBP is classified as toxic by the European Chemical Bureau. May damage the unborn child and is suspected of damaging fertility, and is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

European Chemicals Agency: Benzyl butyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020)

Benzylparaben

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Benzylparaben is an ester of benzyl alcohol and p-hydroxybenzoic acid used in cosmetics as a preservative. It is a member of the paraben family. It is often used in conjunction with other paraben esters.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products, medication, and food

Health Impacts: Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility and birth outcomes. 

Chemical Book: Benzylparaben (Accessed December 2020)
EWG: What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? (Accessed December 2020)

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Bisphenol A is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

Sources of Exposure: Polycarbonate plastics (e.g. for storing food and beverages, water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices), epoxy resins (e.g. dental sealants, water supply pipes, coating on food cans and bottle tops), indoor dust, cash register receipts, household waste paper (receipts, recycled paper, non-carbon copy paper and conventional printer paper, non-carbon copy paper, and conventional printer paper)

Health Impacts: BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it messes up the hormone system. Hormones control every aspect of body function, including reproduction, metabolism and weight gain, immune system function, and cardiovascular function. It has been shown to cause long term behavioral problems, obesity, and allergies in children when exposed during fetal development and as babies. It is linked to infertility, reduced IVF success, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Bisphenol A
Liao, Chunyang et al., 2012
Pivnenko, K. et al., 2015 
European Chemicals Agency,  2017
Ramos, J.G. et al., 2003
Perera, F. et al., 2012
Agay-Shay, K. et al., 2015
Hwang, S. et al., 2018
Braun, J. M. et al., 2016
Hiatt, R.A. et al., 2018 
Gerona, R. et al., 2019
Rochester J.R., 2013

Additional resources on BPA

https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/chemicals/bisphenol-bpa
https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/BisphenolA_BiomonitoringSummary.html
https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm
http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm

Bisphenol F (BPF)

Description: Bisphenol F (BPF) is a common substitute for Bisphenol A (BPA) in manufacturing of products containing polycarbonates and epoxy resins. It has been proven to be just as potent as BPA in disrupting normal hormone functioning. Increasing concern over bisphenol A (BPA) as an endocrine-disrupting chemical and its possible effects on human health have prompted the removal of BPA from consumer products, often labeled “BPA-free.” However, “BPA-free” may contain BPA alternatives, such as BPS and BPF, which are equally harmful to the endocrine system.

Sources of Exposure: hard plastics in household appliances and vehicles, receipts, food packaging, personal care products, household dust, dental sealants

Health Impacts: Endocrine-disruption

Rochester, J., et al. (2015)
Biomonitoring California: Bisphenol F (Accessed April 20, 2021)
Lehmler, H.-J., et al. (2018)
Akahori, Y., et al. (2008)
Bitman, J., et al. (1970)

Bisphenol S (BPS)

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: BPS is used in curing fast-drying epoxy glues and as a corrosion inhibitor. It is also commonly used as a reactant in polymer reactions. It is very similar to BPA and is an endocrine disruptor.

Sources of Exposure: Food cans, cash register receipts, household waste paper (receipts, recycled paper, non-carbon copy paper and conventional printer paper, non-carbon copy paper and conventional printer paper), “BPA-free” products, such as plastic containers and bottles.

Health Impacts: Hinders heart attack recovery, induces cardiac arrhythmias, causes cardiac developmental deformities, increases risk of atherosclerosis (a significant risk factor in cardiac disease). In a study using human embryonic stem cells, BPS reduced the length of neurites in neuron-like cells. This disruption could lead to neurobehavioral problems such as ASD. Can mimic estrogen. In one study of children, there was a significant correlation between urinary levels of BPS and insulin resistance, abnormal kidney function, and abnormal vascular function.

Vinas, P et al., 2010 
Pivnenko, K. et al., 2015
Bilbrey, J., 2014 
Zhang, Y-F. et al., 2020
Ghayda, R.A. et al., 2019
Naderi, M.et al, 2020
Zalmanova, T. et al., 2016
Thoene, M. et al., 2020

Butane

Description: Butane is a colorless gas with a faint petroleum-like odor. It is easily ignited. It is used as a fuel, an aerosol propellant, in cigarette lighters, and to make other chemicals.

Sources of Exposure: Aerosol sprays (fragrances, cleaning products)

Health Impacts: Butane carries the following GHS Hazard Statements: "extremely flammable gas," "may cause genetic defects," and "may cause cancer." One study found that chronic inhalation of propane and butane gases causes occupational hepatitis.

PubChem: Butane
Aydi
n, Y., et al. 2003
Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Butanes. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 386-388.

Butylated glycol (2-Butoxyethanol)

Description: Butylated glycol (2-Butoxyethanol) is a glycol ether used to control viscosity or a “fragrance” additive. It can also be used as a synthetic antioxidant for extending shelf life. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: Butylated compounds, such as this one, are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage. 

Gift, J.S., 2005
Paciencia, I. et al., 2019
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Butylated compounds (Accessed March 30, 2021)

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Group: Preservative

Description: BHT and BHA are synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life.

Sources of Exposure: Preservatives in food products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals

Health Impacts: BHT and BHA have been found to be carcinogenic. In male and female rats, BHA has been shown to disrupt hormones and induce dysfunction and underdevelopment of reproductive system, including changes in thyroid hormone and testosterone levels, sex organ weights, and sexual maturation. 

Jeong, S.-H. et al., 2005
Hughes, P.J. et al., 2000

Butyloctyl Salicylate

Description: Butyloctyl salicylate functions as a skin- and hair-conditioning agent in personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, personal care products

Health Impacts: According to its GHS Warning statement, butyloctyl salicylate may cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, it is also a possible endocrine-disrupting chemical, for it alters estrogenic activity. 

PubChem: Butyloctyl salicylate

ECHA: Butyloctyl salicylate

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2019)

Butylparaben

Description: Butylparaben is part of the paraben family. It is used as a preservative and fragrance ingredient.

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: Parabens have been recently reported to have estrogenic activity in yeast cells and animal models, meaning it acts like natural estrogen in the body and could disrupt hormone function. This affects male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Butyl-, methyl- and propylparaben have been linked to activating breast cancer cells. 

Byford, J.R. et al. (2002)
Wróbel, A. M., et al. (2015)
EWG: What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Butylphenyl Methylpropional

Description: Butylphenyl methylpropional is a fragrance ingredient used in many compounds in cosmetics, perfumes/colognes, shampoos, toilet soaps and other toiletries as well as in non-cosmetic products such as household cleaners and detergents.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, perfumes/colognes, shampoos, toilet soaps and other toiletries; household cleaners and detergents

Health Impacts: The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety does not consider butylphenyl methylpropional safe for use in cosmetic products due to its risk of inducing skin sensitization in humans.

Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (2015)

C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide

Description: C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide is a surfactant used in detergents and personal care products.  

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and detergents

Health Impacts: C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide holds warnings for skin corrosion/irritation and serious eye damage.

PubChem: C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide (Accessed April 1, 2021)

Caprylhydroxamic acid

Description: Caprylhydroxamic acid is an antifungal preservative.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: Caprylhydroxamic acid is reported to be at least 99% pure, but according to NICNAS, formulators should consider monitoring products for formation of hydroxylamine (according to the European Chemicals Agency, hydroxylamine is a suspected carcinogen) if formulated at pH < 5 or pH > 8, or if formulation intermediates are substantially acidic or basic. Caprylhydroxamic acid may pose a concern to health due to the possibility of being contaminated with hydroxylamine. 

ECHA: Hydroxylamine

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Caprylhydroxamic acid (2020)

Carbomer (Polyacrylic Acid)

Description: Carbomer (polyacrylic acid) is a type of acrylate copolymer. It is used in cosmetics and skincare products as a thickening agent to help control the thickness, flow, and consistency of the product. 

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, personal care products

Health Impacts: Reported impurities for carbomer include benzene (a carcinogen), propionic acid, acetic acid, acrylic acid, heavy metals, iron, arsenic, and lead.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Acrylates Copolymers

Carrageenan

Group: Natural product

Description: Carrageenan is an anionic polymer derived from several species of red seaweed used as a thickener, stabilizer, and texturizer in foods.

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouthwash and food additives

Health Impacts: The safety of carrageenan has been contested. One study says carrageenan leads to intestinal ulcerations and gastrointestinal neoplasms. However another study states that “carrageenan has not been found to be carcinogenic.” The current acceptable daily intake (ADI) established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is 75 mg/kg/day, but because of lack of exposure and toxicity data, carrageenan will continue to be evaluated for safety.

Cohen, Samuel M. et al., 2008
Tobacman, J. K., 2001
Younes, Maged et al., 2018

Ceteareths

Description: Ceteareths are a type of alkyl PEG ethers used in cosmetics and function primarily as surfactants and emulsifying agents.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Ceteareths may be contaminated with impurities of BHA, 1,4-dioxane, or ethylene oxide, reaction products of ethoxylation (a manufacturing process). These are known carcinogens. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2010)

Ceteths

Description: Ceteths are a type of alkyl PEG ethers used in cosmetics and function primarily as surfactants and emulsifying agents.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Ceteths may be contaminated with impurities of BHA, 1,4-dioxane, or ethylene oxide, reaction products of ethoxylation (a manufacturing process). These are known carcinogens. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2010)

Cetyl Alcohol

Description: Cetyl alcohol (also known as 1-hexadecanol or palmityl alcohol) functions as an emulsion stabilizer, fragrance ingredient, and surfactant in personal care products among a wide variety of other consumer products. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, biocides (e.g. disinfectants, pest control products), coating products, anti-freeze products, lubricants and greases

Health Impacts: Cetyl alcohol is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects,, causes serious eye irritation, is a highly flammable liquid and vapour, is harmful if swallowed, is harmful in contact with skin, may cause respiratory irritation, and may cause drowsiness or dizziness.

ECHA: Hexadecan-1-ol

EWG: Cetyl Alcohol

Cetrimonium chloride

Description: Cetrimonium chloride is a surfactant.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products, detergents, air fresheners, perfumes and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) cetrimonium chloride causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is very toxic to aquatic life, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, is harmful if swallowed and causes serious eye damage.

European Chemicals Agency: Cetrimonium Chloride (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Chlorphenesin

Description: Chlorphenesin is a preservative used in cosmetic products.
Sources of Exposure:
Cosmetics, personal care products

Health Impacts: When the immunosuppressive activity of chlorphenesin was studied in both humans and mice, the results suggested that it may have a broad spectrum of suppressive effects on both B and T lymphocytes. According to the European Chemicals Agency, chlorphenesin causes serious eye irritation and causes skin irritation.

Johnson Jr. et al., 2014

ECHA: Chlorphenesin

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Group: Detergent

Description: Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic detergent and surfactant that has been increasingly used in cosmetics and personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: Hypersensitivity reactions and contact sensitization to cocamidopropyl betaine have been reported. The increasing rates of sensitization led to cocamidopropyl betaine being named Allergen of the Year in 2004. Related impurities rendered during the manufacturing process (such as amidoamine and dimethylaminopropylamine) are thought to play a role in allergy effect. 

Jacob, Sharon E. et al., 2008

Coumestrol

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Coumestrol is a natural organic compound in the class of plant chemicals known as coumestans. Coumestrol is the most common coumestan.

Sources of Exposure: Soy, pinto beans, lima beans, soy bean sprouts, red clover sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, kala chana chickpeas

Health Impacts: Estrogen mimic in rodents; benefits to metabolism in rodents; reduced bone loss in rodents.

Bhagwat, S. et al., 2008

Cyclopentasiloxane

Group: Silicones

Description: Cyclopentasiloxane functions as an anticaking agent, hair conditioning agent, skin conditioning agent, emollient, and solvent in cosmetic products.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: Inhalation of cyclopentasiloxane vapor, such as in aerosols, can provoke pulmonary inflammation. Following inhalation exposure cyclopentasiloxane, lab rats also displayed a significant increase in uterine tumors.

Johnson, W. et al., 2012
Bernauer, U. et al., 2017

Daidzein

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Daidzein is a naturally occurring compound found exclusively in soybeans and other legumes. It structurally belongs to a class of compounds known as isoflavones. It has antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties.

Sources of Exposure: Soybeans and other isoflavone legumes and East Asian arrowroot

Health Impacts: Reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Pubchem: Diadzein (Accessed December 2020)
Chen, G. et al., 2001
Zhang, Q.et al., 2017

Dibutylphthalate (DBP)

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Dibutyl phthalates (both di-n-butyl and di-isobutyl phthalates, referred to as DBP) are industrial solvents or additives used in many personal care products such as nail polish and cosmetics, and also in some printing inks, pharmaceutical coatings, and insecticides.

Sources of Exposure: Flexible plastics; personal care products such as nail polish and cosmetics; printing inks, pharmaceutical coatings, and insecticides; PVC (used in plumbing for carrying sewerage and other corrosive materials)

Health Impacts: Dibutylphthalate (DBP) and its major metabolite, monobutyl phthalate (MBP), are endocrine disruptors and impair male reproductive function. In utero exposure to dibutyl phthalate causes abnormal development of the testis and reproductive tract in male offspring. MBP also inhibited progesterone production in this study. It is categorized as "Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH)" by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Phthalates (Accessed December 2020)
Pubchem: Dibutyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020) 
Lorz, Peter M. et el., 2007 
Hu, Y. et al., 2015
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dibuytl phthalate (Accessed December 2020) 
Ma, T. et al., 2017

Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP)

Metabolites: Mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), Mono-2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate (MEHHP), Mono-2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl phthalate (MECPP) 

Description: MEHP, MEHHP, MECPP are high-molecular weight phthalate metabolites of Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). DEHP is a type of phthalate used to make plastics more flexible. 

Sources of Exposure: Flexible plastics (such as in some shower curtains, furniture, automobile upholstery, rainwear, soes, lunchboxes, binders, backpacks), personal care products, cosmetics, fragrances, food packaging, medical equipment, PVC plastic (used in plumbing for carrying sewerage and other corrosive materials)

Health Impacts: DEHP, and hence, its metabolites, are reproductive toxicants and possible carcinogens. Exposure to DEHP has been linked with testicular impairment, male subfertility and female fertility impairment.

Kalo, D., et al. (2019)
Venkata, N. G., et al. (2006) 
Schmidt, J.-S., et al. (2012)
CA Proposition 65: Diethylhexyl Phthalate (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Diethyl phthalate (DEP)

Group: Xenoestrogen

Metabolite: Monoethyl Phthalate (MEP)

Description: Found within many consumer products, phthalates are industrial plasticizers that impart flexibility and resilience to plastic, among other uses. Monoethyl phthalate (MEP) is a metabolite, or breakdown product, of diethyl phthalate (DEP), most often used as a fragrance ingredient in perfume, cologne, deodorant, soap, shampoo, lotion, and other personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Fragrances, personal care products, flexible plastics

Health Impacts: Fetal and adult exposures are linked to male reproductive harm.

Pubchem: Monoethyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020)
Environmental Working Group’s Human Toxome Project: Monoethyl phthalate Accessed December 2020 
Huang, P.-C. et al., 2007
Wolff, M.S. et al., 2007

Dimethicone

Group: Silicones

Description: Dimethicone is a type of silicone, a group of low molecular weight compounds, which are used in pharmaceutical, medical, cosmetics, and food production. 

Sources of Exposure: Water-repellent coatings, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, contact lenses, anti-foaming agent in cooking oil, condom lubricant

Health Impacts: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel considers polymers of dimethicone to be safe to use in cosmetic formulas because their large molecular weight inhibits absorption into the skin. However, these high molecular weight silicones may also contain toxic impurities with low molecular weights which can be absorbed.

Mojsiewicz-Pieńkowska, K. et al., 2016
Burgener, K. et al., 2020
Becker, L.C. et al., 2014

Dimethyl Lauramine

Description: Dimethyl lauramine is an antistatic agent in cosmetics, usually spray-on hair care products. It also exhibits antimicrobial, antibacterial, and fungicidal properties. 

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics and hair-styling products

Health Impacts: According to the Cosmetics Ingredient Review, this ingredient is corrosive, and thus not suitable for leave-on use. Dimethyl lauramine also has the potential to form a carcinogenic nitrosamine when it is ingested with nitrite.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Dimethyl Stearamine and Related Tertiary Aliphatic Amines as Used in Cosmetics

Dimethyl Myristamine

Description: Dimethyl myristamine is structurally and functionally similar to dimethyl stearamine. See entry for Dimethyl Stearamine.

Dimethyl Stearamine

Description: Dimethyl stearamine is an antistatic agent used in hair sprays and used as a corrosion inhibitor in aerosol products that are stored in cans.

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics and hair-styling products

Health Impacts: The Cosmetics Ingredient Review states that effects on the lungs that may be induced by aerosolized products containing this ingredient are of concern.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Dimethyl Stearamine and Related Tertiary Aliphatic Amines as Used in Cosmetics

Disodium 2-sulfolaurate

Description: Disodium 2-sulfolaurate is a surfactant (cleansing and foaming agent)

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, detergents

Health Impacts: Disodium 2-sulfolaurate causes skin irritation and serious eye irritation.

PubChem: Disodium 2-sulfolaurate (Accessed March 30, 2021)

Disodium stearoyl glutamate

Description: Disodium stearoyl glutamate is a surfactant as well as a cleanser, and hair and skin conditioner.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to its GHS Hazard Statement, disodium stearoyl glutamate can cause serious eye irritation.

PubChem: Disodium stearoyl glutamate

Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline

Description: Dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline is an anti-static and hair-conditioning compound.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: GHS Classification states that Dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline "causes serious eye irritation" and is "harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects."

PubChem: Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline

Enterodiol

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: The enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone are formed by the action of intestinal bacteria on lignan precursors found in plants. Because enterodiol and enterolactone can mimic some of the effects of estrogens, their plant-derived precursors are classified as phytoestrogens. When plant lignans are ingested, they can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria to the enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone, in the intestinal lumen. 

Sources of Exposure: flaxseeds, sesame seeds

Health Impacts: The role of lignans in the prevention of hormone-associated cancers, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease is not yet clear.

Clavel, T. et al., 2005
Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Lignans (Accessed December 2020) 
Milder, I. et al., 2005

Enterolactone

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: The enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone are formed by the action of intestinal bacteria on lignan precursors found in plants. Because enterodiol and enterolactone can mimic some of the effects of estrogens, their plant-derived precursors are classified as phytoestrogens. When plant lignans are ingested, they can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria to the enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone, in the intestinal lumen. 

Sources of Exposure: flaxseeds, sesame seeds

Health Impacts: A study found that higher blood enterolactone concentrations were associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. The role of lignans in the prevention of hormone-associated cancers, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease, however, is not yet clear.

Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Lignans (Accessed December 2020) 
Milder, I. et al., 2005
Heald, C.L. et al., 2007

Equol

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Equol is an isoflavandiol estrogen metabolized from daidzein (a type of isoflavone found in soybeans and other plant sources) by bacterial flora in the intestines. It is known to be estrogenic.

Sources of Exposure: Equol is a metabolite of the soy isoflavone daidzein. Not all humans can produce equol after soy consumption. However, seaweed consumption has been shown to enhance the production of equol.

Health Impacts: Enhances antioxidant effects, enhances effects on extracellular matrix proteins like collagen and elastin and protection against oxidative stress and inflammation. Alleviates VMS (Vasomotor Symptoms) in menopausal women.

Wang, X-L. et al., 2005 
Muthyala, R.S. et al., 2004
Setchell, K.D.R. et al., 2010
Setchell, K.D.R. et al., 1984 
Teas, J. et al., 2009 
Lephart, E.D., 2018
Nonacs, R., 2015

Ethoxylated Phenols

Description: Ethoxylated phenols are detergent-like nonionic surfactants that have been shown to be highly toxic to aquatic life and pose a possible threat to humans. 

Sources of Exposure: antioxidants, lubricating oil additives, laundry and dish detergents, emulsifiers, and solubilizers.

Health impacts: Ethoxylated phenols have been found in detectable amounts in human breast milk, blood, and urine with its long term effects unknown. However, its presence has been associated with reproductive and developmental impacts in exposed rodents. 

https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/fact-sheet-nonylphenols-and-nonylphenol-ethoxylates#risks

Ethoxylated Polyethyleneimines

Description: Ethoxylated polyethyleneimines are used in detergents to promote absorption of and improve the stability of cleaning enzymes.

Sources of Exposure: Home cleaning products

Health Impacts: The EWG states that ethoxylated polyethyleneimines may contain ethylene oxide, a suspected carcinogen, and 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. According to the classification provided by companies to ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) ethoxylated polyethyleneimines are toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, are harmful if swallowed, and cause serious eye irritation and skin irritation.

European Chemicals Agency: Ethoxylated Polyethyleneimines 
EWG: Polyethyleneimines Ethoxylates

Ethoxylated Polyethylenimine 

Description: Ethoxylated polyethylenimine is a polymer used to promote adhesion. 

Sources of Exposure: Laundry detergent

Health Impacts: Ethoxylated polyethylenimine is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, is harmful if swallowed, causes serious eye irritation and causes skin irritation.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Ethoxylated Polyethylenimines (Accessed March 30, 2021)
Sigma-Aldrich: Polyethylenimine (Access March 30, 2021)

Ethylenediamine-tetraacetic Acid (EDTA)

Group: Aminopolycarboxylic acid

Description: EDTA is a binding agent. It is produced as several salts, notably disodium EDTA, calcium disodium EDTA, and tetrasodium EDTA.

Sources of Exposure: Detergents, personal care products, pharmaceuticals

Health Impacts: EDTA is cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic. Oral exposures to EDTA produced adverse reproductive and developmental effects in animals. Exposure to EDTA in cosmetic formulations that may be inhaled are shown to produce reproductive or developmental toxicity. Because of the potential to increase the penetration of other chemicals, exercise caution when EDTA is combined with other ingredients.

Hart, Roger J. et al., 2011 
Lanigan RS, et al., 2001

Ethylene Oxide

Description: Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen used to produce antifreeze, surfactants, glycol ethers, ethanolamines and others.

Sources of Exposure: Antifreeze, personal care products

Health Impacts: Increasing cumulative exposure to ethylene oxide has been associated with increased risk of leukemia. The risk of mortality from all lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer increased with increasing cumulative exposure to ethylene oxide, and this trend was strengthened when the analysis was restricted to cancer of lymphoid-cell origin.

National Toxicology Program: Report on Carcinogens, 14th Edition (2014)

Ethylhexylglycerin

Group: Glyceryl ether

Description: Ethylhexylglycerin is a relatively new cosmetic ingredient that is used as a surfactant, emollient, skin‐conditioner, and antimicrobial. Ethylhexylglycerin is also used to increase the effectiveness of the preservative phenoxyethanol. It has been reported as a contact allergen. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: Ethylhexylglycerin has been associated with contact dermatitis and skin irritation.

Aerts, Olivier et al., 2016
Mortz, C.G. et al., 2009
Stausbøl-Grøn, B. et al., 2007
Sasseville, D. et al., 2014 
Langsrud, Solveig et al., 2016

Ethylhexyl Palmitate

Description: Ethylhexyl palmitate is an emollient.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products, cosmetics, detergents, adhesives and sealants, lubricants and greases, polymers, textile treatment products and dyes, plant protection products and polishes and waxes
Health Impacts:
Ethylhexyl palmitate can be irritating to human skin.

PubChem: Ethylhexyl palmitate (Accessed April 20, 2021)
European Chemicals Agency: Ethylhexyl palmitate (Accessed April 20, 2021)
EWG: Ethylhexyl palmitate (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Ethylparaben

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Ethylparaben is an ethyl ester and a member of the paraben family. It has a role as an antimicrobial food preservative and an antifungal agent. 

Sources of Exposure: Food preservatives, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food packaging

Health Impacts: Parabens have been recently reported to have estrogenic activity in yeast cells and animal models, meaning it acts like natural estrogen in the body and could disrupt hormone function. This affects male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes.

Pubchem: Ethylparaben (Accessed December 2020) 
Byford, J.R. et al., 2002
EWG: What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Etidronic Acid and Salts of Etidronic Acid (Etidronic Acid, Disodium Etidronate, Tetrapotassium Etidronate, and Tetrasodium Etidronate)

Description: Etidronic Acid and its salts function as chelating ingredients in cosmetics and detergents.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, home cleaning products

Health Impacts: According to the classification provided by companies to ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) Tetrasodium Etidronate is harmful if swallowed and causes serious eye irritation.

European Chemicals Agency: Tetrasodium Etidronate
Cosmetics Ingredient Review (2017)

Fluoride

Group: Inorganic chemical

Description: Fluoride is a mineral naturally present in your bones and teeth. It’s also found naturally in water, soil, vegetation, rocks and air. Fluoride is commonly used in dentistry and added to oral hygiene products to strengthen enamel. Fluoride is sometimes added to public water supplies.

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, professionally used varnishes/gels, and mouth rinses; pesticides; Teflon, steel and aluminium products; tap water

Health Impacts: Ingestion of fluoride more than the recommended limit leads to toxicity and adverse effects. Toothpaste ingestion remains the main source of toxicity followed by fluoride-containing mouthwashes and supplements. Lower levels of fluoride exposure before birth has been reported to affect mental development, learning disorders, and decrease intelligence and hyperactivity in children. 

Ullah, Rizwan, et al., 2017
Choi, Anna L. et al., 2012

Formaldehyde

Group: Aldehyde

Description: Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature and has a strong odor. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing substances (quaternium‐15, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin and 2‐bromo‐2‐nitropropane‐1,3‐diol) are used as antimicrobial preservatives in personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Resins used in the manufacture of composite wood products (i.e., hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard); building materials and insulation; household products (such as glues, permanent press fabrics, paints and coatings, lacquers and finishes, and paper products); preservatives used in some medicines, cosmetics and other consumer products such as dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners; fertilizers and pesticides. It is a byproduct of combustion and certain other natural processes, and so is also found in emissions from un-vented, fuel burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters, and cigarette smoke.

Health Impacts: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans and concluded that there is evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer. There is also strong evidence for leukemia and limited evidence for sinonasal cancer. National Cancer Institute (NCI) investigators have concluded that exposure to formaldehyde may cause leukemia, particularly myeloid leukemia, in humans.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Formaldehyde (Accessed December 2020) 
De Groot, Anton C. et al., 2009
NIH National Cancer Institute: Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk (Accessed December 2020)

Formononetin

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Formononetin is a phytoestrogen and a plant metabolite. It is a member of the class of compounds known as isoflavones. It derives from a daidzein.

Sources of Exposure: Legumes, particularly in beans, such as green beans, lima beans, soy and many others; red clover, Chinese herb Astragalus membranaceus

Health Impacts: Exhibits anticancer effects.

Pubchem: Formononetin (Accessed December 2020)
USDA National Agricultural Library: Isoflavones (Accessed December 2020) 
Medjakovic, S. et al., 2008
Tay, K-C. et al., 2019

Fragrance/Parfum

Group: Fragrance

Description: The words “Fragrance” and/or “Parfum” on ingredient labels are an umbrella term for any combination of over 3,000 stock chemical ingredients, synthetic flavor and fragrances. Since fragrance formulas are protected under federal law's classification of trade secrets, manufacturers are permitted to leave their proprietary fragrance formulas undisclosed. Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others) can be found in synthetic fragrances to make scents stick to the skin.

Sources of Exposure: Perfume, cologne, scented detergents and other scented products products, personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: The main concern for Fragrance/Parfum is that it is likely to contain phthalates. Phthalates (e.g. dibutylphthalate, monobutyl phthalate, monoethyl phthalate) have been found to impair male reproductive function, inhibit hormone production, induce abnormal development of the testis and reproductive tract in male offspring, damage unborn children and is suspected of damaging fertility.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Fragrance (Accessed December 2020)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Phthalates (Accessed December 2020)
Pubchem: Dibutyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020)
Lorz, Peter M. et el., 2007
Hu, Y. et al., 2015 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dibuytl phthalate (Accessed December 2020)
Ma, Tan et al., 2017 
European Chemicals Agency: Benzyl butyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020) 
Environmental Working Group’s Human Toxome Project: Monoethyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020) 
Huang, Po-Chin et al., 2007 
Wolff, Mary S. et al., 2007 
Hu, Y. et al., 2015
Pubchem: Monobutyl phthalate (Accessed December 2020)

Genistein

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Genistein is a soy-derived isoflavone and phytoestrogen. Genistein exhibits antioxidant, antiangiogenic, and immunosuppressive activities.

Sources of Exposure: Lupin, fava beans, soybeans, kudzu, miso, psoralea, Flemingia vestita, Flemingia macrophylla

Health Impacts: Reduction in prostate cancer risk and is thought to have other anticancer actions 

Pubchem: Genistein (Accessed December 2020)
Kaufman, P.B. et al., 2007
Nageswara Rao, K. et al., 1983
Zhang, Q. et al., 2017

Glycerin from Non-Vegetable Sources

Group: Petroleum product

Description: When ingredient labels do not explicitly state whether their formula contains vegetable-based glycerin, it may be synthetic, petrolatum-based glycerin. Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, derived from petroleum, is often used in personal care products as a moisturizing agent. When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are byproducts of organic material burning (wood fires and grilled food), and are stored in body fat when exposed to humans and animals.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, food additives, pharmaceuticals, e-cigarette liquid, antifreeze

Health Impacts: The 15 individual PAHs are suspected human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals. They are also endocrine disruptors.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Petrolatum (Accessed December 2020)
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (Accessed December 2020)
National Toxicology Program, 2015

Glyceryl Stearate

Description: Glyceryl stearate is a surfactant and emulsifying agent. It is a type of monoglyceral monoester, which is a group of skin-conditioning agents used in personal care products and cosmetics. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: Some monoglyceral monoesters may be formed from plant-derived or animal-derived acid or alcohol constituents, which raises concern over the possible contamination from pesticide residues and/or heavy metals.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Glyceryl Stearate (2020)

Glycitein

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Glycitein is a methoxyisoflavone that has been isolated from the mycelia of the fungus Cordyceps sinensis. It has a role as a plant metabolite, a phytoestrogen and a fungal metabolite.

Sources of Exposure: Soybeans and other isoflavone-rich foods

Health Impacts: Reduction in prostate cancer risk; is an antioxidant; regulates the expression of genes involved in DNA damage and repair, and possibly aids in the prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases 

Pubchem: Glycitein (Accessed December 2020)
Science Direct: Glycitein (Accessed December 2020) 
Zhang, Q. et al., 2017
Pan, W. et al., 2001

Glycol Ethers

Group: Solvent

Description: Glycol ethers are a group of solvents that is often found in paint and can cause reproductive damage

Sources of Exposure: Paint

Health Impacts: Exposure to glycol ethers caused low sperm count and less mobile sperm.

Hardin, B.D., 1983
Welch, Laura S. et al., 1988

Homosalate

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: Homosalate is a frequently used chemical UV filter that absorbs short-wave UVB rays. 

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and skin care products with SPF

Health Impacts: Homosalate increases cell proliferation in cancer cells and exhibits estrogenic activity.

Schlumpf, M. et al., 2001
Kunz, P.Y. et al., 2006

Hydrogenated Polydecene

Description: Hydrogenated polydecene is a member of the polyene group of chemicals, which function as film formers and viscosity increasing agents in cosmetics.  

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: Hydrogenated polydecene poses a moderate non-reproductive organ system toxicity risk. According to ECHA, it may also be fatal if swallowed and enters airways. 

EWG: Hydrogenated polydecene

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Hydrogenated polydecene (2020)

European Chemicals Agency: Hydrogenated polydecene

Hydroxyethyl Urea

Description: Hydroxyethyl Urea is reported to function as a humectant and hair- and skin-conditioning agent for use in cosmetic products.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics 

Health Impacts: The fact that hydroxyethyl urea can be synthesized from ethanolamine (a potentially carcinogenic compound due to formation of nitrosamines), but there there exists a lack of data on the methods of manufacture and impurities in hydroxyethyl urea, is a cause for concern. 

Cosmetics Ingredient Review (2018)

Isobutane

Description: Isobutane is a colorless flammable gas with an odor similar to gasoline. 

Sources of Exposure: aerosol personal care products, refrigerants, synthetic rubber

Health Impacts: Isobutane carries the following GHS Hazard Statements: "Extremely flammable gas" and "Contains gas under pressure; may explode if heated." 

PubChem: Isobutane (Accessed April 19, 2021)

Isopentane (Methylbutane)

Description: Isopentane is a colorless flammable gas or liquid with an odor similar to gasoline. It is used as a solvent and to make other chemicals and polystyrene.

Sources of Exposure: fuels; aerosol perfumes, cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: The use of isopentane in aerosols may be irritating to the skin and eyes. If inhaled, as is likely when sprayed as a vapor, it can irritate the respiratory tract, induce coughing and irregular heartbeat. It is also highly flammable and explosive.

PubChem: Isopentane (Accessed April 19, 2021)

Isopropyl Palmitate

Description: Isopropyl Palmitate is an emollient, lubricating and binding agent in cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics
Health Impacts:
Isopropyl palmitate may be mildly irritating to sensitive skin. Palmitic acid (a component in the manufacturing of isopropyl palmitate) may add BHT as an antioxidant. BHT is an endocrine disruptor. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Octyl Palmitate, Cetyl Palmitate and Isopropyl Palmitate
Cosmetics Info: Isopropyl Palmitate (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Isoxanthohumol

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Isoxanthohumol, apart from xanthohumol and 8-prenylnaringenin, is one of the most important prenylflavonoids found in hops.

Sources of Exposure: Beer and Sophora flavescens (a root used in Chinese medicine)

Health Impacts: Shows anticancer effects: exhibits antiproliferative activity against human cell lines typical for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer cells. Exhibits anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant properties. It strongly inhibits the activation of some carcinogens. Significantly reduces the expression of transforming growth factor-β in the case of invasive breast cancer. Shows antiviral effects: exhibits antiviral activity towards herpes viruses. Exhibits antiviral activity towards bovine viral diarrhea virus

Zolnierczyk, A.K. et al., 2015
Seliger, J.M. et al., 2018

Lauramine Oxide

Description: Lauramine oxide is used in a variety of cosmetic applications, such as foam builder and stabilizer, viscosity enhancer, emollient, conditioner, emulsifier, and antistatic agent. 

Sources of Exposure: personal care products, detergents, cleaning and furnishing care products
Health Impacts:
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, lauramine oxide is highly toxic, may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through skin. They recommend avoiding any skin contact, for effects of contact or inhalation may be delayed. 

PubChem: Lauramine Oxide (Accessed April 20, 2021)

Laureths

Description: Laureths are a type of alkyl PEG ethers used in cosmetics and function primarily as surfactants and emulsifying agents.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Laureths may be contaminated with impurities of BHA, 1,4-dioxane, or ethylene oxide, reaction products of ethoxylation (a manufacturing process). These are known carcinogens. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2010)

Lavender Oil

Group: Essential oil 

Description: Lavender Oil is an essential oil extracted from the stems and leaves of the lavender plant. It is often added to personal care products as a natural fragrant ingredient.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: Lavender contains plant compounds that mimic or oppose the actions of sex hormones and are potential endocrine disruptors. However, since the single study that exists was limited to three subjects and the condition is classified as idiopathic, Million Marker still lists products with lavender oil on Approved Products lists. We do advise parents and guardians to take this into consideration if applying products with lavender to prepubescent children.

Henley, D.V. et al., 2007
Ramsey, T.J., 2019

Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LASs)

Description: Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LASs) are among the major anionic surfactants used in detergents, such as laundry powders and dishwashing products.

Sources of Exposure: Detergents

Health Impacts: LASs have been linked with tumor promotion in colon cancer cells. 

Bradai, M., et al. 2016

Magnesium Stearate

Description: Magnesium stearate is the magnesium salt of the fatty acid, stearic acid. It is used as an anticaking agent, colorant and moisturizer in cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, supplements

Health Impacts: Magnesium Stearate carries the following GHS Hazard Statements, "causes skin irritation," "causes serious eye irritation ," "may cause respiratory irritation," and "may cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life."

PubChem: Magnesium Stearate

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone

Group: Isothiazolinones

Description: Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone are preservatives active against bacteria, yeast and fungi. It is used in the manufacture of water-based cosmetics and personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, home cleaning products, detergents, paper coatings

Health Impacts: Methylisothiazolinone causes skin irritation, allergies, and contact dermatitis. The EU determined it is not safe for the consumer in any leave-on products. Both methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone are classified as sensitizers and are among the most frequent causes of preservative contact allergy.

Publications Office of the EU, Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products: Methylisothiazolinone (Accessed December 2020) 
Burnett, C.L., 2010
Lundov, M.D. et al., 2011

Methylparaben

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Methylparaben is a member of the paraben family. It is used as an antimicrobial preservative in cosmetics and personal-care products, an antimicrobial in food preservatives, a neuroprotective agent and an antifungal agent.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products; medication

Health Impacts: Parabens have been recently reported to have estrogenic activity in yeast cells and animal models, meaning it acts like natural estrogen in the body and could disrupt hormone function. This affects male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Butyl-, methyl- and propylparaben have been linked to activating breast cancer cells. Methylparaben is toxic at higher concentrations and has an estrogenic effect (mimics estrogen in rats and has anti-androgenic activity).

Byford, J.R. et al. (2002)
Wróbel, A. M., et al. (2015)
EWG: What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? (Accessed April 20, 2021)
Pubchem: Methylparaben (Accessed December 2020)
Wei, G. et al., 2009 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parabens Factsheet (Accessed December 2020)
Dodge, L.E. et al., 2015

Methylresorcinol and resorcinol

Description: Resorcinol and 2-Methylresorcinol are dye intermediates in permanent, oxidative hair dyes.

Sources of Exposure: Hair colors and dyes, personal care products

Health Impacts: Personal hair dye use has been linked with the development of acute leukemia, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Methylresorcinol and resorcinol carry the following GHS Hazard Statements: causes skin irritation and serious eye irritation, and toxic if swallowed. 

PubChem: 2-methylresorcinolPubChem: Resorcinol

PubChem: Resorcinol

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Annual Safety Assessment (2005/2006)

Methyl Parahydroxybenzoate

Description: Methyl Parahydroxybenzoate is an antimicrobial preservative commonly used in cosmetics to increase shelf life. 

Sources of exposure: Cosmetics, food as a preservative, deodorants, hair care products, moisturizer 

Health impacts: Methyl Parahydroxybenzoate is a paraben. Parabens are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to health risks such as carcinogenesis, infertility, and spermatogenesis. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570577/

MEA/DEA/TEA

Group: Ethanolamines

Description: Monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) are used as emulsifiers, pH adjusters and fragrance in a wide variety of consumer products. When ethanolamines are used in the same product as certain preservatives that break down into nitrogen, they can form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are a class of more than a dozen different chemicals, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists individually as possible and known carcinogens.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, home cleaning products

Health Impacts: MEA, DEA, and TEA have been found to be carcinogenic, reduce sperm quality, and damage fetal brain development.

Dodson, R.E., 2012
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Ethanolamine Compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA and Others) (Accessed December 2020) 
International Agency for Research on Cancer: Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs (Accessed December 2020)
The European Commission, Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety: Opinion on Nitrosamines and Secondary Amines in Cosmetic Products (Accessed December 2020)
National Toxicology Program, 2004
Panchal, S. et al., 2016
Craciunescu, C.N. et al., 2006

Myristamidopropylamine oxide

Description: Myristamidopropylamine oxide is a surfactant.

Sources of Exposure: personal care products, detergents, and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to the GHS Hazard Statements associated with myristamidopropylamine oxide, it is harmful if swallowed, causes skin irritation, causes serious eye damage, causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure, and is very toxic to aquatic life.

PubChem: Myristamidopropylamine oxide (Accessed April 20, 2021)

N-butylbenzenesulfonam- ide

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: N-butylbenzenesulfonamide (NBBS) is a sulfonamide. It has been shown to exhibit anti-testosterone activity. It has a role as a neurotoxin and a plant metabolite. N-Butylbenzenesulfonamide is widely used as a plasticizer in polyacetals, polyamides, and polycarbonates and has been found in ground water and effluent from wastewater treatment sites.

Sources of Exposure: Plastics (Polyacetals, polyamides, and polycarbonates)

Health Impacts: NBBS is a neurotoxin, meaning it is toxic to the brain and nerves.

Pubchem: N-Butylbenzenesulfonamide (Accessed December 2020) 
Rider, C.V. et al., 2012
Strong, M.J. et al., 1991

Nonylphenol

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Nonylphenols are a family of closely related organic compounds. They are used in manufacturing antioxidants, lubricating oil additives, laundry and dish detergents, emulsifiers, and solubilizers. These compounds are also precursors to the commercially important non-ionic surfactants alkylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenol ethoxylates, which are used in detergents, paints, pesticides, personal care products, and plastics.

Sources of Exposure: Lubricating oil additives; laundry and dish detergents; emulsifiers and solubilizers

Health Impacts: Nonylphenols are toxic compounds classified as endocrine disruptors, thus capable of interfering with the hormone system. They can cause the feminization of aquatic organisms and decrease  male fertility and the survival of juveniles. Early prenatal exposure to low doses of nonylphenol have caused an increase in cell death in placental cells. Nonylphenol has also been shown to cause implantation failure, pregnancy loss, and other fertility complications in humans. Nonylphenol has been linked to obesity. Long-term exposure to nonylphenol has been shown to affect insulin signaling in the liver of adult male rats. Nonylphenol's endocrine disruptor effects, coupled with its widespread human exposure, could potentially contribute to hormone-dependent breast cancer.

Soares, A. et al., 2008
Bechi, N. et al., 2010 
Grün, F. et al., 2009
Jubendradass, R. et al., 2011
Vivacqua, A. et al., 2003

Nylon

Description: Nylon polymers (Nylon-6, -6/12, -10/10, -11, -12, -66, -611) function in cosmetics primarily as bulking and opacifying agents.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics

Health Impacts: Nylon-6 may contain caprolactam, a hazardous irritant used in the manufacturer of synthetics fibers. Additionally, nylon-6 may contain aminocaproic acid, another irritant. Nylon-12 can be contaminated with heavy metals, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals. 

PubChem: Caprolactam  

PubChem: Aminocaproic acid

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2014)

Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: Octinoxate is a frequently used chemical UV filter that disperses UVB rays.

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and skin care products with SPF

Health Impacts: Studies suggest that Octinoxate acts as an endocrine disruptor that can alter the sex hormone-neurotransmitter Gn-RH. 

Schlumpf, M. et al., 2001
Carbone, S. et al., 2010

Octocrylene

Description: Octocrylene is an active ingredient approved for use in sun protection factor (SPF) over-the-counter drugs which include sunscreens, moisturizers, lip balms, and anti-aging products. Octocrylene is also used in non-SPF-labeled personal care products such as shampoos, hair sprays, tanning oils, and conditioners. 

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreen, tanning products, SPF and non-SPF personal care products

Health Impacts: When purchasing raw octocrylene for sunscreen or personal care product manufacturing, industry admits that benzophenone is a contaminant found in octocrylene and, for some reason, “cannot be removed by its entirety when octocrylene is being processed...” Benzophenone is associated with a wide range of toxic effects, including genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and endocrine disruption

Downs, C. A. et al., 2021

Oleths

Description: Oleths are a type of alkyl PEG ethers used in cosmetics and function primarily as surfactants and emulsifying agents, in addition to as fragrance ingredients.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Oleths may be contaminated with impurities of BHA, 1,4-dioxane, or ethylene oxide, reaction products of ethoxylation (a manufacturing process). These are known carcinogens. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2010)

Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: Oxybenzone is a frequently used chemical UV filter that absorbs UVA rays.

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and skin care products with SPF

Health Impacts: Oxybenzone is an endocrine-disruptor and is associated with altered birth weight in human studies.

The Environmental Working Group: The Trouble with Ingredients in Sunscreens (Accessed December 2020)
Pubchem: Oxybenzone (Accessed December 2020)
Schlumpf, M. et al., 2001
Kunz, P.Y. et al., 2006

Panthenol

Description: Panthenol is an alcohol compound of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, food additives, pharmaceutical drugs

Health Impacts: Panthenol may contain impurities of lead and aminopropanol. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Panthenol, Pantothenic Acid and its Derivatives (April 2017)

Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)

Group: Chemical UV Filters

Description: PABA is a frequently used chemical UV filter that absorbs UVB rays. 

Sources of Exposure: Sunscreens and skin care products with SPF

Health Impacts: PABA increases cell proliferation in cancer cells and exhibits estrogenic activity.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: PABA (Accessed December 2020) 
Schlumpf, M. et al., 2001
Kunz, P.Y. et al., 2006

Parabens

Description: A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Commonly used parabens include benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, medication

Health Impacts: Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Parabens mimic estrogen. They can lock on to our cells’ own estrogen receptors and mess with important natural signals. They may play a role in triggering breast cancer.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Parabens (Accessed December 2020)

Paraffin

Group: Petroleum product

Description: Paraffin oil is mineral oil made from petroleum as a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are byproducts of organic material burning (wood fires and grilled food), and are stored in body fat when exposed to humans and animals.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: The 15 individual PAHs are suspected human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals. 

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Petrolatum (Accessed December 2020) 
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (Accessed December 2020)
National Toxicology Program, 2016

Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate

Description: Pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate functions as an antioxidant in cosmetic products.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate may be contaminated with methyl 3-(3,5-di-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyphenyl) propionate, which carries GHS Hazard Statements concerning its acute oral toxicity and role as an environmental hazard.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2014)

PubChem: Methyl 3-(3,5-di-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyphenyl)propionate

Pentasodium Pentetate

Description: Pentasodium Pentetate functions as chelating agent in cosmetics, although it is mostly used in hair dyes and colors.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, hair dyes

Health Impacts: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has reviewed EDTA and its salts, which are structurally similar to Pentasodium Pentetate and are used as chelating agents in cosmetics.  EDTA and its salts are cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic, but not carcinogenic. Oral exposures to EDTA produced adverse reproductive and developmental effects in animals.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2008)

Pentylene Glycol (1,2-pentanediol)

Description: Pentylene glycol is used mostly as a skin and hair conditioning agent, viscosity agent in cosmetic products, as well as a cosmetic preservative. It is a type of 1,2-glycol. 

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics and personal care products

Health Impacts: Pentylene glycol has been shown to enhance the penetration of other ingredients in the same formula, which can thus increase the potency of concerning chemicals when formulated with pentylene glycol.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Caprylyl Glycol and other 1,2-Glycols

Petroleum Jelly (Petrolatum)

Group: Petroleum product

Description: When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are byproducts of organic material burning (wood fires and grilled food), and are stored in body fat when exposed to humans and animals.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: The 15 individual PAHs are suspected human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Petrolatum (Accessed December 2020)
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (Accessed December 2020)
National Toxicology Program, 2016

Phenoxyethanol

Group: Preservative

Description: Phenoxyethanol exhibits a wide range of antimicrobial activity and has been widely used as a preservative in cosmetic products for decades.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, home cleaning products

Health Impacts: A safety review published by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2019 says that concentrations up to 1% are safe. However, phenoxyethanol has also been linked to allergic reactions and is linked with organ system toxicity.

Dréno, B. et al., 2019
Chasset, F. et al., 2015
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Phenoxyethanol (Accessed December 2020)
EWG: Phenoxyethanol 

Phenylenediamine

Description: Phenylenediamine is used in the production of antioxidants, as a laboratory reagent, in photographic developing, and as a dye for hair and furs.

Sources of Exposure: Hair dyes

Health Impacts: Acute exposure to high levels of p-phenylenediamine may cause severe dermatitis, eye irritation and tearing, asthma, gastritis, renal failure, vertigo, tremors, convulsions, and coma in humans. It carries the following GHS Hazard Statements: toxic in contact with skin, toxic if inhaled, may cause an allergic skin reaction and others. 

PubChem: p-Phenylenediamine

Phthalates

Description: Phthalates (e.g. benzylbutylphthalate, dibutylphthalate, diethylhexylphthalate, diethylphthalate) are chemicals that make plastics more flexible and durable. Phthalates are also used as solvents for materials such as adhesives (glues), detergents, plastic clothing (raincoats), perfumes, soaps and hair sprays. Learn more from our blog post here!

Sources of Exposure: soft plastics, PVC, vinyl, plastic recycling #3, Fragrance/Parfum 

Health Impacts: Phthalates are linked to endocrine and reproductive dysregulation, early puberty, endometriosis, and infertility.

Agay-Shay, K. et al., 2015
Bowes, D. A. et al., 2019
Harley, K.G. et al., 2016
Braun, J.M., 2017
Hiatt, R.A. et al., 2018
Machtinger, R. et al., 2018
Radke, E.G. et al., 2018

Polyacrylamide

Group: Acrylamides

Description: Polyacrylamide is used as a stabilizer and binder in lotions. Additional uses include as binding, thickening or flocculating agents in industrial applications.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics; grout, cement, sewage/wastewater treatment; pesticides, sugar manufacturing, soil erosion prevention, ore processing, food packaging, plastic products, and paper production

Health Impacts: Polyacrylamide can break down into acrylamide, which is an accepted carcinogen that has been linked to mammary tumors. Acrylamide has been classified by the European Commission on the basis of carcinogenicity, genotoxicity and reproductive toxicity.

National Toxicology Program: NTP 12th Report on Carcinogens (Accessed December 2020)
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Polyacrylamide (Accessed December 2020) 
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Acrylamide (Accessed December 2020) 
Environment and Climate Change Canada: Acrylamide (Accessed December 2020)

Polybutene

Description: Polybutene is a binder and viscosity-controlling polymer used in cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, personal care products

Health Impacts: Polybutene carries the following GHS Hazard Statements: "May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways" and "causes skin irritation." The Cosmetic Ingredient Review board noted “low systemic toxicity at high doses in single-dose and repeated-dose animal studies” of Polybutene and other polyene group chemicals (Polyethylene, Polyisobutene, and Hydrogenated Polyisobutene). In addition, polybutene may be contaminated with isoparaffins, vinylidene and terminal vinyl structures, chloride, and sulfur-containing compounds.

PubChem: Polybutene
Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2020)
Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2020)

Polyethylene

Description: Polyethylene is a synthetic resin that functions as the most widely used plastic in the world. 

Sources of exposure: Clear food wrap, shopping bags, food packaging, product packaging, detergent bottles, personal care products, cosmetics

Health impacts: Plastic exposure has been associated with long term health impacts such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation, auto-immune conditions, neuro-degenerative diseases, and stroke.

https://www.ciel.org/project-update/plastic-and-human-health-a-lifecycle-approach-to-plastic-pollution/

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Group: Ethoxylated ingredients

Description: Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a silicone thickening agent that can be contaminated with carcinogenic impurities and by-products, such as ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-Dioxane is a contaminant created when common ingredients are mixed together. It is not found on ingredient labels. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, home cleaning products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: 1,4-Dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen, toxic to organs and the respiratory system, and a skin irritant.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Ethoxylated ingredients (Accessed December 2020)

Polyethylene-Terephthalate (PET)

Description: Polyethylene-Terephthalate (PET) is a polyester that functions as strong, lightweight plastic commonly used to make packaging. 

Sources of exposure: Packaging, fabrics, electronics, containers, cosmetics, water bottle or soda containers, fibers in fabric

Health impacts: PET under greater than average temperatures has been associated with the leaching of phthalates into food and drinks. Phthalates are linked to endocrine and reproductive dysregulation, early puberty, endometriosis, and infertility. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460375/#B33-ijerph-17-05655

Polymethyl methacrylate

Description: Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), or plexiglass, is a transparent polymer material. Solid PMMA can be fabricated to ultrafine powder by a combination of irradiation and grinding. PMMA microspheres are commercially used in cosmetics, medical materials, and chemical materials.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics

Health Impacts: Polymethyl methacrylate’s use as microbeads in cosmetic products poses an environmental hazard. In addition, PMMA may contain impurities of the monomer, methyl methacrylate (MMA), a volatile synthetic chemical that is used principally in the production of cast acrylic sheet, acrylic emulsions, and molding and extrusion resins. In humans, methyl methacrylate is rapidly metabolized to methacrylic acid. This compound is a mild skin irritant in humans and has the potential to induce skin sensitization in susceptible individuals. 

Rong Li, et al. (2019) 

PubChem: Methyl methacrylate 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Acrylates Copolymers (2019)

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: The Microbead-Free Waters Act (2020)

Royal Society of Chemistry: US bans microbeads from personal care products (2016)

Polypropylene Glycol (PPG)

Group: Ethoxylated ingredients

Description: Polypropylene glycol (PPG) is a petroleum-based ethoxylated compound with carcinogenic impurities and by-products, such as ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-Dioxane is a contaminant created when common ingredients are mixed together. It is not found on ingredient labels. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, home cleaning products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: 1,4-Dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen, toxic to organs and the respiratory system, and a skin irritant.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Ethoxylated ingredients (Accessed December 2020)

Polyvinvyl Alcohol (PVA)

Description: Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a water-soluble plastic commercially used in laundry and dish detergent pods (LDPs).

Sources of Exposure: Detergent pods, dryer sheets

Health Impacts: Exposure to PVA has been connected to human carcinogenesis. PVA is also released into the environment from wastewater, which is a threat to ecosystems due to the potential mobilization of heavy metals and other hydrophilic contaminants.

PubChem: Polyvinyl Alcohol 

Rolsky & Kelkar (2021)

Pregnancy Safe

What do we mean when we say something is “pregnancy safe?” In our case, we mean that the product is free from chemicals that have been shown to be harmful to growing fetuses and/or could impact fertility and conception. These are chemicals such as BPA or other bisphenols, phthalates, and parabens. 


Testing chemicals and medication for safety in pregnancy is an involved process and often not done in humans due to not wanting to harm pregnant women and unborn children. Therefore, it cannot be guaranteed that every “natural” ingredient is safe for pregnancy, as these studies are often not conducted. What we can guarantee is that we carefully research every chemical ingredient (both natural and man-made) and if there is any indication that an ingredient might be toxic, we add it to our list of “ingredients to avoid.”

Propane

Description: Propane is an important constituent of liquefied petroleum gas and sometimes the main compound in liquefied petroleum gas used as (bus) fuel. It is a byproduct from various refinery processes. Some of its uses include aerosol propellant and refrigerant.

Sources of Exposure: Aerosol sprays (fragrances, cleaning products)

Health Impacts: One study found that chronic inhalation of propane and butane gases causes occupational hepatitis.

EPA: Acute Exposure Guideline Levels, Vol. 12

Propanediol

Group: Organic compound

Description: Although propanediol is thought to be the safer alternative to propylene glycol (PG or propanediol 1,2), propanediol 1,3 is considered a skin irritant in both animals and humans.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Skin irritation

Belcher, L.A. et al., 2010

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Group: Organic compound

Description: Propylene glycol (PG) is a surfactant, emollient and emulsifier found in cosmetics, medications, and food. It has been named the American Contact Dermatitis Society's Allergen of the Year for 2018.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food additives

Health Impacts: Propylene glycol has been shown to case allergic and irritant contact dermatitis as well as systemic cutaneous reactions.

Al Jasser, M. et al., 2011
Jacob, Sharon E. et al., 2018

PVP/VA Copolymer

Group: Polymer

Description: PVP/VA Copolymer a synthetic vinyl polymer used as an antistatic, binder, emulsion stabilizer, and film former in cosmetics. It is often used in hair styling products to give and maintain hold.

Sources of Exposure: Hair styling products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: The CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) states PVP/VA Copolymer is not toxic, however Australia’s National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme states that it may contain “residual impurities that are classified as hazardous according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).”

Pubchem: PVP/VA Copolymer (Accessed December 2020) 
Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Safety Assessment of Vinylpyrrolidone Polymers as Used in Cosmetics (Accessed December 2020)

Propylparaben

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Propylparaben is a benzoate ester, a member of phenols and a paraben. It has a role as an antifungal agent and an antimicrobial agent.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics, personal care products and food additives

Health Impacts: Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Butyl-, methyl- and propylparaben have been linked to activating breast cancer cells.

Pubchem: Propylparaben (Accessed December 2020)
EWG: What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? (Accessed December 2020)
Wróbel, A. M., et al. (2015)

Resveratrol

Group: Phytoestrogen

Description: Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol that has been detected in more than 70 plant species, especially in grapes’ skin and seeds. When taken orally, resveratrol is well absorbed by humans, but its bioavailability is relatively low because it is rapidly metabolized and eliminated. In preclinical studies, resveratrol has been shown to possess numerous biological activities, which could possibly be applied to the prevention and/or treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Sources of Exposure: Grape skin and seeds, cocoa, peanuts, Itadori tea, Vaccinium berries (Lowbush blueberry, sparkleberry, rabbiteye blueberry, highbush blueberry, Elliott's blueberry, cranberry, bilberry, deerberry, lingonberry, partridgeberry).

Health Impacts: Antibacterial and antifungal. Very high antioxidant potential; exhibits antitumor activity; able to inhibit all carcinogenesis stages (e.g., initiation, promotion and progression); Anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, vasorelaxant, phytoestrogenic and neuroprotective. However, it may behave as a pro-oxidizing agent, thus, it may also have implication in pathology of several diseases.

Salehi, B. et al., 2018
Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University: Resveratrol (Accessed December 2020)
Burns, J. et al., 2002
Rimando, A. et al., 2004
Hurst, J.W. et al., 2008

Retinol and Retinol Compounds

Description: Retinol is a type of retinoid, or vitamin A. Retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate are two derivatives of retinol.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: Experimental studies have indicated that topically applied retinoic acid can enhance photocarcinogenesis. Retinoids such as retinol can be highly unstable, and so are better stabilized in formulations with BHT and BHA — which are linked to health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and organ toxicity. A few studies have linked retinyl palmitate, another kind of retinoid, to the development of skin tumors and lesions under UV radiation in mice.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Retinol and retinol compounds (Accessed March 30, 2021)
Naked Poppy: What is retinol (August 21, 2020)

Saccharin

Group: Artificial sweeteners

Description: Saccharin is a commonly used FDA-approved artificial sweetener. We include artificial sweeteners in our ingredients of concern list, for they may appear in oral care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouth wash, artificially-sweetened food and beverages

Health Impacts: A study published in 1978 found an association between consumption of high doses of saccharin and the development of bladder cancer, concluding, “Saccharin is carcinogenic for the urinary bladder in rats and mice, and most likely is carcinogenic in human beings.”

Reuber, M.D., 1978

Silicones (-siloxane, -icone)

Silicone chemicals (often ending in -siloxane, -icone, or -siloxy-) are not harmful to human health, but instead, represent issues to our environment. This means that once they are washed off and enter our waterways, they do not biodegrade and hence accumulate, and pose risk to aquatic organisms with unpredictable long-term detriment to our environment. For example, the European Commission classifies octameth­ylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and decameth­ylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) as persistent, bioaccum­ulative and toxic very persistent and very bioaccum­ulative substances, respectively. Other types of silicone chemicals, such as cyclohexasiloxane and various types of dimethicones and phenyl trimethicones, may pose similar risks to the environment. 

Restriction of D4 and D5 in Personal Care Products (2018)

Are Silicone Products Toxic? Million Marker (2021)

Sodium Benzoate

Group: Preservative

Description: Sodium benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and is widely used as a food preservative and antimicrobial substance in a variety of consumer products.

Sources of Exposure: Food preservatives (e.g. in salads, pickles, vinegar, carbonated drinks, jams, fruit juices, and sauces), cosmetics, personal care products and pharmaceuticals

Health Impacts:  Exposure to UV light and elevated temperature over the shelf life of beverages may result in benzene formation in products containing benzoic and ascorbic acids. However, sodium benzoate is a greater concern in food than in personal care products, as it is added in larger quantities as a food preservative. Thus, if sodium benzoate is the only ingredient of concern in a product, Million Marker may still include it in the Approved Products list.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Sodium benzoate (2017)

Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate

Description: Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate is an anionic surfactant used in detergents and personal care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Detergents, personal care products

Health Impacts: Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate causes serious eye damage and skin irritation. 

Gerster, F. M., et al. 2014
European Chemicals Agency: Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate (2021)

Sodium Cumenesulfonate

Description: Sodium Cumenesulfonate is a surfactant used in personal care products and cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: Sodium Cumenesulfonate may cause skin irritation, serious eye irritation and may cause respiratory irritation.

PubChem: Sodium Cumenesulfonate (Accessed April, 2021)
Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Sodium Cumenesulfonate (Accessed April 12, 2021)

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Description: Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is a preservative used in personal care products. It is in a class of chemicals known as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to the European Chemicals Agency, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate may cause cancer, is harmful if swallowed, causes serious eye irritation, is harmful if inhaled, is suspected of causing genetic defects, causes skin irritation, may cause an allergic skin reaction, and may cause respiratory irritation. 

ECHA: Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

Russell, K. et al. (2010)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Group: Detergent

Description: Sodium laureth sulfate is detergent, emulsifier and surfactant found in many personal care products. It is often used as an inexpensive foaming agent.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics, home cleaning products

Health Impacts: Sodium laureth sulfate has been demonstrated to be a skin and eye irritant. It can also be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-Dioxane.

Black, R.E. et al., 2001
Robinson, V.C. et al., 2019

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

Group: Acyl sarcosinates

Description: Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is a synthetic skin conditioning agent. It is used in a large number of cosmetic formulations as hair-conditioning agents and cleansing agents. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products

Health Impacts: A safety assessment of sodium lauroyl sarcosinate states that it is safe to use in cosmetic formulations. However, while sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is “nonirritating and nonsensitizing to animal and human skin,” it can “enhance the penetration of other ingredients through the skin.” Thus, caution should be exercised when using cosmetic products that contain sodium lauroyl sarcosinate in combination with other ingredients whose safety is based on their lack of absorption or where dermal absorption is a concern.

Lanigan, R.S. et al., 2001

Sodium methyl 2-sulfolaurate

Description: Sodium methyl 2-sulfolaurate is a surfactant (cleansing and foaming agent).

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, detergents

Health Impacts: Sodium methyl 2-sulfolaurate causes serious eye damage and is harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Sodium methyl 2-sulfolaurate (Accessed March 30, 2021)

Sodium Xylenesulfonate (Benzenesulfonic acid or dimethylbenzenesulfonic acid

Description: Sodium Xylenesulfonate is a surfactant used in detergents and soaps.
Sources of Exposure:
detergents and soaps

Health Impacts: Has shown to be slightly irritating to the skin.

PubChem: Sodium Xylenesulfonate
Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Safety Assessment of Xylene Sulfonic Acid, Toluene Sulfonic Acid, and Alkyl Aryl Sulfonate Hydrotrope as Used in Cosmetics

Sorbitol

Group: Artificial sweeteners

Description: Sorbitol is a hexahydroxy alcohol used as a sugar substitute in many dietetic foods and as a drug vehicle. We include artificial sweeteners in our ingredients of concern list, for they may appear in oral care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouth wash, artificially-sweetened food and beverages

Health Impacts: According to the Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), sorbitol is safe. An acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sorbitol is “not specified,” which is the safest category in which JECFA can place an ingredient. However, sorbitol can be a risk to people with celiac disease.

Corazza, G.R. et al., 1988

Styrene/butadiene copolymer

Description: Hydrogenated styrene/butadiene copolymer is a compound of styrene and butadiene; it functions as a film former and viscosity-controlling agent in personal care products and cosmetics. 

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and cosmetics

Health Impacts: According to the National Toxicology Program, styrene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans, sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals, and supporting data on mechanisms of carcinogenesis. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of 1,3-butadiene, according to studies showing cancer of the hematolymphatic organs.

PubChem (Butadiene styrene copolymer)

National Toxicology Program 14th Report on Carcinogens (2016)

Sucralose

Group: Artificial sweeteners

Description: Sucralose is a synthetic sweetener commonly added to food. Splenda is composed of sucralose and the fillers maltodextrin and glucose. Sucralose interacts with chemosensors in the alimentary tract that play a role in sweet taste sensation and hormone secretion. We include artificial sweeteners in our ingredients of concern list, for they may appear in oral care products. 

Sources of Exposure: Toothpaste, mouth wash, artificially-sweetened food and beverages

Health Impacts: Although the effect of sucralose on humans has not yet been determined, in rats, sucralose reduced the beneficial bacteria in the microbial composition of the gastrointestinal tract. Both human and rodent studies demonstrated that sucralose may alter glucose, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) levels. 

Schiffman, S.S. et al., 2013
Abou-Donia, M.B. et al., 2013

Talc

Description: Talc is obtained from naturally occurring rock ore (magnesium silicate and/or aluminum silicate). In powdered form, talc acts as an abrasive, absorbent, anticaking agent, bulking agent, opacifying agent, skin protectant, and slip modifier in cosmetics and personal care products.

Sources of Exposure: cosmetics and personal care products
Health Impacts:
Talc may be contaminated with asbestos and asbestiform materials, which are known carcinogens. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists talc containing asbestos as carcinogenic to humans. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review: Talc
International Agency for Research on Cancer: Talc (2015)
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Talc (Accessed on April 20, 2021)

Tea Tree Oil

Group: Essential oil

Description: Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil that comes from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree. When used topically, tea tree oil is believed to be antibacterial.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products and home cleaning products

Health Impacts: Tea tree oil is a possible hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused early breast growth in the studied subjects. However, since the single study that exists was limited to three subjects and the condition is classified as idiopathic, Million Marker still lists products with tea tree oil on Approved Products lists. We do advise parents and guardians to take this into consideration if applying products with tea tree oil to prepubescent children.

Henley, D.V. et al., 2007

Toluene

Description: Toluene, found naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree, is a toxic chemical used in nail products and hair dyes. 

Sources of Exposure: nail products and hair dyes

Health Impacts: Exposure to toluene can result in temporary effects such as headaches, dizziness and cracked skin, as well as more serious effects such as reproductive damage and respiratory complications. Toluene is listed as a possible human developmental toxicant by the California Environmental Protection Agency Proposition 65. 

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Toluene

Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: California Prop 65 Toluene Fact Sheet (2020)

Triclosan

Group: Xenoestrogen

Description: Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, athletic clothing, food packaging, detergents, toys and building materials

Health Impacts: Triclosan and triclocarban are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to aquatic and other organisms. In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned nineteen antimicrobial ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, in over-the-counter consumer antiseptic wash products.

Halden R.U. et al., 2017

Trideceths

Description: Trideceths are a type of alkyl PEG ethers used in cosmetics and function primarily as surfactants and emulsifying agents.

Sources of Exposure: Personal care products, cosmetics

Health Impacts: Trideceths may be contaminated with impurities of BHA, 1,4-dioxane, or ethylene oxide, reaction products of ethoxylation (a manufacturing process). These are known carcinogens. 

Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2010)

Zinc Stearate

Description: Zinc stearate is a zinc salt of stearic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid. It is used as an anticaking agent and colorant in cosmetics.

Sources of Exposure: Cosmetics

Health Impacts: Zinc Stearate carries the following GHS Hazard Statements, "may cause respiratory irritation,, ”very toxic to aquatic life,” and "may cause long lasting harmful effects to aquatic life."

PubChem: Zinc Stearate