Watch List

Dimethicone - While the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel1 considers dimethicone and other silicone polymers to be safe to use in cosmetic formulas because their large molecular weight inhibits absorption into the skin, they have been found to be bioaccumulative.2 The purity of these high molecular weight silicones may also contain impurities and should be monitored.3

Phenoxyethanol - A safety review published by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2019 says that concentrations up to 1% are safe.4 However, phenoxyethanol has also been linked to allergic reactions.5,6 In 2008 the FDA warned consumers against purchasing Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream, which contained phenoxyethanol, because it could acutely affect nervous system functioning in infants.7 The link to this FDA press release, leads to an “error” page even though the press announcement still exists here.

PVP/VA Copolymer - The CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) states it 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).”8

Fluoride - A review on the potential toxicity of fluoride in oral medicaments concludes that fluoride is only toxic in high concentrations and should not be swallowed: “products that contain a high level of fluoride should be stored and used according to the recommendation and should be monitored by a qualified dental professional especially in children and pregnant women.”9

Saccharin - 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.”10

Sorbitol - 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.11

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate - A safety assessment of sodium lauroyl sarcosinate states that it is safe to use in cosmetic formulations.12 However this publications also provides a few caveats to be aware of:

  1. While sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is “non-irritating and non-sensitizing 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. Specifically, sarcosine can be nitrosated to form nitrososarcosine, a known carcinogen.13

  2. There is not sufficient data to support whether sarcosinates are safe to be used in products that may be inhaled.14

Carrageenan - In 2001 a study was conducted to evaluate the relationship between consumption of carrageenan and colonic ulcerations and gastrointestinal neoplasms. Both undegraded and degraded carrageenan were found to lead to intestinal ulcerations and gastrointestinal neoplasms, bringing the study to advise against widespread use of carrageenan.15 In 2002, a second review was published stating that, in low doses, “carrageenan has not been found to be carcinogenic, and there is no credible evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.16 While the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) have recommended a group allowable daily intake (ADI) of carrageenan, they do not specify in what quantities.17

Hydrated Silica - Abrasives substances, such as hydrated silica, are added to toothpaste to scrub away at the biofilm that accumulates on the surface of our teeth. However, According to Mark Burhenne, DDS, hydrated silica is too rough and can strip away the enamel and dentin.18 That being said, this does not directly affect pregnancy.