Dirty Thirty

The chemicals to avoid found in the products we use daily.

Aluminum Zirconium and other Aluminum Compounds

Function: Used to control sweat and odor in the underarms by slowing down the production of sweat. Present in: Antiperspirants. Banned by the EU. Health concerns: Linked to the development of Alzheimer's Disease; may be linked to breast cancer, probably neurotoxin; respiratory and development toxin.

Benzyl Acetate

Function: Solvent; hidden within "fragrance." Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products. Health concerns: Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.

Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride

Function: Antimicrobial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide. Present in: Moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, acne treatment, pain relief. Restricted in Japan and Canada. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen.

Bronopol

Function: Preservative. Present in: Moisturizer, body wash, facial cleanser, makeup remover. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects; irritant.

Butyl Acetate

Function: Solvent in polishes and treatments, prevents chipping. Present in: Nail polish and nail treatments. Health concerns: Repeat exposure causes skin dryness and cracking; vapors may induce drowsiness or dizziness; flammable.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)/ Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Function: Anti-oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.

Ethoxylated

Ingredients: Ceteareth/PEG compounds Function: Surfactant, emulsifying or cleansing agent, penetration enhancer. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Health concerns: Animals studies show brain, nervous system and sense organ effects; irritant; reproductive and skin toxin, alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; may contain harmful impurities.

Coal Tar

Function: Controls itching and eczema, softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin, also used in hair dyes. Present in: Shampoo and hair dye. Banned by Canada and EU. Health concerns: Known human carcinogen; skin and respiratory toxicant.

Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA

Function: Used as foaming agents in shampoos and bath products, and as emulsifying agents in cosmetics; foaming and cleansing agents for "mouth feel". Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Health concerns: Human immune system toxicant; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents; animals studies show sense organ effects and skin irritation; may contain harmful impurities.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

Function: pH adjuster. Present in: Sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation, hair color. Health concerns: Skin and immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and neuro developmental, brain and nervous system effects; may trigger asthma.

Ethyl Acetate

Function: Solvent. Present in: Nail polish products, mascara, tooth whitening, perfume. Health concerns: Probably neurotoxin; possible nervous system toxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; highly flammable.

Formaldehyde

Function: Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, preservative. Present in: Deodorant, nail polish, soap, shampoo, shaving cream. Restricted in Canada. Banned by EU. Health concerns: Immune system, respiratory, hematological, and skin toxicant; probably carcinogen and cardiovascular toxicant; can damage DNA; may trigger asthma; animal studies show sense organ, brain, and nervous system effects; possible human development toxicant.

Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives (Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea)

Function: Anti-microbial preservative. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Health concerns: Sames as formaldehyde. May contain harmful impurities.

Fragrance (Parfum)

Function: Deodorant, masking, perfuming. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; possible neurotoxin; can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals, many of which have never been tested for safety; see phthalates. Labeling can be confusing. If uncertain, check with manufacturer.

Hydroquinone

Function: Antioxidant, fragrance ingredient, skin bleaching agent, hair colorant. Present in: Skin fading/lightener, facial moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, hair color, facial cleanser. Restricted in Canada. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; animals studies show endocrine disruption.

Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamte

Function: Preservative. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Japan. Health concerns: Human toxicant; possible liver, immune system toxin; allergenic.

Lead and Lead Compounds

Function: Colorant. Present in: Hair dye, hair products, Traces found in some red lipstick. Restricted in Canada. Health concerns: Probably carcinogen; developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive toxicant; reduced fertility; animal studies show metabolic, brain and nervous system effects, suspected nano-scale ingredients with potential to absorb into the skin.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI/MCI/MIT) and Methychloroisothiazolinone

Function: Preservative Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Canada and Japan. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; animal studies show restricted growth of the axons and dendrites of immature nerves, neurotoxicity and positive mutation results; can lead to a malfunction in the way neurons communicate with each other; especially detrimental to a developing nervous system.

Parabens (Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl, and Butyl)

Function: Preservative and anti-bacterial agent. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Health concerns: May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risk for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child; studies have found parabens in breast tumors; probably skin toxicant; animal studies show brain and nervous system effects.

Petrolatum

Function: Forms barrier on skin; makes lipsticks shine and creams smoother; inexpensive skin softener. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU. Health concerns: May be contaminated with impurities, linked to cancer or other significant health problems.

Phthalates (Dibutyl Phthalates)

Function: Fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, solvent. Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU. Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; developmental and reproductive toxin; respiratory toxicant; probably neurotoxin; possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor; bio-accumulative in wildlife. The Dirty Thirty is a list of 30 chemical ingredients that may be linked to cancer. Many have been banned by the European Union on suspicion of their toxicity. This list was compiled by Teens for Safe Cosmetics.