Chemicals to Avoid in Personal Care Products - Part 1

Chemicals to Avoid in Personal Care Products - Part 1


The start of a new year is a good time to take stock of our health.  As we become more conscious about what we put into and onto our bodies, many of us are moving away from products that have undesirable chemicals. I have Celiac disease, so I am used to reading all food labels before I buy products. But to be honest, I had never given much thought to the ingredients in my personal care products until we decided to launch Terra Supra.  From the beginning, a core value of our company is to provide safe, effective skin care products with ingredients straight from nature. When you read our labels, we know you will recognize every ingredient.  Shockingly, about 80% of personal care products today contain harmful chemicals.  There is a very good article, “The Dirty Dozen: cosmetic chemicals to avoid” in the ‘Queen of Green’ section of the David Suzuki Foundation website (,) These twelve chemicals, found in many of our beauty products, are potential toxins, carcinogens, and hormone disrupters. When I first started reading labels on personal care products in my house, the first one I checked, a body wash in my shower, had one of the chemicals on the dirty dozen list. The second product, a hair conditioner from my hair salon, had two! 

This is a list of the twelve chemicals to avoid - BHA and BHT, coal tar dyes, DEA-related ingredients, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, parabens, parfum (aka fragrance), PEG compounds, petrolatum, siloxanes, sodium laureth sulfate, and triclosan. I have quoted a summary of issues from the article cited above for the first six:

  1.       “Used as preservatives, BHA and BHT can cause allergic reactions. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has also listed BHA as a Category 1 priority substance, based on evidence that it interferes with hormone function.”
  2.       “Often used to colour cosmetics, coal tar dyes, ‘coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum.’ Coal tar is recognized as a human carcinogen and the main concern with individual coal tar colours (whether produced from coal tar or synthetically) is their potential to cause cancer.
  3.       “DEA-related additives (diethanolamine) “make products creamy or sudsy.” DEA and its compounds cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation. In laboratory experiments, exposure to high doses of these chemicals has been shown to cause liver cancers and precancerous changes in skin and thyroid.”
  4.       “Used mainly in nail products, Dibutyl phthalate or DBP, is absorbed through the skin. It can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations, although it has not been shown to be a mutagen itself. The European Union classifies DBP as a suspected endocrine disruptor on the basis of evidence that it interferes with hormone function, [v] and as toxic to reproduction on the basis that it may cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility.”
  5.       “Formaldehyde-releasing agents are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetics. These ingredients are a concern because they slowly and continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a known human carcinogen.”
  6.       Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. They are also used as fragrance ingredients, but consumers won’t find that listed on the label. Parabens easily penetrate the skin. [ii] The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed parabens as Category 1 priority substances, based on evidence that they interfere with hormone function. [iii] Parabens can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. They have been detected in human breast cancer tissues, suggesting a possible association between parabens in cosmetics and cancer.”

It is not easy to read many of the labels on our cosmetics and personal care items.  I had to use my phone flashlight many times and sometimes the print is so small, it is almost impossible to read, but I feel that it is important to know what we are putting onto our bodies. I am proud that our Terra Supra exfoliants and moisturisers are safe and only contain ingredients found in nature.

Part two in two weeks.