There are a number of ingredients very common in personal care products that we recommend you avoid. These are substances that are known irritants, allergens, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors or otherwise harmful to humans.

We've put together an Ingredient Watch list of substances to avoid. The top ten ingredients are listed below:

  1. Parabens: Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives commonly used in cosmetics. Parabens are known to cause irritations to sensitive skin. They were also found to cause heart tissue problems over an extended time period. They are suspected to influence breast cancer and are known to have estrogenic effects in the body.
  2. Phthalates: Phthalate exposure in early childhood has been associated with altered hormone concentrations as well as increased allergies, runny nose, and eczema. Babies may be more at risk than children or adults because their reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems are still developing. Animal-based studies of phthalates have found that the synthetic chemicals can harm reproductive system development, and studies in humans have found that prenatal exposure or exposure through breast milk can alter hormone concentrations. Phthalates are often used as carriers for fragrance ingredients, and because the FDA allows fragrances to be classified as a "trade secret", phthalates are often not listed on the ingredient label, showing instead as simply "Fragrance".
  3. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is found in most shampoos and toothpaste. It is a known skin irritant and is absorbed through the skin and retained in the heart, liver and brain for long periods of time. It can cause damage to the eyes, even when absorbed through the skin. Exposure can lead to coughing, headaches, nausea and vomiting. It is an ingredient of great concern for scientists, especially when children are exposed to it. Sodium Laureth Sulphate(SLES) is a milder version of SLS with an added ether chain and is regularly found in cleansers and shampoos. It is added to thicken and give a richer consistency. It can cause skin irritation, and should be kept away from children.
  4. 1,4 Dioxane: Ethoxylation is a chemical process which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a byproduct "known to the State of California to cause cancer". Additionally, it is suspected by the Californian EPA to be a kidney toxicant, neuro-toxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others. In a study conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 32 out of 48 children's skin care products tested positive for 1,4 Dioxane at levels of 0.27 to 35ppm.
  5. Formaldehyde: Some ingredients release formaldehyde, which is linked to cancer. The following ingredients either release or breakdown into formaldehyde: Bronopol (or 2-brono-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol), Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantion, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium 15. In a study conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on 28 children's skin care products, 23 (82%) contained formaldehyde at levels between 54-610ppm.
  6. Lead: A study released by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a division of EWG, revealed more than 60% of the 33 famous brands studied contained lead, with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million. All the regular names you've known and used. In fact, one third of the lipstick brands exceed the FDA limit for lead in candy: 0.1 parts per million. Lead is a known neurotoxin that has been linked to brain damage and miscarriages, among other things. Over the course of a lifetime, we swallow a fair amount of lipstick: four pounds according to Glamour Magazine and nine pounds according to the Environment Working Group, a consumer advocacy group. In August 2009, the FDA's own study found lead in all 20 lipsticks it tested.
  7. Mineral Oil & Petroleum Jelly (Petrolatum): Mineral oils are known to clog pores, forming a barrier preventing skin from eliminating toxins. Repeated use can even set off skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis. It can block the skin's ability to moisturize itself, leading to chapped and dry skin. While Petrolatum on its own is not too harmful, it is cheaply produced and the impurities/contaminants often found in Petrolatum are the concern. Frequently, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAH) are found, which have been linked to breast cancer. Contaminated petrolatum has been banned by the EU from use in cosmetics. It is listed as a possible human carcinogen.
  8. Synthetic Colors: Synthetic colors (FD&C colors) are mostly derived from coal tar. Many have been banned from food by the FDA for various reasons: carcinogenicity, allergy inducing, general toxicity, etc. A number caused illnesses in children. They have been shown in clinical studies to cause various types of cancer.
  9. Synthetic Fragrances: Most adverse reactions to cosmetics and toiletries are caused by fragrance chemicals, which are known irritants and allergens. Many of us have encountered synthetic fragrances that cause us to sneeze or give us headaches, dizziness, violent coughing or even rashes and other skin irritations. Numerous skin care products that claim to be fragrance free contain masking fragrances to become neutral in scent, and so still contain fragrances.
  10. Synthetic Sunscreens: Scientific studies by Switzerland's Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology conducted in 2001 prove chemical sunscreens have detrimental consequences. Chemical compounds in sunscreens can accumulate in body fats and in mother's breast milk. These chemicals mimic estrogen and can cause hormonal changes within the body such as increasing the size of the uterus. Synthetic sunscreen chemicals should be avoided, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The chemicals to avoid are:4-Methyl-Benzylidencamphor (4-MBC) , Oxybenzone Benzophenone-3, Octyl-methoyl-cinnamates (OMC) , Octyl-Dimethyl-Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid (OD-PABA) , Homosalate(HMS) .

To find out more about ingredients, visit our Education section at and learn more about the ingredients mentioned above and other skin care related topics. Lavera products DO NOT contain the ingredients listed above.