Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Common Harmful Ingredients

Jodie Meshuk June 5, 2023


I’m sure many of you have heard of this ingredient. Many countries have banned this completely because of how toxic it is to our bodies. Triclosan has proven to contain known carcinogens, constituents that alter hormone regulation, and properties that assist with antibiotic resistance. There was a survey done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in which they found triclosan was present in the urine of 75% of Americans greater than 5 years old.

✴ Triclosan still continues to be in many products today. A lot of products labeled as “antibacterials” tend to have this ingredient in them and are increasingly found in the environment as a contaminant of sewage sludge and wastewater. Colgate even continues to use this in their toothpaste. YIKES!!!

✴ Triclosan does not provide any additional health benefits (even though they are often within products that make such claims). However, this ingredient contains harmful properties and poses risks on our health. 

Some harmful effects include:

✴ Alters male and female hormones. A study done in 2010 proved Triclosan played a major role in estrogen inhibition. 

⋙ “Triclosan is known to inhibit sulfonation of phenolic xenobiotics and is structurally related to inhibitors of estrogen sulfotransferase, such as polychlorobiphenylols. In pregnancy, the placenta is an important source of estrogen, which is needed for normal fetal development and successful parturition, and estrogen sulfotransferase is thought to play an important role in regulation of estrogen availability.”

✴ Lowers immune system response. 

✴ Poses risk for inflammatory response of digestive system. 

Did you know?

Triclosan is converted into dioxin- a highly toxic compound, when exposed the sunlight in an aqueous environment. Triclosan can also combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, which is listed as a probable human carcinogen. The fact that Triclosan is a component in some toothpaste brands after knowing this fact is a little concerning. 


This is used as a preservative in products that provide a cheaper means of production because it provides a way for products to last longer. It acts as a means to keep bacteria from growing within, especially in products with a higher water content. 

✴ Such common products include shampoos and conditioners, lotions, face creams, deodorants, sunscreens, etc. 

✴ The most commonly used six types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutylparaben.

✴ A study done by the Journal of Applied Toxicology detected high amounts of parabens in breast cancer cell growth. 

✴ Parabens are able to bind to estrogen receptors. It mimics natural estrogen that can lead to cancer. 

✴ It has high correlation with sterility in males and disruption in endocrine and hormone production in both males and females. Such examples include a decrease in testosterone, decreasing sperm count, and affecting female menstrual cycles. 

✴ A recent University of California-Berkeley study found that low doses of butylparaben, previously not considered harmful, worked in conjunction with other cell receptors to switch on cancer genes and increased the growth of breast cancer cells.

Did you know?

According to the Environment Working Group (EWG), 

“Personal care products are the greatest contributors to paraben exposure, as seen in studies comparing paraben levels in the bodies of women, men, adolescents and children who regularly use cosmetics and those who do not. Adolescent girls who wear makeup every day had 20 times the levels of propylparaben in their urine compared to those who never or rarely wear makeup (Berger 2018).”

✴ Studies have shown that Parabens were detected in nearly all urine samples taken from adults in the U.S.. 


Phthalates are chemicals used in plastics to make the material more flexible and harder to break. They’re also used as solvents in many personal care products to prevent hardening and cracking and allows them to be more flexible and preserved. 

Here are some ways phthalates can negatively affect us: 

✴ They are known endocrine disrupters and mimic estrogen. 

✴ They can lower testosterone levels.

✴ Can suppress normal sexual development. 

The 8 most commonly used phthalate compounds are: 

Butyl benzyl phthalate and mono benzyl phthalate

di-n-butyl phthalate, mono-n-butyl phthalate, and mono-isobutyl phthalate

di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

diethyl phthalate and monoethyl phthalate

di-isodecyl phthalate 

di-isononyll phthalate 

di-n-hexyl phthalate

di-n-octyl phthalate

Did you know?

Phthalates can be absorbed within the products through the plastic containers. This is why studies have shown that babies can be at higher risk for phthalate over-exposure because of their hand and mouth behaviors. They grab and put everything in their mouth. Even the type of plastic matters. There are ones that are “better” than others. 

Here are some tips to look for the “better” plastics…

✴ Look at the marking of the type of plastic (usually located at the bottom of the product). Avoid products with the number 3 within the arrows and the letters “V” or “PVC” below the arrows.

✴ Choose products with the numbers 1,2, 4 and 5 within the arrows. Many companies use phthalate-free substances such as polypropylene and recycling code 5.

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Not all fragrances are the same. This simple term is used so freely within the cleaning and beauty industries. It has been perceived as a single component when in actuality, has become a soup full concoction of potential toxins. Under the guise “fragrance”, companies can throw in an array of different chemicals and compounds because the FDA does not require companies to list certain additives on product labels. It can contain well over 100 compounds in the chemical makeup of aromas ranging from natural to synthetic. Because it is considered the company’s “trade secret”, the components aren’t required to be published. This is why it is imperative to know your company and that they are transparent within their production and manufacturing processes. 

✴ For the most part, it is best to steer clear from the term “fragrance” unless you are CERTAIN your company is trustworthy in providing plant based and non-toxic ingredients. 

✴ “Fragrance” compounds aren’t always the most stable. Temperature and storage can actually cause the compounds within the fragrance mixture to chemically interact with the base mixture itself. This is what can lead to potential skin reactions. 

✴ Chemicals used to make fragrances are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins & carcinogens.

✴ Toluene, which is in fragrances, is a known neurotoxin that can cause loss of muscle control, brain damage, headaches, memory loss, and speech, hearing, and vision problems. 

✴  Styrene is another toxic component that is commonly found in fragrances. According to studies done by the EWG, it is also a known carcinogen. 

⋙ “A rose may be a rose,” reports EWG. “But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.”

Did you know?

The average fragrance product tested contained at least 14 “secret” component ingredients not listed on the product label. Many of these unlabeled ingredients have been studied in labs and have proven to be toxic to humans. They also have the ability to penetrate and accumulate in human tissue. 

One chemical tested, diethyl phthalate, is a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans. This one chemical alone is linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, which concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk. 

Makes you think twice before putting perfume and good smelling body sprays on your neck (right over a major artery and thyroid gland) doesn’t it???

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodum Laureth Sulfate

Though they sound the same, they are two different compounds. However, both are surfactants used in many cleaning and personal care products. They’re placed in products because it lowers the surface tension of the water on the skin. Most of the foam found in your soapy products is due to these ingredients. Hence, why natural plant based products don’t produce many suds. Suds aren’t always a good thing. Don’t be deceived into thinking the more suds you have, the cleaner and better. It’s actually not the case at all. 

These components are actually banned in both Europe and Canada. 

Some effects of SLS and SLES include:

✴ A known skin irritant if not washed off properly. Prolonged exposure can lead to contact dermatitis. 

✴  Long time exposure to eyes (like showering daily) can lead to permanent corneal damage. 

✴  Can cause tissue damage and irritation to squamous cells within the mouth when used in oral products. 

✴   It breaks down skin which affects the protection barrier. This may drive other chemical irritants further within our systems. 

✴  SLES is actually derived from SLS through a chemical reaction. Ethyl oxide is introduced to make it less drying and more gentle on the skin than SLS. However, this chemical reaction can create trace amounts of 1,4- dioxane which is a known carcinogen.

Did you know?

SLS should never be allowed within our environment because it can be harmful to aquatic life. Makes you wonder how “safe” it really is right? 

Other common toxic ingredients found in products…


Aluminum is the number one ingredient in deodorants because of its antiperspirant properties. Because of the underarm high absorption capability, aluminum can build up within our systems overtime. It has been proven that women with breast cancer have higher levels of aluminum within their system. 

DEA (Diethanolmine) 

Used in many products such as shampoos and cosmetics.

✴ The National Toxicology Program (NTP) reported an increased incidence of liver and kidney tumors in mice from dermal exposure to diethanolamine.

✴ Is a known skin irritant and when inhaled can cause inflammation of nose and throat.

✴ DEA compounds can also react with nitrites in cosmetics to form nitrosamines, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a possible human carcinogen.


Used in laundry detergent and personal hygiene products. 

✴ A known endocrine disrupter and xenoestrogen (mimics estrogen and inhibits normal regulation).

✴ Highly toxic to aquatic life. 

Propylene Glycol

Used in cleaners, shampoos, lotions, deodorants, and toothpastes. 

✴ Classified as a skin irritant by the EWG. 

✴ Found to provoke skin irritations with people who suffer with eczema and other skin allergies. 

✴ It’s known to absorb quickly and may enhance absorption of other toxic ingredients. 

Did you know?

89% of chemicals present in these products have not been tested for public safety. 

Not All “Green” Products Are The Same

You’d be surprised to learn that not all “Green” labeled products in the store are plant based. Companies have become marketing experts when it comes to making a product look “cleaner” than it really is. Because they know people are learning more and more about toxic ingredients, they have jumped on the “natural” band-wagon and have taken advantage of the market. They’ve been able to increase pricing 20-30% with labeling a product “all natural”. Arsenic and formaldehyde are technically naturally occurring substances, but are also detrimental to our health. 

Under the loosely governed Federal Hazardous Substance Act, companies can get away with a lot of hidden ingredients. 

Like mentioned previously, many products are filled with synthetics and are often hidden under the term “fragrance”. This is why it’s so important to be familiar to the ingredients and the reputation of the company. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself paying extra for a pretty label with a not so great product. 

Many brands that make great marketing claims on the front label actually score high on the toxic ingredient list on the EWG website (the higher the score, the more toxic). 

⋙ Forget “going green”, instead think NON TOXIC.