Cosmetics what substances to avoid

Among the many substances contained in the cosmetics we use every day, there are some criticisms that in some cases should always be avoided. To find out what they are, consult our cosmetics database: we have analysed the ingredients of over a thousand cosmetic products.

Almost all cosmetic products on the market are safe and many of the alarmisms circulating (especially on the web) are unfounded. But it is also true that there are some ingredients that are not advisable and that it would be better to avoid because they are not safe. Others, on the other hand, can be problematic for some specific subjects such as people with a tendency to develop allergies or more vulnerable subjects, such as children and pregnant women. But what are they? How do you choose safe cosmetics?

The ingredients to avoid

Among the ingredients to keep an eye on are the most common:

  • propylparaben and butylparaben (preservatives), etyhylhexymethoxicinnamate (sunscreen) and BHA (antioxidant): they are potential endocrine disruptors or substances able to interfere with our hormone system with the risk of altering its nominal functioning;
  • triclosan: can cause antibiotic resistance and contribute to the development of allergies, it is also suspected of being an endocrine disruptor;
  • methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: they are skin sensitizers (although they are now only allowed in rinse-off products, precisely for this reason);
  • butylphenyl methylpropional: it has recently been considered generally unsafe in cosmetic products and is also a substance already included in the list of 26 allergenic fragrances.
  • The criticalities, for these ingredients, are not always the same, i.e. they may be more relevant depending on the type of product (if rinsed or intended to remain in contact with the skin) and/or intended for use (e.g. children or pregnant women).

Read the list of ingredients

But how do you recognize these ingredients in everyday cosmetics? And above all, how to evaluate their problematic nature? To meet these needs, we have analysed the ingredient lists (the so-called INCI) of almost 900 products in daily use: from deodorants to creams, from hair dyes to children’s products.

For each product you’ll find the overall judgement on the formulation from the point of view of its health impact, the complete list of ingredients and our more in-depth commentary on its composition and critical ingredients, as well as a range of inventory information such as price and format.

If you discover you have a cosmetic product with critical ingredients

Don’t panic: if you find that you have a product that is judged to be insufficient or not recommended because of certain ingredients present, simply finish it and buy a different one. It’s not a single product that represents the problem, but the whole of all the cosmetics and other consumer goods (even much more impactful than cosmetics) that we use every day and that may contain unpleasant substances.

How to choose safe cosmetics

In general we advise you to:

  • read the list of ingredients to familiarize yourself with INCI terminology that is never easy to read;
  • pay particular attention to the formulations of products intended to remain in contact with the skin (such as creams, cocoa butters, deodorants, etc.);
  • especially if you make extensive use of cosmetics (on average if you use 15 per day!) avoid ingredients recognized as potential endocrine disruptors because they are substances with which we come into contact also and above all through other sources (environment, consumer goods…);
  • pay more attention to products intended for children and pregnant women;
  • don’t let yourself be captivated by marketing and slogans: high price, pharmacy sales and safety claims (“dermatologically tested”, “hypoallergenic”) don’t guarantee a better care of the formulations.

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