If you’re starting to get serious about clean personal care, you know there are a whole bunch of ingredients in traditional products that are really unsafe either for you, the environment, or both. While you want to avoid all of them, the list can definitely feel overwhelming. A lot of of times we get asked what is the number one ingredient that you should avoid. We couldn’t narrow it down quite that much, but we did get it down to the top 5.
Try to Ditch Triclosan
Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient that shows up a lot in hand sanitizers, toothpastes, and - until the FDA recently banned it- soaps. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor, and its ubiquity makes it even more dangerous because of repeated exposure. Even though it’s no longer allowed in soaps, keep your eye out for it in toothpaste - Colgate lobbied and won to keep it in their products. If you see it listed as a product’s ingredient, put that product on the Do Not Use list.
No Go Zone for Oxybenzone
Oxybenzone is a chemical sun blocker that is in many sunscreens, especially more old school brands like Banana Boat and Coppertone. Oxybenzone is a known hormone disruptor, which is already enough to make it on to the list. It’s also becoming hugely damaging to coral reefs, so much so that Hawaii just proposed a bill to ban it. Of course, sunscreen lobbyists are fighting the bill, because a ban on oxybenzone would mean they’d have to spend millions to reformulate their toxic products.>
If you see oxybenzone as an active ingredient in your sunscreen, skip it. Stick to mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their active ingredients, or, if you really want to use a chemical sunscreen, avobenzone, which is much less dangerous than oxybenzone.
See Ya Synthetic Fragrance
The problem with synthetic fragrance is that legally, companies do not need to list the individual ingredients that make up their fragrance. So when you see “Fragrance,” or “Parfum” on a product, you don’t actually know what that means. Many synthetic fragrances use phthalates, which are known hormone disruptors, and can often cause cancer. Stick to products that specify that they use natural fragrance (e.g. essential oils) or none at all.
Bye Bye BHA & BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole, aka BHA, and Butylated hydroxytoluene, aka BHT, are synthetic antioxidants often used as preservatives in personal care products. There is strong evidence that they are hormone disruptors, human allergens, carcinogenic, and cause liver damage.
Forget the Formaldehyde
Similar to BHA and BHT, formaldehyde is an ingredient used for preserving products. It is is a tricky one- because what actually happens is that certain ingredients used as preservatives are formaldehyde releasing. Which means it won’t be as simple as looking out for “formaldehyde” on ingredient lists.
Instead, look out for ingredients like: Dmdm hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde resin, Quaternium-15, Sodium hdroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Polyoxymethylene urea, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 Dioxane, Glyoxal, Methenamine, and Benzylhemiformal.
All of these are formaldehyde releasing, and are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and skin irritating.
Stick to Brands You Can Trust
The good news is that there are more and more safe preservatives on the market that both keep your products free from mold and bacteria - as a preservative should- without harming your hormones or giving you cancer. Clean brands like Alder New York make sure we’re only using the good kind of preservatives.
And of course, at Alder New York we never use any of the 5 ingredients on this list, in addition to a whole bunch of other dirty ingredients we refuse to use. So if you want to shop for clean personal care without studying the labels, rest easy knowing we’ve done the homework so that you don't have to worry.