CLEAN BEAUTY – Full List of Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalate and Other Harsh Chemicals to Avoid (Updated Jan 2024)

CLEAN BEAUTY – Full List of Parabens, Sulfates, and Phthalate to Avoid

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Here’s a full list of chemicals common to skincare lines, what they’re used for, where they’re found and why you absolutely don’t need them in your beauty and skincare products. [Updates in Jan 2024 added below]


Parabens are a group of preservatives that have been widely used in various cosmetic and personal care products for their antimicrobial properties. Here are some common products where parabens may be found:

Moisturizers and Lotions: Parabens can be found in many moisturizers, body lotions, and creams. They help prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold, extending the product’s shelf life.

Shampoos and Conditioners: Parabens are often used in hair care products like shampoos and conditioners to prevent microbial contamination. They help maintain the product’s efficacy and quality over time.

Makeup: Parabens can be present in a range of makeup products, including foundations, concealers, powders, eyeshadows, mascaras, and lipsticks. They help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, preserving the product’s integrity.

Deodorants and Antiperspirants: Parabens may be used in deodorants and antiperspirants to inhibit the growth of bacteria and maintain product freshness.

Sunscreens: Some sunscreens may contain parabens to protect against microbial contamination and ensure product stability. However, many sunscreens now offer paraben-free options.

Personal Care Products: Parabens can also be found in other personal care items such as soaps, body washes, toothpaste, and intimate hygiene products.

List of Parabens:

    • Methylparaben
    • Ethylparaben
    • Propylparaben
    • Butylparaben
    • Isobutylparaben

Clean Beauty - What are Phthalates?


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in a variety of products, including beauty and personal care items. Here are some common beauty products where phthalates may be found:

Fragrances: Phthalates are frequently used as solvents and fixatives in fragrances, helping the scent to last longer. They can be present in perfumes, colognes, body sprays, and scented lotions.

Nail Polishes: Phthalates, specifically dibutyl phthalate (DBP), have been used in nail polishes to increase flexibility and prevent cracking. However, many nail polish brands have transitioned to phthalate-free formulas in response to consumer concerns.

Hair Products: Some hair care products, such as hairsprays, gels, mousses, and styling creams, may contain phthalates. They can help provide texture, flexibility, and hold to the hair.

Skincare Products: While phthalates are not typically intentionally added to skincare products, they may be present as contaminants or impurities. Phthalates can find their way into products like lotions, creams, moisturizers, and serums during the manufacturing process.

Makeup Products: Certain makeup items, including foundations, concealers, blushes, eyeshadows, and lipsticks, may contain phthalates. They can be used to enhance texture, improve spreadability, or prolong the shelf life of these products.

List of Phthalates:

    • Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
    • Dimethyl phthalate (DMP)
    • Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP)
    • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
    • Di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP)
    • Diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
    • Diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP)
    • Benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP)

Clean Beauty - What are Sulfates?


Sulfates are commonly found in various personal care and beauty products, particularly those that produce a foaming or lathering effect. Here are some examples of products where sulfates may be present:

Shampoos: Sulfates such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are frequently used in shampoos to create a rich lather and remove dirt, oils, and product buildup from the hair.

Body Washes and Shower Gels: Sulfates are often included in body washes and shower gels for their ability to produce a satisfying foam and cleanse the skin. They help remove impurities and oils, leaving the skin feeling refreshed.

Facial Cleansers: Some facial cleansers, especially those formulated for oily or acne-prone skin, may contain sulfates to effectively remove excess oil and cleanse the skin thoroughly.

Toothpaste: Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are used in many toothpaste formulations to create foam and help dislodge plaque and food particles. However, sulfate-free toothpaste options are also available.

Bubble Baths: Sulfates can be present in bubble bath products to produce a luxurious and bubbly experience. They create a frothy lather that adds to the enjoyment of a relaxing bath.

Hand Soaps: Many liquid hand soaps contain sulfates for effective cleansing and foaming properties. They help remove dirt and bacteria from the hands.

List of Sulfates to Avoid:

    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
    • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
    • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)
    • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA)
    • Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS)
    • Sodium Myreth Sulfate
    • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

These sulfates are often used in shampoos, body washes, facial cleansers, and other cleansing products to create lather and foam. While they are effective in removing dirt and oils from the skin and hair, some individuals may experience dryness, irritation, or sensitivity when using products containing sulfates.

Opting for beauty products that are free from parabens, phthalates, and sulfates can have several benefits for your overall well-being. By avoiding these potentially harmful ingredients, you can make choices that prioritize your health, skin sensitivity, and environmental impact.

Jan 2024 Updates: Harsh Chemicals to Avoid!

Let’s start with Cleansers which tend to have the harshest chemicals:

Physical Exfoliants – You do NOT need to exfoliate daily. Let me repeat: You do NOT need to exfoliate daily!!! Control your exfoliation, and limit to 1-2 times per week. By over-exfoliating your skin, you may be prematurely killing vital kerotinocytes in your skin that aren’t ready to shed yet! This may cause premature thinning of your epidermal layer (the outermost layer of your skin) which leads to less protection and more openings for premature wrinkles.

Chemical Exfoliants – same reasons above, but they’re harder to tell b/c they don’t have exfoliating beads that you can feel.

Benzol Alcohol – in strong concentrations it can cause sensitivity, but this is a preservative to prevent mold growth in beauty products. We don’t need it. Instead here’s a SAFE LIST of plant and animal derived fatty alcohol : cetearyl, steararyl, cetyl and behenyl alcohol.

Fragrances – we don’t need our products to smell good. we just need them to work without causing irritation, sensitivity, inflammation, and premature aging. manufacturers often list them under generic terms like “fragrance,” “parfum,” or “aroma,” making it difficult to know the exact components. Big hint: if your cleanser smells good, DITCH IT!

Dyes – unnecessary and some have been known to be carcinogens.


List of Chemicals to AVOID in Cleansers:

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Benzol Alcohol
  • Alcohol denat
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • SD alcohol
  • Benzyl Chloride
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Polyethylene glycols (PEG)
  • Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
  • FD&C Colors:
    • FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue)
    • FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine)
    • FD&C Red No. 40 (Allura Red)
  • D&C Colors:
    • D&C Red No. 27 (Rosamine)
    • D&C Green No. 5
  • CI Numbers: (CI stands for Color Index)
    • CI 19140 (Yellow 5)
    • CI 42090 (Blue 1)
    • CI 16035 (Red 40)
  • Mica
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – this is fine once in a while but NOT DAILY.

If you need a recommendation based on your skin type reach out anytime! Cheers to a healthy face in 2024!

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