To continue our conversation about the personal care ingredients I personally choose to avoid, here are 5 more! Remember that if you want to avoid the drugstore label reading exercise altogether, I’ve included links to a few companies that I trust completely towards the end of this article.


5 Personal Care Ingredients to Avoid: Part 2

Click HERE for Part 1!

1. Benzalkonium chloride

Commonly found in sunscreens & moisturizers, benzalkonium chloride is primarily used as a disinfectant, preservative, and surfactant. A severe irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, it’s symptoms often mimic that of a seasonal allergy.

2. BHA and BHT

Commonly found in lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics, BHA and BHT are synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are highly suspected carcinogens, hormone disruptors, skin depigmentation (hello age spots!), and are suspected of causing liver damage. Additionally, they are harmful to fish and other wildlife when introduced into the environment. It’s important to note that this dynamic duo can also be found in food and food containers that are sold in the U.S.

3. Formaldehyde

Commonly found in shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath, formaldehyde is often relied upon as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen (substance capable of causing cancer), it is associated with the presence of asthma, possible neurotoxicity, and even developmental toxicity. Though you won’t find formaldehyde listed specifically on a label, keep your eyes peeled for these formaldehyde-containing/associated preservatives: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol).

4. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

Often found in hair color and moisturizers, ethylenediaminetetraaceti acid is a (mouthful to pronounce and a) chelating (which means “binding”) agent typically added to cosmetics to help improve stability. It’s highly suspected to be toxic to living organ tissue.

5. Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA)

Ethanolamines are a lovely group of toxins that have found their way into a LARGE number of our personal care products. They can be found in creamy/foaming substances (like moisturizers and shampoos) AND can be found in mascara, liquid foundation, sunscreens, and dry cleaning solvents (just to mention a few). Ethanolamines are typically used as a surfactant (reduces surface tension, making a substance easier to dissolve other substance) and pH manipulator linked to aggravated allergies, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development (no joke).

Safer Options!

Below the safer beauty companies that I DO trust. They do NOT use any of the above ingredients (+ exclude several more). To shop these companies, simply click on their name below.

Primally Pure

They make my favorite deodorant, body butter, toner, and lip balm!


My current personal choice for anti-aging skincare, shampoo/conditioner, and makeup.

Primal Life Organics

I personally love PLO for spa-like specialty products such as their Fire & Ice Skin Treatment and Vitamin C-Serum.


Adore for the “Myrrhaculous” face oil, oil cleansers, and tallow-based moisturizers.

About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

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