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Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

Reader question:  What’s the #1 ingredient to avoid when shopping for beauty products in a conventional store? Sometimes the budget doesn’t have room for organic stuff, and I have to choose the lesser of several evils.

When it comes to shopping for organic and natural beauty products things can get confusing.  Which ingredients should be avoided?  Which ones are the most toxic?  Where to begin?

As far as ingredients go, check out this list of harmful ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.  As you can see, the list is not short and most ingredients go by several different names.  Have this list handy when shopping to check ingredient labels for any of the main offenders.  If a product does not have an easily identifiable ingredient listing, you should be skeptical.  Manufacturers of safe cosmetics are proud and willing to display their ingredient listings.

Rather than thinking in terms of which ingredient you should choose to avoid over all others, think exposure.  A facial cream or body lotion will sit on the skin longer, allowing more time to sink in and expose your body to the harmful ingredients that may be in it.  A facial cleanser or shampoo is rinsed off, not as much exposure time to the skin.  Remember though – these products still run down our drains and enter our environment.

Safe organic beauty products do not have to be super expensive.  Some brands with safe and economical lines are:

  • Aubrey Organics – online and at certain health food stores
  • Weleda—online and at some Walgreen’s and Target stores
  • Shea Moisture – Walgreen’s, Walmart, Duane Reade, and Target stores
  • Skin – available at online at Caren
  • Lavera Basis – online at

That should get you started in the right direction.  If you have any further questions please let me know.

Image:  Margaret Anne Clarke at, Creative Commons license.


Written by Liz Thompson

I am an organic beauty expert, writer, and mom of two young environmentalists who can already spot a toxic product when they see one. Read more about me at Organic Beauty, and find me on , Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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