The Importance of Natural Cosmetics

Flowers - Sarah Goldstein Nutrition

Today’s post is all about the importance of using natural cosmetics, whenever possible. Although this may be old news for some, I am continually surprised with how many do not know the importance of natural cosmetics. In this post, I will go through the top 12 chemicals found in conventional cosmetics, with a brief note on the potential dangers of each one. I then added resources for further personal research, and helpful tips for how you can make the switch to natural care products an easier process.

From the David Suzuki website: “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone distributors.”
Chemicals accumulate in the body and these chemicals can have detrimental effects to our health. It is of upmost concern for those with specific health conditions such as PCOS, hypothyroidism or skin conditions, and particularly important for pregnant women. We also must consider the fact that most people have been using products with these chemicals for the majority of their lives, allowing the chemicals to accumulate over time.

Below, I included a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’- the top 12 toxic chemicals found in most conventional personal care products. To dig deeper into the research, and for a more comprehensive explanation, you can download this file from the David Suzuki website.

THE DIRTY DOZEN (taken from

1. BHA and BHT: Found in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Both are suspected endocrine ( hormone) distributors and possible carcinogens. Both are harmful to fish and wildlife.
2. Coal Tar Dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as ‘CI’ followed by a 5 digit number. These are potential carcinogens and contaminated with heavy metals, which can be toxic to the brain.

3. DEA- related ingredients: Also look for MEA and TEA. These are used in creamy and foaming products like moisturizers and shampoo, and are a potential carcinogen.

4. Dibutyl Phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in nail care products. Potential endocrine (hormone) disrupter and reproductive toxicant.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Also look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methanamine and quaternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics and releases small amounts of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

6. Parabens: A potential endocrine disrupter for both male and females and used as a preservative in a variety of cosmetic products.

7. Parfum or Fragrance: Some fragrance can trigger allergies and asthma, and some are linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.

8. PEG compounds: Used in cream based products, can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which can cause cancer.

9. Petroleum: Used in hair products, lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizer for shine and as a moisture barrier. Petroleum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.

10. Siloxanes: Look for “-siloxane” or “-methicone”. Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten, it is a suspected endocrine distruptor and reproductive toxicant.

11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Used as a foaming agent in shampoo, cleansers, bubble bath and toothpaste. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look for

12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial products like toothpaste, cleansers and antiperspirants, this chemical is a suspected endocrine distrupter and can contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.


1. Check your products to see if they contain any of the dirty dozen. Check your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, face wash and anything else you use.

2. You can also visit EWG’s Skin Deep database to check your specific product, and see how it rates for toxicity and why.

3. Start switching your products! You can switch your products out one-by-one, to limit the cost.

4. Find natural cosmetics that you love! Below I included a list of some of my favourite brands, as well as a list of natural beauty blogs for you to check reviews and see the opinion of others.


Green Beaver

Meow Meow Tweet

Leaves of Trees 

Wild Craft



Province Apothecary


Now, everyone’s skin is different and I often find that popular reviews are not necessarily consistent with my own experiences with a product, but it is a good start!
Green Product Junkie

Let’s Talk About Green

Living Pretty, Naturally

Organic Beauty Blogger


David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Working Group

Adria Vasil


As always, e-mail me with any questions, or to tell me about your favourite natural beauty brands or blogs!
– SG

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