The Un Wanted List

Science has advanced to the point where we don’t need dangerous or questionable substances to make products that work wonderfully. So why use them? Here are some common chemicals found in many skin and beauty products you should avoid and that you WON'T find in any product at Flora Organica.

Artificial Fragrance (Parfum)

Around 95 per cent of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic, petroleum derived compounds. Many result in poor indoor air quality and can potentially cause neurological problems, respiratory and skin irritation, migraines, asthma, cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, allergic reactions and multiple chemical sensitivities. The law does not require a list of fragrance ingredients in chemical products, merely the inclusion of the term ‘parfum,’ ‘fragrance’, or ‘aroma,’ which could mean anything up to 200 different fragrance chemicals.

DEA or TEA (di- or tri-ethanolamine)

Diethanolamine compounds are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in cosmetics and dishwashing detergents. DEA can affect hormones, cell functioning and development. It interacts with nitrite preservatives or contaminants in a product or with nitrogen oxide in the air to form the carcinogen NDELA on the skin. It is readily absorbed through skin and accumulates in organs. Although there is no proven link to cancer in humans, evidence exists showing they are carcinogenic in animals. DEA containing ingredients include: cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA lauryl sulphate, triethanolamine (TEA).


Frequently found in baby and children’s shampoo and bubble bath, this is used in embalming fluid, fumigants and auto coolants. Don’t check the label – it’s rarely listed.

Formaldehyde (Formalin / Formal and Methyl Aldehyde, DMDM Hydantoin and Urea-Imidazolidinyl)

A toxic, colourless gas that is an irritant and a carcinogen. When combined with water, formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant, fixative or preservative. Found in many cosmetic products and nail care systems including deodorants, shampoos and hand wash. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose & throat and may also trigger asthma in senstive individuals. Its use is restricted in many countries


Pesticides kill living things. It’s what they do. You’re a living thing.


Petrolatum, mineral oil, petroleum jelly – it goes by many names but these crude oil derivatives, whilst leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth, not only interrupt the skin’s own moisturising powers, they can cause breakouts, cell sluggishness and great sun susceptibility. Petrochemicals are also a hotbed for contamination and are of course, extremely not sustainable. However, they are cheap.

  • Butylene glycol – skin and respiratory irritant.
  • Ethanolamines (look for suffixes MEA, DEA and TEA) – can be contaminated with the carcinogen NDELA
  • Glycol ethers – absorbed easily through skin, dissolve the skin’s protective oils. Can cause nausea and anaemia when inhaled.
  • Isopropyl alcohol – petrol additive that can cause corrosion of the skin. Inhalation can cause coughing and dizziness.
  • Mineral oil – mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. Untreated and mildly treated mineral oils are carcinogens. Mineral oil can be contaminated with carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
  • Petroleum jelly – mixture of semi-solid hydrocarbons. May be contaminated
  • Petroleum distillates – extracted during refining of crude oil, e.g. paraffin wax. Suspected blood and cardiovascular toxicants, neurotoxins and respiratory toxicants. Can cause skin irritation.
  • Phenol – Toxic to brain and kidneys, may promote skin cancer.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) – Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds can become contaminated with the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, along with other toxic impurities such as ethylene oxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals, including lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium and arsenic. They are readily absorbed through damaged skin.
  • Propylene glycols – Can cause skin and eye irritation, contact allergies, central nervous system depression.
  • Solvents (e.g. acetone, isopropyl alcohol, toluene, xylene) – Neurotoxic, respiratory irritants, linked with kidney and reproductive damage.


Dye intermediates used in permanent and semi-permanent hair colourants. Para-phenylenediamine (p-phenylenediamine) is a cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Permanent hair dyes containing phenylenediamines are also associated with an increased risk of various types of cancer in hairdressers, particularly dark brown and black hair dyes


In 2002, three-quarters of the 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group contained phthalates, chemicals linked to birth defects, feminization of infant boys, liver and kidney damage, and infertility.

These chemicals are what make plastics soft and pliable, in everything from bottles to vinyl belts. And they are everywhere—including your hair products. They are what keeps perfumes from escaping and helps conventionally made products smooth, straighten or hold.

Likely the cause of the hermaphrodite fish, these endocrine disruptors have serious effects on kids and pregnant women. These chemicals have been definitively linked to effects from early puberty to feminizing boys. They also create dioxins that contaminate the air, soil and water.


A golden oldie in toxic beauty circles, these substances have a chemical structure surprisingly like estrogen’s. The EPA itself admits that all parabens have endocrine-disrupting effects. Meaning the body thinks you have extra estrogen – weight gain, depression, even cancer and birth abnormalities can result.Alternative names for parabens include: benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid), butylparaben, butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid) , Parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid), ethylparaben, ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid), methylparaben, methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid), parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate), propylparaben, propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid).

Propylene Glycol (and Other Glycols)

These cosmetic forms of mineral oil are found in many skin and hair products. As well as anti-freeze, fabric softener, wallpaper stripper, sealant and paint. Often warned as a skin irritant, this petrochemical is as unnecessary as it is ubiquitous.

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)

SLS, a detergent, is found in approximately 90% of commercial shampoos, including "no more tears" baby shampoos as well as toothpastes, bubble baths and shower gel. It makes a product bubble and foam.

It is a frequent cause of eye irritation and contact dermatitis. SLS is an industrial floor cleaner and degreasant that is a known skin irritant and modifies the structure of the skin’s outer layer, enabling easier absorption of other more toxic chemicals. Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), touted as a milder alternative, can be contaminated with the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.According to the Women's Environmental Network there is some evidence to suggest reproductive effects and damage to liver, lungs & immune system.

Contaminated Talc

Used to help products stick to skin and for spreadability and translucency. Talc can become contaminated with toxic asbestos fibres. The US government National Toxicology Program did a rat study and the cosmetic grade talc caused a range of inflammatory lung disorders and rare adrenal cancers. Research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention in 2008 suggests that women should not use talcum powder around their genitals as particles of talc may travel to the ovaries, instigating an inflammatory process that promotes the growth of cancer cells. At Flora Organica we only stock products that contain talc that has been pre screened for the existence of asbestos.


Added to California’s Proposition 65 list of substances toxic to reproduction because it was found to cause spontaneous abortions or offspring with birth defects. Highest levels occur indoors from paints, paint thinners, fragrance and nail polishes according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According the US Department for Health and Human Services, toluene targets the central nervous system, when inhaled, with low to moderate levels being found to cause fatigue, confusion, colour vision loss, sleepiness, headaches and nausea.


The dirty secret of cleansers, this pesticide—yes, that’s right—is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. EPA. It bioaccumulates in fatty tissues and is often found in breast milk and blood. It’s also linked to hormone-disruption, developmental defects, and liver toxicity. Heavy use has resulted in drug-resistant rogue bacteria.

For more information, please visit the Environmental Working Group

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