Ingredients can be harmful in different ways, from simply drying the skin to while being linked to cancer. Often, they are added to products to make them more pleasant, whether to alter the smell, create a richer lather or to give them a longer shelf life. With these ingredients, our bodies cannot process them in the normal way, so they trigger unwanted side effects. All our ingredient, however, play a positive role in your health or wellbeing. Those with detrimental effects are banned from our repertoire.


Creating this list is not achieved easily, and it is an ongoing process, since new research can always highlight new risks, and as new ingredients are regularly being introduced to differentiate products, they too must be subjected to scrutiny. We look at the generally known lists from well established and creditable sources, and we try to adopt the strictest interpretations of those studies. The findings of top institutions like Cosing in Europe and the FDA in the USA are incorporated into our list, along with those of top research institutes, NGOs and associations. This blacklist is not finite and will change over time, but our aim is to protect you as best we can.

Europe is one of so many countries that ban many chemicals in cosmetics. The chemicals banned in Europe, based on the Annex of the EU Cosmetic Regulation (1223/2009), include around 1300 chemicals. This is a higher number than in the US, which bans only around 11 chemicals in cosmetics.

Here is the list of banned ingredients in Europe:
Cosmetic ingredient database (Cosing) - List of substances prohibited in cosmetic products (English)

Kosmeettisten ainesosien tietokanta (kustannukset) – Luettelo kosmeettisissa valmisteissa kielletyistä aineista (Suomeksi)

These are all banned by us, too, but here is a list of the most popular or common substances at the top of our blacklist:

1. Talc

Its Uses: Talc is an absorbent mineral which mostly contains chemical substances, such as magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is widely used in cosmetic products in the form of talcum powder. The examples of talcum powder in cosmetics can be found in baby powder, adult body powder, facial powder, etc.

Why It's Banned: The benefit of talcum powder in cosmetics is that it can absorb moisture well, keeping skin dry and preventing rashes. If it is useful, then why does Europe ban this chemical substance in cosmetics? The answer is because as a mineral, sometimes Talc contains asbestos in its natural form. Asbestos can be harmful to humans, especially women, because it may cause ovarian cancer. Other diseases that also have been linked to this chemical substance are gynecological tumors, mesothelioma (a kind of rare cancer), and lung cancer.

2. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Its Uses: Not to be confused with Beta Hydroxy Acid, Butylated Hydroxyanisole can be found in several products, ranging from hair products, lip products, makeup, sunscreen, fragrances and even deodorants. Even worse, it can also be found in food, too.

Why It's Banned: Europe has banned this because BHA is a potential endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. The use of BHA in cosmetics can also possibly be a cause of organ system toxicity and reproductive toxicity.

3. Propyl Paraben

Its Uses: Parabens are a group of chemicals that are widely used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shower gels and body creams. They effectively prevent the growth of microorganisms.

Why It's Banned: Some people label themselves as being ‘anti-paraben’. There are also some products on the market labelled as no-paraben products. Parabens, which can be found in skin care, make up and haircare products, are well-known as a chemical substance that may cause cancer. There are several studies that have been done about the connection between Propyl Paraben and cancer. A study in Europe found that parabens are found in breast cancer tissue. It is, therefore, no surprise that women are extremely wary, because of this potentially serious harmful effect. To make it worse, a study from Harvard also said that parabens built up in the body can reduce fertility. This is one of many banned chemicals in cosmetics in Europe.

4. Formaldehyde

Its Uses: The term formaldehyde can also be replaced with methylene glycol. Formaldehyde can be found in certain cosmetic products, such as nail polish, eyelash glue and hair straightening treatments.

Why It's Banned: Some countries including Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Brazil have banned this chemical substance. Formaldehyde is banned because it is a carcinogen and sensitizer, which means it can cause an allergic reaction, cancer and other health problems.

5. Petroleum

Its Uses: Petroleum jelly is one of the most intriguing inventions in cosmetics. It is famous for being a multipurpose product which can be applied to hair, lips and body to keep the skin moisturized.

Why It's Banned: Petroleum jelly, however, contains petroleum derived ingredients, such as mineral oil, paraffin and petrolatum, which can all cause cancer with long-term use.


6. Specific fragrances

Its Uses: Fragrance is not only found in perfume, but also in other cosmetic products, such as skin care, makeup and hair care. Each beauty product which is labelled as containing ‘fragrance’ means that it could contain numerous chemical substances mixed together as fragrance. They are not identified because, legally, they are in quantities below what is deemed necessary to declare.

Why It's Banned: This is the ‘hidden secret’ of cosmetic products. But some of these hidden secrets can be dangerous. Fragrances like styrene and phthalates have been linked to endocrine disruption and cancer. All these toxic fragrant additives are banned.

7. Triclosan

Its Uses: Triclosan is a chemical substance which is used to prevent or reduce bacterial contamination. This chemical substance can be found in antiseptic products like bar soaps, body washes and every type of hand soap (liquid, gel, foam)

Why It's Banned: Triclosan is banned because it has been linked to hormone disruption, immune system damage and potentially to skin cancer.

8. Oxybenzone

Its Uses: One of the must-have cosmetic product items is sunscreen. Sunscreen is believed to be one reason why people appear to resist aging, by ‘protecting’ their skin from harmful rays from the sun. As an ingredient of your chemical sunscreen, you may find Oxybenzone.

Why It's Banned: Europe has banned Oxybenzone from its cosmetic products because it has been linked to cancer.

9. Hydroquinone

Its Uses: Found in facial skin care products, Hydroquinone is used for brightening and lightening skin.

Why It's Banned: This chemical substance is extremely dangerous to humans; it is cytotoxic, which means it will kill cells and chromosomes, also potentially leading to cancer. The British Journal of Cancer linked high doses of the substance to cancer in mice.

10. Selenium Sulphide

Its Uses: As an anti-dandruff agent in some shampoos.

Why It's Banned: According to a study released by the United States' National Toxicology Program, it is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." So, it might prevent ugly dandruff flakes, but it could potentially give you cancer.

11. P-Phenylenediamine

Its Uses: Used in hair dyes, especially for darker tints.

Why It's Banned: Might help change your hair colour, but can also cause severe swelling and, in extreme cases, kill you. It may cause dermatitis, asthma, and, under more severe circumstances, anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal allergic reaction.

12. Quaternium-15

Its Uses: A preservative found in various cosmetic products, from nail polish remover to eyeshadows.

Why it's Banned: It releases formaldehyde, which may cause cancer and breathing problems.

13. Butylparaben

Its Uses: A commonly found preservative in beauty products ranging from lotions to perfumes to hair dyes.

Why It's Banned: It's been reported to have an adverse effect on male reproductive systems in mice due to its mimicking of estrogen. In other words, it could cause male infertility.

14. Zinc stearate

Its Uses: An anti-caking agent and colorant in makeup, like blush, to make your cheeks look pretty.

Why It's Banned: It's been reported to potentially cause respiratory problems when inhaled in large doses.

15. Lead Acetate

Its Uses: Found primarily in certain progressive hair dyes to help deposit color over a number of uses, especially to cover white and gray hair. Might get rid of gray hair.

Why It's Banned: While there's little evidence that suggests lead is absorbed through the scalp, the residue on hands, combs, and hair dryers may be easily ingested, which might lead to lead poisoning, which can lead to seizures, coma, and, in the worst cases, death.

16. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

Its Uses: PEGs are commonly used in mainstream deodorants, shampoos, moisturisers, facial cleansers, eye creams and more. They are mostly used in cosmetics to thicken formulations or as a solvent, softener or moisture carrier. They are also used in pharmaceuticals as laxatives.

Why It's Banned: according to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, "PEGs (including PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil) can contain harmful impurities, including: Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer, according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program; 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen; PAHs, known to increase the risk of breast cancer; lead; iron; and arsenic”.

17. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Its Uses: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a compound that has been developed to do the job of the original surfactant, soap. SLS was originally developed as a synthetic detergent to be used in washing powder as it has very good degreasing qualities. For this reason, it is mainly used in soaps, shampoos, liquid soaps, shower gels, degreasing agents and cleansing products.

Why It's Banned: Well-known for causing skin discomfort, which can lead to the altered skin barrier function and water-loss. This is why using SLS or SLES is bad for the skin, it allows water loss and leaves the barrier to water loss, your natural skin oils, broken. This can leave you with dry skin or even eczema.

18. Phthalates

Its Uses: So-called ‘low-phthalates’ like DBP, DEP are mostly used as solvents in cosmetics products such as nail-polish, perfumed personal care products such as shampoos, lotions , and even in some pharmaceutical products. They are also common in perfumes and other fragranced products.

Why It's Banned: Common phthalates like DEHP, and others, have been associated with Endocrine Disruption, that is, they adversely affect the hormonal balance in humans, decreased sperm count and quality, leading to male infertility, increased risk of recurrent miscarriages, and development of obesity in children. Exposure through inhalation may trigger asthma, allergy or other autoimmune disorders.

19. Animal Derived Ingredients

Its Uses: Animal derived ingredients are widespread, traditionally, in cosmetic products. Traditional soaps used animal fat, for example, and many well established cosmetic companies use a form of hyaluronic acid that is obtained from the crests (combs) of cockerels / roosters. Animals could include sheep, beef, horses, pigs, shark, emu, mink, deer, otter, beavers and more, and are common in all types of face, body, and cosmetic products.

Why It's Banned: Clearly, we ban any such products or ingredients on the basis of animal welfare and sustainability. Our fats and oils are always of plant origin, and our hyaluronic acid, for example, is obtained from a source where it is made by producing enzymes from a bacteria based biofermentation process.