So, you’ve decided to eliminate all the chemical based products from your life? Well, prepare to arm yourself with some patience and a magnifying glass, as you will have to sift through a lot of fine print and polysyllabic words.


My advice? Focus on the first and last two lines of the ingredients list. Here is where you are most likely to find any artificial sulfates, parabens and fragrances/perfume; these are the items you want to AVOID.


BHA and BHT are used as preservatives in lipsticks, lotions, moisturizers and many other cosmetics. Be cautious, as they are suspected as endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens.


Coal based dyes will be listed as “p-Phenylenediamine or "CI" followed by five digits, and are most commonly found in hair dyes as well as other cosmetic products. These agents may contain neurotoxic heavy metals and are potentially carcinogenic. NB. Some dyes, such as CI 77820, are harmless, check the INCI website in order to distinguish between noxious and safe dyes.


DEA type ingredients, such as Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA and anything that contains the abbreviation "DEA" are found in cream and foaming substances such as moisturizers and shampoos. They have been known to react with other substances and form carcinogenic nitrosamines.


Dibutyl phthalate (also known as DBP or ester) is a common hardening agent added to nail varnish; it is suspected as an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to harm the reproductive system.


Formaldehyde and Toluene containing items (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol and Quaternium-15) are used in nail polish, nail strengtheners, soaps, shampoos and preparations for hair growth. These dangerous agents slowly and continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde, an identified carcinogen, into the body.


Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and all other ingredients ending with "paraben") are used as preservatives in all cosmetics. They have been identified as endocrine disruptors and may interfere with the male reproductive system.


Watch for perfumes used to scent makeup, face creams, shampoos, etc. As perfume recipes are considered a secret, it is basically impossible to know what they really contain. Some commonly used ingredients can trigger skin allergies, asthma, and are associated with cancer and neuronal damage.


PEG and PPG, including all ingredients that begin with PEG or PPG, PEG-40 and hydrogenated castor oil are used as emulsifiers, base gels, binding agents, and/or emollients. They can increase skin permeability and therefore permit the absorption of harmful substances. These chemical compounds (ex. PEG -60) may also contain 1,4-dioxane, which is a potential carcinogen.


Petrolatum, mineral oil and distilled petroleum or petroleum distillates are all petroleum derivatives, are used in some hair products to add shine and as a moisture barrier in lip balms, lipsticks and moisturizers. These petrochemical products may contain carcinogens.


The siloxanes (ingredients ending with "siloxane" or "cone" such as cyclotetrasiloxane and cyclomethicone) are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Cyclotetrasiloxane is considered an endocrine disruptor and potentially toxic to reproductive function.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate (and most of the ingredients ending with "eth" such as steareth-10, ceteareth-20 and choleth) is used in foaming products such as shampoos, cleansers and bath products. It may contain 1,4-dioxane, which is, as previously mentioned, a potential carcinogen.


Triclosan is used in antibacterial products such as toothpaste, soaps, and hand sanitizers. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.


EDTA, generally found as Tetrasodium EDTA and Trisodium EDTA, is used in soaps and other cleansers. This substance does not easily degrade and can even attach itself to other organisms; therefore it could contaminate our drinking water. We do not yet know enough about its long-term effects on the human body.


Ever spot an ingredient and felt unsure as to how it measures up?

Visit developed by Rita Stiens. Simply enter the first 3 letters of the ingredient in the INCI search tab, and you will know whether it is safe or toxic.


Be sure to check out my article “Des Outils pour Sauver Votre Peau” that offers suggestions for free apps to use at your convenience.


Will this said, I wish a happy and successful decoding!


Credit: Photo of Jacynthe at 4 months pregnant*: Mariphotographie


* Since her first pregnancy, Jacynthe has done her best to avoid any products that are toxic to the skin, digestive tract or that could contaminate the air or water!