Beyond Parabens: 7 Common Cosmetics Ingredients You Need to Avoid

6. Petrolatum

Photo credit: John Keane

Oh, where to begin? This gelatinous substance, also known as petroleum jelly, is derived from crude oil. Its popularity as an emollient largely stems from its extremely low cost. (Vaseline, for instance, is pure petrolatum.) There are cosmetic reasons to eschew the goop: The oily film that sits on the surface of your skin can aggravate acne and slow down cell turnover (read: cause you to prematurely age). But beyond that, petrolatum is also particularly susceptible to contamination by baddie chemicals like 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, no thanks to unregulated manufacturing procedures.

In any case, Canada isn't a fan: Beyond the border, Environment Canada classifies the substance as a possible carcinogen, a possible mutagen, and a suspected environmental toxin.

7. Quaternium-15

Photo credit: Getty Images

Considering that quaternium-15 is a known human toxicant, it's astounding that you can find it in "extra-gentle" bubble bath and "extra-sensitive" baby wash. Used as a preservative, quaternium-15 is not cancer-causing in and of itself but breaks down to release formaldehyde, which the EPA classifies as a probable human carcinogen.

Because it's also an allergen, quaternium-15 can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive skin. And if you're allergic to formaldehyde, chances are you're also allergic to quaternium-15.

Tags: Cosmetics | United States


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