Top 10 Ingredients That Don’t Belong In Your Bathroom

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on September 3, 2012. Enjoy!

Take a peek in your bathroom. Cabinets and shower included. How many bottles, tubes, containers and sticks of personal care products are staring back at you? Although we’re convinced these ointments, lotions, cremes and soaps help us to look and feel our best, most contain powerful chemical cocktails that could cause a host of health issues.

I’d like to think of myself as a conscious shopper. I look at labels, avoid brands known to support environmentally dangerous practices, and limit the number of personal care products I buy at all. (I only wear make-up about 10 times a year, so that helps.) Still, there are some things that are essential for good hygiene, right? Deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, facial scrub, toothpaste. Many would argue that these are health care essentials, yet they too contain dangerous ingredients that could upset the body’s hormonal balance (leading to weight gain and other hormone-related health problems), cause problems in sexual development and adult sexual function, as well as increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

When you weigh the potential of having cancer versus smelling ripe on a late summer afternoon, ditching the deodorant seems like a no-brainer. Here’s the thing–we don’t have to eliminate all of our personal care products. We just have to zero in on the ingredients that are up to no good, and avoid products that contain them. To help, here’s a list of the top 10 ingredients that don’t belong in your bathroom, adapted from this article from Natural Home & Garden (well worth the read if you’ve got the time). If you’re still worried or confused after you read the list, pop over to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for the latest research and advice on brands that are safe.

1. Prefixes Ethyl, Methyl, Butyl or Propyl
Common Name: Parabens
Why You Should Avoid It: Endocrine disrupters that mimic estrogen; linked to weight gain and breast cancer
Found In: Lotions and shampoos

2. Fragrance, DEHP, DHP, DBP 5, Dibutyl Phthalate
Common Name: Phthalates
Why You Should Avoid It: Sperm damage, infertility
Found In: Nail polish, shampoo, deodorant, lotion

3. Dyes: Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33
Common Name: Coal tar
Why You Should Avoid It: Carcinogenic
Found In: Hair color, medicated shampoos

4. Triclosan, Chloro, Phenol, Irgasan
Common Name: Triclosan
Why You Should Avoid It: Endocrine and thyroid disrupter; promotes antibiotic-resistant bacteria; bioaccumulates in the body
Found In: Antibacterial soap, shampoo, facial cleanser, toothpaste, deodorant

5. 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA), bexophenome-3 (Bp-3), homosalate (HMS)
Common Name: Sunscreen chemicals
Why You Should Avoid It: Estrogenic activity; enhances the potential for pesticides to penetrate the skin
Found In: Sunscreens

Keep Reading for 5 more ingredients that don’t belong in your bathroom…

Polyethylene glycol (PEG, PPG, Cocoate), propylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene mineral oil

Common Name: Petroleum byproducts
Why You Should Avoid It: Carcinogen; liver and kidney effects
Found In: Lotions

Common Name: Derivative of petroleum
Why You Should Avoid It: Endocrine disrupter; carcinogen
Found In: Lotions

Lead acetate, thimerosal, mercurius solubilis, mercurius sublimates, mercurius corrosives, mercuric chloride
Common Name: Lead and mercury
Why You Should Avoid It: Found in higher levels in women with breast cancer; neurotoxin
Found In: Hair color, wound treatments, artificial tears

Common Name: Propellant made from petroleum processing
Why You Should Avoid It: Carcinogen
Found In: Moisturizer, shaving cream, foot spray, breath freshener

Common Name: Placenta, placental enzymes, placental extract
Why You Should Avoid It: Filled with hormones that upset your own balance and increase estrogen
Found In: Skin and hair conditioner

Nano zinc oxide <100mm
Common Name: Nanoparticles
Why You Should Avoid It: The safety of nanoparticles has not been tested, but they can cross the blood/brain barrier and move along nerves.
Found In: Sunscreens, lotions


Related Reading:

The Cost of Beauty

Would You Put Mercury On Your Face?

There’s Formaldehyde In Baby Shampoo?



Mickey Jhon
Past Member 2 years ago

Hi I was searching for the blogs for many times, now I have reached at the right place.baths

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Kimmy H.
Kimmy H3 years ago

Looks like I need to clean out the bathroom!

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

If it isn't natural, don't use it.

Joy S.
Joy s3 years ago

Sounds like the drug store, grocery, etc. might be a dangerous place to visit.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago


Artem V.
Artem Vyzhenko3 years ago

Thank You for useful information

Tom R.
Tom R3 years ago

are you a scientist, or is this list just cobbled together from internet hearsay?

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim3 years ago


Val M.
Val M3 years ago