The Never List You Should Always Be Aware Of

never list

Keeping track of harmful ingredients in products we use on daily basis can make your head spin, especially when you’re shopping for safer products. To make your life a bit easier, Beautycounter has compiled a Never List (ingredient catalog) of ingredients you should NEVER use. The beauty in this list is that you can sleep easier at night knowing that none of the products sold on Beautycounter will contain these ingredients.

(Click here to download the full version, including a pocket sized version to take everywhere.)

Animal fats, oils, and musks:

Obtained from: tallow, rendered beef mutton fat, oils or musks from mink, emu and sharks.

Health concern: disrupt the endocrine system, specifically thyroid function.

Found in: soap, creams, shaving products, lubricants, paints and many cosmetics.

Benzalkonium chloride

Use: disinfectant and preservative.

Health concern: irritation of the skin, eye and respiratory system. Can cause allergic reactions.

Found in: sunscreens and moisturizers.

Benzophenone & derivatives

Use: fragrance ingredient and UV light absorber.

Health concern: carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

Found in: nail polish and sunscreen.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Use: plastics and resins.

Health concern: hormone disruptor and can change DNA.

Found in: plastic bottles, aluminum food cans, eyeshadow and hair gel.


Use: fragrance ingredient.

Health concern: skin irritation, cancer and harm the reproductive system.

Found in: fragrance and hair color.


Use: extend shelf life.

Health concern: carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and cause liver damage.

Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other makeup.

Coal tar

Use: colorant and anti-dandrif agent.

Health concern: carcinogen.

Found in: hair dye and shampoo.


Use: solvent for cellulose acetate, ethyl cellulose, benzyl cellulose, resins, oils, waxes and some dye.

Health concern: skin irritant, carcinogen, toxin to organ and lungs.

Found in: shampoo, body wash and bubble bath products.

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

Use: improve stability in cosmetics.

Health concern: toxic to organs.

Found in: air color and moisturizers.

Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA)

Use: surfactants and pH balancer.

Health concern: allergies, toxins to the skin, hormone disruption, and can affect fetal brain development.

Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning products, paint and medications.


Use: preservative in cosmetics.

Health concern: carcinogen, asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.

Found in: shampoo, body wash and bubble bath products.


Use: skin lightener.

Health concern: skin irritant, cancer and organ toxicity.

Found in: skin lightening creams.

Methyl cellosolve

Use: fragrance ingredient and solvent.

Health concern: skin irritations, neurotoxin, developmental toxin, and can mutate mutations leading to cancer.

Found in: anti-aging creams.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone

Use: preservatives.

Health concern: skin irritations and skin allergies.

Found in: shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

Mercury and mercury compounds (e.g. Thimerosal)

Use: preservative and antiseptic.

Health concern: damage brain function.

Found in: ear and eye drops, and some mascaras.

Mineral Oil (e.g. liquid paraf n; liquid petrolatum; paraf n oil)

Obtained from: petroleum distillation.

Health concern: skin rashes.

Found in: baby lotions, cold creams and ointments.


Use: sunscreen agent and UV light absorber.

Health concern: irritation, sensitization, allergies and hormone disruptions.

Found in: sunscreen and moisturizer.

Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, proply- ,etc.)

Use: preservative.

Health concern: hormone disruptors and a breast cancer trigger.

Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion and foundation.

Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, etc.)

Use: helps mold products together (plastics), and allows fragrances to stick to the skin.

Health concern: hormone disruptor, especially of the endocrine system, and can also cause birth defects.

Found in: unnatural fragrances, nail polish and hairspray.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds)

Use: thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers for cosmetics.

Health concern: carcinogen.

Found in: creams, sunscreen and shampoo.


Use: colorant and fragrance ingredient.

Health concern: skin irritant, and toxin to the immune system and organs.

Found in: hair color.

Retinyl palmitate & Retinol (Vitamin A)

Use: skin conditioning agent.

Health concern: damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors.

Found in: moisturizers and anti-aging skin care.

Sodium Lauryl SulfateSodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES)

Use: process other chemicals to make them less harsh.

Health concern: skin irritation or skin allergies.

Found in: shampoo, body wash and bubble bath products.

Synthetic flavor or synthetic fragrance

Use: fake scents and flavors engineered with 3,000 or more stock chemical ingredients.

Health concern: hormone disruptors and allergens.

Found in: various cosmetics.


Use: solvent.

Health concern: immune system toxin and cause birth defects.

Found in: nail polish, nail polish remover, glues, and correction fluid.


Use: antimicrobial pesticides.

Health concern: harms the aquatic environment and human reproductive system.

Found in: liquid soap, soap bars and toothpaste.