Ingredients Glossary

A comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about ingredients that are banned from LAWLESS Beauty products.

A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

A

Dioxane 1,4 is a contaminant that may occur in trace amounts in cosmetics. It is not used as an ingredient in cosmetics, but may be present in extremely small amounts in some cosmetics. 1,4-dioxane forms as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain cosmetic ingredients which include certain detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents identifiable by the prefix, word, or syllables "PEG," "Polyethylene," "Polyethylene glycol," "Polyoxyethylene," "-eth-," or "-oxynol-."

Why is it banned?
1,4-dioxane is a potential human carcinogen and has been classified by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as likely to be carcinogenic to humans based on finding of sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals intentionally exposed to 1,4-dioxane but inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.

Acrylates are primarily found in nail products and other cosmetic adhesives. They are used for these purposes because they are effective binding agents. Acrylates are often labeled as ethyl acrylate.

Why is it banned?
Acrylates have been classified by several reputable sources as a possible human carcinogen. (According to the EPA and The International Agency of Research on Cancer) There are some studies which link acrylates to skin, eye, and throat irritation based on evidence found in exposed rats.

Aluminum salts are a compound that contain trace elements of aluminum and are used as an active ingredient in many aerosols and anti-perspirants, working as an antimicrobial agent to reduce odor. 

Why is it banned?
There are many questions around the safety of aluminum in cosmetic products. The FDA requires all anti-perspirants containing aluminum salts to include a warning statement on the packaging that advises people with kidney disease to consult a physician before using the product, since the kidneys play a large role in eliminating aluminum from the body.

Amino-phenol is used in the formulation process to create pigment in hair dye and other cosmetics.

Why is it banned?
It is considered to be a potential allergen and irritant to the skin and eyes. Amino-phenol can cause dermatitis and when heated emits toxic fumes.

Oils and fats derived from animals are often used in moisturizers to condition the skin.

Why is it banned?
These ingredients are often unethically sourced as they not only can come from an animal's skin, but their vital organs as well.

Naturally occurring heavy metal. It is used as a color additive in cosmetics.

Why is it banned?
It is a known human carcinogen, respiratory toxicant, and endocrine disruptor.

B

Derived from coal tar and is used in products like detergents and paints. It is found in many beauty products such as hairspray and nail polish remover.

Why is it banned?
It is a potential bone marrow poison and has been linked to potentially causing leukemia and other forms of cancer. Inhalation of its fumes may be toxic.

Used to protect products from UV light. It can be found in foundations, lip balm, hair products and its derivative oxybenzone can be found in sunscreens.

Why is it banned?
Can cause skin and eye irritation.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole is used as a preservative in a variety of personal care products.

Why is it banned?
It is 'reasonably anticipated' that BHA is a human carcinogen, given the evidence of its carcinogenic effects in numerous animal studies. There is sufficient evidence of BHA causing both benign and malignant tumors in rats (male and female).

BHT threshold is 0.1% Also known as butylated hydroxyanisole, BHT is used as a preservative in lipsticks, skincare products, and other cosmetics.

Why is it banned?
There is some evidence of BHT inducing allergic reactions and disruption of hormones. It is also classified as a possible carcinogen.

An organic solvent used in hair and nail products. It dissolves ingredients in a product forumlation and decreases the viscosity of liquid hair dyes.

Why is it banned?
Inhalation of butoxyethanol can be toxic and can irritate the skin with frequent exposure.

A fragrance additive, solvent, and emollient. It is used in a variety of skin care products and other cosmetics.

Why is it banned?
Butylene glycol can be an irritating ingredient for those with sensitive skin, and in rare cases, produce allergic contact dermatitis. B
anned in complexion products.

C

Carbon black is a fine powder that adds black pigment used in in eyeliners, mascaras, and other makeup products. It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based materials such as coal tar. It can also be labeled as acetelyne black, D&C Black No. 2, channel black, furnace black, lamp black and thermal black.

Why is it banned?
California EPA’s Proposition 65 list identifies carbon black as a carcinogen. The International Agency for research on cancer classifies carbon black as a possible human carcinogen.  Experimental studies in female rats found increased incidence of lung tumors in rats that inhaled carbon black.  NIOSH raises concerns about lymphatic cancer among workers exposed to carbon black, largely due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in carbon black. Long-term exposure to carbon black can lead to pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis and lung tumors in rats.  Several human studies indicate carbon black exposure may increase the risk of lung disease.

Chromium is a heavy metal and imparts color into a variety of personal care products including makeup, hair, bath, and nail products.

Why is it banned?
Frequent exposure and absorption of chromium via the skin may cause redness, swelling, and ulcers on the skin.

Coal tar is derived from burning coal. It is used as a cosmetic biocide (kills bacteria) and is an anti-dandruff agent in hair products like shampoo.

Why is it banned?
It is a potential carcinogen and is associated with cancers in the kidney, lung, bladder, and skin. It also can cause neurological damage.

Some examples include (but are not limited to) coconut oil, isopropyl myristate and its derivatives and lanolins.

Why is it banned?
Comedogenic ingredients clog pores, inducing blemishes especially to those with acne-prone skin. We test products for pore-clogging and anything that is comedogenic is banned.

Not to be confused with Silica (an amorphous compound), Crystalline Silica, also referred to as quartz, is a common mineral. It’s found in soil, sand, granite, concrete, rock, and many other materials. Cutting, chipping, grinding, and drilling these materials creates a lot of dust, which contains tiny crystalline silica particles.

Why is it banned?
Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen and can cause serious lung disease and lung cancer. It only takes a very small amount of respirable silica dust to create a health hazard. Crystalline silica should never be used in cosmetics. This is not to be confused with a commonly used and safe ingredient, Silica.

D

Often used in skin-smoothing primers and face creams, dimethicone is a silicone-based ingredient that fills in fine lines and can provide a mattifying finish. Its large moluecules help it act as barrier to seal hydration and protect the skin.

Why is it banned?
There is potential for bacteria, skin oils, and other impurities to get trapped under the occlusive barrier dimethicone creates.

E

EDTA is a chemical that acts as a chelating agent by deactivating metallic impurities, preventing cosmetic products from mold growth and rancidity. Some examples of EDTA ingredients include disodium EDTA and tetrasodium EDTA.

Why is it banned?
Long term exposure to EDTA can weaken the skin barrier and therefore increase susceptibility to skin cancer and other harmful diseases.

DEA/TEA/MEA/ETA Ethanolamines are a group of chemicals that contain amino acids and alcohols. They are used in cosmetics as either emulsifying agents or pH ajusters to prevent a product from degrading.

Why is it banned?
Ethanolamines are considered a carcinogenic ingredient and specifically have been linked to liver cancer. Studies also suggest ethanolamines may adversely affect male reproductive health.

F

Are effective and inexpensive preservatives in nail, skin, and makeup products.

Why is it banned?
Products containing these ingredients slowly and continuously release formaldehyde making it easy for its toxic fumes to be inhaled.

Used as a preservative in a wide range of cosmetic products.

Why is it banned?
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can cause allergic dermatitis to the skin.

H

Used as a skin-lightening agent. It works to combat skin concerns like hyperpigmentation and scarring by destroying the melanocytes that produce dark spots.

Why is it banned?
In some cases hydroquinone can cause dryness and skin irritation. Although rare, there are also concerns that its long term exposure is associated with a skin condition called exogenous ochronosis--where the skin darkens where product was previously applied.

I

Microbeads (*applies to rinse off products only) are small plastic particles often used in skin exfoliating products.

Why is it banned?
Accumulation of microplastics like microbeads can be environmentally toxic. Microbeads absorb other toxic chemicals found in the ocean and can be passed down the food chain if ingested by marine animals.

L

Lead is a naturally occurring element and is usually when present as an impurity when found in lip/eye products. Lead acetate is used as a color additive usually in hair products. 

Why is it banned?
Extensive documentation shows that absorption and consumption of lead can lead to neurotoxicity, hypertension, and hormone disruption. The FDA regulates the concentration of lead to be below 10ppm and they prohibited the use of lead acetate in hair dyes.

M

Thimerisol is a derivative of mercury that is used as a preservative in cosmetics. Mercury is also used in skin-lightening and anti-aging creams (marketed to remove dark spots and freckles)

Why is it banned?
Mercury is considered to be highly toxic as it has been linked to numerous health effects including kidney, skin, and neurological damage.

Methyl Cellosolve is a solvent that is used to dissolve ingredients in skincare formulations

Why is it banned?
Restricted in the EU and banned in Canada, methyl cellosolve is considered a neurotoxin and can potentially cause DNA mutations.

Also referred to as MIT and CMIT, these ingredients are used as preservatives in cosmetics and other personal care products.

Why is it banned?
These ingredients in high concentrations can cause sensitiszing effects to the skin. They can produce allergic reactions and are potentially neurotoxic.

Derived from petroleum and used in emollient skin products to help minimize water loss.

Why is it banned?
Mineral Oil is potentially toxic to non-reproductive organs and may also trap bacteria, skin oils, and other impurities under the occlusive barrier mineral oil can create.

N

Particles either dispersed throughout a material or as an aggregate containing at least 50% of particles that are under 100nm. 

Why is it banned?
Many nanoparticles are toxic and can be absorbed through the skin, having the potential to produce adverse health effects throughout the body.

Nitro-Musks are any of several synthetic chemicals (such as musk ambrette, musk ketone, musk xylene) that have a fragrant musky scent, are nitro derivatives of substituted benzenes, and are used in perfumes and various consumer products. These are known by other names such as Musk ketone, Galaxolide, Tonalide, Phantolide, Cashmeran.

Why is it banned?
There is limited evidence that suggest blood levels of nitro musks are inversely related to luteal hormone levels. This is supported by animal models and laboratory studies that have shown that nitro musks are weakly estrogenic. Nitro musks exposure has been associated with an increased risk of tumor formation in mice.

O

A liquid ester, made by mixing sulfuric acid and methanol. It is used as a UV filter, found in products containing sunscreen. It helps to maintain the physical integrity of these products when they are exposed to sunlight.

Why is it banned?
Octinoxate is easily absorbed by the skin and can increase the production of estrogen, causing a hormonal imbalance and potentially breast cancer. It can also decrease thyroid hormones, potentially disrupting normal thyroid function.

Oxybenzone is a common active ingredient in "chemical" sunscreens and is effective in terms of protecting the skin against ultraviolet light damage. It is also known as benzophenone-3.

Why is it banned?
Oxybenzone is a known photoallergen - this is an allergic reaction in which ultraviolet exposure changes the structure of the drug so that it is seen by the body's immune system as an invader. The allergic response causes inflammation of the skin in the sun-exposed areas. Oxybenzone has been linked to skin issues such as allergic reactions and contact eczema. Some other concerns associated with oxybenzone that have been raised, but are not entirely conclusive, are its potential to increase susceptibility to melanoma (skin cancer), be endocrine disrupting, and also potentially harmful to coral reefs.

Common active ingredient in "chemical" sunscreens and is effective in terms of protecting the skin against ultraviolet light damage. It is also known as benzophenone-3

P

Parabens are preservatives that are used in personal care products such as shampoos/conditioners, body washes, lotions, and cleansers.

Why is it banned?
Parabens may have the ability to mimic estrogen, making them potential endocrine disruptors. Studies on rats with parabens have demonstrated uterine harm. Some parabens have also demonstrated their ability to reduce sperm production and lower testosterone levels.

A thickening agent that enhances texture and prevents ingredients from separating in products such as lipsticks, eye/face makeup, skincare, and sunscreens.

Why is it banned?
Paraffin's waxy consistency raises concerns that it has the potential to clog pores and cause acne. Research has found that to be inconclusive. Another concern is that paraffin can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogen, during the manufacturing process. Pharmaceutical grade paraffin is highly refined and must go through numerous tests to ensure that it is free of contaminants. 

Banned EXCEPT if used in pharmaceutical grade.

Petroleum-based compounds, also referred to as polyethylene glycol. They are commonly used in cosmetic products as surfactants, emulsifiers, cleansing agents, humectants, and skin conditioners

Why is it banned?
During the manufacturing process, PEG's can be contaminated with toxic ingredients such as ethylene oxide (potentially harmful to the reproductive and nervous systems) and 1,4-dioxane (a possible human carcinogen). In addition, they are known to be "penetration enhancers" which allow for the absorption of other harmful chemicals.

Petrolatum is a mineral oil jelly (ie, petroleum jelly), derived from petroleum and often used as a skin-protectant in ointments, topical treatments, and other skin care products. Petroleum, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring flammable liquid often refined into fuel.

Why is it banned?
When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These can produce unsafe level of dioxane 1,4 a substance known to potentially contribute to some cancers. It’s also potentially a kidney toxin, neurotoxin, and a respiratory toxin, not to mention a leading groundwater contaminant. This is why we insist on pharmaceutical-grade refined petrolatum and petroleum. 

Banned EXCEPT if used in pharmaceutical grade.

Encompass a large family of manmade chemicals that contain a carbon and fluorine atom backbone. These may also be listed as PFASs or PFC and contain “perfluor” or “polyfluor” in the ingredient name (e.g. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), polytetrafluorothylene (PTFE)). They are considered useful because they are resistant to heat, water, and oil. Consumers may be exposed to PFASs in non-stick cookware, grease-resistant paper, fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, water-resistant clothing, cleaning products, and personal care products. 

Why is it banned?
Some PFAS compounds, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are no longer manufactured in the United States because of concerns about their toxicity. There are concerns that PFAS chemicals in general may have toxic effects on humans and animals. Some animals exposed to high levels of PFAS show changes in hormone levels and in liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function. Some studies in humans have suggested that PFAS may affect the development of fetuses and young children, leading to possible growth, learning, or behavioral problems. Other studies have pointed to possible links to cancer, immune system disorders, and fertility problems.

Used as a preservative in cosmetics and other personal care products.

Why is it banned?
Products containing phenoxyethanol in concentrations above 1% can cause allergic reactions and eczema, and have been linked to issues of the nervous system in infants, causing vomiting and diarrhea when exposed through breast feeding. The harmful results of this ingredient are seen only when used in high dosages.

Commonly used in fragrances, long-wearing cosmetics, hair products, and nail polishes. The industry term for this group of chemicals is called "plasticizers" as they are used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials.

Why is it banned?
Phthalates may be endocrine disruptors, particularly to the male reproductive system and deemed to likely be carcinogenic to humans based on evidence of cancer development in animal studies. Pregnant women are most vulnerable, followed by infant males drinking breast milk contaminated by this ingredient.

Polyacrylamide is a polymer composed of acrylamide and is used in a variety of lotions and cosmetics. It is used as a thickener, binder, and texture smoother. 

Why is it banned?
Polyacrylamide can be broken down into acrylamide, which is considered to be highly toxic. It can cause a multitude of toxic effects including cancers, neurological damage, and reproductive/developmental damage.

Synthetic alcohol used to prevent the degeneration of cosmetics in extreme temperatures. It also works as a humectant and helps other ingredients more readily absorb into the skin.

Why is it banned?
There is concern over propylene glycol producing sensitizing reactions and toxic effects, but evidence is insufficient to fully support these claims. People with eczema or other skin conditions should be cautious when using products on their skin that contain propylene glycol. B
anned in complexion products.

R

Resorcinol is an organic compound and is used most often as a topical treatment for acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin disorders by removing hard, scaly or toughened skin. It is also found in hair dyes and skin-brightening products.

Why is it banned?
This ingredient can be irritating to the skin and eyes. Animal studies show that resorcinol affects thyroid functioning, suggesting that it may potentially also be a human endocrine disruptor.

A form of vitamin A that is used in foundations, concealers, and other personal care products to condition the skin and prevent signs of aging.

Why is it banned?
Evidence demonstrates that Retinyl Palmitate has the ability to catalyze excess skin growth. Exposure to sunlight can cause the production of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that damage other cells creating a degenerative skin effect which can potentially lead to skin cancer.

S

Used in cosmetics and hair products to provide a silky, spreadable texture and to form a seal over the skin, making the product more long-wearing and water-resistant. They are widely used in nearly all beauty categories.

Why is it banned?
There is limited evidence that silicones are unsafe. However, given their ability to form a seal over the skin, the potential harm is in trapping dirt and debris on the skin for a period of time, which can lead to congesting the skin, skin irritation and potentially acne. B
anned in complexion products.

D4 (Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane), D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane), D6 (Dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane) Siloxanes are silicone-based compounds that can occur in a wide variety of combinations. The common siloxanes in cosmetics are D4 (Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane), D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane), D6 (Dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane). These ingredients are commonly found across beauty categories (blush, eye shadow, foundation, toothpaste, deoderant, etc)

Why is it banned?
Siloxanes have the ability to bioaccumulate in aquatic habitats and can be harmful to to animal and plant life. The EU also considers siloxanes to be endocrine disruptors and possibly toxic to reproductive as well as neurological health.

Generally a colorless, flammable liquid that is highly volatile. It is widely used to make plastic and rubber. There are different types of styrene and most of them are either used as film formers or are used as raw materials in the production of perfumes. 

Bromostyrene Deastyrene/acrylates/dvbcopolymer Sodium styrene/divinylbenzene copolymer Styrene oxide Styrene

Why is it banned?
There are concerns of styrene being contaminated with toxic and carcinogenic substances. Styrene oxide in particular has demonstrated to be carcinogenic in animals and therefore it is plausible that it can be for humans as well.

SLS & SLES Sulfates including SLS and SLES are used in shampoos and soaps as foaming agents.

Why is it banned?
SLES goes through a chemical process called ethoxylation where dioxane, a carcinogenic substance, can appear as a trace contaminant. As for SLS, there is evidence showing that it can be irritating to the skin.

T

A soft mineral often used in face powders to mattify the skin and other cosmetic products to provide a silky finish.

Why is it banned?
Since talc is mined from underground deposits, there is a high risk for it to be contaminated with asbestos. Talc inhalation can cause respiratory issues and there is concern of its long-term use being potentially carcinogenic (ovarian cancer in particular)

An aromatic hydrocarbon It is a solvent (used to dissolve other substances) and is often used as a paint thinner. It is commonly found in nail polish.

Why is it banned?
Inhalation can cause short term effects such as headaches, fatigue, and decrease manual dexterity. Studies have shown that long term exposure to toulene is also associated with developmental, reproductive, and organ system toxicity.

An antimicrobial agent that is used to preserve personal cleansing products.

Why is it banned?
There is insufficient evidence that tricolocarban is effective as an active ingredient. Emerging evidence suggests that tricolocarban may have a link to hormone disruption.

Used as an antimicrobial agent in soaps, deodorants, and cosmetics. However, bacteria such as E-coli and salmonella have shown to be resistant to Triclosan, rendering it potentially ineffective as an antimicrobial agent.

Why is it banned?
Triclosan is a hormone disruptor and alarmingly has been detected in the breast milk of over 97% of women. Triclosan also has the ability to accumulate in fatty tissues, raising other health and environmental concerns.

U

Synthetic fragrances are a mixture of chemicals used to replicate a naturally occurring scent.

Why is it banned?
According to the National Academy of Science, synthetic fragrances can be made up of 95% petroleum-derived chemicals, and can include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. The FDA does not mandate undisclosed fragrances to be specifically listed on ingredient labels - instead, the word "fragrance" appears as an umbrella term for the synthetic fragrance mixture.

 



(Sources: PubChemEWG Skin Deep, Paula's Choice, The Derm Review, FDA, Byrdie)