How clean is your skincare? - The Dirty Dozen

What do you think of when you think “beauty?” I imagine vanity tables with potion like bottles of creams, pipette droppers for thick serums and shallow for cleansing balms. But beauty is not always pretty, it can be harsh, abrasive yet packaged up to be everything you imagine. When formulating J.O, Jacqueline soon came to know exactly what she didn’t want, and through extensive research she made sure none of J.O products used the “Dirty Dozen”:

BHA and BHT – BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole, not to be confused with beta-hydroxy acids) and BHT are synthetic preservatives found in many skin care products like moisturisers and creamy cosmetic products like lipsticks.

Coal tar dyes: P-Phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five-digit number pigment gives beauty products—from mascara and powdered shadow to hair dye—an inky black hue and is a by-product of burning coal. Although it has been banned in the E.U, the regulations in place in the U.S are not stringent enough to ban its use.

DEA-related ingredients - Diethonolamine is used in a variety of products (such as pH balancers). Not only has it been found to be an irritant to skin, but there is also an environmental concern that is known as “bioaccumulation.”

Dibutyl phthalate (or DBP) - An oily substance used commonly in fragrance products, a plasticiser (an additive that makes a formula more flexible or fluid), and solvent (a chemical that helps dissolve other actives).

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives – A big no! These can be found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, baby shampoo, body soaps and washes. You should be concerned if you find any form in your skin care products.

Parabens - The most widely used preservative in cosmetics and have been shown to build up in the body with regular use across multiple human studies. They are also used as fragrance ingredients, but consumers won’t find that listed on the label. 

Parfum (undisclosed fragrances) – These represent a complex concoction of chemicals, and many consumers will find out the hard way how sensitive they can be to them.

PEG (polyethylene glycols) compounds - Petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. They have been found to dissolve oil and grease, so when applied on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making us more vulnerable to other toxins

Petrolatum – A by product of refining petroleum and used to seal in moisture. But be careful, and check your purchases have been confirmed as “fully refined”.

Siloxanes - Used as softening and smoothing agents, providing a thin film over skin or hair that gives off the appearance of healthy, vibrant strands or complexion. The problem lies with specific silicones (D4 and D5) that are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate.

Sodium laureth sulfate - Sulfates are foaming and cleaning agents in soaps, detergents, and shampoos— suggested to avoid the ingredient class as it is irritating to skin, eyes, and hair—stripping off all your natural oils. This has been shown to be very problematic for sensitive and inflamed skin.

Triclosan - Used mainly in antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitisers as a preservative and an anti-bacterial agent. It is also classified as a chlorophenol, which means a cancer-causing chemical class.

These twelve nasties are exactly what J.O is not, and even if you don’t use J.O products, I hope I have at least shared some insights that are useful to you.



Written by Meera Tank, Editor


Mind Body Green

David Suzuki

Leave a comment