Organic cosmetics with toxic substances: how to spot them and avoid them

Organic cosmetics with toxic substances: how to spot them and avoid them
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Nowadays, many brands that sell cosmetics that are labelled “natural” or “100% natural”, even if they are not really that natural. Between natural and organic, we shouldn’t have to make any distinction. However, the boundaries are blurry. A product can be called natural without necessarily being organic, and conversely, a product can be called organic without being 100% natural. Even with organic products, certain ingredients in their cosmetics can be somerwhat toxic, even if it is much less than in the case of non-organic products. However, you can take certain steps to determine the quality of your organic cosmetics. 

The alcohol in natural cosmetics

Like with conventional cosmetics, try to avoid:

  • Alcohols that are irritants : Alcohol, Alcohol denat, Isopropyl Alcohol
  • An alcohol that is a potential irritant : Benzyl Alcohol (Cosgard)

Replace these with oily alcohols: Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lauryl Alcohol, Myristyl Alcohol.

Quaternary ammonium salts

In organic cosmetics, quaternary ammonium salts are forbidden, except for certain labels which allow BTMS (Behentrimonium methosulfate). These are irritants and they are non-biodegradable. This silicone substitute is often present in shampoos and conditioners for its detangling properties. Avoid the following, because they stick fast to your hair and skin and can smother it, just like silicone:

  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Honeyquat (Hydroxypropyltrimonium honey)

Antimicrobial preservatives

As soon as we add water to a cosmetic product, the presence of antimicrobial preservatives are mandatory because they prevent the development of microbes. These preservatives conserve the cosmetics for anything from 3 weeks to 1 to 2 years. In organic products, the most powerful and the most dangerous preservatives are banned. This is why an organic cream can’t be kept for longer than 6 months. Although they are much less toxic, the preservatives contained in certain organic products can also be irritants. Be careful of essential oils, they are not preservatives and they could trigger allergies in sensitive people.

Here are the antimicrobial preservatives to avoid:

  • Sodium benzoate
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Dehydroacetic acid

Tip: in organic products, vitamin E can be used as an active ingredient.

Parabens in natural products

According to one study, there is a high level of parabens in sun screen and shampoo. Methylparaben is a paraben; it accelerates skin ageing and can cause wrinkles and dark spots on the skin. Avoid buying products containing:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparabanen
  • Butylparaben
  • Propyl parahydroxybenzoate
  • Methyl parahydroxybenzoate

Phtalates even in organic cosmetics

Organic products can also contain phtalates, which are disguised under the labels “perfume” or “fragrance“. Generally, it is specified if the perfume is made from essential oils. We can therefore quite easily avoid:

  • Perfume, Fragrance.


Sulfates are surfactants that are banned in organic cosmetics because they are irritating to the skin and they are not biodegradable. Produced by palm oil and coconut oil, sulfates are mass produced and they are very cheap. They are what form the lather in shower gels and shampoos. Here are the sulfate detergents and irritants that are allowed in organic cosmetics:

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Coco Sulfate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate
  • Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate.

You can replace the above with gentler surfactants, such as:

  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Decyl Glucoside
  • Coco Glucoside
  • Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
  • Sodium Cocoamphoacetate
  • Sodium Lauroemphoacetate
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Gcarboxylate & Lauryl Glucoside
  • Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Glutamate.

Source : Galas Blog