The Never List
At Beautycounter, we've committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what is legally required in the United States. Our Never List is made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that we never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern.
While all of our ingredients are sourced with a higher standard of safety and quality in mind, it is well recognized — and accepted by regulatory authorities around the world — that incidental, trace levels of a chemical may inadvertently be introduced in a cosmetic product due to the complexities of the supply chain and manufacturing process. At Beautycounter, we work incredibly hard to minimize — but unfortunately, can’t eliminate — the potential that a product may contain trace levels of a chemical from our Never List.
Check out this shortened, pocket-size version of our Never List that you can use for easy reference.
Benzalkonium chloride: a disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers.
BHA and BHT: synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients: a byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found in: hair dye, shampoo.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): a chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color, moisturizers.
Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA): surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint, pharmaceuticals.
Formaldehyde: used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Hydroquinone: a skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams.
Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: chemical preservatives that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies. Found in: shampoo, conditioner, body wash.
Oxybenzone: sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Found in: sunscreen, moisturizer.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.
Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds): PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. Found in: creams, sunscreen, shampoo.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES): SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Synthetic flavor or fragrance: an engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.
Toluene: a volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. Found in: nail polish.
Triclosan and Triclocarban: antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in: liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste.
Beautycounter will never test our finished products on animals, nor do we ask others to.
Sources include: EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, David Suzuki Foundation