Dangerous chemicals in your drugstore products and the safe alternatives

Dangerous Chemicals in Your Drugstore Products and the Safe Alternatives
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Dangerous chemicals in your drugstore products and the safe alternatives

There are two places to find ingredients on a cosmetic package: under active ingredients and inactive ingredients. Active ingredients can interact actively with other ingredients, which may cause unwanted reactions. Inactive ingredients are ingredients that will not react with other ingredients. They are commonly safer to use.

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You can find triclosan in the list of active ingredients, which is found at the top of the label.

Photo Credit: FDA

Retinyl palmitate is an inactive ingredient in some daytime moisturizers. 

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com

If you are looking for a triclosan-free deodorant try Old Spice Pure Sport. But be careful: Old Spice Classic uses triclosan in their product!

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com

When you're scrubbing dishes, it's important to have gentle dishwasher soap that won't irritate or damage your skin which is why Dawn dishwasher soap is perfect and triclosan-free. While some of it's competitors still use the chemical triclosan, Dawn is gentle enough to use on animals and gentle enough to use on yourself!

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com

After scouring the drugstore, we found that some of our favorite handsoaps were using triclosan. We did find a few products using alternatives including Method Handsoap, which uses cocamidopropyl betaine, which is derived from the coconut and is less irritating to the skin.

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com

While some older brands of toothpaste still use triclosan, most toothpastes including Sensodyne have switched to using more natural products including sodium phosphate which acts as a cleansing unit.

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com

All-natural products are sometimes hard to find (and their labels can be misleading). The FDA regulates that only 10% of ingredients need to be natural in order for a company to call its product "natural." Simple's daytime moisturizer only uses all-natural products, making this face cream safer than others like it.

Photo Credit: Drugstore.com


Have you ever tried reading the label on the back of your hand soap? The list of ingredients read like a science experiment: triglycerides, quaternary compounds, tricloxan, triclosan, and triclocarbon (to name a few). What you may not realize is that the government does very little to regulate what ingredients go into your cosmetics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to test cosmetic products for safety, according to the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. This means all those ingredients that sound like they should be in a laboratory, not in your soap, have not been tested!

One of the most common and dangerous ingredients is triclosan, which is found in antibacterial products. Triclosan can be found in toothpaste, face wash, deodorant, and several other beauty products. According to the EWG, triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and low levels may disrupt thyroid function. ABC News reported that "when tested on mice, the mice showed up to a 25 percent reduction in heart function measured within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical, as well as an 18 percent reduction in grip strength."

Triclosan isn't the only harmful ingredient worth paying attention to. There are several other chemicals in shampoos, polishes, toothpastes and even lipsticks that can have severe side effects. These ingredients are:

  1. ​Retinyl Palmitate or retinol -- found in daytime skin products & lipstick (retinol is not to be confused with retinAl which in fact is recommended for skin)
  2. PEG, ceteareth and polyethylene - found in shampoos
  3. Toluene - found in nail products

The good news is, with public awareness and pressure, many companies have started to remove triclosan and other harmful chemicals from their products. Many have started adding more natural alternatives to these ingredients to create the same affects without the potential risks. These alternatives include: tea-tree oil, which when applied topically has antibacterial qualities, neem, which is produced by vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds, and essential oils, many of which have ave antiseptic properties.

Click through the gallery above to see where to find these chemicals on a label and some of our favorite products that don't contain these harmful ingredients.

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