Chemicals to avoid in Self-Care and Home-Care Products

Chemicals to avoid in Self-Care and Home-Care Products

Do you sometimes forget which chemicals to watch out for when buying shampoos or toothpaste? I had a ‘vanity moment’ the other day wondering how to whiten my teeth without all those hideous chemicals found in whiteners and toothpastes etc. Clearly we’ve been spending too much time in the US  (you all have gorgeous white teeth and I won’t ask how??) and I decided to see what products were available and remind myself which chemicals I need to be mindful of.

Anyway, I stumbled across some great ideas on natural cleaning etc and a few hilarious recipes that I thought I’d share. I for one, will never look at strawberries or my teeth the same way again!! I also think I’ll stick with my 100% organic deodorant but please someone let me know if the baking soda works???

The following ingredients either have established potential health risks or have not undergone safety testing:

Personal Care Products


Look for brands free of: SLS, laureth sulfate, ?uoride, polysorbate 80, arti?cial colours disguised as coal tar (FD, FDC or FD & C colour), arachidonic acid, azulene, saccharin, the colouring CI 42090, triclosan antibacterial agent (when combined with chlorine in tap water can potentially produce chloroform gas), tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial colouring FD & C Blue 1 linked to cancer. Also avoid tooth whiteners and brighteners in general.

Alternative Tooth whitener (use max 1 x per week)= crush one ripe strawberry and mix with 1/2 tspn baking soda. Spread mixture on teeth and leave five mins. Brush teeth with small amount of non-fluride toothpaste and rinse. The malic acid works as an astringent to remove surface discolouration.

Hair colour

Look for brands free of: Phenylenediamine, DEA, diethanolamine, coal tar dyes (4-chloro-m-phenylenediamine, 2,4-toluenediamine, 2-nitro-p-phenylenediamine and 4-amino-2-nitrophenol), tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline, formaldehyde, DMDM Hydantoin, Eugenol. Note also that black, red and brown hair dyes are highly carcinogenic.

Alternatives : Look for natural brands of hair dye that use henna, herbal dyes and vegetable dyes as primary ingredients.


Look for products free of: Propylene glycol, aluminium, preservative BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Select roll-on or pump spray varieties rather than aerosols containing propellants (butane, isobutane and propane).

Alternative : Sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth and apply it to underarms

Skin and Beauty Care (including creams, nail polishes and hardeners, soaps, cleansers, lipsticks and other cosmetics)

Look for brands free of: SLS, aluminium, talc, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA—promoted as an anti-wrinkle agent), propylene glycol, acetamide (MEA), benzene, formaldehyde, imidazolidnyl and parabens (ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben), arachidonic acid, azulene, glyceryl dilaurate, triethanolamine, polyacrylamide, artificial colours CI 16035, CI 19140, PTFE (Teflon), BHT and disodium EDTA, methylpentan-2-one, polyethylene glycol (PEG), Acrylamide, Dioxane .

Alternatives : Homemade facials can be made using honey, oatmeal, bananas. Natural moisturisers include pure emu oil and pure coconut oil.

Shampoos and Conditioners & Hair Care Products

Look for products free of : Sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS (makes products foam and create suds), propylene glycol, arti?cial fragrance (most contain phthalates, EDCs or Toluene), alkylphenol ethoxylates, ammonium laureth sulfate, laureth sulfate, arti?cial colours disguised as coal tar (FD, FDC or FD & C colour), sodium oleth sulfate, sodium (PCA/NAPCA), parabens (methyl-, propyl-, ethyl- and butyl), cocamide MEA (which can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxan).

Alternatives : There are many varied brands available, just be sure they are 100% organic (or close too 100%). Be wary of brands that claim to be organic but upon examination merely contain organic essential oils and still use the above nasty chemicals.

The EWG have the “Skin Deep” report ( where you can type in the brand name of your deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc. The site will tell you how many ingredients the products collectively contain (the average adult load is 126 unique chemicals), and rate the aggregate health threat those ingredients may pose on your health.

Laundry and Household Cleaning Products

Look for brands free of: formaldehyde, phosphates, chlorine, chloroform, tri-ethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) 23, Monoethanolamine (a chemical known to be an inducer of occupational asthma found in many common laundry detergents), Petroleum distillates, Phenols, Artificial fragrances, Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)

Alternatives :

Detergent= Baking soda or washing soda can reduce the amount of laundry detergent needed to clean a laundry load. They also increase a detergent’s efficiency by softening the wash water. As a general rule, add baking soda to liquid detergent at the start of the wash. For detergents in powdered form, add baking soda during the rinse cycle. You can also purchase an eco-friendly detergent produced with biodegradable, nonpetroleum-based chemicals.

Bleach= Use hydrogen peroxide or a nonchlorine bleach in the wash. You can also soak clothing overnight in a wash instead of chlorine bleach. Another whitening option involves soaking clothes overnight in a liquid combination of one part hydrogen peroxide to eight parts cold water, and then wash as normal.

Rinse cycle= Place white vinegar during the wash rinse cycle. This will help remove detergent completely from clothes, but not leave clothes with a vinegar odor.

Fabric softener alternative= Adding baking soda to the rinse cycle can provide an alternative to using a commercial fabric softener. If you decide to go with a fabric softener from the store, select unscented sheets rather than liquid form, or check out a commercial green softener.

Disinfectant/Sanitiser= Vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide

Window cleaner= White vinegar combined with water

Air Fresheners= Therapeutic Essential Oils


Additional useful information :
How Toxic is Your Bathroom?
The Ugly Face of Our Cosmetics
Marketplace: A Clean House or a Clean Bill of Health
Eco-friendly Options for the Laundry
Three Green Beauty Alternatives
Can Hair Dyes Give You Cancer?


1 thought on “Chemicals to avoid in Self-Care and Home-Care Products”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top