The Clean Swap Box: Unapproved Ingredients



Sulfates ‚Äď SLS + SLES (foaming agent)

Found in: Foaming cleansers, shampoos and body washes


Parabens (preservative)

Found in: A wide variety of cosmetics and personal care products

Formaldehydes (used to protect against bacterial contamination)

Found in: A wide range of cosmetics, nail hardeners, hair products, eyelash glue, toothpaste. 

Phthalates (preservative)

Found in: Nail polish, perfumes, deodorants, hair gels, shampoos, soaps, hair sprays, and body lotions.

Mineral Oil (prevents moisture loss)

Found in: lotions, moisturisers, conditioners, ointments, lip balms, baby products and cosmetics. 

Retinyl Palmitate (skin conditioner, anti-aging ingredient)

Found in: wide range of skincare products and cosmetics

Oxybenzone (ultraviolet light absorber and filter)


Found in: Sunscreens but also can be found in baby products, lip balms toothpaste and oral care.

Coal Tar (treats itching, scaling, and flaking due to skin conditions such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis)

Found in: Anti dandruff shampoos and skin lotions.


Hydroquinone (skin-lightening agent)

 Found in: Skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturisers and serums, hair conditioners.

Triclosan (preservative and anti-bacterial agent.)


Found in: Antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers, body washes and toothpaste



Triclocarban (antimicrobial active ingredient)

Found in: Soaps, deodorants, detergents, cleansing lotions, and wipes

Undisclosed synthetic fragrances*

* Products can be formulated with disclosed synthetic fragrances that meet the following two criteria: (1) the synthetic fragrances do not include any of the ingredients listed in numbers 1 through 12 above and (2) the synthetic fragrances are at a concentration below 1% of the total formula.

Acrylates (acts as an adhesive to apply artificial nails and eyelashes.)

Ethyl acrylate, ethyl methacrylate, methyl methacrylate, butyl methacrylate, hydroxypropyl methacrylate, tetrahydrofurfuryl methacrylate, trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate

Found in: Cosmetic nail preparations and eyelash glues.

Aluminum Salts            (used to dissolve sweat or moisture)

Found in: Cleansing products, skin care products, moisturisers, face powders and deodorants.

Animal Oils/Musks/Fats (used as smoothing agents in place of mineral oils.)

Found in: A wide range of skincare and cosmetics

Benzophenone + Related Compounds (a fragrance enhancer to prevent products such as soaps from losing scents and colors in the presence of UV light.)

Found in: Sunscreen, nail polish, fragrance, lip balm, hair spray and hair dye, body and face cleansers and lotions, soap bars.

Butoxyethanol (dissolves other substances, and decreases the viscosity of liquid hair dyes and colors.)

 Found in: Primarily used in hair and nail products.

Carbon Black (dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics)

 Found in: Eyeliner, mascara, nail polish, eye shadow, brush-on-brow, lipstick, blushers, rouge, makeup, and foundation


Lead/Lead Acetate (colour additive)

 Found in: Can be found in hair dyes and cosmetics

Methyl Cellosolve + Methoxyethanol (a solvent)

 Found in: Liquid soaps, cosmetics, nail polishes

Methylchloroisothiazolinone & Methylisothiazolinone (preservative)

 Found in: Diaper creams, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, moisturizers, sunscreens, shaving cream, feminine hygiene washes, and mascara.

Mercury + Mercury Compounds (Thimerisol) (preservative)

 Found in: Cosmetics, such as makeup removers, eye moisturizers, mascaras and bleaching creams.

Insoluble Plastic Microbeads** (used to exfoliate)

** This prohibited ingredient applies to products that are meant to be rinsed off

Found in: Exfoliating products and toothpaste

Resorcinol (used to remove hard, scaly, or roughened skin, reacts to peroxide to help hair dye bond to the hair.)

Found in: Hair dyes, also in shampoos/hair lotions, peels and in products used to treat acne, eczema and other dermatological issues.

Talc*** (used to absorb oil and moisture)

*** Talc that is free of any asbestos can be used in the formulation provided that Brand conducts testing to ensure that talc is free of any asbestos. Found in: Eyeshadows, face powder but used in a wide range of cosmetics.

Toluene (used in nail products to suspend the color and form a smooth finish across the nail.)

Found in: Top coats of nail polishes and nail polishes

Butylated hydroxyanisole or BHA (synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives)

Found in: Lipsticks and moisturisers, among other cosmetics. 

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) that is 0.1% or more of total formula (helps maintain the properties and performance of a product)

Found in: Lip glosses and lotions and other personal care items

Ethanolamines DEA/TEA/MEA/ETA (emulsifier or foaming agent)

Found in: Foundation, mascara, eye shadow, blush, make-up bases, personal care products (bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps, facial cleaners.)



**** As defined by the European Commission (

Petrolatum and Parrafin (used as a barrier to lock moisture into the skin.)

Found in: A variety of moisturisers and also in hair care products to make your hair shine.

Phenoxyethanol                (A widely used synthetic preservative with global approval, must be 1% or less of total formulation)

Must be 1% or less of total formulation.

Found in: Moisturiser, eye shadow, foundation, sunscreen, conditioner, mascara, eye liner, shampoo, lip gloss, concealer, body wash, hand cream, blush, hair colour, hair spray, lip balm, lotion, nail polish, baby wipes, baby lotions and soaps, soap (liquid and bar), shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste, fragrance, hair removal waxes, hand sanitiser


Polyacrylamide & Acrylamide (used as a stabiliser)

Found in: Foundation, eye shadow, blush, eyeliner, skin cleansers, face and body moisturisers, lotions, creams, self-tanning products, hair care and nail care products. 

Styrene (added to cosmetics for colour.)

Bromostyrene, Deastyrene/acrylates/dvbcopolymer, sodium styrene/divinylbenzene, copolymer, styrene oxide, styrene.                 Found in: Nail polish, sunscreen (SPF greater than 30), sunscreen moisturiser, body wash/cleanser, shampoo and eyeliner.

1,4 Dioxane (used as a stabiliser)

Must comply with the thresholds below in final formulas:
10 or less for products that are meant to be rinsed off, wiped off or removed;

3ppm or less for products that are meant to remain on the skin.          Found in: Products that suds, like shampoos, shower gels, dish soaps, and laundry detergents, has also been found in toothpastes, mouthwashes, deodorant, and hair dyes.