Sunday, August 10, 2008

Phthalate-and Paraben-free Cosmetics List

The skin is a highly absorptive organ. We want to preserve our skin, but not, of course, with carcinogenic preservatives. Alas, paraben preservatives (methyl-, butyl-, and so forth), which provoke the growth of breast cancer cells in lab studies, are still common in cosmetics. So are phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to obesity in men and genital abnormalities in infant boys. Although they’re widely used in synthetic fragrances, you won’t see “phthalates” on any cosmetic label, because fragrance components are protected as trade secrets.

To further complicate the search for nontoxic personal care, few companies list their ingredients on websites, forcing the concerned consumer to stand on tired feet in store aisles reading labels, while balancing bags and trying not to block other shoppers. So Greener Penny has done that research for you.

Following is a list of companies that make paraben- and phthalate-free lip balms, and lotions and creams for face, hands and body. Their sunblocks, if any, use only the natural minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients, containing no synthetic, suspected hormone disrupting chemicals such as benzophenone-3, which is found in 97% of Americans’ bodies, as reported by Environmental Health Perspectives.

CO means that the product contains certified organic plant ingredients. USDA certified organic means that the whole product is certified organic, containing at minimum 95% CO ingredients. BDIH is an EU seal barring all petroleum-based ingredients. The new Natural Products Association (NPA) seal strictly limits chemical processing and additives.
GreenerPenny’s Best Nontoxic Skin Care Products List

Aubrey Organics CO

Burts Bees NPA Note: While Burt's persists in listing “fragrance,” usually a tell-tale giveaway of phthalates, company reps have repeatedly assured us that their fragrances are phthalate-free. We believe Burt's; the company is a co-founder of the new Natural Products Association seal, which specifies no parabens or phthalates, and signatory of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, which pledges to not to use toxins in products.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic and Sundog USDA certified organic

Dr. Hauschka , BDIH.

Dropwise, CO

Hawaiian Body Products

Healing Anthropology

Jason Natural Organics and Earth’s Best Organic Sunblock

Juice Organics, 70% CO

Karen’s Botanicals

Kathy’s Family

(lotion comes in stroke-on bars)

Kimberly Sayer


MoonValley (lotion comes in bars)

Origins Organics ; some, but not all, of its skin care line is USDA certified organic, but most products have at least 87% CO.

Pangea Organics, CO

Planet Botanicals, CO Purity Cosmetics

Sensibility Soaps’ Nourish Organic Body Lotions USDA certified organic

Suki ,, CO, fair trade

Terressentials ,
CO, and body lotions come in flower essences or fragrance free

Weleda NPA and BDIH certified

Specific Products

We also like the following unique products that are free of the worst chemicals, although other lines by the companies may contain ingredients of concern such as parabens, phthalates, cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium cocoyl sarcosate.

Avalon Organics Botanicals: Therapeutic Hand & Body Lotion with Ylang Ylang, and vitamin C and lavender face creams

Ecco Bella facial moisturizer, 70% CO; but caution, at least one of their Ecco Bella body lotions contain parabens

Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic Lime Chamomile Tighten Up Moisturizer , CO

Origins says that it has reformulated all its products to be free of parabens, and that old ones on shelves will be replaced with reformulated products as they’re sold. Origins Hydrating Body Lotion, has 87% CO, and the Organic Consumers Association test, below, found it had no detectable residue of 1, 4 dioxane.

Physicians Formula tinted moisturizer and foundation, SPF 15

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Body Lotion

Tip: Moisturizing oils are generally simpler and purer than thicker butters and potions. On the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep database, , oils often get a greener rating than creams by the same maker.

Other Toxic Ingredients

For the lists above, we also screened for other problematic ingredients. These include ethoxylated chemicals (including PEG, propylene glycol; phenoyxethanol, ethylene oxide, and sodium laureth sulfate), made by a process that can produce carcinogenic 1,4, dioxane as a byproduct. A recent study by Organic Consumers Association found 1.4 dioxane residues in many products with organic and natural on their labels. In addition, while originally based on coconut oil, cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium cocoyl sarcosate are processed in ways that may release carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Least-toxic, natural alternatives to synthetic preservatives include Grapeseed oil and grapefruit seed oil , which raise no health concerns, according to EWG’s Skin Deep database; however, grapefruit seed extract , used in skin toners and astringents, can sometimes be contaminated with parabens, triclosan (an antibacterial that contributes to the growth of resistant bacteria) and benzethonium chloride, another iffy preservative, according to EWG. See also the helpful glossary of ingredients published by Terressentials.

Questions? Just ask Mindy on our home page. For more green living and product tips, subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter at, tweet with us at and search for on Facebook. Thanks!


Laura Paskus said...

Thank you so much for this list!

Marcia said...

Hair color is also a dangerous beauty product. It often contains coal tar dyes shown to cause cancer in lab animals, p-phenylenediamine, a petrochemical responsible for allergic skin reactions and long-term eczema, as well as ammonia, which is dangerous when inhaled. For more information see:

Anonymous said...

Another 100% natural, organic and sustainable line is L'uvalla Certified Organic Check them out on the skin deep website all the products rate either a 1 or a 2 on a scale of 1-10.

Plus the products smell amazing!

Penny said...

Penny Lane Baby's Baby Lotion and Baby Body Wash are handmade and free of chemicals with the exception of the paraben free preservative added for the safety of our customers.
Thanks so much!
Blessings to All!

nhgardengirl said...

It's important that we educate mothers especially of the dangers lurking in "name brand" products. One of my favorite sources for paraben free, certified vegan skin care (including baby care) is:

They're located in a really cute shop in Amherst, New Hampshire, but you can purchase online too. Their quality is exceptional.

Valerie said...

Another company specializing in face care products which are 100% paraben free and has been recognized by the Breast Cancer Action Group because of this, is Val's Body Essentials. Their products can be found on line at

Anonymous said...

your site is socially irresponsible. the author on why parabens are allegedly dangerous has said his report was misquoted. U R basically marketing by fear -whic makes U worse than LOREAL.


Anonymous said...
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Patricia said...

There are also natural fragrances at this eBay store. They are made with only 100% pure essential oils and organic grain alcohol. That's all.

Bratt said...
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Anonymous said...
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Cynthia said...

Can someone recommend a safe moisturizer with a high SPF that doesn't leave that white Casper the ghost shadow?


GreenFemme said...

Absolutely! I've been using Physicians Formula Organic Wear tinted moisturizer with spf 15. It uses only titanium dioxide, but blends well with my dark skin. It also comes in a lighter skin shade. And it's only $11 or so at the pharmacy. I've been meaning to add this great new product to my list, thanks for the reminder.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the tip, but I was hoping to find something around 30 spf. I've tried Juice organics but it's so heavy white. Same with Lavera.

GreenFemme said...

There've been studies showing that spf figures are very iffy at best, and that one should try a minimum 15, that higher #s don't necessarily protect any better b.c. this is so poorly regulated. Try the PF, if you want this for day not water use, it should be fine; and I will research this further and get back to you.
You are just the kind of investigative reader I need, by the way. Plse go to the main page of this blog,, and subscribe to my free monthly e-newsletter!

Cynthia said...


I'll give the PF a try since it's just for day wear (though I live in California). By the way, I am a free lance journalist and have done a lot of research on chemicals and the cosmetic industry so feel free to call on me if you need anything. I'm signing up for your newsletter today, I think your site is so informative!

Thanks again,


GreenFemme said...


My pleasure. btw, I live in Hawaii! I know from heavy UV rays.

Thrilled to learn you're a journalist! Plse email me at and we'll talk more.

thanks so much, and do let me know what you think of the PF.


Axelgrease said...

Wow, thank you for the phthalate "hello, what have we here" for the next time I go shopping for cosmetics at the 99cent store (for I admit that I do sometimes). Then I head to CVS when I can't find anything without sodium laurel sulfate and other scary things to strip the natural out of my "natural."
Hey, there are just one or two men's deodorant sticks without aluminum, now that can't be good. The only ones are just perfumey to do that kind of cover-up. Does Tom's stuff fit in ok? I noticed that they sometimes have SLS in their toothpaste, but not all versions. It foams, I guess, a habit we Americans adopted. As a kid I was a big proponent of not using regular toothpaste, just that old-fashioned stuff called "tooth-powder" that my Grampa recommended to me. He had a little metal container of it by his toothbrush instead of that big squishy, roll-up lead tube of Golgate. At least for a while, Grampa kept me away from the seductive popularity of "you'll wonder where the yellow went..etc., blah, blah, blah" and all those ADA dentists endorsing you-know-what-which-other-F-word-one-is-not-to-speak in mixed company!

Aesthetic Association of said...

Another great product line that is paraben FREE is Image Skincare. Check out

Jae said...

"Yes To" is a great product line too! They are animal test free, and phthalate and paraben free as well. Sold at Target at a reasonable price.

GreenFemme said...

Hi Jae,
You're quite right about "Yes to Carrots." One of my favorite product lines nowadays! Thanks for reminding me to add them. They are listed as a good cosmetics company in my book, Do One Green Thing. Check it out on the home page at

realjoycreations12 said...

Hello, I would like to add a wonderful new company to your list of paraben and phthalate free skin care products:
Rose Lane Naturals Skin care, Body care, Cosmetics.

No: Parabens, Phthalates, Petroleum, Cocomidropropyl Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosate, or Sulfates.

Rose Lane Naturals offers full disclosure of all ingredients in all our products.

Ingredients are listed with each product description on our website, our catalogs, and product labels.

Quality, natural, non-toxic skin care that is affordably priced.

Visit us on the web:

Archele said...

If you want to check out other natural companies that are Phthalate- and Paraben-free, check out for soaps, body washes & lotions. Also, check out www. for Phthalate- & Paraben-free facial products.

Joanne said...

I am looking for a great airbrush tanning product that is safe to breath and apply all over the body. Thanks for your help.

GreenFemme said...

Self-tanners are a great way to get some color without skin-damaging UV sunrays. I seldome have to use them, so I’m not an expert in their performance, but when feeling especially pale and washed-out at the end of one long winter I tried Lavera’s self-tanner and loved it. No orange tint, no “Lose It” topmost chemicals to avoid, and no rubbing off on clothes.
When in need of a quick dose of color, I recommend Dr. Hauschka’s bronzer.
Also search at EWG’s Skin Deep database. This Coastal Classic Creations self-tanner is rated a top low risk and next time I need a tan enhancer, I’ll give it a try.
Happy Summer! And don't forget to check out my sunblock picks, at

Wendy Matthews said...


It is so wonderful to see more and more Paraben and PEG free products on the market. I used to buy one that satisfied my wellness requirements, but at the end of the day it didnt really do anything wonderful for my skin

I've recently started using and being a distributor for the BioCe line of anti-aging skin care. It is beautiful, goes on the skin like silk and produces amazing results in wrinkle reduction and skin toning. It is one of very few skin care lines on the market with patented peptides !

Simon said...

Great article, I know another organic and paraben free range too. Henora Natural never use parabens, phthalates or sls in any of their skin care products. They are at

RemyC said...

You'll find a few more green beauty products listed on this website:

Brandy said...

does anyone know if Bare Minerals/ Bare Escentuals is paraben free or organic? I am new to this and trying to learn....Thanks in advance!

Agape & Zoe Naturals said...

I don't think bare minerals are, but Signature Minerals is. Check out the Skin deep website to see all the ratings of make-up. Signature Minerals and Coastal Classic Creations are excellent products. I have tried both their concealer and finishing powders. Let me know if you'd like any more info on these.


GreenFemme said...

Good question! Bare Minerals by Bare Escentuals is paraben-free, but they don't readily list their full ingredients, which is a lack of transparency shoppers shouldn't have to cope with. Nor are they as yet listed on the Skin Deep

I'd love to hear from you if you've tried it, how do you rate Bare Minerals' performance? Thanks!


marcia said...

Could somebody recommend natural hair products for ethnic hair?

GreenFemme said...

Have you tried John Masters Organics? They're not straightening products but they condition and relax curls and I love them for defrizzing. dry hair nourishment and defrizzer pomade smoothes, shines, says it protects fr heat if using straightening iron

Agape & Zoe Naturals said...

Agape & Zoe Naturals ( has a hair de-frizz serum for $10.00

See here for review...

GreenFemme said...

Thanks for product tips! btw, I've vetted ingredients, and have been happily using for almost 2 mo., Bare Minerals by Bare Escentuals. De-shines and minimizes pores w/o clogging!

GreenFemme said...

For those of you who've asked about Mineral Fusion, it looks okay to me.

PJR said...

Do you know of a make-it-yourself shampoo base? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Khusboo magazine is a Surat based women fashion magazine website which provides information about women fashion. In that series, you can find 10 tips for natural skin care of women. In this you can find the 10 tips of natural skin care very useful.

GreenFemme said...

Please see my blog on d.i.y. shampoo at this link

Thanks, and I like your blog btw!

Haole88 said...

:) You list products like Ola Hawaiian - which has body washes containing "Phenoxyethanol" - knowing to cause vomiting, diarrhea and major skin irritations.

::sigh:: Tough trying to find truly "natural" products. Not necessarily "Organic" - which has been a bit overhyped at this point - but just truly "natural" would be a big step!!

(People quickly google "Phenoxyethanol" and see it is an 'organic compound' - that doesn't mean ANYTHING like the 'organic' we are discussing here!) :)

Agape and Zoe Naturals said...


When I switched to all-natural chemical-free brands, you do find a lot of chemicals and harmful ingredients when you look them up, even though they claim to be natural and organic.

This is the reason I make my own products. It started with perfume and has branched out to deodorants, hair de-frizz serum, and other items.

I guarantee the ingredients are nothing but those you can pronounce and those you could literally eat!


Anna Bradley said...

One of my favorite companies is Pacifica.

MLA said...

theBalm cosmetics, most are Paraben free. I like their mascaras.

MLA said...

Most of theBalm cosmetics are Paraben-Free. Their Cheater Mascara is sulfate, paraben, and phthalate free.

Alana Mitchell - skincare tips said...

Hey GreenFemme!!! thankyou for providing such a great detail on beauty and skincare tips.

Jana Miller said...

What about Trader Joes products-they look pretty good.
xo jana

Andrea Gough said...

Pacifica also makes an incredible line of lovely smelling lotions that are free of pthalates and parabens. Their soy candles smell amazing too!

GreenFemme said...

Trader Joe's carries some nice personal care products with natural ingredients, but to make sure they're not mixed in with synthetic toxic ingredients, read the labels. Avoid these 10 most dangerous cosmetic ingredients:

Alma Mott said...

I've heard the St. Ives product are free from these two dangerous ingredient. what is takes for ageexperts website

EHP said...

Hi GreenFemme,

The link to the EHP article on BP-3 in the third paragraph is outdated. That paper is available at

Feel free to delete this comment off the post; I mainly just wanted to communicate directly with you.

Susan Booker
News Editor, EHP

GreenFemme said...

Thank you, Susan!
The link has been updated.
Great to hear from EHP, keep up the great work.

Masuma Akter said...

Spring is finally here, so at last you can throw open your windows and replace your home's musty winter air
with fresh.Ethyl alcohol, found in vodka and other spirits, is a main ingredient in most commercial air fresheners.

natural air freshener
organic air freshener
organic perfume

Ekhard said...

Kelphead ...

Sd Modaino said...

Having suffered the effects of too many leeched VOC's and toxic molds, bacterium and others, I have followed you advice in clearing out the danger in our new NYC flat. We use some of the cleansers and p.pdroucts suggested by you and for eating surfaces tea pots and coffee devices etc. we use one part distilled white vinegar to one part distilled water in a safe spray container. Mrs. complain that it smells like a salad but, she likes salad and being well! You are doing important work so please, keep up the Green Work!

GreenFemme said...

Thank you for trying out some of my suggestions and for the feedback! Best of green living to you and Mrs. Modaino in your new apartment. NYC is where GreenerPenny came into being...