Instead of using cosmetics with an ingredients list that you can’t read and don’t understand, it’s time to get educated. There are a number of ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer, expedite tumor growth, and have all around adverse health effects. Rather than continuing to use your cosmetics without understanding what they’re doing, the David Suzuki Foundation has created a survey of chemicals.

The worst chemicals in cosmetics are known as the “Dirty Dozen” and are often the most prevalent. To take control of your health and your future, we’ve put together a packet of information that helps explain what each of the chemicals is and what it does. This data has been backed by scientific research and shows both the health and environmental hazards from using these ingredients. If you’d like to know more about the details of each ingredient, please download the attachment.

1. BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are used as a preservative in cosmetics and food and have been known to induce allergic reactions. BHA is classified as a possible human carcinogen and in studies, BHT has been shown to act as a tumor promoter.

2. Coal Tar Dyes

These chemicals are derived from petroleum and are recognized as a human carcinogen with the potential to cause cancer. They include a range of dyes that are present in both cosmetics and food sources, but are most prevalent amongst hair dye.

3. DEA, Cocamide DEA, and Lauramide DEA

DEA-related ingredients are often used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy and are most commonly found in soaps, cleansers, and shampoos. Exposure to high doses of DEA-related ingredients can cause skin irritation, liver cancers, and precancerous changes in your skin and thyroid.

4. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

This chemical is most frequently used in nail polishes and nail products to strengthen the polish and mix colors. DBP is easily absorbed through the skin and has a number of adverse effects on hormone functions.

5. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Over time, these preservatives slowly and continuously release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen. Immediate reactions include irritated skin and eyes or allergic responses.

6. Parabens

Roughly 75% – 90% of cosmetics contain parabens. They are suspected of interfering with your body’s natural hormone function. When parabens react with UVB, skin aging and DNA damage is expedited.

7. Parfum

Parfum, commonly known as fragrance, contains a group of over 3,000 chemicals used to add pleasurable scents to perfumes, colognes, deodorants, and nearly every type of personal care product—even “unscented” ones. They cause a myriad of health problems, including allergies, migraines, asthma, neurotoxicity, and even potential cancers.

8. PEGs

These chemicals are used for a number of different purposes in cosmetics and contain elements that take a very long time to degrade. PEGs are recognized as a possible human carcinogen and show signs of genotoxicity.

9. Petrolatum

Petrolatum, also known as mineral oil jelly, is used in many products to lock moisture in the skin. Over time with extended use, petrolatum has been shown to be associated with a number of cancers.

10. Siloxanes

Siloxanes represent a number of different silicone-based compounds used to soften, smooth, and moisten cosmetics. Certain compounds have been shown to interfere with basic hormone function and a toxicant that may impair fertility, lower the immune system, and influence the nervous system.

11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate

This chemical is primarily used as a cleansing agent in a number of cosmetics and to make different products bubble or foam. It’s harmful to the environment due to a slow degradation period, and is a possible human carcinogen.

12. Triclosan

Triclosan is commonly used as an antibacterial agent and preservative. It’s found in nearly all household products and cosmetics and is suspected to interfere with hormone functioning.

This is a summary of the “Dirty Dozen” ingredients investigated in the David Suzuki Foundation Survey of Chemicals in Cosmetics in October 2010. Click here to download the complete survey.