How to check ingredients in cosmetics?

At Attitude Organic, we know it can be difficult to check ingredients in cosmetics. At the very beginning, it seems like a proper challenge and is time consuming. To help you to get the knowledge, we provide in this article a simple method to understand how it works and a quick list of the skin care ingredients to avoid.

The order is important when you check ingredients in cosmetics

They are listed from the biggest quantity to the smallest. Thus if you cannot pronounce the name of the first ingredient, it is a bad sign. Indeed do not go for a product with chemicals at the top of the list.

On the other hand, having a safe and clean ingredient at the end does not mean it makes the beauty product bad. Remember that some ingredients do not need a lot to be effective.

To keep in mind if you check ingredients in cosmetics

Some ingredients can be disguised as others, be aware of a few marketing tricks. For example, some brands rename preservatives as fragrances and claim to be preservative free. Some others pretend to be Alcohol free, meaning ethyl alcohol free, but contains other types of alcohol that can be irritating and harmful. To learn more about green washing and the marketing tricks, you can refer to our article about natural, organic and bio cosmetics.

Skin care ingredients to avoid

Synthetic fragrances/fragrance/parfum

They tend to be allergens.


They can cause hormone disruption, DNA damages and even cancer. So avoid anything ending in paraben (methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben)


Even though some are good for you such as vitamin A, vitamin E, retinol, tocopherol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and propylene glycol, some others can dry out your kin: SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol.


It causes skin irritation and some doctors have linked it to cancer. You should also avoid, ingredients that release formaldehyde, such as  DD hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarterium-15.


Often present in your face wash they act as detergents. They are too strong and lead to dehydration. Avoid anything ending in sulfate: ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium lauryl sulfate.


They have been linked to cancer and fertility issues. You should also avoid: DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP, dibutyl/diethyl ester, and 2-benzenedicarboxylate.

Synthetic colors

They can be carcinogen and irritates your skin. So avoid FD&C or D&C.

Triclosan and  triclocarban

They are endocrine disruptor and irritant.


It affects your respiratory system, irritates the skin and can cause nausea.  Also called benzene, toluol, phenylmethane and methylbenzene, you should avoid it.


Those small plastic beads are often used in exfoliating washes and are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, that are thought to be carcinogen. They are also skin irritant and polluant for the environment. Indeed, the plastic beads are not filtered ad are consumed by fishes.


It is found in most sunscreens and act like estrogen. It can alter sperm production and is associated with endometriosis.

Petroleum/paraffin/mineral oil

In many cosmetics, it remains on your face ad does not allow your skin to breath.

Difficult right? Do not worry you will get used to it soon 🙂

If you want to make it even easier, you could use mobile application such as Think Dirty App! If, in the opposite, you want to learn more, you ca refer to the fill FDA regulation!