What’s on our Most UN-wanted List?

Our products are all put through what we call the Most UN-wanted list, a detailed and up to date list of synthetic chemicals of questionable safety that are found in many mainstream cosmetic and body care items today. Kaia House maintains this list as a guide to the products we carry, by checking each and every ingredient on each product we research for these chemicals to make sure your skin is in good hands. To see what is on our latest Most UN-wanted list please see below.

1. Petrochemicals

These are chemicals derived from Petroleum and Natural Gas and are used for their foaming and emulsifying qualities in Hair Products, Body Creams and Facial Cleansers. Most common forms are Cocomidopropyl Betaine* or Coco Betaine (derived from coconut oil, these are usually processed using petrochemicals), PVP/VA Copolymer, and Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These petrochemicals can cause eye impairment, intestinal damage, kidney and liver problems, breathing problems, cysts, skin spots, rashes and hair loss.

2. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG/ PPG)

A family of synthetic chemical compounds, PEG can be found in Creams, Skin Conditioners and Face and Body Cleansers. Common forms are PEG-8, PEG-80, Cocoate, Peroleate and PEG 15 Soyamide/IPDI Copolymer. The most troubling aspect of PEG is that the compounds often contain Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the likelihood of leukemia, uterine, breast, and brain cancer, and 1,4-Dioxane, that has been found to increase the incidence of liver, lung and skin tumors.

3. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)

Common forms of PAHs are Benzene, Benz-(a)-Pyrene, DMBA, and 1-Nitropyrene. They are also found in PEG compounds. These chemicals have been known to cause breast cancer since the 1960s.

4. Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazoline

These are preservatives that are known to have mutagenic and cancer causing properties.

5. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

DEA and the closely related TEA are used as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents in most Skin Care and Hair Care products. These ‘amines’ are ammonia compounds that have been known to cause eye and skin irritations, and are strongly linked to cancer when exposed to nitrates. Other forms of DEA and TEA are Lauramide DEA, Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA- Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, and TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.

6. Phthalates (DBP, DMP, DEP)

Found in Perfumes, Hair Spray, and Deodorants, and used as plasticizers and fixatives, most common forms of Phthalates are Dimethylphthalate, Diethylphthalate, and Dibutylphthalate, and are often times undisclosed on mainstream product labels. Phthalates have been found to cause birth defects in male reproductive systems, pre-mature sexual development in girls and increased child asthma rates. Exposure to phthalates has also caused malformations of male reproductive organs and damage to the prostate glands in animal laboratory tests. They have been linked to breast cancer since 1997.

7. Parabens**

These are petroleum-based preservatives that allow plant and food based products to have a longer shelf life. They are found in many consumer products from Facial Products to Cleaning Detergents and Soap. Most common forms of parabens are Methylparaben, Ethylparaben Propylparaben and Butylparaben. An excessive amount of parabens in the body have been found to cause liver problems and have weak estrogen-like effects that may cause breast cancer and reproductive abnormalities in young boys and girls exposed to the chemical either prior to puberty or during the mother’s pregnancy.

8. Formaldehyde

Also used as a preservative, Formaldehyde can irritate the skin, damages the nervous system and cause cancer. 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1, 3-Diol, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, and Quaternium 15 all either contain, may release, or may break down into formaldehyde.

9. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Used as an anti-oxidant preservative, BHA is found in most Foundations and Cosmetic Make-up. It has been known to cause breast cancer tumors to multiply.

10. Artificial Colors and Fragrances

Artificial colors and fragrances found in Lipsticks, Shampoos, and Facial products have been known to cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Many artificial fragrances contain hazardous chemicals including Toluene, Methylene Chloride, and Benzyl Chloride and may cause nausea, depression, anger and memory lapses. Artificial colors such as Red 3 have also been linked to cancer. Amongst children, certain artificial colors have been linked with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.

*All products containing Cocomidopropyl Betaine and Coco Betaine ingredients have been verified with manufacturers as NOT being processed with petrochemicals.

**Due to importing and safety restrictions on a number of cosmetic products, many plant and fruit based cosmetics must use synthetic preservatives such as parabens to ensure a safe shelf life of 30 months, which will protect it from the growth of dangerous bacteria. Kaia House carries a few products with Parabens in them, however, our tolerance is a trace amount of 0.4% of total Paraben ingredient per product (half of the EU regulation of 0.8% and a fraction of the FDA recommendation of 25%), and we label which products have these ingredients clearly. KAIA HOUSE DOES NOT CARRY ANY DEODORANTS OR BODY LOTIONS WITH PARABENS.

Disclaimer: All information listed above is not representative in any way of medical or scientific authority. For more information on the resources used to compile the above list, please refer to our list of Resources below.


Bevan, Sally, Pure Living, (2003)
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Byford, Shaw, Hall, Coldham, Drew, Pope, Sauer, Horton, Darbre (Collective); Oestrogenic Activity of Parabens in MCF7 Human Breast Cancer Cells (2002), Oestrogenic Activity of Isobutylparaben In Vitro and In Vivo (2002) & Oestrogenic Activity of Benzyl-Paraben (2003)
Canadian Press. Shampoo Linked to Decline in Sperm Quality. The Calgary Sun, September 28, 1995:27.
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Dabre, P.D., Underarm Cosmetics & Breast Cancer (2003)
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Kenton, Leslie, Skin Revolution (2003)
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Oishi, S., et al. Effects of Propyl Paraben on the Male Reproductive System. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2002; 40(12):1807-1813.
Routledge, E.J., et al Some Alkyl Hydroxy Benzoate preservatives (Parabens) are Estrogenic. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 1998; 153(1):12-9.
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Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Women’s Environmental Network