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The top 10 most dangerous cosmetic ingredients

BearFoot says…If you are truly looking for 100% organic, no chemicals! beauty products you could actually eat…….Terressentials. You’re kidding yourself if you think these products are organic and free of chemicals. I’m not saying not to use them, just do your research. Rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, they’re chemicals.

The Beauty Brains respond:

That’s an interesting rule of thumb, BearFoot.  So the harder it is to pronounce the more likely it is to be a dangerous synthetic chemical instead of a safe natural ingredient? Okay, then by that logic, here are the top ten most dangerous chemicals used in cosmetics.

Top 10 most dangerous cosmetic ingredients

  1. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid
  2. Erythrulose (aka 1,3,4-Trihydroxy-butan-2-one Erythrulose)
  3. Undecylenoyl phenylalanine
  4. Ergothioneine
  5. Galactoarabinan
  6. Lactoperoxidase
  7. Asiaticoside
  8. Phosphatidylcholine
  9. Fluorphlogopite
  10. Scleroglucan Schizophyllan

Oh, I’ve included some details on the source and function of these chemicals just on the off chance that such information might be relevant.

1. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid

A potent antioxidant compound found in the creosote bush.

2. Erythrulose (aka 1,3,4-Trihydroxy-butan-2-one Erythrulose)

A clear to pale-yellowish liquid which naturally occurs in red raspberries.

3. Undecylenoyl phenylalanine

Made of natural amino acids for skin whitening.

4. Ergothioneine

Naturally occurring amino acid made in Actinobacteria and filamentous fungi.

5. Galactoarabinan

Polysaccharide extracted from the western larch tree.

6. Lactoperoxidase

An enzyme secreted from mammary, salivary, and other mucosal glands that functions as a natural antibacterial agent. Also derived from milk.

7. Asiaticoside

The main soap-like constituent of C. asiatica, a plant used in Ayurvedic medicine.

8. Phosphatidylcholine

A major component of biological membranes which can be derived from egg yolks or soybeans.

9. Fluorphlogopite

Naturally occurring mineral, a type of mica.

10. Scleroglucan Schizophyllan

Another polysaccharide, this one comes from the fungus Schizophyllum commune.

Hmm, if I didn’t know better I’d almost think that you can’t tell the natural origin of an ingredient just based on the pronounceability of the name.

What do YOU think? Do you think the pronounceability of an ingredient is an indicator of its safety? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mokhe May 21, 2014, 9:44 am

    So the less educated you are, the more things are chemicals? This is just ignorance and I’m so sick and tired of hearing this. Why is the inability to pronounce or understand a virtue? It would be laughable if it wasn’t to widespread. We don’t live in the middle ages, there is no reason to fear something because you don’t understand it. Look it up, learn.

  • Eileen May 21, 2014, 10:26 am

    The only thing “unable to pronounce” means is that you are ignorant. That’s not necessarily bad as we are all lacking in knowledge when it comes to one thing or another. But a wise person will seek to remedy their ignorance by acquiring knowledge whereas a stupid person will create a baseless justification for their inability to do or comprehend something. Believing that “unable to pronounce” means something is unsafe falls into the stupid category 🙁

    I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but our ignorance is something we can easily remedy, or at the very least, we can fess up to it and accept our limitation without falling back on inane fallacies like the “unable to pronounce” hoary old chestnut.

    • Christina May 21, 2014, 10:52 am

      The fear of what we don’t know is something as a human race that holds us back from experiencing all that the world has for us.

      Hopefully the breakdown provided in this post will enlighten consumers that if there is an ingredient they don’t understand to research it before boycotting it simply out of fear and lack of knowledge.

      Sometimes the most complex words and things are the most simple and beneficial once you look deeper.

  • Jacqui Faucitt May 23, 2014, 3:49 am

    Regarding the 10 most dangerous cosmetic ingredients, I am shocked that a list is given with absolutely no reason why someone in their wisdom deems these ingredients dangerous. Please substantiate why Asiaticoside, which is one of the triterpenes from the renowned wound healing plant Centella Asiatica, could possibly be dangerous? Years of medical research have proven the efficacy and safety. It is rather disappointing that The Beauty Brains would publish such nonsense.

    • Randy Schueller May 23, 2014, 6:45 am

      Jacqui: I’m sorry if my sarcasm was too subtle but my point was that these ingredients are NOT dangerous just because they are difficult to pronounce. I was just joking when I said they were dangerous.

  • Amanda B Nichols May 23, 2014, 5:03 am

    So, do you know of any cosmetic products that contain these ingredients?

    • Randy Schueller May 23, 2014, 6:46 am

      Amanda: Most of these ingredients are not very common (and I as pointed out to Jacqui, I was joking when I said they were dangerous.)

  • Mica Oba May 23, 2014, 1:51 pm

    This was hilarious, thank you for the laugh. 😉

  • rozy May 26, 2014, 6:06 pm

    wowe vary scare.

  • Bernie Avila June 12, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Whew! You scared me there for a brief second. Thanks.

  • Ron February 22, 2017, 7:49 am

    The more letters in a word, the more dangerous it is. Really, this is your point. You guys are science writers and chemists????? Really?

    • Randy Schueller February 22, 2017, 8:15 am

      I repeat: I’m sorry if my sarcasm was too subtle but my point was that these ingredients are NOT dangerous just because they are difficult to pronounce. I was just joking when I said they were dangerous.

      • Emma September 11, 2020, 6:29 pm

        Wow! Obviously some people didn’t read the whole article which is why they are saying ridiculous things . I wouldn’t even respond to them. It’s their problem for not reading the WHOLE article .

  • JD June 14, 2017, 4:47 am

    It’s sad that you have to explain sarcasm, especially when the sarcasm is fairly obvious. By the way, I’d like to just say that I am so grateful you have this website and your podcasts. Thank you for your efforts.

  • stormsinsummer August 17, 2017, 9:50 pm

    Cute! But unpronounceable long names DO mean something though… it means that scientists and researchers and even botanists are better at science than at creating easily accessible names. ^_^
    Now hand me some of that madecassoside cream.

  • Jill November 2, 2017, 10:11 am

    What, eryhtrulose, the ‘fake tan’ ingredient? 😮 Why is that dangerous?

    • Randy Schueller November 5, 2017, 5:44 pm

      If you re-read the post I hope you’ll realize that we were being sarcastic to make a point about being anti-science.

  • Ana August 16, 2019, 9:27 am

    I loved the sarcasm. Thank you Perry, I enjoy your podcast very much.