Our Never List Just Got Longer!

You may have seen other companies touting their abundant ingredients on their “Black List” or “No No List”, but it’s so much more than the number. What goes into that number?

I know there is one company that had a 2,000+ list so I went looking and found things like benzodiazepines. Now, if you now that class of medications it’s a sedative that is a controlled substance and would never be found in any supplement or makeup item. So, for that to be on the list it’s a bit laughable. It tells me they put things on there to drive the number up.

Our Never List is made up of more than 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals that we never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern.

How do you find ingredients to put on the Never List? Our in-house team of scientists reviewed and screened each ingredient for safety against our strict standards. They measured these ingredients against 23 different human health and environmental endpoints. We never assume that a lack of data means that an ingredient is safe to use, and we lean on this precautionary principle (better safe than sorry) when making important formula decisions.

What are some of the new additions? Through our research partnership with Tufts University, we added clove essential oil to our prohibited list due to suspected endocrine disruption. Clary Salvia officinalis essential oil was also added to The Never List because of suspected carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic (CMR) components. (Don’t confuse this class of clary oil with Clary Salvia sclarea, which is approved to use in our formulas.) We have also approved about 40 new raw materials used in fragrance and other product applications since the previous year.

And, what sets us apart? We go to great lengths to ensure the safety of our products. Our five-step Ingredient Selection Process is unparalleled and continues to be best in class in the beauty industry (as confirmed by third parties like the Chemical Footprint Project). It’s important to note that many companies stop and start at their version of The Never List, but for Beautycounter, it’s just the beginning of our safety journey. We go on to have leaders at Tufts University screen questionable ingredients for potential hormone disruption. We test raw materials for common Never List contaminants, including heavy metals in color cosmetics, and raw materials for parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde which can tag along through the storage of ingredients and manufacturing. After looking to institutions and other academic resources, if we still do not have enough information about an ingredient, we won’t use it in our products.


BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE A disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers. BHA AND BHT Synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.

COAL TAR HAIR DYES AND OTHER COAL TAR INGREDIENTS Byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found in: hair dye, shampoo.

ETHYLENEDIAMINETETRAACETIC ACID (EDTA) A chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color, moisturizers.

ETHANOLAMINES (MEA/DEA/TEA) Surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint, pharmaceuticals.

FORMALDEHYDE Used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2- nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.

HYDROQUINONE A skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams.

OXYBENZONE Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Found in: sunscreen, moisturizer.

PARABENS (METHYL-, ISOBUTYL-, PROPYL- AND OTHERS) A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.

PHTHALATES (DBP, DEHP, DEP AND OTHERS) A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.

POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (PEG COMPOUNDS) PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. Found in: creams, sunscreen, shampoo.

RETINYL PALMITATE AND RETINOL (VITAMIN A) A nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.

SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE AND SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLS AND SLES) SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.

SYNTHETIC FLAVOR OR FRAGRANCE An engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.

TOLUENE A volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. Found in: nail polish.

TRICLOSAN AND TRICLOCARBAN Antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in: liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste. Beautycounter will never test our finished products on animals, nor do we ask others to.

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