How to keep toxic chemicals out of ​your personal care routine

It’s personal.

People want to believe their favorite cosmetics or personal care products are ​safe. But most of the products Americans use every day—such as lotions, ​shaving creams, deodorants, and makeup—contain thousands of unregulated ​chemicals. For far too long, people have unknowingly been putting their health ​at risk by using personal care products with toxic ingredients.

The problem with

personal care products

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The beauty industry generates approximately $100 billion globally in revenue each year, yet ​it is one of the least regulated industries in the nation, with over 10,000 chemicals in the ​personal care and beauty market today. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act ​(FDCA) has only restricted 11 chemicals since 1938, while the European Union has banned ​over 1,800 chemicals.


chemicals in the beauty ​market today


number of hemicals ​restricted in the E.U.


number of chemicals ​restricted in the U.S.

States are taking action

In the absence of strong federal protections, states are taking action. In June 2023, Oregon ​passed SB 546 (the Toxic Free Cosmetics Act) in conjunction with Washington and ​California. This means that in 2027, key chemical classes such as lead, PFAS, ortho-​phthalates, mercury, and formaldehyde will be regulated.

The industry is waking up

As more states like Oregon pass laws regulating chemical ingredients—paired with a rise in ​consumer awareness and demand—more companies are voluntarily changing their ​formulas to use healthier and safer ingredients. As the trends continue, cleaner and ​healthier products will continue to become more affordable.

Your buying decisions matter!












A safer future is on the horizon in Oregon!

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A NEW health-forward ​law passed in Oregon in ​2023!

Through strong advocacy ​from Oregon ​Environmental Council, ​Oregon’s new Toxic Free ​Cosmetics Act will regulate ​many of the most common ​chemicals found in ​personal care products.

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Starting in 2027, ​thousands of individual ​chemicals will be kept out ​of products and off of ​shelves!

Until then, this guide can ​help you make safer ​buying decisions!


How to select

safer products

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Until Oregon’s new Toxic-Free Cosmetics regulations are in place in 2027, here are ways ​you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe when selecting personal care products and ​cosmetics.

What is “clean beauty”?

Phrases like “clean beauty” or “clean cosmetics” generally refer to products with ​ingredients that are safe for topical use in humans, the environment, or both. These ​ingredients can be natural or made in a lab and generally refer to ingredients that do not ​cause health harms such as skin irritation, endocrine disruption, or cancer. And notably, the ​term “clean beauty” goes far beyond just makeup. It refers to daily hygiene products like ​shampoo, moisturizer, and skincare products.

Common ingredients to avoid

When deciding which products to buy for yourself, your family, or to give as a gift, be on the l​ookout for some of the most common toxic ingredients.


Use / Often found in

Health impacts

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde ​releasers

(includes: bronopol, DMDM ​hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, glyoxa, ​imidazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene ​urea, quaternium-15, and sodium ​hydroxymethylglycinate)

preservative in hair dye, hair ​straighteners, nail polish

rashes, dermatitis,

and cancer [source]


UV protection in sunscreen

cancer, hormone disruption, skin ​allergies; causes coral reef ​degradation [source]


preservative in lotion, ​shampoo, body wash, ​foundation

increases tumor growth and ​chances of breast cancer [source]

Parfum / fragrance

any product that has an added ​scent

lung irritation, thyroid toxicity, ​reproductive

problems [source]

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl ​substances (PFAS)

waterproof agent in mascara, ​lipstick

cancer, kidney cancer, endocrine ​disruption [source]

Phthalates and ortho-phthalates


and lubricants in

lotion, shampoo, body wash

endocrine disruption, hormone ​disruption, and impaired brain ​development [source]

Sodium lauryl sulfate

surfactant in soap, body wash, ​face washes, makeup remover

skin irritation, acne [source]

Certified safe: logos to look for

It can be overwhelming to try to understand every ingredient on a label. Look for these ​helpful certifications on products that have undergone varying levels of testing an​d evaluation. Not all certifications are made equal​.

Third-party/industry certifications (most rigorous)

Third-party certifications tend to be the most rigorous, comprehensive, and trustworthy.

BCPP’s Black Beauty Database is a nonprofit database ​of Black-owned beauty brands offering products ​marketed toward women of color.

EWG Verified evaluates personal care products along ​with cleaning and other household products.

Made Safe takes into account human health and ecosystem ​health in their product certification program.

Retailer certifications

Some of these companies are featured in this buying guide. Beauty brands like Credo Beauty—scientifically and rigorously vet every product they sell—and Beauty Counter pledge to sell non-toxic, clean products, and even major cosmetics chains like Sephora and Ulta have unveiled their own “clean” labels that meet certain criteria.

The Credo Clean ​Standard

Clean at ​Sephora

Conscious Beauty at Ulta

Target clean

Toxic-free products

for everyone

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Whether you’re shopping for yourself and your family or looking for the perfect gift, here’s a ​list of certified-safe products and brands to try based on market research and some first-​hand experience from OEC team members.

Note: OEC does not endorse any specific brand, product, or application, nor do we seek to be brand ​advocates. Not all products listed here have been individually vetted by the OEC team. All are third-party ​certified toxic-free.

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$10-$25 range

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$25-$50 range

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$50+ range

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Oregon-based clean beauty and personal care product stores

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Affordable nontoxic kid’s personal care ($10-$25 per item)

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Find new favorites with these helpful apps

These free apps allow you to learn about product ingredients and shop cleaner options.


This app also offers a browser extension to notify you about ​unsafe ingredients in personal care and cleaning products.

Healthy Living

From Environmental Working Group (EWG), this app also ​includes ratings for food products.

Think Dirty

This database lists over 850,000 cosmetics and personal ​care products.

Your buying decisions are powerful!

Your choices have the power to protect your health and the ​health of your family while moving the market to change.

Oregon Environmental Council’s work for public health and a ​toxic-free future is made possible by people across the state ​and our partners who care about supporting Oregon’s ​communities and safeguarding the future.

Make a difference. Support OEC today.

Oregon Environmental Council | @OEConline | | 503-222-1963