Looking at a list of toxic ingredients to avoid in cosmetics, I realized the standard list needed a bit of an update. For example, while parabens are on the chart, a "paraben-free" label on products doesn't guarantee purity. Indeed, many natural and organic companies have replaced parabens with preservatives that are arguably worse. Some, like sodium benzoate, form benzene (highly carcinogenic) in the presence of ascorbic acid. Ethoxylated compounds like phenoxyethanol may be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane (another carcinogen).
And since companies need to use rather large amounts of these ingredients to achieve a preservative effect, you run a real risk of irritating your skin. If you find yourself reacting to a skin cream or serum, use this chart to see if the sensitizing culprit may be hiding in plain sight in the ingredients list. The chart also goes a step further than mere avoidance by offering alternative ingredients you can look for to make sure your products are safe and as "natural" as they claim.