Beauty Products, Ugly Ingredients

Beauty product ingredients applied to your skin are absorbed into your body — just think of medical transdermal patches — and a woman can ingest pounds of lipstick over her lifetime. Many unhealthy ingredients can interact with each other and accumulate to dangerous levels in your system, promoting cancer, contributing to birth defects or slowing your metabolism, to name a few ill effects.

Yet, while the EU has banned more than 1000 ingredients from cosmetics, the US FDA has prohibited only eight and lacks the authority to recall harmful cosmetics. This leaves you with two choices: rely on the cosmetics industry to police itself — and hope that civil lawsuits help keep it ethical — or do your own product policing.

Your Beauty, Your Beat

Taking product policing into your own hands can demand a lot of time and diligence, especially if you also want to find products you truly enjoy. You might say to yourself, “No problem, I’ll just buy items with ‘natural,’ ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘organic’ on the label.” Unfortunately, except in the case of certified organic, no requirements have been established for those beauty product claims. Let the greenwashing begin!

Helping You Keep It Clean

We’re here to help. We spend a lot of time and effort on finding amazing beauty products that are up to our ethical, quality and purity standards. This means that we’ve checked every product we showcase against our long blacklist of regrettably common ingredients, below.

Not Allowed by Sagekat

  • (Animal testing!!)
  • Ceteareth Glycol
  • DEAs (Diethanolamine)
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Fragrance (Synthetic)**
  • Hydroquinone
  • MEA (Monoethanolamine)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
  • Microbeads
  • Parabens
  • PEGs, aka, Polyethalene Glycols
  • Petroleum-Based Ingredients, including Petrolatum/Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin and Mineral Oil*
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol*
  • Quaternium-15
  • Resorcinol
  • Sodium Borate/Boric Acid
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Sulfates (SLS and SLES)
  • Sunscreens, chemical, such as Octinoxate, Oxybenzone and PABA (we accept only physical sunscreens: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide)
  • TEA (Triethanolamine)
  • Triclosan
  • Toluene
  • Urea (Diazolidinyl, Polyoxymethylene and Imidazolidinyl)
  • …and many others!

* Exception made for this less toxic no-no ingredient only when used in excellent nail polish.

** Some synthetic fragrance chemicals are perfectly safe but the ingredient “parfum” or “fragrance” is legally protected as a trade secret allowing companies to mix in any undisclosed compounds they want.

Ingredients Allowed, with Conditions

  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – We do not allow it in beauty products that sit on the skin, as it may contain impurities that are potentially irritating when left on.
  • EDTA (Disodium and Tetrasodium) – Disodium EDTA is rated 0 by EWG, but we will not accept it in products for use around the eyes.
  • Japanese Honeysuckle – Sagekat accepts products with honeysuckle. Some believe it might not be a safe preservative, but EWG rates this extract a 1 (very safe). If this changes, we will remove honeysuckle products.
  • Nail Polish – Must be cruelty free and cannot exceed an EWG Skindeep rating of 4 (or an estimated rating of 4). We do allow some of the more innocuous synthetics in excellent products.
  • Nano Zinc Oxide, Nano Titanium Dioxide These beauty ingredients are safe but when in spray-on or powder form, we display a warning to avoid breathing them. (Really, the only thing you should ever breathe is air ;-) .)
  • Phenoxyethanol – The jury is out on this common beauty product preservative. Accordingly the European Union and Japan have placed a limit on allowed concentration of nor more than 1%. We accept products made to the EU or Japanese requirement.
  • PPGs – A few types of these polymers are considered entirely safe by the EWG. We permit only those.
  • Retinol, Vitamin A Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, etc. A score of 9 from EWG Skindeep, but many people enjoy the rejuvenating benefits so are OK with that. We flag products containing them — in both the description and on the ingredients tab — in case you want to avoid them.