Hiding behind complicated words and snazzy marketing are harmful, toxic ingredients in body lotions and skincare products that you’re probably using right now. This article includes only the most popular brand name lotions and the harmful ingredients they include – it isn’t a complete list. If you know of more, please let us know by leaving a comment below!

Warning: this only includes harmful ingredients, not all harmful substances, in body lotion

Did you know that some popular, trusted and well-known body lotions and beauty products include known carcinogens and allergens? Those substances are not on the label, because they’re legally:

  • Not an ingredient (instead classified as a ‘contaminant’)
  • Not yet banned in the American market
  • Hidden in long, scientific-sounding words
  • Mislabeled as ‘colorants’ or ‘dyes’
  • A by-product made from mixing two other chemicals that are listed

Mercury in mascara.
Lead in lipstick.
(This is real – check our sources.)

Toxic substances such as lead and mercury aren’t labeled on lotions, makeup and other skin care products because they’re contaminants or the result of two listed chemicals that have been mixed together.

5 Well-Known Body Lotions with Toxic & Harmful Ingredients

Keep in mind, these are just the most popular lotions and moisturizers with harmful ingredients in them. Often, a brand will use the same ingredients in various products, for example, a line of moisturizers with SPF (Sun Proof Factor) and different scents.

1. Tree Hut

Tree Hut's Shea Body Butter
Tree Hut’s Original Shea Body Butter | Harmful ingredients:

  • Fragrances – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies
  • BHT – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies, cancer
  • Diazolidinyl urea – releases formaldehyde, allergies, cancer

2. Burt’s Bees

Burt's Bees' Soothingly Sensitive Body Lotion
Burt’s Bees’ Soothingly Sensitive Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin with Aloe & Buttermilk | Harmful ingredients:

  • Fragrances – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies
  • BHT – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies, cancer
  • Diazolidinyl urea – releases formaldehyde, allergies, cancer

3. Aveeno

Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion
Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion | Harmful ingredients:

  • Benzyl Alcohol – dries out skin, reproductive organ toxicity
  • Distearyldimonium Chloride – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies, irritation of skin, eyes or lungs


4. AVEENO The Body Shop (L’Oreal)

The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Lotion, SPF 15
The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Moisture Lotion, SPF 15 | Harmful ingredients:

  • Behenyl & Cetyl Alcohol – dries out skin (quite the opposite of a ‘moisture’ lotion)
  • Fragrances – reproductive organ toxicity, allergies
  • Propylparaben – allergies, immunotoxicity, toxic to reproductive organs

5. Neutrogena

Neutrogena Pure & Free SPF 60+
Surprisingly, many Neutrogena sunblocks that are SPF 60+ have been rated very harmful by EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, even those that are sold as ‘safe’ for your child.

The best sunblock is a hat.
That’s what my grandma always said.

Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick, SPF 60+ | Harmful ingredients:

  • Titanium Dioxide – Mutations ( or ‘changes’) on a cellular and/or biochemical level, toxicity to reproductive organs, irritation to eyes, lungs and skin, linked to cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity
  • BHT – Linked to cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity, causes irritation to lungs, eyes and skin, toxic to organs, toxic to reproductive organs
  • Dimethicone – Organ toxicity (non-reproductive), ecotoxicology
  • Cetearyl Alcohol – Dries out skin, may cause irritation


Your Local Store is Flooded with Harmful Ingredients in Skin Care Products & Body Lotions

5 Popular Body Lotions with Harmful Ingredients
The North American market is notorious for being too lenient on new healthcare products being allowed to retail. It’s fairly well-known that the EU turns down many more substances for market entry than the USA does. And some of the substances banned by the EU have even approved as ‘safe’ by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), such as coal tar.

The FDA and other regulation agencies in the USA haven’t gotten their act together and banned harmful and carcinogenic substances commonly used in body lotions and skincare products. Some of these substances are not only allowed in products sold in the USA, they’re hidden under different names or not listed at all.

Remember that the only ingredients required to be listed on body lotion & beauty product packaging are ingredients, not byproducts or contaminants like lead or mercury. It’s safest to avoid oil products, any alcohols and any long, scientific-sounding names unless they are the proper names of natural plants and ingredients such as coconut oil and calendula.


A couple disclaimers while dissing brand name body lotions with harmful ingredients

Firstly, I haven’t written this article to promote our homemade product.

It’s the other way around; I’ve gotten so fed up with hidden carcinogens and mislabeled, toxic ingredients in beauty products that I’ve decided to do something about it. After all, you should be the change you want to see in the world. (Props to Ghandi right there.)

Secondly, I put our small business at serious risk of getting sued by these large companies. Anyone can be silenced by large companies or corporations – even if they’re speaking the truth. (I actually know this from previous personal experience.) So in order to protect ourselves from legal hassle, please read the following (if you’re thinking about suing us for this post):

  • This is not a call to boycott. Products listed in this article have been selected because they contain harmful ingredients. To remove them from this list, remove the harmful ingredients.
  • We are not using pictures, copyrights or trademarks without consent. We’ve tried our best to contact the above mentioned retailers for their permission to use product pictures in this blog. We’re still awaiting reply.
  • This is not defamation; this is education. That means we take big, complicated words hidden in the small print of the ingredients list and explain them to readers/consumers.

If you work for or represent a company whose product is listed here, please first try to remove the harmful substance from the product before attempting to contact, sue and harass us for this ‘negative’ portrayal of the product.

If you have any questions about our research or would like to get in touch, simply leave us a comment below. Thanks!


Naví is the founder of AffordablyNatural. She grew up in Northern Minnesota, where a love of nature and water is inevitable.


  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  2. You really made me look at this stuff differently… holy crap, even Burt’s Bees !?!?

    Thanks for the post… even though I’m going to throw out like half my lotions now…. :/

    • I know, it’s surprising, right? I could have researched soooo much more, but decided to cut it off at five.

      It’s insane. I’m pretty much only using aloe, argan oil and my own Love Your Body now.

  3. Wow, Naví, thank you for sharing! Such a great blog you have, and so much information too! 🙂 We appreciate all the time you’ve invested in this. Keep up the good work, little niece!

  4. Seriously, how can this stuff be allowed ?!?! It’s like you can’t trust anything you buy any more

  5. This is absolutely true, and more. I’ve been making my own salves and soap for years !!! If you don’t mind a little self-promotion…. check out http://ruthshomemade.blogspot.co.uk/

    This post is lovely – thank you so much for helping raise awareness about all the toxic, carcinogenic chemicals that we use EVERY DAY in our beauty products and hygiene products.

    • Aw, thanks for sharing! Your products look great.

      I made soap as well, getting leftover cow fat from the butcher’s (for free!) … but rendering tallow stunk up the entire house….
      I stick to body balms and better-smelling stuff now, haha!

    • Sorry for the late reply!

      Thanks for sharing your blog, that is so cool! Next time I’m in the UK I’ll try to remember to order some of your homemade soap.

      Haha…. I tried making my own soap once and it was… well, stinky. I got leftover fat from the butcher’s for free, but rendering it into tallow was pretty smelly, and our kitchen was one of those open-plan ‘American’ kitchens…. I won’t be doing that again! And the first batch cooled to quickly, so it kinda turned out a bit too light.

      Thanks for commenting / sharing! 🙂

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