Most likely a lot of have heard of the "Dirty Dozen". You know, the 12 dirtiest fruits and veggies that we should try and buy organic if possible? Well, did you know the David Suzuki Foundation has their own dirty dozen?

Yup. They've collated a list of the 12 chemicals that are found in cleaners, cosmetics, and hygiene products that w should be avoiding for the good of our health and the planet. 

Take a look at the summary of the toxins and why we should be avoiding them below. Click here to download the full document about those chemicals, created by the Foundation. 

It may seem overwhelming to rid ourselves of all of these toxins right away. So take the approach that I try and apply to all facets of my eco-friendly life. Baby steps!

David Suzuki Dirty Dozen.png


(butylated hydroxyanisole/butylated hydroxytoluene)

  • used as a preservative in lipsticks, moisturizers, and food

  • possible carcinogen and hormone disrupter

  • toxic to small mammals and aquatic organisms

  • flagged in Canada for future assessment

  • international regulations are stronger

Coal Tar Dyes (p-phenylenediamine or 5 digit CI)

  • used to colour hair dyes and certain cosmetics like lipstick

  • carcinogen, possible brain toxicity, may cause blindness

  • derived from petroleum

  • flagged in Canada for future assessment

DEA and related ingredients


  • makes soaps, cleansers, and shampoos creamy or sudsy

  • possible carcinogen and eye/skin irritant

  • toxic to aquatic organisms

  • prohibited by Health Canada but related ingredients unregulated

  • international regulations are strong


(Dubutyl Phthalate)

  • used mainly in nail products

  • absorbed through skin and can encourage other chemicals to cause genetic mutations, can cause developmental defects, toxic to young children

  • very toxic to aquatic organisms

  • Canada has banned in children's toys and care articles but not in cosmetics

  • international regulations are stronger

Formaldahyde releasing preservatives

(a very long list of chemicals)

  • used in a wide variety of cosmetics, plastics, and toilet bowl cleaners

  • a known human carcinogen (especially when inhaled), skin/eye irritant, can trigger allergies

  • Formaldehyde restricted in Canadian cosmetics but other formaldehyde releasing chemicals are not 

  • international regulations are stronger


(anything with paraben in the name)

  • the most widely used preservative in cosmetics

  • easily penetrate skin and disrupt hormones, possibly associated with cancers and can lead to increased skin aging and DNA damage

  • no Canadian restrictions

  • international regulations are stronger



  • usually represents a complex mixtures of several chemicals

  • used in nearly every type of personal care product

  • can trigger allergies, migraines, asthma development or symptoms, associated with cancer and neurotoxicity

  • Environment Canada has found synthetic fragrances in fish from the Great Lakes

  • Found in umbilical cord blood of 7/10 sampled newborns

  • so many complex formulas, difficult to regulate in Canada

  • international regulations are stronger


(polyethylene Glycol)

  • used as thickeners and moisturizers in cosmetics

  • possible human carcinogen, not safe for damaged or broken skin, increases permeability of skin

  • persistent, therefore remains in environment for a long time

  • can still be found in personal care products marketed as natural!

  • no restrictions in cosmetics


(mineral oil jelly)

  • used to lock in moisture in lotion and in hair care products to make hair shiny

  • associated with cancer, skin irritations, and allergies

  • no restrictions in Canada

  • international regulations are stronger


(look for cyclo at the beginning of an ingredient)

  • used in cosmetics, hair products, and deodorant creams to make them smooth and glide on with ease

  • disrupts hormones, possible carcinogen, and neutransmitter disruption

  • persistent and toxic to aquatic organisms

  • no current Canadian restrictions


(Sodium Laureth Sulfate)

  • common in shampoos, shower gels, facial cleaners, hand and dish soaps

  • possible human carcinogen, eye/skin irritant

  • persistent in environment

  • can still be found in products marketed as natural!

  • no regulations in cosmetics in Canada but is flagged for future assessment

  • related to SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)


  • used in antiperspirants, cleansers, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, and a variety of household products

  • permeates skin, possible hormone disruption, skin/eye irrirant

  • persistent and very toxic to aquatic organisms, may contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria

  • restricted to small concentrations in Canada but used in so many products that the accumulated amount adds up

  • flagged by Environment Canada for future assessment