Top four offenders

1 Triclosan Antibacterial and antifungal ingredient found in handwashes, body wash, soaps, detergents and toothpastes.

What's the deal?

The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, posing risks to human health and environment. It is under review in the US. Johnson & Johnson will remove it from its adult products by 2016.

2 Sodium Laureth Sulfate It's used in cosmetics as a detergent and also to make products bubble and foam. It is common in shampoos, shower gels and facial cleansers. It is also found in some household cleaning products.

What's the deal?

Safety regulators note that sodium laureth sulfate can irritate the skin and eyes. They're irritants and should not come in contact with skin for more than a few minutes, such as the time it takes to wash your hair or brush your teeth.

3 Siloxanes They're are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. They make hair products dry more quickly and deodorant creams slide on more easily. Siloxanes can also be found in medical implants and lubricants.

What's the deal?

In Europe, one type of siloxane – cyclotetrasiloxane – is classified as a hormone disruptor. There's a safety limit on the quantity allowed in certain products in the EU.

4 Fragrance or perfume These terms on cosmetic ingredients usually represents a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals. Some 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances.

What's the deal?

Most of the chemicals used have not been tested for toxicity. The EU is considering new regulations on perfume ingredients that could cause allergic reactions.

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