IPSY is the biggest beauty membership in the world. With that immense privilege comes a great responsibility to serve the health of both the people like you who invite us into your home, and also the planet we inhabit.
So with that guiding ethos, we launched The Out List™: a standard we’ve created as an assurance to our members that the products they receive from us will not be formulated with potentially harmful ingredients. And for products in our IPSY Shop, we committed to more transparency with Clean at IPSY badging that helps you know more about what’s inside (or left out of) your products.
We developed The Out List through a rigorous screening and vetting process developed by North America’s leading toxicology group, The Agyekum Group Consulting (TAGC), to help us make informed choices about what went on the list. Limiting these ingredients from the products we carry helped put us on a path to better beauty for everyone.
We’re proud that we’re on track to fully ban these 32 ingredients across our entire portfolio in 2024. And since The Out List represents our ongoing commitment to you and providing better-for-you beauty options, as new science emerges through research, ingredient transparency, and innovation, we’ll be updating and adding more ingredients to the list.
With The Out List, we’re committed to working toward a world where beauty that is better for both people and planet isn’t a luxury, but is for everyone—so you can feel confident playing, exploring, and expressing your unique beauty every day. Curious about the ingredients on The Out List and how we picked them? Keep reading below to learn more about what they are and why they’re of concern.
Coal tar can be used to treat skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, and if you’ve heard of it before, it may be because you’ve spotted it in dandruff shampoo formulas. There have been studies that show very high concentrations (much higher than most over-the-counter doses) may be linked to cancer.
Ethanolamines can be used to blend water- and oil-soluble ingredients together and control the pH levels of beauty products. While there is no definitive link between ethanolamines and cancer, some people avoid this ingredient for its role as a potential carcinogen and for its possible link to skin conditions, respiratory tract infections, and eye irritation.
In the beauty world, formaldehydes are most commonly found in hair and nail products. This colorless gas can cause skin irritation and may even cause cancer—although usually only when it’s ingested in higher doses and with prolonged exposure—so many steer clear of this ingredient altogether.
When discussing controversial skincare ingredients, hydroquinone is bound to come up. Its common side effects are skin irritation, redness, and inflammation, and it is often used in skincare to fade dark spots. But in some cases of long-term use, there have been occurrences of ochronosis, a condition where the skin darkens. The ingredient has also been linked to organ system toxicity and is currently banned in the UK, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
That's right: Mercury could be hiding in your skincare. This highly toxic type of metal appears most often in skin-lightening or anti-aging products that claim to even out skin tone by removing blemishes and spots. Not only can mercury cause skin irritation, but ingested at high levels, it could lead to mercury poisoning—which is extremely toxic for kidneys and the nervous system. It could also cause harm to the brains and nervous systems of developing babies, which is why pregnant or nursing mothers should watch out for this ingredient.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that make plastic flexible, and you may have seen them before in the ingredient labels of nail polishes, hair sprays, cosmetics, and more. The research isn’t clear on what effect these chemicals have on humans, but some studies suggest that phthalates are endocrine disruptors and there is a link between phthalates and chronic disease.
You may not have heard of PFAS (short for per- and polyfluoralyl substances), which are a type of fluorinated chemical—but chances are, you’ve heard of Teflon. Yup, we’re talking that same Teflon that’s used to make your pots and pans nonstick, which also happens to be a type of PFAS. PFAS are sometimes used in beauty products to add waterproof capabilities, but over the years, they’ve been linked to concerning side effects like cancer, thyroid disease, liver and kidney toxicity, and more.
You’ll usually see microbeads—tiny spheres of plastic that are often added to skincare formulas for physical exfoliation—in products like cleansers and body wash. But don’t be fooled by their tiny size: Since they don’t dissolve when you wash your face, they go down the drain and eventually into the ocean where they could be ingested by wildlife, making them more harmful than you might think. As such, the FDA has banned microbeads in rinse-off cosmetic formulas. This is a big win for our oceans and human health, thanks in large part to organizations like 5 Gyres who played an instrumental role in educating, researching, and advocating for product and policy change.
If you’re the type to keep your nails well-manicured, you’ve most likely heard of shellac before. Shellac manicures are known for their fast-dry and chip-resistant qualities, but they’re usually sealed in place using ultraviolet light (which is harmful to the skin), and this ingredient comes with an increased risk of acute oral toxicity.
Toluene is a type of petrochemical found in some hair dyes and nail polish formulas (in polish, it’s used to help create a smooth application)—but its fumes are highly toxic and can have adverse effects on the immune system and cause reproductive harm.
Triclocarban is an antimicrobial ingredient found in cleansing products, and data that suggests there could be health risks associated with using products that contain it. Triclocarban also has been shown to accumulate in the environment and negatively impact wildlife, which can help explain why this ingredient has been phased out of many antibacterial solutions you see today.
A similar chemical to triclocarban is triclosan, which some studies have linked to antibiotic resistance and hormone disruption in animals. Users tend to be wary of this ingredient because in addition to its potential effects on the human body and wildlife, there hasn’t been a proven health benefit to adding triclosan to antibacterial products.
Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP for short) is usually spotted on nail polish product labels. Studies with animals have suggested that TPHP is an endocrine disruptor and may also cause fertility problems, so some ingredient-conscious shoppers make sure to avoid it.
If you’ve ever used a product with fragrance in it (who hasn’t?), it’s possible that it had xylene in it—though it may have only read “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label. It’s a synthetic fragrance that, for some, can cause skin irritation or cause negative side effects when inhaled.
Phthalates (yep, the ones we mentioned before) can also appear in fragrance formulations. Here’s a breakdown of the ones on The Out List.
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
Dibutyl phthalate is often found in synthetic fragrances and is suspected to disrupt hormone function and fertility problems. While the effect of prolonged exposure to phthalates on humans is not entirely clear, phthalates like dibutyl phthalate have been banned in the European Union.
Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP)
This chemical has been linked to toxic effects on the reproductive system and may have an effect on fetal development.
Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate is one of the most common phthalates out there. Studies have suggested that it could play a role in the development of endometriosis, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, and cancer. When included in fragrance products, it can be ingested through your skin.
Diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP)
DIDP has been shown to cause tumors and developmental problems in studies with lab rats, and it has the potential to cause physical symptoms such as dizziness and vomiting.
Diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
DINP is a carcinogen that has been linked to birth defects and impaired reproductive function in males.
Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnP)
Di-n-hexyl phthalate can have toxic effects on female and male reproductive function.
Now that you know more about what's in (and out) of your beauty products from IPSY, start discovering new faves by taking our Beauty Quiz. Already a member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward free products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.
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