Ingredients to be aware of in your body lotion

As you may know by now, I’m all about clean living… and since our skin is our largest organ, it’s important to be aware of what we put on our skin.  


Everyone’s used body lotion or creams from time to time,  whether it be for hydrating dry skin, or getting that special glow.  


Was there ever a time when you noticed that no matter how many times you put the lotion on, dry skin never seemed to disappear?  Or what about that time when your skin got itchy and rashy all of a sudden? Many of the ingredients in our body lotion are known allergens and endocrine disruptors. Instead of hydrating our skin, they may be causing irritation and disturbing the integrity of our skin causing more dryness. 


All types of body lotions contain preservatives. Microbial contaminants are a real issue. What about DIY or self-made products, you ask?  Products made of entirely natural ingredients and containing absolutely no preservatives can quickly turn to mold once their shelf life expires.  Preservatives are especially necessary in body lotions for this reason.  Fortunately, few preservatives have been tested and were eventually deemed safe by experts. However, harmful preservatives should undoubtedly be avoided.  


Let’s save the good news for last and sort through the bad ingredients first.  You’ll find that I included EWG’s scoring of these compounds.  10 on the scoreboard is worst and 1 is best.  Just for reference, I’d say anything above a 3 is quite harmful. 



  • Methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, benzylparaben and any pretty much any compound ending in “-paraben” make up the group of parabens.  Parabens are the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products due to its extensive use in scents and fragrances.  The most popular parabens in personal care products include methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben.  Evidence supports exposure to parabens causes hormonal issues for both women and men.  Parabens especially interfere with estrogen, the primary hormone found in females, explaining the concerning link to breast cancer.  For men, parabens may adversely affect reproductive functions.  
  • EWG’s scoring of parabens ranges from a timid 3 to a whopping 9.  


 Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)

  • Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone have been found to cause allergic reactions with varying levels of severity.  Skin irritation and burns occur with use of products containing MIT and CMIT.  Individuals with skin sensitivity and conditions like eczema should never incorporate personal care products with MIT or CMIT into their routines.  These compounds are prominently found in paint and slime.   
  • EWG’s scoring of MIT and CMIT is 4-7 and 2-5, respectively. 



  • Quaternium-15 is widely known to be an irritant for the skin and eyes, due to its direct connection to formaldehyde, a gas prevalent in household products.  Exposure to quaternium-15 with formaldehyde resulted in allergic contact dermatitis in those utilizing lotions. 
  • EWG’s scoring of quaternium-15 is a 5-7. 


DMDM Hydantoin

  • Another compound with formaldehyde is DMDM hydantoin.  It affects humans very similarly to quaternium-15, with such symptoms like skin and eye irritation and can also trigger allergies. 
  • EWG’s scoring of DMDM hydantoin is a 6. 


  Imidazolidinyl urea

  • Here’s yet another compound containing formaldehyde producing the same health effects like allergic reactions and irritation.  
  • EWG’s scoring of imidazolidinyl urea is 3-5. 


 Diazolidinyl urea

  • Diazolidinyl urea is also part of the formaldehyde releasing preservative family.  It’s an allergen toxic to skin, causing irritation and reactions. 
  • EWG’s scoring of diazolidinyl urea is 3-5. 


 Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

  • Formaldehyde is again released from this particular preservative, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.  Its toxicity to the immune system labels it as an allergen which causes allergic reactions like sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.  
  • EWG’s scoring of sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is 3-5. 


 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3 diol

  • Yup, you guessed it!  Formaldehyde.  2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3 diol is also a formaldehyde releasing agent.  It’s especially toxic to the skin, eyes and the lungs.  2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3 diol has been linked to flaring up allergic contact dermatitis in numerous studies, particularly one on the effects of Eucerin cream.
  • EWG’s scoring of 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3 diol is 4-7. 


Ok, phew.  That was a lot.  Honestly, I’m quite dumbfounded at the fact that not only are these preservatives in our everyday products, they’re ALLOWED to be.  Can you believe the reason why parabens might not be found on the ingredients list is because under the term “fragrance”, it’s not information required to be disclosed? Mind-blowing!  It’s crucial we know what we’re putting in and onto our bodies.  


I think it might be time we explore the good preservatives list now… 


 Sodium Benzoate 

  • Although its use is restricted in countries like Japan, there’s limited evidence to support severe toxicity to human organs.  
  • EWG’s scoring of sodium benzoate is 1-3.  

 Potassium Sorbate 

  • Potassium sorbate is used as a preservative not only in cosmetic products, but also in some foods and drinks.  While it’s naturally found in some fruits, when used as a preservative, it can act as a human skin toxicant or allergen.  
  • EWG’s scoring of potassium sorbate is a 2. 

Dehydroacetic Acid 

  • The use of dehydroacetic acid in food was put under the “safe” category by the FDA under certain conditions.  Low doses in cosmetic products were not found to be toxic to humans.  
  • EWG’s scoring of dehydroacetic acid is a 1.  

 Glyceryl Caprylate 

  • Glyceryl caprylate is naturally derived from plants and mainly works as a stabilizer to the skin when used in cosmetic products.  Low amounts of evidence show its connection to skin and eye irritation.  
  • EWG’s scoring of glyceryl caprylate is a 1. 

 Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid

  • Ascorbic acid is essentially synthetic vitamin C.  It has antioxidant properties and is used in many vitamin C supplements.  
  • EWG has no scoring listed for this particular preservative.  

Skin health is an issue we’re seeing an increase in awareness of in the United States, specifically with the rise of skin cancer patients over the past years.  A huge part of our awareness includes the recognition of the harmful ingredients in skincare products like body lotion.  Again, I want to emphasize the necessity of some preservatives in personal products, because if not for them, our moisturizers and lotions would have a much shorter shelf life.  However, it truly matters which preservatives are incorporated.  Hopefully, this post served as a helpful guide in understanding the difference between the bad and good preservatives!  


If you’ve been convinced and want to take the next steps toward clean beauty, I highly recommend a new skincare beauty company I recently found- Dime Beauty.  They make vegan, non-toxic cruelty-free products that are truly clean and what’s even better is… they’re super focused on sustainability as well.  Their best quality is their transparency.  On their website, they take things a step further by listing all their ingredients and teaching their consumers about them.  Just as I did above, they tell you each rating on EWG for each ingredient. 


My code “vivanchen” gets you 20% off the entire store and if you buy any bundles via this link, you’ll get an additional 20% off!

For Shower gel and body lotion, I love Earth Mama and Aleavia Skincare. (Use code: “Platefulhealth15” for 15% Off) These are gentle cleansers that do not strip the skin of it’s natural integrity and barrier function, whilst providing moisture and maintaining balance.