Companies in the cosmetics industry have been using terms like “amazing,” “marvelous,” and “spectacular!” for the past 50 years to promote their products. But what are they really selling you? We are Love the Label, a student-led campaign based at Nipissing University. We promote a greater awareness of the ingredients found in cosmetics and other personal care products. What’s the secret? Understanding those otherwise incomprehensible ingredients labels. Learn the label, love the label.
Our bodies are exposed to chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products linked to learning disabilities, hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, etc. Cosmetics are the least regulated products on the market. Our federal laws are not strong enough to keep these companies from putting these chemicals into our products. Europe has banned more than 1,100 toxic chemicals. Canada has banned close to 500, and the USA has banned only 9.
The cosmetics industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. In order to preserve their industry, they argue that the amounts of chemicals in our products are so small that they cannot cause us any harm. This would only be true if we used only one product once. Obviously this is not how we are exposed to these chemicals. Women use on average 12 products per day, men use 6. We use these products for decades! This exposure amounts to harm.
Chemicals to Avoid
Aluminum - Amazing!

Aluminum [Chloride, chlorohydrate, or hydroxybromide]
Our most common encounter with aluminum is in antiperspirants. The aluminum salts dry out sweat by attracting water into the cells, causing them to swell. The ducts squeeze shut and the sweat is blocked from coming out. Unfortunately, Aluminum is a neurotoxin and stops us from eliminating toxins via sweat ducts. Aluminum has been found to accumulate in the tissues, in the underarm region, and is a powerful metalloestrogen.
Coal Tar Dyes - Oh My!

Hair Dyes, Cosmetics
Coal Tar DyesCoal tar is a black liquid distilled from coal and is recognized as a human carcinogen and can be recognized by a colour and then an index number (ex. Yellow-5). P-phenylenediamine is toxic to aquatic life. Phenylenediamine is used in hair dyes and has been linked to cancer by the U.S. National Cancer institute. There are also many tar-derived colours used in cosmetics.
DEA - Deelish!
Shampoos, Soaps,
Facial Cleansers.
DEADiethanolamine, close relatives MEA and TEA. DEA and its compounds are used to make products sudsy or creamy. It is an eye and skin irritant, and may also affect the immune and nervous systems. May react with nitrites in cosmetics to form nitrosamines (possible human carcinogen). A common example is cocamide DEA, which is extremely toxic to aqueous environments.
EDTA - Excellent!

Creams, Lotions
EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) EDTA is an additive to shampoos, moisturizers, cosmetics, and anti-aging lotions. It is a suspected carcinogen, reproductive toxin, and irritant to eyes, skin, and lungs.
Formaldehyde - Fabulous!
Styling Gel,
Bubble Bath
Formaldehyde [Common names: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15, Allantoin, Germall 115] Formaldehyde is found commonly in shampoos, soaps, nail polishes, eyelash glue, and hair gels. It is a preservative that helps prevent bacteria from growing in products that have water as a main ingredient. Its effects range from skin sensitivity, to allergies, to cancer. It is restricted in Europe and Canada, and otherwise must be listed on the label.
Parabens - Posh!

Lotions, cosmetics, hair products
Parabens [Methylparaben, propylparaben, etc] Common preservatives found in a variety of personal care products. Unfortunately, they are persistent chemicals that accumulate in our bodies. Parabens have been found to mimic the female hormone estrogen, disrupting finely-tuned estrogenic activity. Parabens have been found in the tumours of women with breast cancer. Can be hidden under the names: Benzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoate. Parabens are not restricted in Canada.
PEGs - Yummay!
Eye Liners,
Shaving Cream,
Styling Gel
PEGs [Polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and any ingredients with “eth”] PEGs are strong skin irritants and penetration enhancers. They are often used in medications, shampoos, soaps, and cosmetics for their thickening and slippery qualities. Contact dermatitis is a common health effect. PEGs may be contaminated with 1,4 – dioxane, ethylene oxide, PAHs, and heavy metals (which are linked to cancer and nervous system damage).
Petrolatum - Supremo!

Hair Products
Petrolatum Petrolatum is derived from non-renewable crude oil. It is used in lotions mainly to help skin retain moisture. It is also found in many hair products to make hair shine. Petrolatum is contaminated with Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are known carcinogens. Not restricted in Canada.
Phthalates - Ultra!

Nail Polish
Phthalates[dialkyl or alkyl esters, di-n-butyl Phthalate (DBP), anything with benzene) Phthalates are industrial compounds found anywhere from toys and MP3 players to nail polish, perfumes, and hairsprays. Phthalates are linked to reproductive birth defects, hormone disruption, and are found in 80% of cosmetics and personal care products. Some companies have removed them, however it is not required on the label, so it is impossible to identify a product that contains it.
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate - Super!
Toothpaste, Bubble Bath, Body Wash, Bars of Soap, Cleansers, Anti-Aging Moisturizers,
Face Masks
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl SulfateSLS gives the “sudsy” quality to most cleansers, soaps, shampoos, and dish soaps. May be contaminated with ethylene oxide (known carcinogen) and 1,4 – dioxane (possible carcinogen). It is a known eye, skin, and lung irritant. It is non-biodegradable in the environment. Non-restricted in Canada.
Synthetic Fragrances - Sexy!

Synthetic Fragrances [Fragrance or parfum] Scientists can decode any scent on earth and create it synthetically; something the cosmetic industry has capitalized on with celebrity-endorsed perfumes and body sprays. Companies, however, list their “trade secret scents” as “fragrance or parfum” and are not required to list the chemicals individually. Synthetic fragrance chemicals are linked to cancer, respiratory failure, birth defects and CNS damage. These chemicals also trigger migraines, asthma, allergic reactions, and can cause skin irritations.
Triclosan - Tasty!

Hand Sanitizers,
Facial Cleansers
Triclosan Triclosan is a commonly used preservative and anti-bacterial agent. It is commonly found in hand sanitizers and antiperspirants/deodorants. It easily interferes with endocrine processes and helps contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It accumulates in the environment and does not degrade. Available in antiperspirants, cleansers, hand sanitizers. Triclosan may be a hormone disruptor.
Talc - Totally!

Baby powders, cosmetics.
Talc Talc has similar composition to asbestos. It is linked to ovarian cancer. It's fine structure makes it a lung irritant.
Siloxanes - Stellar!

Facial care, lotions, hair products.
Siloxanes Siloxanes are derived from silicone. Environment Canada recognizes siloxanes as toxic to the environment as they bioaccumulate. They are also classified as a hormone disruptor and reproductive toxin.
Toluene - Tight!

Lipsticks, moisturizers, nail products, hair dyes (BHT/BHA).
Toluene A known immune system toxicant, and a possible endocrine disruptor and developmental toxin. Used most commonly to hold nail polish on the nail. Has a very strong odour, which may cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
    In order for you, the consumer, to purchase healthy and worthwhile products, you must learn to master the art of scanning ingredient lists. This may seem like a chore, but in reality it is critical. See the “Chemicals to Avoid” section, and become familiar with the hazardous chemicals that should NOT be in your products. Quick tips: Make sure you can pronounce the ingredients! Look for seals of approval! Always research products before you purchase!
    The words “natural” and “organic” are not government–regulated or certified in any way. Companies use these words to boost their sales. If a product is “Certified Organic” it has been approved by Eco-Cert and the USDA. Look for these seals if you wish to purchase a truly organic product. Just because a company slaps a green leaf on the bottle, does NOT mean in any way that it is organic or natural.
    The thought of giving up products we love is difficult. Some think that natural products won’t make your lashes as full or your hair as shiny. Start small. Part with something easy; switch from a foaming liquid soap, to an olive-oil based one from an organic company: You’ll see that you’re still as gorgeous as you’ve always been, just healthier. We know you’ll want to make bigger environmental changes in your life.
    When you own products, own one of each thing. For example, have only one lip gloss, one moisturizer, one body wash, one shampoo, etc. Keep your categories simple. We don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to have healthier products. Waste less by researching the products you buy. Get the most out of the products you own!
    Using the Skin Deep Database: i. Check all the products you currently own by typing the product name into the search engine. ii. Spot the hazardous chemicals. iii. If there are 1 or more dangerous chemicals in your product, discard that product. If you love it too much, use it up, but in the meantime find a healthier alternative. iv. If a product causes you an irritation, return it immediately!
    Tell your friends and family about what you find out about your cosmetics and personal care products. Let them know about safer alternatives. Thus, we will all become conscious, skeptical consumers who know what is going in and on our bodies. In the end, we should all work towards being advocates for truth and nature: We deserve the best world to live in, and we have the power to make this work!
100 % Pure Acquarella Nail Polish All Natural Cosmetics All Things Jill Arganat Awaken My Senses Aubrey Organics Aura Cacia BabyBellies Badger Balms Belly Buttons & Babies Belly Laughs Board's Honey Farm Body Blessed By Nature Cheeky Cosmetics CleanWell Cocoon Apothecary Cosmic Tree Essentials Divine Essence Dr. Bronner's Dr. Hauschka Druide Earth's Beauty Earth To Body EcoDenT Glengarry Gardens Green Beaver Growing Up Organic Hopscotch Kids Hornet Mountain Natural Products Huckleberry Baby Shop Just The Goods Jane Iredale Jaydancin John Masters Kootenay Soap Company Lalabee Bathworks Lavish & Lime Lala Soaps Lavera Leaf & Bud Naturals Lido Skincare Lilou Organics Lily White Organics LoveReb Luvu Beauty Max & Mia Organics Naked Soap Works Maiga Shea Butter Make Your Cosmetics Mint & Berry MOOM Nature Clean Nvey Makeup Pangea Organics Parissa Waxing Peacekeeper Cause-metics Preserve Priti NYC Pura Vida Spa Pure Anada Cosmetics Pure Citizen Raindance Cosmetics Raspberry Kids Rejuvenating Spring Rocky Mountain Soap Co Shea Butter Market Suki Skin Care Suncoat Sweet Biscuit Tawna Hill Baby Terra Naturals The Big Carrot Therawise Thursday Plantation True Natural Weleda

Natural Product Retailers in North Bay, ON:
The Love the Label website & visual identity system were designed and developed by Erik von Stackelberg in Fall of 2010 as a warm-and-fuzzy-100%-volunteer effort through DesigntoLove. DesigntoLove is a nonprofit organization connecting student designers with nonprofit and charitable groups. We believe in putting our passion for art & design to good use: in essence, we do design work for good causes. For free. :) For more information on DesigntoLove, please visit For more information on the designer/developer, please visit

Special Thanks

Love the Label really wouldn’t be where it is today without the unparalleled help and support from incredible friends, family, organizations, Canadian organic companies, and of course, Nipissing University. We would like to personally thank a few of these remarkable people.

Erik von Stackelberg of DesigntoLove: Love the Label would not even exist if it weren’t for the time, dedication, and pure creative genius of Erik Stackelberg. Our website, our posters, our tipcards, our image are a product of months of his unmatched creative talents. He was able to create what we all envisioned Love the Label to be. It has been and continues to be a supreme honour to work with him.

The Escape Movement

Andrew Morrison of The Escape Movement. Andy graciously donated the first Love the Label T-shirts when we first started out in September 2010. We couldn’t have found a more down-to-earth, genuine guy to help us with our cause. Andy owns an incredible clothing line called The Escape Movement. Please check out his line of clothing, jewellery, and art!

Sheldon Root (Photography). Our first photo-shoot was photographed, directed, and edited by our friend Sheldon Root, free of charge. Thanks to his pure talent and generosity, we were able to profile organic makeup in a most fashionable way. Sheldon is such an awesome guy; our team can’t thank him enough!

Neon Nomad

Neon Nomad. Our performance and show DJ!

Organizations: Love the Label is continually inspired by the organizations that dedicate their time to saving the planet and spreading awareness about the chemicals in our products. A huge thanks goes out to the David Suzuki Foundation, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the USA, Environmental Defence, Environmental Working Group and Femmetoxic.

Nipissing University: Love the Label is composed of Nipissing University students dedicated to making our bodies and the earth safer! Our impact on the school community would not have been possible if it weren’t for the Nipissing University’s Student Union, The Wall Bar & Grillhouse, supervisor Joe Boivin, and BPHE placement officer Jenn Buelle. Thank you all so much for believing in our campaign, you are all true leaders!