Safe Cosmetics Australia

The Toxic-Free Campaign

Key Issues

Why should Australian's be concerned? Did you know that chemicals are not required to be tested for your health and safety prior to use in cosmetics and everyday household products?
Toxic-Free & Non-Toxic products are formulated without unnecessary chemicals. Choosing products that contain very few ingredients are the healthier choice.
How can you get involved? Sign and share the campaign Petition, download the Toxic-Free Guides, explore SCA's affiliate site to learn more about chemicals and your health.
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Chemicals & Your Body

Your skin is the largest organ of the body, it is responsible for detoxification and absorption. Scientific studies carried out by the American Journal Of Public Health, found that the skin absorbs up to 64% of what is applied topically. Other studies found the face to be even more permeable than broad body surfaces with a 100% absorption rate concerning the underarms and genitalia areas. Whilst another peer-reviewed study showed a 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients that contain thousands of toxic chemicals commonly found in beauty products. What you put on your body will absorb into your skin and enter the body, these toxic chemicals can disrupt your endocrine system, cause hormonal imbalance and worse.

Our Vision

Safe Cosmetics Australia campaigns for a toxic-free future. It’s about finding a compromise between manufacturers, consumer demand, chemicals and the way cosmetics are made in Australia. By simplifying a complicated issue, refining the infinite list of toxic chemicals used in everyday household products, Safe Cosmetics Australia campaigns to raise chemical awareness. Chemicals that are internationally recognised as being toxic to human health for the Key Issues of the campaign. Some of these chemicals are banned &/or restricted overseas, but permitted for use in Australian cosmetics and toiletries, including every day household cleaning products, baby products, hair care, toothpaste and much more. This raises serious health concerns for all Australian’s and your help is needed to change the way we use chemicals Australia.

The Toxic-Free Campaign aims to raise chemical awareness. Realising that we can achieve a pre-market regulatory system in the near future that benefits all Australians. By opening up and being more receptive to consumers, by being more inviting and making it easier for people to understand the campaign, SCA campaigns to make it easier for people to understand chemicals, to be informed about harmful and positive manufacturing processes and to further understand basic labeling laws that do not necessarily protect your health or the environment. The potential impacts that toxic chemicals have on human health, animals and the environment is a global issue. To help us all work towards a more sustainable future, SCA has launched our affiliate site Organic Beauty Brands, where members can publish articles, share their story and connect with others that seek truth and honesty when it comes to manufacturing principles and creating a better world. 


Safe Cosmetics Australia SCA, is a not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney, Australia. Established 2010, SCA's mission to raise chemical awareness and advocate for pre-market regulations. SCA is the official self-regulatory representative body of The Toxic Free Campaign, and the certifying authority of Australian Certified Toxic-Free ® cosmetics that are Made Safe ® for you, our planet and the animals we share it with. SCA is celebrating it's seventh year of campaigning, over 55+ brands and over 1,250+ products Certified. Australian Certified Toxic-Free ® (logo), Allergy Certified ® and Made Safe ® are IP Australia, Registered Trademarks. In refining the criteria for our toxic-free certification seal, we have formed a list of chemicals that are internationally recogised as the top offending toxic chemicals. This list of toxic chemicals forms the "Key Issues" as published below, and also the "Key Allergens" that concern human health. Being able to honor our audience, listen and respond to them, we share our thoughts with consumers, manufacturers and the Australian government by campaigning for a healthier future. Your help is needed, you can make a difference! Consumers are the most powerful people on the planet, the choices you make shape the future of our global community.
"Safe Cosmetics Australia, The Toxic-Free Campaign, is calling for make-up giants
to reformulate their products & make ingredient labeling clearer."

Top Offenders

Current legislation allows the following chemicals to be used in everyday household items like tooth paste, face wash, shampoo & conditioner, skin care creams, hair care products, baby care products, sunscreen and many more items - even when science has proven direct links to adverse health issues. Safe Cosmetics Australia has compiled the following list of unnecessary ingredients that are of the highest concern to your health & safety.

Meeting SCA's Toxic-Free & Non-Toxic Criteria
If you want to avoid unnecessary chemicals, keep an eye out for the ingredients listed below. Where a given product contains less than 1% combined total usage of the following ingredients outlined below, the product will be accepted as toxic-free. Where a given product contains more than 1% and less than 15% combined total usage of the following ingredients outlined below, the product will be accepted as non-toxic. Where a given product contains more than 15% combined total usage of the following ingredients outlined below, the product will not be certified toxic-free or non-toxic by Safe Cosmetics Australia's standards.

News @ Safe Cosmetics Australia
A new certification seal is being developed that recognises products that have been clinically tested. Products that have been clinically tested for dermal irritation and sensitisation, will be awarded Safe Cosmetics Australia's new allergy certification seal, to be released later this year. Contact us now if you would like to know more about our certification program.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Bleaching Agent

A chemical bleaching agent that is used to remove colour & whiten products. In cosmetics it is often used to treat blemishes, lighten hair colour including hair dye, lash tint, brow tint & shampoo. This strong oxidant is toxic & irritating to the skin.


Synthetic Antioxidants

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and the related compound butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are phenolic compounds that are often added to cosmetics as preservatives & foods to preserve fats. BHA & BHT are synthetic anti-oxidants which can cause sensitivity reactions in users.

Bismuth Oxychloride

Synthetic Colouring Agent

Pure bismuth is a naturally occurring grayish-white powder commonly used in make-up products. It is manufactured by combining bismuth, a by-product of lead & copper metal refining, with chloride (chlorine compound) & water. It has a distinct shimmery, pearlescent appearance that adheres well to skin. It is used as a skin-protective agent, as thickeners & absorbent agents. Bismuth oxychloride was permanently listed by the FDA as a coloring agent in 1977 & as a synthetic ingredient.



Bronopol (INN) is an organic compound that is used as an antimicrobial, preservative & antiseptic agent. Used in hair care products, hand sanitisers, paint & cleaning agents.

Fragrance, Parfum

Synthetic combination of thousands of chemicals

Added to products as aromas or scents. Linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. “Many fragrances are toxic. Some of these fragrances may be phthalates, which can act as obesogens (cause obesity) and may otherwise disrupt normal endocrine function, including reproductive health. Phthalates may cause developmental defects and delays.” – Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert.

Phthalates DPB


Banned in the European Union. Used mainly in nail polish & linked to early onset of puberty and a risk of cancer in later-life; the NICNAS assessment found that DBP alone and/or with the simultaneous use of multiple cosmetic products containing DBP by children and the general population can result in high risk of reproductive toxicity. It is known to cause potential harm to human health.


Polymer Plastics

Used as an adhesive, nail binder, film former and more – known to cause adverse skin, eye, throat reactions. Acrylates and methacrylates (the salts and esters of methacrylic acid) are common monomers in polymer plastics, forming the acrylate polymers.


Industrial Chemical

Benzene is derived form coal tar, a known toxic chemical that is carcinogenic - cancer causing. Used as an adhesive, solvent, thinner and more – known human carcinogen, endocrine disrupter. NICNAS warns; “If a safer chemical or process can be substituted for one which involves benzene, then this should be done; Avoid skin contact by wearing benzene-resistant gloves and other personal protective equipment.” Benzene is added to food & cosmetics as an additive. Occupational exposure to benzene is linked to leukemia, it can target organs including the eyes, skin, blood, respiratory & central nervous systems.



Naturally occurring and commonly used in the form of formalin, it inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Banned in the US, restricted in Canada, formalin is commonly found in nail hardeners, keratin hair straighteners, shampoo and baby wash. Multiple health concerns, mainly skin irritation.

Petrolatum, Petroleum


Petrolatum or Petroleum, is a barrier chemical that is used to lock in moisture & as a cheap synthetic base – petroleum jelly, paraffin oil/wax, mineral oil – they are all known carcinogens, cancer causing chemicals.



Known to cause skin irritation & sensitivities - “They are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors” – Breast Cancer Fund.



Used in nail products as a solvent, it can dissolve & thin paint, also found in hair bleaching agents – Known as a toxic petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Also identified on labels as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is linked to immune system toxicity & developmental changes in unborn babies - expecting mothers should avoid touline vapours.

Coal Tar Dyes

Synthetic Colours

FD&C or D&C artificial colours – derived from coal tar or petroleum. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification considers coal tar dyes to be a human carcinogen and they are banned by the European Union.



Known endocrine disruptor and skin irritant - especially thyroid and reproductive hormones. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. Tricolson can be found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

SLS & SLES - Surfactant, foaming agents

Found in more than 90 percent of personal care and household cleaning products such as shampoo, body wash, cleanser, mascara and acne treatment. SLS is a known skin, lung and eye irritant. SLS has the potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines (carcinogens). In 1983 NICNAS found that "rabbits had adverse skin reactions ranging from slight to severe irritation and that irritation severity increased with increasing concentration."

Propylene Glycol

Skin-conditioning agent

A small organic alcohol that is commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent found in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays. Classified as a skin irritant and penetrator, associated with causing dermatitis and hives in humans — these sensitisation effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2 percent.


Thickener, stabliser

Hair care, oxidative lotion for hair dye. Used as a pain & fever reducer until banned in 1983 by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) due to its carcinogenicity. No longer used as a drug, it is still occasionally used in personal care products as a thickener & stabiliser in products such as facial hair bleach, hair color & women’s depilatories. Phenacetin is a human carcinogen, it can cause renal damage & anemia. Exposure to phenacetin has been linked to malignant mammary tumors.

Mineral Oil


Mineral oils are derived from crude oil, known human carcinogen. It blocks the skin, disrupting the skin's natural barrier & inhibiting it's ability to breathe. Your skin is the largest vital organ that is required to work with your kidneys & liver to remove toxins from your body - anything that interferes with this vital system has a negative impact on your health. Common in a wide array of personal care products including eye shadow, moisturiser, lip gloss, lipstick, conditioner, hair color & bleaching agents, facial treatments, styling gel/lotions, blush and concealer products. Mineral oils can target organs including eyes, skin & the respiratory system though inhalation or skin & eye contact.

Sunscreen Chemicals

Benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate

These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light: common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate & ethoxycinnmate. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) classifies benzophenone as a known toxicant because benzophenone can cause liver hypertrophy in rats at low doses.


Science of manipulating matter

Nanoparticles are used in cosmetics such as face creams, make-up & sunscreen. Nanotechnology experts warn that products are insufficiently tested, that untested particles can be up to 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, and that nanoparticles are being used in products without sufficient safety testing.


Genetically Modified Organism

Studies have linked GM foods with asthma, allergies, inflammation, and intestinal damage. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes GMOs as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally.” According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), animal studies have indicated serious health risks associated with eating GM foods, including infertility, immune system problems & issues with insulin regulation, accelerated aging & changes in the liver, kidney, spleen & digestive system. AAEM recommends that physicians educate their patients and the public to avoid GM foods where possible & to consider GMO's possible role in the disease processes of their patients.


Cocoamide DEA

Triethanolamine (TEA), Diethanolamine (DEA) and Ethanolamine are clear, colorless, thick liquids with ammonia-like odors. Restricted in the US, there is strong evidence that these chemicals are known to be human immune & respiratory toxicants or allergens.

Acrylamide & Polyacyrlamide


Polyacrylamide is derived from acrylamide, a known neurotoxin. Used in the formulation of many cosmetic products including foundation, eye shadow, blush, eyeliner, skin cleansers, moisturisers, lotions, creams, self-tanning products, hair care & nail care products.


Petrochemical solvent

Derived from petroleum mineral oils, Isoparaffin ingredients are used in eye make-up products including mascara, creams & lotions, nail manicure products, skin & hair care products.

Sodium Hypochlorite


Toxic to human health, animals & the environment. Bleach comes from a natural source, from common table salt, but this does not make it safe & nontoxic because the processes that it undergoes rapidly changes it into a toxic chemical. When mixed with ammonia, it creates a deadly gas. Urine contains ammonia, so be careful using bleach in the toilet bowl as there is an increased risk of creating a toxic gas that can stop lung function.