We believe in formulating cosmetics with ingredients that are natural and non-toxic. The ingredients we use serve as high-quality alternatives to the toxic and synthetic ingredients found in conventional makeup, and many of our products feature skin care quality ingredients to nourish and benefit your skin.
The HAN Nasty List is a non-comprehensive list of ingredients and chemicals that we don’t believe should be in cosmetics. They’ve either been found to be harmful to humans or animals or are highly suspected of being harmful. We don’t include any in our products and hope by sharing this list, you will look out for them in the cosmetics and personal care products that you purchase as well.
Typically used as a preservative, parabens have been found to be able to penetrate the skin of humans and animals and are linked to cancer and hormone disruption.
Parabens have been banned in the European Union since 2012, but they unfortunately are still in U.S. products. Luckily, parabens are pretty easy to identify. Just look for “parabens” at the end of an ingredient name – like methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) are common preservatives and found primarily in lipsticks and moisturizers.
BHT and BHA can irritate the skin, causing an allergic reaction. More severely, evidence shows that long-term exposure to BHT and BHA interferes with normal hormone & organ function and may be linked to cancer.
Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are common across industries, from construction to medical devices to consumer plastics. They’ve been tied to endocrine disruption and reproductive defects.
Phthalates are already banned in children’s toys, but no regulation for cosmetics and other industries exists.
There are six types of watch out for: BBP, DBP, DEHP, DIDP, DINP and DnHP. The acronyms are hard to remember, so it may be easier to remember to be wary when you come across 3 or 4 letter acronyms that end with “P.” If the chemical name is spelled out, it will always have “phthalate” at the end of the name.
Coal Tar Dyes (FD&C, D&C) (includes Carbon Black)
Coal Tar Dyes are colorants made out of organic compounds. They’re also known as FD&C (which stands for Food, Drugs and Cosmetics – the categories the FDA has approved their use for) and D&C (Drugs and Cosmetics) in the U.S. Coal Tar Dye itself is a known carcinogen and is frequently found to be contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, including lead.
Some coal tar dyes are easy to spot. They generally follow the formula “color” and “number,” like Yellow 6 or Red 4. They might specify FD&C or D&C in the name. Sometimes, they’ll have the word “lake” at the end.
Another coal tar dye name to remember is Carbon Black, also known as D&C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black. Carbon Black is a popular ingredient to make deep blacks for eyeliners and mascara, but is also used for foundation, blushes, and other cosmetics.
Instead of Coal Tar Dyes, HAN uses a combination of minerals and plant-based colorants (such as beetroot and carrot pigments), which are less likely to contain heavy metals.
Synthetic Fragrance can be an umbrella term for hundreds of separate chemicals. Unfortunately, brands can choose not to disclose specific chemicals because they’re considered trade secrets. Due to the lack of transparency, “fragrance” can include anything from carcinogenic chemicals, petroleum, and phthalates (another ingredient we include on our Nasty List).
Synthetic fragrances can usually be identified as “fragrance” on the ingredient label. Sometimes, a product may be “unscented” or “fragrance-free” and still contain fragrance plus other chemicals to mask the scent, so it’s still important to double check labels. One way that HAN avoids synthetic fragrances is by using naturally-derived and plant-based ingredients, like the natural vanilla in our cheek & lip tints and lavender oil in our concealers.
Animal Fats, Oils
In addition to animal testing, animal fats and oils are another form of animal cruelty in the cosmetics industry. Animal fats and oils are by-products of the animal slaughtering process that can’t be consumed by people and instead are turned into cosmetics ingredients. In addition to being a product of animal cruelty, animal fats and oils can potentially cause irritation in humans.
Animal fats and oils can be labeled under the vague phrase “natural fats and oils,” which also encompasses plant-derived fats and oils. Other times, they’re listed separately. A helpful list of animal-based fats, oils, and other ingredients can be found on PETA’s website: https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/. HAN uses plant oils, such as coconut oil, açaí oil, plant-based castor oil, instead of animal fats and oils. HAN’s cheek & lip tint and lip glosses do contain beeswax, which are considered animal byproducts, but we ensure that the beeswax is collected in an ethical and humane manner and have a statement from our supplier confirming so.
Bismuth Oxychloride makes up the “mineral” in popular “mineral powders” because of its shimmery, pearly texture. Bismuth Oxychloride has actually been used as a replacement for talc, another ingredient on our Nasty List, to absorb moisture, thicken products and protect skin. Because of its crystalline structure, Bismuth Oxychloride has also been found to irritate skin, getting stuck in pores and aggravating acne.
Though Bismuth Oxychloride is found in many mineral products, it is not naturally-derived and is instead the synthetic product of a complicated refining process. Bismuth Oxychloride is made from lead, tin, and copper, which means that those elements sometimes get extracted into the compound as well. Chloride is added as the refining continues. Just like with talc, HAN uses natural rice powder as a replacement for Bismuth Oxychloride to achieve the same absorption and thickening properties.
Mineral oil, also known as liquid petroleum, paraffin oil, and white mineral oil, is a popular moisturizing ingredient. Made from petroleum, mineral oil has a high chance of contamination and build-up from carcinogenic chemicals.
Instead, HAN uses non-petroleum natural source, such as açaí oil, argan oil and vitamin E to provide the same moisturizing power as mineral oils.
Nanoparticles are the general term for any engineering materials smaller than 100 nanometers. They’re typically used to protect fragile active ingredients and are common in sunscreens. Because of the small size of nanoparticles, they’re easily inhaled and can stay in the lungs for over six months. Some evidence shows that they may reach the brain and blood.
Nanoparticles go by a number of names, such as fullerenes, micronized zinc oxide, nano zinc oxide, micronized titanium dioxide, and micronized quartz silica. Note that each ingredient typically needs to be followed by “nano” or “micronized” to be considered a nanoparticle. So even though you’ll find titanium dioxide as a colorant in HAN products, they aren’t nanoparticles. Because of the larger size of our titanium dioxide, the ingredient sits on the surface level and doesn’t seep into the skin like nanoparticles do.
Some ingredients have been researched and found to be harmful to humans and animals to varying degrees or in specific circumstances. Our goal is to decrease exposure to harmful toxins and stay kind to animals, so we formulate our cosmetics without these controversial ingredients to reduce risk of toxic exposure and ensure that our products are free of animal cruelty.
Carmine is the ingredient behind a lot of red pigments. It can be found in food as well as cosmetics. Usually listed as “cochineal extract,” “carmine” or “Natural Red 4,” carmine is not cruelty-free since it is made from crushed cochineal insects. Because carmine is made at the expense of insects, HAN avoids using carmine in our red pigments. Instead, the red in our cosmetics comes from a combination of minerals and plant-based pigments, including pigments from pink carrot and beetroot.
Talc (also known as Talcum powder and cosmetic talc) is best known for being a ingredient in baby powder, but you can find talc in a number of other personal care products. Some talc has been found to contain asbestos, the mineral that has already been restricted and linked to the lung disease mesothelioma and cancer. Talc itself has been found to be interfere with proper functioning of the lungs and female reproductive system. Talc is already regulated in the European Union, and Johnson & Johnson recently lost a lawsuit that linked its baby powders to ovarian cancer.
Talc does have a practical use in cosmetics – to absorb moisture, prevent caking, soften beauty products, and help makes face products opaque. Due to the controversy around talc however, HAN chooses to use natural rice powder as a replacement.