10 Toxic Products You're Using and What To Use Instead

Last year, I realized that my irritated pits and my stained clothes were not normal.

I had been using Gillette deodorant for all my life until that moment.

I traced the problem back to the deodorant. I learned that deodorant with aluminum in it (antiperspirant) clogs your pores, causes irritation, and is not necessary to fight sweat.

It’s the same as taking a pill to stop peeing so you don’t have to go to the bathroom as often.

Not necessary for most people like you and me! So, I switched to a natural deodorant that worked just as well as the antiperspirant, but without suffocating my pits.

After that I went into the rabbit hole finding every product I could possibly swap out in my life for optimal health and appearance.

I’ve listed my findings for you here. First the product category, then ingredients and specific products in that category that you should avoid, and finally what products to replace them with.

BUT you should know how to tell if the products you are using now are good or bad. So as a bonus, I’ve added a guide on how to check your products at the end, so you can make sure not to throw out any good stuff you’re already using.

Hope you learn something new today :) Here is the complete checklist:

Disclaimer: You do NOT have to replace everything on this list. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Start with what you can and adapt. Everything here is for information purposes only and is not medical advice. Everything on this list is based on ingredients within the products.

Ingredients to Avoid 

  • Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
    • These are harsh scrubbing agents that way too aggressive on the skin and hair
  • Parabens like methylparaben
    • These are a type of preservative that prevent mold in the product. They can be allergens, skin irritants, and endocrine disruptors
  • Silicones like dimethicone or anything ending in -cone
    • These are plastics that coat your hair to give it a soft feel and a nice shine. Most types of silicones cause scalp buildup
  • Phthalates
    • These are a type of solvent that’s used to make any scent last longer. They are known endocrine disruptors
  • PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols)
    • Petroleum based ingredients used to help the product absorb into your skin. They give the illusion of shine, but as a petroleum-based ingredient, it doesn’t absorb itself. It can cause scalp buildup, irritation, and dryness.
  • DMDM Hydantoin
    • This is a type of preservative that’s known for its skin irritation issues, and also as a formaldehyde-releasor. Known to cause hair loss and many companies have been sued for using it
  • Fragrance/Parfum
    • This is an obvious one. They give the scent to the shampoo. Problem is that the ingredients used to make fragrance/parfum are one of the top known allergens in personal care products. And since companies don’t have to disclose what ingredients make up their fragrance/parfum, it’s hard to trace down what may be causing an allergy. So it’s best to avoid these to avoid allergies.
    • PRO TIP: finding fragrance free products is hard. If you can’t find any fragrance-free stuff that you like, buy one with fragrance as close to the bottom of the ingredients list as possible
  • Aluminum
    • This is used to plug your pores from releasing sweat. It has been shown to be absorbed into breast tissue. Some may say it causes breast cancer, but I don’t think so. However frequent use of aluminum has been linked with a risk of prostate cancer. There are a lot of bold claims out there saying aluminum causing cancer, which I’m not sure is true. However it does pose a risk that shouldn’t be taken in the case that it is true
  • Triclosan
  • 1,4 Dioxane
    • This is a common contaminant found in cosmetics as a byproduct of sodium lauryl sulfate and PEGs after they’re combined in a chemical process called ethoxylation. They are probable human carcinogens (cancer causing) and they ARE animal carcinogens

Shampoo & Conditioner

Shampoo and conditioner brands you should avoid:
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Garnier and Garnier Whole Blends (including the sulfate free one)
  • OGX (infamous for causing hair loss and irritation) (their lawsuit)
  • Nexxus
  • Nizoral (use it once/twice. Should be a used as a remedy, not your only shampoo)
  • Pantene
  • Olaplex (some shampoos, run it in the ingredient checker below)
  • Selsun Blue
  • Old Spice
  • Irish Spring (double check ingredient checker, but definitely stay away from their 2 in 1, 3 in 1, etc.)
  • Aveeno
  • Redken
  • Neutrogena
  • Aveda
  • Vatika
  • Biolage

What you should replace them with:


Deodorant brands you should avoid:

  • Gillette
  • Old Spice
  • Toms (it’s actually a clean product but it sucks)
  • Degree
  • Dove
  • Secret
  • Mitchum
  • Right Guard
  • Outlast
  • Bravo Sierra
  • Suave
  • Axe (also so you don’t smell like a boy’s locker room in high school)

What you should replace them with:

Bar Soap

Bar soap brands you should avoid:

  • CeraVe (has dimethicone which can’t be washed out)

What you should replace them with:

Body Wash & Shower Gel

Brands you should avoid:

  • Head & Shoulders
  • Garnier
  • Selsun Blue
  • Old Spice
  • OGX
  • Cremo
  • Nivea
  • Aveeno
  • Neutrogena
  • Aveda
  • Biolage

What you should replace them with:

Toothpaste & Mouthwash

Toothpaste brands you should avoid:

  • Colgate
  • Listerine
  • Toms
  • Arm & Hammer
  • Rembrandt
  • Crest (only has sulfates I believe)
  • Pronamel

What you should replace them with:

Hand Soap

Hand soap brands you should avoid:

  • Softsoap
  • Amazon Basics
  • Method
  • Dial
  • Solimo
  • Dove
  • Bath & Body Works

What you should replace them with:

Face Wash

Face wash brands to be careful with (doesn’t mean ALL their stuff is bad):

  • CeraVe (certain products have parabens)
  • Ives
  • Clean & Clear
  • Mario Badescu (I hate them)
  • Dove
  • Bath & Body Works

What you should replace them with:

All Purpose Cleaners

Kitchen cleaner brands you should avoid:

  • Clorox
  • Windex
  • Weiman
  • Easy Off
  • Lysol
  • Clean

What you should replace them with:

Bonus: Cookware

Certain types of cookware can leech PFAS (forever chemicals) into the food that you’re cooking. Once you eat it, you’ll have forever chemicals in your body… well, forever.



Easy way to avoid this is by using stainless steel, ceramic, glass, or cast-iron cookware. Avoid any non-stick cookware that uses Teflon. That’s the main ingredient that leeches PFAS when burning at high heat.

Eating food cooked in Teflon cookware every single day is going to have some adverse health effects… way more than just scalp problems and skin problems.

Having PFAS in your system could lead to:

  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women

And who knows what the real effects are? These effects are just what we know now. You absolutely want to cut out Teflon based non-stick cookware ASAP!

Bonus: Makeup

The average woman in the US uses 12 cosmetic products composed of 168 chemical ingredients daily.  I don’t know too much about makeup, but I know that there are some concerns with the chemicals they’re using to make the stuff.



A lot of the same stuff I mentioned before apply here too, like:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • BHT
  • Triclosan

These can also be found in makeup products. In fact, I bet you noticed a lot of the ingredients repeated themselves.

That’s because the personal care, cosmetics, and beauty industry are notorious for this.

 There are some more like talc, which causes respiratory problems when inhaled(aka all the time when you’re wearing makeup).

Makeup is a concern you should have if you wear it, especially since you’d be wearing it nearly all day

Bonus: How to Check Products For Damaging Chemicals

Most products you can get nowadays are littered with harsh and/or toxic chemicals. This is extremely bad for your hair because they can cause a bunch of hair, scalp, and health issues without you even realizing it.



Some obvious ones are dryness, dandruff, flakes, itchiness, excess oil, lack of volume, and impossible to manage hair.

Some ones you may not realize are scalp irritation and redness, acne, hair loss, scalp buildup, endocrine disruption, allergic reactions, and organ damage.

Now this all sounds scary, but most of the not obvious effects usually don’t happen unless you’ve been using certain products for a long time.

Checking your products for these potentially toxic chemicals is extremely important for not only hair health but also your overall health.

Here are some easy ways to check your products:

  • Scanning the barcode on your products with Yuka
  • Searching your product in EWG’s database
  • Using an ingredient analyzing website like com or curlsbot.com
  • Reading the back of your ingredient label manually
    • Ingredients are sorted by how much of each ingredient is in the product.
    • For example, if an ingredient label says water, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrance, that means that water is the highest occurring ingredient, then SLS, then fragrance.
    • Read the ingredients to avoid that I listed all throughout this guide. Spot these ingredients in a label, and if you see them, toss the product. You’ll get better at it with time.
    • Here’s a more detailed guide on how to read ingredients

What To Do Next?

So, you read through all the products and their alternatives… and you’re wondering what to do next?

My suggestion: Start with the simplest stuff, then work on switching more. Check your ingredients. Switch your bar soap. Switch your kitchen cleaner.

Start small and then work your way up! The smallest stuff sets the foundation for all the products to work their best to make your body as free of toxins as it can possibly be.

And the sooner you get started, the better!

Take this guide and run with it, I guarantee that you’ll see the results that you want :)

- Humza Islam

P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at humza@vayose.com, or reply to the email that you got this checklist in!

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