Ingredient Analysis: Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub

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Hi everyone! 

This video and post was inspired by the movie Dark Waters. If you haven’t seen it yet – it’s eye opening. The biggest takeaway for me what that we really need to take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves about what we are putting on or into our body from an ingredient perspective. Although we’d love to think that the FDA has our best interests in mind (I truly think that they do) it turns out that they do not regulate personal care products. US law does not require personal and cosmetic care products to get safety approval (with the exception of color additives) before going to market. 

One of these ingredients that we see everywhere is “Fragrance.” Federal labeling requires manufacturers to use the label “Fragrance” for literally anything that masks a bad odor in the product or creates a good one. There are now over 3,000 ingredients that could be considered a fragrance and technically aren’t “investigated” because of the label implications. 

Also Parabens? They have the ability to mimic estrogen! This means that they are a hormone disruptor. Our body thinks that there’s more estrogen in our body than normal (or when it is in balance) and it can start to accelerate growth of cells that can increase your risk for breast cancer.

Below, I will briefly summarize what I found on each ingredient in terms that the average consumer can understand rather than the chemist. I can’t guarantee that I’m able to pronounce every single one though…

I also want to say that this is not a dig at CPG companies or anything along those lines. It’s solely a matter of being aware of these ingredients, feeling educated on their impacts to yourself and your body, so that you are empowered to make the most informed decisions about the products that you purchase for use.

I’d also like to introduce some cleaner skincare companies.



  • Good ole’ H2O we all know and love. 


  • Non-toxic, used for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  • Used to make product “foamy”
  • Concern that sometimes “SLS” is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane because of the chemical process it goes through. 
  • Dept. of Health considers 1,4 dioxane as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen.
  • EPA established 1,4 dioxane is a probable human carcinogen.

Hydrogenated Castor Oil

  • Derived from castor beans!
  • Castor oil alone is great for cleaning your skin (on its own) and healing scars. 

Lauryl Glucoside

  • Biodegradable ingredient derived from coconut oil and glucose (sugar!) 
  • Coconut oil has a fairly high likelihood of clogging pores. 
  • This is another agent that makes it ”foamy.”

PEG-16 Soy Sterol

  • PEG is derived from petroleum, inherently a non-renewable ingredient and derived from fossil fuels
  • Manufactured from producing distilled soybean oil. They react soybean oil sterols with a specific number of units from ethylene oxide. 
  • Ethylene Oxide: Used to make antifreeze and is a carcinogen according to the EPA. Banned in the EU because of safety and environmental concerns.

Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer

  • Form of silicone, which are pretty bad for your skin.
  • Silicone’s intent is to lock in moisture beneath your skin however it also traps dirt, dead skin cells and other bad stuff that clogs your pores. 
  • If you use this every day, it can lead to prolonged acne.


  • Synthetic preservative made from a process where phenol is treated with ethylene oxide (carcinogen)
  • Toxic to the kidneys, nervous system and liver. 
  • FDA placed warning to nursing mothers using brand of nipple cream that contains this ingredient. Known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and central nervous system problems in infants.

Glycol Distearate

  • Compound made from stearic acid (a fatty acid which comes from animal or vegetable fats) and ETHYLENE OXIDE. 
  • Makes the product “silky” and “pearlescent” 
  • Serves as a “surfactant” which opens up your skin for absorption

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

  • Mixture derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA)
  • DMAPA: National Cancer Society checked this out and found that it’s corrosive to the skin, and female rats exposed to high amounts died within 14-28 days. Rats experienced swollen abdomen, impaired respiration, too.


  • Used as an antifungal and preservative
  • Easily absorbed through the skin
  • Parabens throw your hormones out of whack, having the ability to mimic Estrogen
  • Can spur the growth of certain breast cancer cells (too much estrogen, higher risk for breast cancer)

Butylene Glycol

  • Used to give the product a thin consistency
  • Concluded that it has low order of toxicity when used in skin care and safe by the World Health Organization and FDA. 

Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil

  • Natural ingredients from the seeds of a desert shrub!


  • Federal labeling requires that ingredients added to provide pleasant scent or mask a bad one need only to be listed as “fragrance” 
  • 3,000 ingredients can be deemed under “fragrance” 
  • Popular fragrance is “Styrene” which is a known human carcinogen


  • Synthetic polymer composed of lauryl alcohol and PEG (mentioned before) 
  • Due to the presence of PEG, this ingredient may contain toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4 dioxine (carcinogen)

Tetrasodium EDTA

  • Not a carcinogen
  • Used to bind ingredients and make the wash more stable

Sodium Hydroxide

  • Co-product of chlorine product
  • Can cause irritation and tough on the eyes

Glycine Soja (soybean)

  • Oil obtained by soybeans. 
  • According to Herbal Dynamic Beauty, Soybean oil is ranked in 4-5 with being comedogenic meaning it is super likely to clog pores.


  • Used to combine water with layer of skin

Citric Acid

  • Used to promote skin peeling and re-growth
  • Leaves that intensity feeling!
  • Natural

Thanks for reading! Curious to hear your thoughts and as always, I don’t know everything so if I miss interpreted something and you disagree, or have something to add…let me know!

Below are the sources from each ingredient. I have found that overall the Environmental Working Group is a great resource to better understand ingredients as a whole.




Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer


Glycol Distearate

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:


Butylene Glycol



Tetrasodium EDTA

Sodium Hydroxide

Soybean Oil


Citric Acid

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