At Kavella® we have strict standards for our product formulations.

Did you know?

Under U.S. law, finished cosmetic products and their ingredient lists do not need FDA approval before they go on the market. Coded, INCI listed cosmetic ingredients, used as intended, have already been approved for safety by the FDA. (The one exception is color additive ingredients, which do have to be approved for their intended use in the US.)

Companies and individuals who market cosmetics bear the responsibility to ensure the safety of their finished products.1

Kavella takes our dedication to safe, nontoxic products much further than that. We ensure our products are free of the following ingredients that are commonly found in salon products:

We want our customers to be informed about the products they purchase and what they choose to put on their bodies!

Some of the above ingredients may be harmful to you, the environment or both, which is why we made the conscious decision to make our products without unnecessary additives that are potentially dangerous to consumers and the environment.

The bottom-line is, FDA has a short list of ingredients that are prohibited and restricted from use in cosmetics, (, however, with our stricter guidelines, we have also banned the following ingredients: 


Animal-Derived Ingredients

All Kavella® products are considered Vegan, free from animal by-products. In addition, Kavella® is cruelty-free and PETA certified, which means we do not test on animals.

We only use ingredients that we know are safe, so there would never be a reason to test on animals.

This is not a loophole to state “WE do not test on animals” on our product; with our PETA certification, even our raw material suppliers cannot test the ingredients we use on animals. Learn more here


Ammonium/Sodium Sulfates

These common shampoo ingredients are very effective at cleansing and degreasing your hair. However, they can also damage the hair and scalp by stripping them of the natural oils that keep them healthy.

This is why your hair stylist tells you not to wash your hair every day!

According to the American Journal of Toxicology Studies, the higher the concentration of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate the more likely you are to have skin corrosion and severe irritation.

Even though, these are usually only used in wash off formulas, we choose to use more gentle alternatives that will cleanse the hair and scalp without damaging them. 


Paraben Preservatives

Parabens are an important family of chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic and other products. They protect consumers from harmful bacteria and mold that would otherwise invade the cosmetics (and other products) people use on a daily basis.

Basically, without preservatives, all cosmetics would have a very short shelf life and might deem the cosmetics themselves harmful.

The FDA is aware of consumer’s growing concern over the use of parabens and their scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens.

At this time, they do not feel there is sufficient data showing that parabens, as used in cosmetics, have an effect on human health and are therefore not limiting or prohibiting them in cosmetics.

In the meantime, some international countries are taking steps to guarantee protection in both facets, for example the European Union restricts the concentration of parabens in cosmetics and has went so far as to ban select parabens. 

The European Commission decision followed an assessment by the independent Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) and they carried out the following in 20142:

  1. They limited the maximum concentration of two preservatives: Propylparaben and Butylparaben.
  2. In early 2014, they banned the use of five other parabens in cosmetic products – Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben.

Taking everything into consideration, especially consumer concern, Kavella® has chosen to ban parabens entirely from their products and uses other safer preservatives to ensure consumer safety. Learn more here



Although not seen as a universally toxic ingredient, it is of concern to those individuals with gluten allergies, as cosmetics do come in to contact with the skin/scalp.

Therefore, we do not use any ingredients that include wheat, oat, rye, or any other materials that may include gluten. There is also concern over companies not being forthright in identifying gluten in their products.

Common gluten ingredients found in other products include hydrolyzed wheat and oat proteins. We instead use jojoba, quinoa, rice and baobab proteins to keep your hair healthy and strong!


Formaldehyde and FRP’s (Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives)

Sure you have heard about formaldehyde from biology class (who else opted out of dissecting that poor frog!?), but did you know it could be in your cosmetics? Shocking, right? Because in that same biology class, we were also taught it is quite dangerous!

So while it’s a great preservative, especially for things that are already dead, we would rather not have it in our cosmetics. Formaldehyde (also known as methylene oxide) is cited as a known carcinogen and skin irritant by various authorities.3 So as consumers are wising up, use of pure formaldehyde in cosmetics is going down.

However, it is still quite common, hidden as a formaldehyde releaser (chemicals that when added to water form formaldehyde) in the form of one of the following:

quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, and Hydroxymethylglycinate.

At Kavella®, we don’t use formaldehyde or any of the formaldehyde releasers in our products. And although its use is quite the norm, the data is still inconclusive, so we won’t take a chance and use Tetrasodium EDTA, because it is also made from formaldehyde.


Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT)

These preservatives are commonly found in liquid personal care products, such as shampoos and conditioners. Their concerns include neurotoxicity, skin irritation and immune system toxicity (8), with CMIT showing potential as a cancer-causing mutagen (9)(10).

They can be found in salon products that claim to be safe and nontoxic, so always check your labels. Learn more about these ingredients on our detailed blog post here: Keep Your Kathon. Kavella has alternatives!


Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

PEGs are emulsifiers, emollients and vehicles for deeply penetrating the skin and based on available studies they are thought to be relatively safe for use in cosmetics. That being said, PEGs may be contaminated with impurities: ethylene oxide (known carcinogen) and 1,4-dioxane (possible carcinogen). 

Although PEGs are considered reasonably safe, one of their main uses, as skin penetrating enhancer is of concern, because just as they can help the good chemicals penetrate your skin, unfortunately they are not selective and they also help those nasty impurities and harmful chemicals penetrate your skin, as well.

Since they can’t be selective, we will, by opting for safer chemicals!

Also note that some product lines claiming to be PEG free still use them… they simply hide behind chemicals that don’t contain PEG directly in their name. For example, Ceteareth-20 is the polyethylene glycol ether of cetearyl alcohol and can be found in some “PEG-free” products.

Another is Trideceth-12, which is the polyethylene glycol ether of a long fatty alcohol, tridecyl alcohol. 


Nonfunctional Artificial Colorants

The only product that Kavella formulates with colorants is our Purple Shampoo because the colorants serve an important function: to tone the hair. We are also releasing a Blue Shampoo and possibly other colors if our stylists request them.

We use vegan synthetic colorants in this product only because natural colorants (derived from plants) don’t stain the hair; they simply rinse away. We choose not to use nonfunctional colorants in any of our other products because we think that unnecessary over-exposure is just that… unnecessary.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, color additives are the only ingredients that require approval before use in cosmetics. There is a short list of approved colorants “exempt” from batch certification. The certifiable color additives are man-made, derived primarily from petroleum and coal sources.

The manufacturer submits a sample from the batch for which it is requesting certification, and FDA tests the sample to determine whether it meets the color additive’s requirements for composition and purity.

If it does, FDA “certifies” the batch and issues a certification lot number. Only then can that batch be used legally in FDA. Each dye has its own set of health risks, which is why FDA has limited their use.


Synthetic Fragrances

Let’s face it, scents sell products! But could this be the cause of your allergy and sensitivity woes? 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances are considered the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. As a health problem, this sensitivity alone affects more than 2 million people, and studies suggest that sensitivity is on the rise.4 

The other part of the problem, “fragrance” gets a free pass, under the law—it’s the only ingredient that’s allowed to hide in plain sight on the label, so consumers are legally left in the dark about chemicals that they might want to know about.

As a means of propriety, the FDA exempts5 manufacturers from having to be more specific than “fragrance” on the label, even though that “fragrance” in the product might contain more than one synthetic substance, preservative… or worse, known allergens to you!!

Kavella is transparent with our ingredients, so you can make informed decisions about the products you are buying!


Phthalates (and more about synthetic fragrances)

Synthetic fragrances sometimes include one of the latest hot button ingredients-phthalates. No, it is not missing a vowel and can you say it three times in a row? Di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and Dimethylphthalate (DMP), are just a few of the phthalates have been used for years in consumer products for various reasons.

Dimethylphthalate (DMP) has been used in hair sprays to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair; and di-ethylphthalate (DEP) has been used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances. After much investigation and testing, FDA recently stated, DEP is the only phthalate still commonly used in cosmetics.

Moreover, FDA stated, “based on available safety information, DEP does not pose known risks for human health as it is currently used in cosmetics and fragrances”6 (read as a topical ingredient and not ingested).

However, conscientious consumers who still want to purchase cosmetics free of phthalates (and other ingredients they can’t pronounce) can be rest assured our products do not contain them!



You’ve probably seen them on ingredient labels listed as MEA, DEA or TEA, which stand for monoethanolamine, diethanolamine and triethanolamine. These compounds are usually used as emulsifiers, foaming agents or pH adjusters in cosmetics. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review says they are okay to use in rinse-off products only and have usage limitations.

However, based on studies showing linkage to cancer (See National Toxicology Program (NTP) studies), the European Union has restricted concentration and use of DEA.7 We’ll follow the EU’s lead and raise them one, by banning all of them from our products.

Our banned ingredients include Cocamide DEA/MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA, Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate and Triethanolamine. (11)



Siloxanes are a common silicone found in haircare products. These ingredients, such as cyclopentasiloxane or cyclomethicone, are ultra lightweight silicones that offer many benefits such as shine, slip and detangling.

They work great for many haircare applications, but unfortunately it comes at a price. There is debate on whether or not siloxanes are harmful to humans, but unfortunately, we know that siloxanes are toxic to aquatic life.

Siloxanes bioaccumulate when they are introduced into our water waste, meaning they gather in the bodies of  aquatic lifeforms, poisoning smaller aquatic life forms that then passes on the toxins to larger lifeforms.

“When siloxane mixes with other harmful chemicals that may be contained in our wastewater, it leads to the formation of a dangerous chemical cocktail of harmful substances that is often very difficult to treat or get rid of.”


And now you know!

Probably more than you wanted to, but we like educating our customers! At Kavella® we have done the homework for you and we will continue to stay abreast of the latest concerns regarding consumer safety. As a society, we are getting smarter about the products we buy.

These days self-policing by manufacturers is not enough, you have to be your own advocate. Just know, as consumers too, we are on your side.