The "NO" List

Our mission is to provide a harmonious balance between the welfare of horses, the health of individuals, and the preservation of our environment. Below is our "NO" List - ingredients we will never put in any of our products and information about each one.

people riding horses on the beach

these are our non-negotiables - they will never be in our products

Our "NO" List


Sulfates are a type of surfactant commonly used in hair care products to create lather and remove dirt and oil from the hair and scalp. The most common sulfates found in equine grooming and hair care products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

While sulfates are effective at cleansing, they can have some potential drawbacks. Here are a few reasons why sulfates are often considered bad in hair care:

Stripping natural oils: Sulfates have strong cleansing properties that can strip away natural oils from the hair and scalp. This can lead to dryness, frizz, and irritation for some individuals, especially those with dry or sensitive scalps.

Scalp and skin irritation: Sulfates can be harsh on the scalp and skin, causing irritation, itching, and redness. Animals and people with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema may find sulfates exacerbate their symptoms.

Potential damage to hair: Sulfates can weaken the hair shaft over time, making it more prone to breakage and damage.

Sulfates can also contribute to environmental issues. When sulfate-containing products, such as shampoos and soaps, are washed off and enter water systems through drains, they can have several impacts:

Water pollution: Sulfates can be persistent in water bodies and may accumulate over time. High concentrations of sulfates in water can disrupt aquatic ecosystems and harm aquatic life.

Negative effects on aquatic organisms: Sulfates can affect the oxygen balance in water, making it harder for aquatic organisms to breathe. This can harm fish and other aquatic species.

Formation of harmful byproducts: Sulfates can react with other chemicals present in the environment to form potentially harmful byproducts, such as sulfides or disinfection byproducts. These byproducts can have adverse effects on water quality and human health.

Impact on wastewater treatment plants: Sulfates can be challenging to remove through conventional wastewater treatment processes. Their presence can increase the burden on treatment plants and impact their efficiency.


Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives commonly used in hair care and cosmetic products to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungi. They are effective in extending the shelf life of products and maintaining their stability. Parabens can be found in various hair care products such as shampoos, conditioners, styling products, and hair sprays.

However, concerns have been raised about the potential risks associated with Parabens. Here's why they are considered undesirable in hair care and their potential environmental impact:

Hormonal disruption: Parabens have been found to possess weak estrogenic activity, meaning they can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. Prolonged exposure to parabens has been associated with potential hormonal disruptions, including alterations in the endocrine system. This has raised concerns regarding their potential link to reproductive issues, breast cancer, and other hormonal-related disorders.

Skin irritation and allergies: Some individuals may experience skin irritation, redness, itching, and allergic reactions when exposed to parabens. People with sensitive skin or existing skin conditions are more prone to these reactions.

Environmental persistence: Parabens are not readily biodegradable and can persist in the environment. When products containing parabens are rinsed off during use or disposed of improperly, they can enter wastewater systems and ultimately reach water bodies. Parabens have been detected in the environment, including rivers and marine ecosystems, raising concerns about their potential impact on aquatic organisms and ecosystems.

Regulatory restrictions: Due to the potential health and environmental risks associated with parabens, regulatory authorities in some countries have imposed limitations or bans on specific types of parabens in cosmetic and personal care products.

In response to consumer concerns, many hair care brands have opted to formulate their products without the use of parabens.

DMDM Hydantoin

DMDM hydantoin is a common preservative that extends the shelf life of beauty and skin care products. But since it releases small amounts of formaldehyde, a reported carcinogen, its use has raised some concerns.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes DMDM hydantoin and other formaldehyde-releasing chemicals as potential allergens for some people - and that can translate to your horse as well.

While current findings suggest it takes long-term exposure to higher doses of this chemical to increase health risks, it can’t hurt to avoid products with DMDM hydantoin if your horse is prone to skin issues, or has dermatitis.

If your horse experiences hair loss, rashes, or any other symptoms of irritation that seem linked to product use, a good next step involves eliminating products with that ingredient to narrow down the cause of these reactions.



PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are a group of synthetic compounds commonly used in hair care products as emulsifiers, thickeners, and moisture-retaining agents. They are widely utilized due to their ability to improve the texture, consistency, and stability of hair care formulations.

However, there are concerns surrounding the use of PEGs in hair care products. Here's why they are considered unfavorable for hair care and the environment:

Skin irritation: PEGs can be potential irritants to the skin, especially for individuals with sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions. Prolonged or excessive exposure to high concentrations of PEGs can lead to skin dryness, redness, itching, and discomfort.

Contaminant susceptibility: PEGs have the ability to facilitate the absorption of certain contaminants through the skin. If PEG-containing products are contaminated with harmful substances, such as impurities or toxins, the presence of PEGs can enhance their penetration into the body, raising potential health concerns.

Environmental impact: PEGs can contribute to environmental pollution when they are rinsed off and enter water systems. They can undergo degradation processes, such as photolysis and microbial breakdown, forming harmful byproducts that can be detrimental to aquatic ecosystems and wildlife.

Manufacturing concerns: The production of PEGs involves the use of ethylene oxide, a chemical that has been classified as a potential human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide is used to initiate the polymerization process that creates PEGs. While residual amounts of ethylene oxide are expected to be minimal in the final product, its use in the manufacturing process raises health and safety considerations.

To address these concerns, some hair care brands offer PEG-free alternatives. Choosing PEG-free hair care products can help reduce the potential risks associated with these compounds and support more environmentally friendly practices


Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are commonly used as plasticizers in various industries, including hair care products. They are primarily used to enhance the flexibility, durability, and longevity of plastics. In hair care, phthalates can be found in certain hair sprays, gels, and styling products.

However, there are concerns regarding the potential negative effects of phthalates on both human health and the environment. Here's why phthalates are considered undesirable in hair care and beyond:

Health risks: Certain types of phthalates, such as diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), have been linked to adverse health effects. They are classified as endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with hormonal balance and potentially disrupt reproductive and developmental processes. Long-term exposure to phthalates has been associated with hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, and even certain cancers.

Skin and scalp irritation: Phthalates can cause irritation and allergic reactions in some individuals, particularly those with sensitive skin or scalp conditions. Symptoms may include redness, itching, dryness, and inflammation.

Environmental impact: Phthalates are not easily biodegradable and can persist in the environment for extended periods. When products containing phthalates are rinsed off during use or disposed of improperly, they can enter water bodies and soil. Phthalates have been detected in aquatic environments and are considered a potential threat to ecosystems and wildlife.

Regulatory restrictions: Due to the potential health risks associated with certain phthalates, regulatory bodies in various countries have implemented restrictions and bans on their use in certain consumer products, including cosmetics and personal care items.


Silicones are a group of synthetic compounds derived from silicon, a natural element abundant in sand and rocks. They are commonly used in skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products for their unique properties. Silicones are valued for their smooth texture, ability to create a protective barrier, and enhance product spreadability and shine. However, there are considerations regarding their impacts on skin, hair, and the environment. Here's an overview:

Skin and hair effects: Silicones can create a temporary, non-breathable barrier on the skin and hair, which can make the surface feel smoother and appear shiny. This barrier can help reduce water loss and provide a perceived softness. However, some individuals may experience issues such as clogged pores, acne breakouts, or scalp irritation due to the occlusive nature of silicones. These effects vary depending on the equine/individual's skin or hair and sensitivity.

Product buildup and performance: Silicones have the potential to accumulate on the hair and form a coating over time. This can lead to product buildup, weigh down the hair/mane & tail, and impact natural moisture balance. Regular use of silicone-based products may require clarifying shampoos or more thorough cleansing to remove accumulated residues.

Environmental impact: Silicones are not readily biodegradable and can persist in the environment for a long time. When washed off during use or disposed of improperly, silicones can end up in water bodies and contribute to water pollution. They can accumulate in aquatic ecosystems and have the potential to impact marine life.

Biodegradable alternatives: Some companies are developing silicone alternatives that are biodegradable and more environmentally friendly. These alternatives aim to provide similar benefits without the concerns associated with traditional silicones.  At The Gilded Paddock, we evaluate these alternatives and will consider them if they meet our stringent standards.

It's important to note that not all silicones have the same impact. Some silicones, such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone, are more commonly used and have a higher likelihood of potential drawbacks. However, other silicones, like water-soluble silicones, may offer easier rinsability and reduced buildup concerns.

As a consumer, it is advisable to consider your personal preferences and needs when deciding whether to use products containing silicones. Opting for silicone-free or silicone-alternative products may be suitable for those who prefer to avoid these compounds or seek more environmentally conscious options.


Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a strong, distinct odor. It is used in various industries, including some cosmetic and hair care products, as a preservative, disinfectant, or as an ingredient in certain hair straightening treatments. Some formaldehyde releasing preservatives are often found in horse grooming products, they include:  polyquaternium-7, polyquaternium-10, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, bronopol, and imidazolidinyl urea. 

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing compounds can have potential impacts on skin, hair, and the environment. Here's an overview:

Skin and hair effects: Formaldehyde can be a skin and respiratory irritant, especially when used in high concentrations or in products that release formaldehyde gas. Direct contact with formaldehyde can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and allergic reactions. It can also lead to scalp irritation, dryness, and potential hair breakage.

Sensitization and allergies: Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause sensitization, leading to an increased risk of developing allergies. Some individuals may develop allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis or asthma symptoms, when exposed to formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing compounds.

Carcinogenic potential: Formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Prolonged exposure to high levels of formaldehyde has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including nasal and throat cancers.

Environmental impact: Formaldehyde can be released into the environment through various sources, including the use and disposal of products containing formaldehyde. It can contribute to air pollution and may have adverse effects on ecosystems when released into water bodies.

To address these concerns, regulatory authorities in many countries have established guidelines and regulations to limit the use of formaldehyde in cosmetic and personal care products. Additionally, many brands offer formaldehyde-free or low-formaldehyde formulations, especially in hair care products and treatments.

1, 4 Dioxane

1,4-Dioxane can be created as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain ingredients used in personal care products, including hair care items. It is primarily formed through a reaction called ethoxylation.

Ethoxylation is a chemical process that involves treating certain compounds, such as fatty alcohols or ethylene glycol, with ethylene oxide. This reaction helps modify the properties of these compounds and make them more suitable for use in cosmetics and personal care products.

During the ethoxylation process, there is a possibility of residual ethylene oxide remaining in the final product. If these products are contaminated with ethylene oxide and not adequately purified, 1,4-dioxane can form as a byproduct.

As a consumer, it can be challenging to determine the exact amount of 1,4-dioxane in a product without access to specialized equipment and testing methods. However, there are some general guidelines and indicators that can help inform your decision:

Look for ingredient transparency: Reputable brands often provide ingredient lists on their products or websites. Check the ingredient list for any ingredients that may be associated with 1,4-dioxane contamination. Ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), polyethylene glycols (PEGs), and ingredients with "eth" in their name (e.g., ceteareth) have the potential to be associated with 1,4-dioxane contamination.

Here's why 1,4-dioxane is considered undesirable in hair care and its potential environmental impact:

Carcinogenic potential: 1,4-Dioxane has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Prolonged or repeated exposure to high levels of 1,4-dioxane has been associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including liver and kidney cancer.

Skin and eye irritation: 1,4-Dioxane can cause skin and eye irritation in some individuals. Direct contact with products containing high levels of 1,4-dioxane may lead to redness, itching, burning sensation, or discomfort.

Persistence in the environment: 1,4-Dioxane is highly soluble in water and does not readily degrade in the environment. When products containing 1,4-dioxane are rinsed off and enter wastewater systems, it can persist in water bodies and contaminate groundwater. This poses a risk to aquatic organisms and ecosystems.

Regulatory restrictions: Due to its potential health risks, regulatory authorities have established guidelines and restrictions on the levels of 1,4-dioxane allowed in personal care products in various countries.


Petroleum Based Ingredients

Petroleum-based ingredients, also known as mineral oil derivatives or petrochemicals, are derived from crude oil or petroleum. They are commonly used in various skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products due to their low cost, stability, and emollient properties. However, there are concerns regarding their potential impact on skin, hair, and the environment. Here's why petroleum-based ingredients are often considered unfavorable:

Barrier to skin and hair: Petroleum-based ingredients form a barrier on the skin or hair, which can inhibit their ability to breathe and absorb moisture effectively. This may lead to skin dryness, clogged pores, and potential scalp issues.

Lack of nourishment: Unlike natural oils and plant-based ingredients, petroleum-based ingredients do not provide significant nourishment or beneficial nutrients to the skin or hair. They primarily act as occlusive agents, trapping existing moisture but not adding any substantial benefits.

Environmental impact: The extraction and production of petroleum-based ingredients have significant environmental implications. The extraction process can contribute to habitat destruction, air and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, petroleum-based products are not biodegradable, and their disposal can lead to environmental contamination.

Potential impurities: The refining process of petroleum-based ingredients may result in the presence of impurities, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are known to be potentially harmful and can be absorbed through the skin. They have been linked to adverse health effects, including skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even cancer.

Considering these concerns, many consumers opt for natural and plant-derived alternatives in their skincare and hair care products. Natural oils, botanical extracts, and plant-based ingredients offer nourishing properties and are often more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

When choosing products, it can be beneficial to look for labels indicating "petroleum-free," "petrochemical-free," or opt for brands that prioritize using natural and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Synthetic Fragrances & Artificial Colors


Aromatic compounds that are artificially created in a laboratory rather than being derived from natural sources. These synthetic fragrances are commonly used to add scents to various products, such as perfumes, cosmetics, skincare products, household cleaners, and even some food items.

Unlike natural fragrances, which are obtained from botanical sources like flowers, fruits, or spices, synthetic fragrances are chemically synthesized using a combination of chemicals and solvents. The specific chemicals used in the creation of synthetic fragrances can vary widely, and manufacturers often keep the exact formulations as trade secrets.

Synthetic fragrances are popular in the consumer goods industry because they can be produced in large quantities, have a consistent scent profile, and are generally less expensive than natural alternatives. Additionally, they can offer a broader range of scents that may not be readily available in nature.

However, it's essential to note that synthetic fragrances have raised concerns among some individuals due to the use of potentially harmful chemicals. Some synthetic fragrances may contain phthalates, which are chemicals known to disrupt hormonal balance and may have adverse effects on human health. Additionally, some people may be sensitive or allergic to certain synthetic fragrance ingredients, leading to skin irritations, respiratory issues, or other allergic reactions.


Artificial colors, also known as synthetic colors or dyes, are chemical substances that are used to add color to cosmetic and hair care products. These colors are produced in laboratories through chemical synthesis and are not derived from natural sources like plant extracts or minerals. Artificial colors are widely used in the cosmetics industry to enhance the appearance of various products, such as makeup, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and more.

Some common examples of artificial colors used in cosmetic and hair care products include FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue FCF), FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine), D&C Red No. 33 (Acid Red 33), and many others. These colors are assigned specific names and numbers by regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Commission.

While artificial colors can create vibrant and consistent shades, they have been a subject of concern due to potential health and safety issues. Some artificial colors may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in certain individuals, particularly those with sensitive skin. Additionally, some studies have suggested possible links between certain synthetic colors and health concerns, leading to increased scrutiny and regulation of their use in cosmetics.


Polysorbates are used in cleaners and personal care products as fragrance ingredients, emulsifying agents, and as  surfactants. Polysorbate is treated with ethylene oxide (when it’s “ethoxylated”), then the substance is combined with fatty acids. The number following it represents the number of parts of ethylene oxide it was treated with. 

There are some health concerns related to the presence of polysorbates and impurities related to this ingredient include cancer (due to ethylene oxide and1,4 dioxane), skin allergies, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity. One of the biggest concerns regarding polysorbates is the presence of carcinogens including ethylene oxide and1,4 dioxane. When polysorbate is “ethoxylated”, it can become contaminated with these dangerous carcinogens.

EDTA (Tetrasodium, Trisodium, Disodium, etc.)

EDTA's are 'ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid'. There are a number of chemical variations of EDTA. These ingredients function as chelating agents in cosmetic formulations. These ingredients are penetration enhancers. That means it breaks down the skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for other potentially harmful ingredients in the formula to sink deeper into your tissues. While there is information about these being safe for use at regulated levels, there is still concern based on how these chemicals are 'derived'.

Tetrasodium ETDA, made from ethylenediamine, formaldehyde—a known carcinogen according to the National Cancer Institute—and sodium cyanide (which is made from the toxic gas hydrogen cyanide).


Phenoxyethanol is a widely used synthetic preservative used in cosmetics and person care products to prevent the growth of microbes. This ingredient starts out as phenol, a toxic white crystalline powder that’s created from benzene (a known carcinogen) and then is treated with ethylene oxide (another known carcinogen) and an alkali (which isn’t a carcinogen). While phenoxyethanol is made from a slew of toxic, carcinogenic materials involving numerous, complex chemical reactions, the end result isn’t as toxic or carcinogenic as it’s precursor chemicals. However, it’s not always possible to form perfect reactions, there is always potential for some contamination to be left over.

Exposing yourself to a trace amount of one of these carcinogens in an isolated incident, it should do no harm. But over time, these trace amounts start to add up. That is why we chose to formulate all our products with preservatives that are widely accepted for "Natural" products, including some that are ECOCERT/COSMOS Certified.

"Our horses mean the world to us - they are a friend, a partner, and a teacher. Caring for them is not just our responsibility, it is a privilege." - Annie