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Toxins in Your Personal Care Products
These are principally surfactants (detergents), humectants (moisturizers) and preservatives. Some chemicals perform more than one function). Synthetic fragrances and colorings are also extensively used in commercial products.
“If you can’t spread it on your toast, then don’t
put it on your skin”
(Cascade Anderson-Geller – herbalist)
1. Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea – These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are well-established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II (?) and Germall 115. Neither of the Germall chemicals have a good antifungal, and must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just over 10o. These chemicals are toxic.
2. Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl and Butvl and Para-benzoic acids (“parabens”) – Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Also now considered to be endocrine disrupting (due to competitive binding with estrogen receptor). Recently found accumulated in breast tumor tissue, most likely due to cumulative toxicity from underarm deodorants, etc.
3. Mineral Oil/Petrolatum – Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly, and mineral oil is a direct derivative of crude oil after the kerosene fractions are removed. It is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, not a single compound. It has “legal” industrial, food additive, and cosmetic uses. However, it is a “sealant” which causes a lot of problems when used on the skin, including photosensitivity (i.e. promotes sun damage), and it tends to interfere with the body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and chapping. Epidemiologically, it is associated with increased incidents of squamous cell cancers in those occupations that use it, such as metalworkers, and (historically) printing pressmen.
4. Propylene Glycol (PG) – Usually derived from industrial petrochemical sources, although it can be synthesized from vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both which is natural. Used as a surfactant, and like ethylene glycol, mainly found in auto anti-freeze. High penetration of skin, licensed for most cosmetics and also in food processing. Causes irritation and contact dermatitis, and systemically accumulates in fatty tissues.
5. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – Used as a surfactant, to dissolve oils and grease industrially, as well as licensed in cosmetic products. Probable carcinogens, and completely removes skin moisture layer, causing damage to the barrier function of the skin.
6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (and sodium laureth sufate) – Synthetic surfactants widely used in shampoos for their detergent and foam-building abilities. Ingredients in 90% of all foaming cosmetics products. Causes eye irritation, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation “comes from coconut.” These compounds can also be contaminated with dioxanes, and are carcinogenic in some animal studies. Residual levels found in many tissues, and daily use is likely to lead to cumulative toxicity.
7. Stearalkonium Chloride – A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic.
8. Synthetic Color (FD & C colors) – The synthetic colors are derived from coal tar used to supposedly make a cosmetic “pretty” should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic colors may be cancer causing, especially squamous cell and bladder cancers.
9. Synthetic Fragrances – The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply say “Fragrance”. Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are headaches, dizziness, rash, hyper pigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation, and MCS.
10. Triethanolamine (TEA) and Diethanolamine (DE) – Surfactants that are easily absorbed through the skin accumulate in tissues and associated with liver and renal cancers. Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. Also causes eye irritation and allergic reactions. Alkylamines form nitrosamines both outside and in the body which are highly carcinogenic compounds.
Expanded from “Top Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients” by Aubrey Hampton of Aubrey Organics (www.aubrey-organics.com)
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