Blossom’s Guide To The Major Nasties In
Conventional Skin Care & Cosmetics.
© all material included is the copyright of blossom eco skin care 2016 and it may not be reproduced or used in total or in part without owner's written permission.
Acetone: Solvent; formaldehyde releasing (carcinogenic), development & reproductive toxin, found in nail polish and nail polish remover.
Aluminium: Powder Metallic substance; linked to alzheimers & central nerve system damage, found in most underarm deodorants.
Acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid): Alpha and beta hydroxy acids FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-sponsored studies find UV-caused skin damage doubles for users of products with alpha hydroxy acid.
Ammonia (H3N): Glycolate/Lactate; fragrance/pH adjustor, development/reproductive toxin, found extensively in hair colours.
BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole): The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance. It is found in food, food packaging, and personal care products.
BPA (Bisphenol A): Is a synthetic compound, a known human immune and organ toxicant and allergen. A common component in plastic bottles, can linings including infant formula cans, sippy cups, drink bottles, plastic toys etc. BPA is employed to make certain plastics and epoxy resins. BPA-based plastic is clear and tough, and is made into a variety of common consumer goods, such as water bottles, sports equipment, CDs, and DVDs. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used to line water pipes, as coatings on the inside of many food and beverage cans and in making thermal paper such as that used in sales receipts. There also appears to be a link between childhood obesity and higher levels of BPA in children’s urine.
Boric acid and Sodium borate: These chemicals disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Men working in boric acid-producing factories have a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido. In animals, high doses cause testicular damage to mice, rats, and dogs. Both the European Union and Canada restrict these ingredients in body care products made for children less than three years of age and require that products containing these ingredients be labelled as not appropriate for broken or damaged skin. No similar safety standards are in place in the United States. The cosmetic industry’s own safety panel states that these chemicals are unsafe for infant or damaged skin, because they can absorb readily into the body. Despite this guidance, boric acid is found in some diaper creams.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, and Phenylenediamine): Coal tar, a by-product of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. Europe has banned many of these ingredients in hair dyes. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.
Colours (FD & C Food, Drug and Cosmetic Colours) chemically synthesized colours often derived from aniline, a petroleum product that is toxic. Originally, these were dubbed `coal-tar' colours because the starting materials were obtained from bituminous coal. They are much cheaper alternatives to naturally occurring colours and are widely used in cosmetic products.
Formaldehyde (formalin, formic aldehyde, methaldehyde, methanol, oxomethane, oxymethylene): A potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer. Formaldehyde, also an asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant, was once mixed into to many personal care products as antiseptic. This use has declined. But some hair straighteners are based on formaldehyde’s hair-stiffening action and release substantial amounts of the chemical.
Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin/D-Limonene, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15: Cosmetics preservatives that slowly form and release formaldehyde to kill bacteria growing in products. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. The preservatives and the formaldehyde they generate can trigger allergic skin reactions. Formaldehyde releasers are widely used in US products. Not surprisingly, more Americans develop contact allergies to these ingredients than Europeans. Often found in nail varnish and products made by J&J, Revlon and Loreal. J&J announced last year that the company would phase out formaldehyde releasers like Quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin in all baby products and -- except for rare instances -- in adult products as well. Revlon and L’Oreal continue to use Quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin -- preservatives that slowly release formaldehyde. Health experts classify formaldehyde as a carcinogen when inhaled. (Nov 2013)
Fragrance: Synthetic Fragrance It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but do you know what’s in it? Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant to lotion. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world.
Genetically Modified Organism – GMOs GMO refers to a plant, animal or microbe that has been transformed through processes known as genetic engineering. Genetic engineering involves processes that are not natural. GMOs are toxic to the human body, some are accumulative others significantly impact the viability of human cells.
Glycerine, (Synthetic): Petroleum based solvent, see petroleum
Hydroquinone: A skin bleaching chemical that can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps. In animal studies, hydroquinone has caused tumour development.
Lead: cancer causing, allergen, immuntoxicity, organ & development toxin. A neurotoxin in popular hair dye Grecian Formula 16 and other black hair dyes for men. Lead from hair dyes travels from hair to doorknobs, cabinets and other household items, where children can ingest it. Lead is often found in lipsticks too, LOreal being one of the worst offenders.
Here are the top 20 lead-containing lipsticks from the FDA’s 2012 review of 400 lipsticks:
Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone: Preservatives, commonly used together in personal care products, among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy. Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.
Micro-beads: (plastic polyethylene exfoliant beads): Found in face and body scrubs. These have been found at nearly 3 million particles of micro plastic per sq. mile in Lake Eire USA. This causes a problem as aquatic life eat these pieces of plastic that are less than 1mm and fill up on this plastic instead of food and subsequently die. Most manufacturers have “pledged” to phase them out but J&J claim that they are not a problem as they claim they are removed during water treatment. If this was the case they wouldn’t be found in our water ways.
Nanoparticles: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles appear to be among the safer and more effective active ingredients in U.S.-marketed sunscreen creams because they do not penetrate the skin. But avoid sprays and powders containing these nanoparticles, which could penetrate your lungs and enter your bloodstream. Many other nanoparticles have received very little testing, yet they readily penetrate the skin and contaminate the body. Cosmetics manufacturers are not required to disclose the presence of nanoparticles in products.
Oxybenzone: Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber, found in the bodies of nearly all Americans, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In human epidemiological studies, oxybenzone has been linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. A study of 404 New York City women in the third trimester of pregnancy associated higher maternal concentration of oxybenzone with a decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls but with greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.
Parabens (specifically Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, and Isobutyl- parabens): Parabens are widely used synthetic preservatives that can be found in 99% of cancer tumours, Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives used widely in cosmetics. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Parabens have also been found in clusters in breast cancer tumours. Underarm deodorants containing parabens are commonly considered to be the cause. Parabens are rapidly absorbed, metabolized and excreted; these synthetic preservatives are well known to cause skin allergies resulting in contact dermatitis and accumulative toxicity in humans. Revlon and L’Oreal continue to use long-chain parabens as preservatives. Some parabens are endocrine-disruptors—that is, they interfere with the hormones that regulate the development and growth of our reproductive system.
PEGs/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds: A family of conditioning and cleaning agents that goes by many names. These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probable human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. Cosmetics makers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from ingredients, but tests documenting its common presence in products show that they often don’t.
Petroleum distillates: Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients, commonly found in mascara. They may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.
Petroleum derivatives: (Mineral Oil, Silicones, and Paraffin) These are ingredients found in moisturisers, conditioners, hair treatments/serums/cosmetics and are known to block pores, are immune-toxicants and organ system toxicants. They are used as moisturising ingredients as they are cheaper than using vegetable oils but only provide a superficial/cosmetic effect and don’t actually supply any vitamins, nutrition or emollients to the skin.
Phthalates: A growing number of studies indicate that chemical family damages the male reproductive system. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phthalate. Scientists have proven that phthalates can cause damage to female reproductive organs; however it is the male reproductive organs that appear to be at a greater risk as they react more sensitively when exposed to phthalates. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates. Phthlates are also “plasticisers” (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity). In studies of rodents exposed to certain phthalates, high doses have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects. Phthalate exposure may be through direct use or by indirect means through leaching and general environmental contamination. Phthalates are linked in animal studies to birth defects of the male reproductive system, including undescended testicles, absent testicles, and a physical defect of the penis known as hypospadias, and are used in a wide range of beauty products including shampoo, hair spray, perfume, eye shadow, nail polish, deodorant, and lotions. According to “The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics” Pthalates are responsible for causing early puberty in girls which then adds to the risk factor for later-life breast cancer.
Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin conditioning agent and penetration aid.. It is also an ingredient found in Radiator Antifreeze. It has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis as well as contact urticaria in humans; these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2%. It increases skin penetration so enables other toxic ingredients in the product to penetrate more readily.
Resorcinol: Common ingredient in hair colour and bleaching products; skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function. The federal government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but its use is not restricted in personal care products.
Sulphates: (Sodium Lauryl sulphate/Sodium Laureth sulphate) These are surfactants commonly found in shampoos, hand and body wash, dish liquid, laundry detergents and cleaning products and are known skin irritants and sensitisers.
Toluene: A volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing and causes nausea. A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapours during pregnancy may impair fetal development. In human epidemiological and animal studies, toluene has been associated with toxicity to the immune system. Some evidence suggests a link to malignant lymphoma. This is a common ingredient in nail polish.
Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment. Often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.
Triethanolamine TEA/DEA/MEA Fragrance, pH adjustor; cancer causing, allergen, immunotoxicity, bioaccumulation. may react with other ingredients to form a carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA) which is absorbed through the skin. It is assigned to Priority Existing Chemicals - PEC Candidate List - priority health concern; permitted for use even though this chemical is a cancer hazard. Classified as a health hazard according to the National Occupational Health & Safety Commission NOHSC. Listed on the High Volume Industrial chemicals List HVICL.
Vitamin A compounds (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol): Vitamin A is an essential nutrient but not necessarily safe for use on skin. Studies show that when applied to sun-exposed skin these compounds can increase skin sensitivity. Furthermore sunlight breaks down vitamin A to produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and hasten skin lesions and tumours in lab animals. These ingredients are widely used in sunscreens, skin lotions, lip products and makeup. EWG urges consumers to avoid leaving products with vitamin A on the skin and lips.
Animal-based ingredients: Many consumers are asking manufacturers tough questions about ethical sourcing of their ingredients. Vegetarians, vegans, and people concerned about animal welfare frequently seek to avoid ingredients derived from animals. However a number of animal-based substances are found in cosmetics, and might not be clearly labelled as such. If you are concerned about avoiding animal products the best bet is to choose brands claiming to be vegetarian or vegan or labelled with the PETA and Leaping Bunny (Choose Cruelty Free) logos.
Palm Oil and Palm Oil derivatives-, Stearate, Stearyl, Cetyl, Cetearyl, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate, Steareth 2 and Steareth 20, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Lineolic Acid, Glycerine, Myristyl Alcohol, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Capryl Glycol, Sodium Myristate, Cetearyl Alcohol, etc……..and the list goes on.. There are major environmental issues with the deforestation involved in planting and growing Palm, particularly in regards to Orangutans loss of habitat in Indonesia. Orangutans are not the only species to be affected and Palm oil and derivatives are found in food, cosmetics, skin care and cleaners. Ensure any Palm content is certified sustainable!
Credits & Resources
The Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep”
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ A handy reference site for cosmetic safety. Search products you are currently using and get a score out of 10 for safety. Or alternatively search for an individual ingredients score. Be prepared to be shocked!
http://www.ewg.org/ Here is a great site for handy guides to Safer Cleaning Products, Safer Sunscreens, Safer Cooking, Safer Cell phones, Shoppers Guide To Pesticides In Produce etc Food & Drug Admin. http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/products/ucm137224.htm
Safe Cosmetics Australia (http://www.safecosmeticsaustralia.com.au/)
How to stay safe and well and avoid these nasties:
• Be informed and read labels.
• Buy botanical and not chemical
• Conventional = generally lots of synthetics and chemicals
• Natural = a better option but can still have GMO’s and pesticide residue
• Organic = Clean, botanical, NO chemicals, NO synthetics, NO GMO, NO Pesticide residue.