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Do you know…

  • The average adult uses 9 personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients.
  • One of every 24 women are exposed daily to personal care product ingredients that are known or probable reproductive and developmental toxins, linked to impaired fertility or developmental harm for a baby in the womb or a child.
  • Less than 1% of products in the USA are made from ingredients that have all been assessed for safety.

(Source: Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep Report, http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep, 2005)

Are chemical-based products safe for you and your family?
Most mass produced commercial soaps, creams and lotions are made mainly with chemical detergents, petrochemicals (in various forms such as mineral oil, fragrances, alcohol and synthetic preservatives) and animal byproducts such as lanolin.

Although most petrochemicals and animal byproducts particles are too large to penetrate the skin, they attract dirt and clogs the pores and this may result in various skin allergies and problems. Increasing numbers of recent research have shown that certain synthetic ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS) or diethanolamine (DEA) can cause skin irritations and even lead to serious skin and health problems.

Ingredients you will not find at bud...

Cleansing Agents: Sulfates (SLS)
Commonly used as cleansing ingredients in shampoos and shower gels due to their low cost and strong cleansing power, sulfates can irritate the skin, especially for sensitive skin. Sodium Commonly used forms are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.

Mineral oil and petroleum derived ingredients
A derivative of crude oil, mineral oil based ingredient forms an oily film over skin to lock in moisture. Initially it will leave your skin feeling silky smooth. However it traps in toxins and hinders normal respiration by keeping oxygen out. This can exacerbate skin disorders such as eczema. Mineral oil is found in many products including baby oil and bath and body oils.

Petrochemicals used in beauty products and toiletries include compounds such as propylene glycol, SD alcohol & benzene. Benzene is used as a solvent in lacquers and nail varnishes. It is highly toxic even in tiny quantities and has carcinogenic properties. Propylene glycol can cause contact dermatitis.

Chemical Preservatives
Chemical preservatives are used, very cost effectively, in most cosmetic products to extend the shelf life of the products. However, many such preservatives are skin irritants. Commonly used preservatives include formaldehyde, methylisothiazolinones and DMDM hydantonin.
Natual products, on the other hand, rely on the self-preserving properties of natural ingredients such as grapefruit seed extract, Vitamin E, honey and Sandalwood essential oil. Despite the shorter shelf life compared to most chemical-based products, you will benefit from the many skin nourishing qualities of these ingredients as well as the freshness of the products.

Phthalates (DBP / DMP / DEP)
Phthalates have been linked to decreased fertility in females and faulty reproductive development in male foetuses because of their 'gender bender' or hormone disrupting properties. They are found in lipstick, nail varnish to make it chip resistant and hairspray to add flexibility. Phthalates are rarely listed on the label as they are often included under blanket terms such as 'parfum'.

Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is a cheap, petrochemically derived humectant (moisturiser). It is a primary irritant and should be avoided by those with sensitive skin.

Ethoxylates and Dioxane
Ethoxylates are a large group of ingredients used in most personal care products, including shampoos, hair conditioners, cleansers, lotions, and creams. They have been shown to contain the impurity 1.4-dioxane, which is a known toxin and carcinogen that can be absorbed through the skin. Further, ethoxylates are unstable and have been shown to break down in strong sunlight to form skin damaging free radicals. The most commonly used ethoxylates are sodium laureth sulfates (SLES), the polysorbates and PEG's.

DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA), TEA (Triethanolamine)
A colorless liquid or crystalline alcohol that is used as a solvent, emulsifier and detergent (wetting agent). Works as an emollient in skin softening lotions or as a humectant in other personal care products.

A problem arises when combined with an ingredient which acts as a nitrosating agent, such as 2-bromo-2-nitro-propane1,3-diol or if they are contaminated with a nitrosating agent, eg sodium nitrite. Although there is no proven link to cancer in humans, evidence exists showing they are carcinogenic in animals.

Formaldehyde (formalin / formal and methyl aldehyde, DMDM Hydantoin and Urea-Imidazolidinyl)
A toxic, colourless gas that is an irritant and a carcinogen. When combined with water, formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant, fixative or preservative. Found in many cosmetic products and nail care systems including deodorants, shampoos and hand wash. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and may also trigger asthma in senstive individuals. Its use is restricted in many countries.

Artificial Fragrances
The term fragrance in an ingredient listing almost always denotes the use of synthetic fragrance compounds, even if essential oils are also listed as ingredients. Fragrances are known to cause the majority of allergic reactions to cosmetics and toiletries.

Triclosan
The US Environmental Protection Agency registers triclosan as a pesticide giving it a high score for its risk to human health and to the environment. It is thought to encourage anti-microbial resistance in the same way as excessive anti-biotic use according to research at Tufts University in Boston. Triclosan has been found in breast milk and fish 9. It is used in deodorants, toothpaste and washes as an anti-bacterial.

Reference:
1. Steinman, David and Epstein, Samuel, The Safe Shopper's Bible, 1995.
2. Bronaugh & Maibach, Percutaneous Absorption; Drugs - Cosmetics - Mechanisms - Modelling; 3rd edition (1999) eds
3. http://www.thecosmeticsite.com/news/news_industry.html
4. Opinion on triclosan resistance adopted by the EU Scientific Steering Committee Meeting, June 2002, Adolfsson-Erici, Pettersson, Parkkonen, Sturve; Triclosan, a commonly used bactericide found in human milk and in the aquatic environment in Sweden (2002)

Recommended Online Resources:

We encourage you to do your own research and make your own conclusions, but for now, here are some recommended websites with up-to-date information on harmful chemicals in cosmetics:

 

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