The BIG 12: The Major Ingredients to Avoid
#1: Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol:
- Found in Anti-freeze
- Acts as a “surfactant” (wetting agent and solvent)
- Penetrates the skin and weakens protein and cellular structure
- Strong enough to remove barnacles from boats
Factory workers are required by the FDA to wear protective clothing when producing products containing these chemicals and are required to dispose of PG as toxic waste. PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. There are no warning labels on products such as deodorants, where the concentration can be greater than in industrial applications.
Safe Alternatives: Herbs, Essential Oils
#2: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):
- Detergents that pose serious health threats
- Used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers
- In 90% of all personal-care products that foam
Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS. SLS may damage the skin’s immune system and can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. SLS can remain in the body for up to five days and maintain residual levels in the heart, lungs, liver and brain.
#3: DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine):
- Hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates
- Restricted in Europe due to carcinogenic effects, yet are still used in the US
- Americans may be exposed 10-20 times per day with shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths
Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated applications of DEA-based detergents result in major increases in liver and kidney cancer. The FDA’s John Bailey says “the risk is significantly increased for children.”
#4: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- Carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture
- Increases the appearance of aging and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria
- Used in spray-on oven cleaners and cleansers to dissolve oil and grease
#5: Sodium Hydroxide
- The most recent addition to personal care products
- This is a poison (caustic lye) found in drain cleaners
The warning label on sodium hydroxide products reads “POISON, May be fatal or cause permanent damage if swallowed. May cause blindness. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mouth and clothing.” Yet the cosmetic industry is now putting it in our skin care and oral care products.
- Synthetic “antibacterial” with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange!
- The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to human health and the environment
- It is in a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans
It may produce dioxin, a hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in parts per trillion; that is equivalent to one drop in 300 Olympic sized swimming pools! Hormone disruptors can change genetic material, decrease fertility and sexual function and foster birth defects. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse and convulsions. Stored in the body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs and can cause paralysis, brain hemorrhages and heart problems. Tufts University, School of Medicine says Triclosan can force the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Its wide-spread use in antibacterial cleaners, tooth pastes and household products may have nightmarish implications on future generations, with a half life in our water supply of over 500 years.
#7: DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl)
Two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure also irritates the respiratory system, triggers heart palpitations or asthma, and aggravates coughs and colds. Other side effects includes; weakening of the immune system and cancer.
A recent report is questioning the safety of the most common group of cosmetic preservatives called “parabens.” Studies show that parabens – alkyl hydroxy parabens – alpha hydroxy benzoate (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-parabens) are weakly estrogenic. In other words, these preservatives have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body with butyl-paraben being the most potent.
#9: Alcohol, Isopropyl, SD-40
- Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to viruses
- Made from the same petroleum derivative used in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products
- Promotes brown spots and premature aging
A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
Alternative: Grapefruit Seed Extract
#10: Mineral Oil
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin similar to plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil!
Alternatives: Moisture Magnets (Saccharide Isomerate) from beets; Ceramides, Jojoba and other vegetable oils.
#11: FD&C Color Pigments
Synthetic colors from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.
No Alternative Necessary
Can contain up to four thousand ingredients (including animal urine), many toxic or carcinogenic. Causes headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes.
Alternatives: Aroma-therapeutic, organic essential oils
Now that you are aware of the 12 most notorious offenders in cosmetic ingredients, you are armed with the knowledge necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones from the “Cosmetic Conspiracy.” The only way to force the cosmetic industry to clean up their act is to read labels and refuse to use toxic products.
NOTE: One trick that the cosmetic industry has been using lately is to give the toxic ingredients alternative nomenclature that the general public will assume are non-toxic