GLOSSARY OF INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
1,4-dioxane: A carcinogenic contaminant of cosmetic products. Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10 Hazard, which is the highest rating, and cited for Allergy/Immunotoxicity, Carcinogenic Activity, Renal Toxicity, Sense Organ Toxicity, Respiratory Toxicity, Eye Irritant, Reproductive Toxicity and Neurotoxicity. It is also cited as a Ecotoxin and Persistent Bioaccumlative in Wildlife. It is banned in Canada and the European Union.
In the March 2009 report “No More Toxic Tub: Getting Contaminants Out of Children's Bath & Personal Care Products” by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,
“Very few, if any, cosmetics or personal care products list 1,4-dioxane as an ingredient (i), even though an analysis by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics co-founder the Environmental Working Group suggests that it may be found in 22 percent of the more than 25,000 products in the Skin Deep database of cosmetics products (ii). That's because 1,4-dioxane is a frequent contaminant of common cosmetics ingredients (iii), but as a contaminant it is not listed among intentionally added ingredients.
Because it is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require 1,4-dioxane to be listed as an ingredient on product labels. Without labeling, there is no way to know for certain how many products contain 1,4-dioxane—and no guaranteed way for consumers to avoid it.
Most commonly, 1,4-dioxane is found in products that create suds, like shampoo, liquid soap and bubble bath. Environmental Working Group's analysis suggests that 97 percent of hair relaxers, 57 percent of baby soaps and 22 percent of all products in Skin Deep may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane (iv). Independent lab tests co-released by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2007 showed that popular brands of children’s bubble bath and body wash contained 1,4-dioxane.
Besides sodium laureth sulfate, other common ingredients that may be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane include PEG compounds and chemicals that include the clauses "xynol," "ceteareth" and "oleth."
See Ethoxylated Surfactants
Acrylamide: Hazardous air pollutant, possible human carcinogen, may contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products, skin sensitizer, neurotoxin. MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for a 6% acrylamide premix states: “WARNING! HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED, INHALED OR ABSORBED THROUGH SKIN. CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. AFFECTS CENTRAL AND PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS AND REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM. SUSPECT CANCER HAZARD. CONTAINS ACRYLAMIDE WHICH MAY CAUSE CANCER. Risk of cancer depends on level and duration of exposure. POSSIBLE BIRTH DEFECT HAZARD. MAY CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS BASED ON ANIMAL DATA.“ Under Potential Health Effects, it states: “Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects, ” and “Prolonged or repeated exposure through any route may cause muscular weakness, incoordination, skin rashes, excessive sweating of hands and feet, cold hands, peeling of the skin, numbness, abnormal skin or muscle sensations, fatigue, and cause central and peripheral nervous system damage. Suspect cancer hazard. May cause cancer. May affect the reproductive system and act as a teratogen (agent that causes malformations of an embryo or fetus.)”
Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): A very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that reduces the dermal moisture and acid mantle, critical for dermal metabolism and immune function. Found in many skin and hair products, fragrance, antibacterial hand washes. May cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia, and coma.
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES): See Anionic Surfactants and Ethoxylated Surfactants
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS): See Anionic Surfactants
Anionic Surfactants: Anionic refers to the negative charge of these chemicals. They are frequently contaminated with nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Surfactants can pose serious health threats. They are used in car washes, as garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers - and in 90% of personal-care products that foam. Anionic Surfactants include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen, TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine, Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate
Benzoates (Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate or parahydroxy benzoate): Used as a preservative in cosmetics. Implicated in a wide variety of health problems including testicular cancer, cell mutation, and other cancers.
Butylhydroxy (BHA): Synthetic preservative approved for use in food and cosmetics. Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10 Hazard, which is the highest rating, and cited for Allergies/Immunotoxicity, Carcinogen, Neurotoxicity, Endocrine System Disruptor, Reproductive Toxicity and Liver Toxicity. It also cites it as an Ecotoxin and Persistent Bioaccumlative in wildlife.
DEA (diethanolamine) & MEA (monoethanolamine): Causes allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. Toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. Used to create “foam” in products like shampoo, shaving creams, and bubble bath. See Nitrosating Agents
Dimethylamine: Immune system toxin, liver toxicant, neurotoxin, cardiovascular and blood toxicant, respiratory toxicant. Frequently found in hair care products and body gels. Prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union.
Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Ethoxylated Surfactants
Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants
DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl): Preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.
In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with these formaldehyde releasing ingredients.
Ethoxylated surfactants: Widely used in cosmetics as foaming agents, emulsifiers and humectants. On the label, they are identified by the incorporation of "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol-" into ingredient names. According to the Environmental Working Group, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “1,4-dioxane is generated through a process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. This process creates 1,4-dioxane. For example, sodium laurel sulfate, a chemical that is harsh on the skin, is often converted to the less-harsh chemical sodium laureth sulfate (the “eth” denotes ethoxylation), which can contaminate this ingredient with 1,4-dioxane.” Almost 50% of cosmetics containing ethoxylated surfactants were found to contain 1,4 dioxane.
FD&C Color Pigments: Synthetic colors made from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown them to be carcinogenic
Formaldehyde: Used as a cosmetic biocide, denaturant and preservative. It is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). Causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes). Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10 Hazard, which is the highest rating. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.
In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with this hyper-toxic ingredient.
Fragrance/ Parfum: Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the USA FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gives fragrance/parfum a High Hazard rating of 8, and cites Allergies/Immunotoxicity and Neurotoxicity.
Grapefruit Seed Extract: Studies indicate that natural extract of grapefruit seed and pulp in ethanol or glycerin has no antibacterial properties; further, analysis of some “grapefruit seed extract has detected the presence of benzalkonium chloride, parabens, and triclosan. Citricidal, the brand of “grapefruit seed extract” that is most widely used to effect preservation is processed as follows:
1. Grapefruit pulp and seed is dried and ground into a fine powder.
2. The powder is dissolved in purified water and distilled to remove the fiber and pectin.
3. The distilled slurry is spray dried at low temperatures forming a concentrated flavonoid powder.
4. This concentrated powder is dissolved in vegetable glycerine and heated.
5. Food grade ammonium chloride and ascorbic acid are added, and this mixture is heated under pressure. The amount of ammonium chloride remaining in finished Citricidal is 15-19%; the amount of ascorbic acid remaining is 2.5-3.0%.
6. The ammoniated mixture undergoes catalytic conversion using natural catalysts, including hydrochloric acid and natural enzymes. There is no residue of hydrochloric acid after the reaction.
7. The slurry is cooled, filtered, and treated with ultraviolet light.
This does not qualify as a naturally processed extract since it is treated with hydrochloric acid and ammonium chloride. After all the chemical reactions occur, the final composition of the extract is comprised of about 60% diphenol hydroxybenzene (a chemical classified as a quaternary ammonium chloride). Chemically, it is virtually identical to benzethonium chloride, which is listed in the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database as a known carcinogen, neurotoxin, organ-system toxin, endocrine system disruptor and skin irritant.
Honeysuckle Extract (Lonicera Caprifolium): This is a controversial ingredient among producers of purportedly “natural” body care products and deserves detailed explanation. The molecular structure of the para-hydroxy benzoic acid (PHBA) found in Japanese Honeysuckle is nearly identical to the molecular structure of methyparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. In fact, para-hydroxy benzoic acid is the naturally-occurring compound that inspired chemists to create parabens. Other than the CH3 tail, it's chemically identical. The addition or subtraction of the methyl free radical doesn't change the structure in any significant way- PHBA still contains a benzene ring, which is the main problem with parabens. Estrogen receptors are designed to fit this end of the molecule, so PHBA and paraben benzene rings enter the estrogen receptors in the body and have an over-stimulating effect. Because receptors dictate cell division and expression, over-stimulated estrogen receptors can lead to a host of malfunctions, including endometriosis and breast cancer. Parabens have been studied extensively for their link to breast cancer, and have been found to accumulate in breast cancer tissue. PHBA is nearly identical chemically and acts in the same way. According to Anthony Dweck, a noted expert on parabens, “Clearly honeysuckle extract is a naturally occurring paraben, and we would expect this material to have antimicrobial properties.”
Isopropyl Palmitate: A fatty acid from palm oil combined with synthetic alcohol. Industry tests on rabbits indicate the chemical can cause skin irritation and dermatitis. Also shown to be comedogenic (acne promoting.)
Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine: See Anionic Surfactants
Lead Acetate: Color additive, known human reproductive/development toxin, possible human carcinogen. Prohibited in the European Union.
Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone: Both cause cosmetic allergies and potentially dangerous neuro-toxic effects. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cites these preservatives for Allergy/Immunotoxicity and Neurotoxicity in humans. They are also cited as Ecotoxins and Persistent Bioaccumulatives in wildlife. Is is known to be absorbed through the skin and is a contact allergen; and is a known developmental toxin, with researching concluding that it damages the developing nervous system. Both ingredients are restricted in Canada and Japan.
Nitrosating Agents: Nitrosamine has been determined to form cancer in laboratory animals. There are wide and repeated concerns in the USA and Europe about the contamination of cosmetics products with nitrosamines with the use of the following chemicals:
Hydrolysed Animal Protein
Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben): Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though studies have shown parabens to be carcinogenic and associated with breast cancer. Studies have shown that they are “environmental estrogens” and can be absorbed by the body through the skin. Paraben benzene rings enter the estrogen receptors in the body and have an over-stimulating effect. Because receptors dictate cell division and expression, over-stimulated estrogen receptors can lead to a host of malfunctions, including endometriosis and breast cancer. Parabens have been studied extensively for their link to breast cancer, and have been found to accumulate in breast cancer tissue. Found to cause allergic reactions and topical dermatitis.
Petrolatum/ Mineral oil: Petroleum coats the skin like plastic. It interferes with normal skin metabolism and acid mantle health, resulting in a build-up of toxins, promoting acne and other skin disorders. Petroleum by-products impair dermal cellular development, resulting in premature aging. Any petroleum by-product may be contaminated with cancer-causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petroleum by-products because they are extremely cheap. Petroleum-derived ingredients include mineral oil, paraffin oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum and liquidum paraffinum.
Phenoxyethanol (also called ethylene glycol monophenyl ether): Preservative often touted as non-toxic in “organic and natural” products. Animal studies show it to be toxic, citing damaging effects on the brain and the nervous system at moderate concentrations. Additional studies have shown irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Environmental Protection Agency data sheets state, “chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and reproductive damage in mice.” Phenoxyethanol breaks down to phenol and acetaldehyde, and acetaldehyde converts to acetate. Phenol can dis-able the immune system’s primary response mechanism. It is ironic that phenoxyethanol is used as an anti-bacterial in vaccines. Restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan and the European Union.
Phthalates: A synthetic chemical used as a plasticizer. Health effects include reproductive system disruptor, endocrine system disrupter, skin sensitizer, immune system toxin, kidney toxicant. It has been shown to be dangerous to the environment, toxic to aquatic life.
All 289 people in a recent test for body load of chemicals tested positive for phthalates. Phthalates are implicated with low sperm counts and also causing sexual abnormalities and deformities. Prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union since September 2004.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) compounds: Synthetic petrochemicals used as humectants in moisturizers, thickeners and melting point adjusters. Also used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease. Potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin's natural moisture factor. Known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. Commonly used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners. See Ethoxylated Surfactants
Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen: See Anionic Surfactants
Propylene Glycol /Butylene Glycol: Used as solvents, humectants and viscosity controlling agents. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. Often “buried” in another ingredient, such as “green tea extract”, “aloe extract”, etc. These chemicals are petroleum derivatives that penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Studies show that these ingredients cause skin irritation, particularly on mucous membranes; are immune toxins; and produce positive mutation in mammals (cause cancer.)
Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc: Toxic formaldehyde releasers that cause skin rashes and allergic reactions. Dr Epstein reports in his book Unreasonable Risk "Substantive evidence of casual relation to leukaemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other cancers." In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with this hyper-toxic ingredient. See Nitrosating Agents and Formaldehyde
Silicone/ Dimethicone/ Dimethicone Copolyol/ Cyclomethicone: Silicone and silicone-derived emollients are very long-lasting synthetic occlusives. They coat the skin like a plastic-wrap adhesive, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to “breathe,” thus interfering with normal skin cell metabolism. Recent studies indicate that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumor promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.
Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Anionic Detergents and Surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in 90% of personal-care products. Exposure can lead to eye damage, depression, labored breathing, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS and ALS because proteins are dissolved. SLS and ALS may also damage the skin's immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation "comes from coconut". See Anionic Surfactants, Nitrosating Agents and Ethoxylated Surfactants
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents
Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents
Synthetic Fragrances: Fragrance can indicate the presence of 4,000 ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration. Can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.
Triclosan: a synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient is classified as a chlorophenol. This hormone disrupter can pose enormous long-term chronic health risks by interfering with the way hormones perform, such as changing genetic material, decreasing fertility and sexual function, and fostering birth defects.
TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate & TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate: Anionic surfactants used as pH adjusters, emulsifiers and preservatives. Found in shampoo, body gel, liquid soap, moisturizer, shaving cream, cosmetics and acne treatments, including self-identified “natural” brands. Has been found to form carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds on the skin or in the body after absorption when mixed with nitrosating agents. Potential asthma inducer. See Anionic Surfactants, Nitrosating Agents and Ethoxylated Surfactants