Harmful ingredients in cosmetics

Many of us are not aware of the dangers of the harmful substances in our cosmetic products. Please find a limited collection of these chemical substances:

Aluminum – Metallic element used in antiperspirants and antiseptics. Certain scientists have established links between aluminum and breast cancer. Its use in antiperspirants blocks the pores of the skin preventing toxins from being excreted. The toxins then go to the closest fat reserve: the breasts. Some suspicions have been equally raised about its implication in Alzheimer.

Animal Fat – Animal tissues made of an oily and semi-oily solid that are the insoluble esters of glycerin and fatty acids. Generally one of the principal ingredients in bar soaps, animal fat is notorious for being highly contaminated with pesticides and for removing the protective lipid layer of the skin.

Cocamide (DEA, DEA-CETYL phosphates, DEA OLETH-3 phosphates, Myristamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, Cocamide MEA, Lauramide MEA, Oleamide DEA, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate) – These chemicals ingredients are used as emulsifiers and foaming bases in the majority of body care products. In spite of the fact the the FDA (The American Food and Drug Administration) has warned the industry of their potential danger since 1979. Furthermore, in 1998 a study by the NTP (American National Toxicology Program) seriously condemned their use and designated them nitrates and nitrosamins, cancer causing elements.

Coal Tar Color (sold under the names colors FD & C or colors D & C) – A sticky material with a complex composition, resulting from the distillation of coal and used to give texture and color to certain shampoos and also to reduce itching. Can contain a variety of toxins (benzene, xylene, naphthalene), recognized for causing allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, lack of concentration and cancer.

Collagen – Derived from animal skins and chicken feet, the collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. They rest on the surface and prevent the skin from breathing comfortably.

Imidazolidinyl urea and DM hydantoine (Germall Plus, Germall II and Germal 115) – Two preservatives that have the loosening effect of formaldehyde. Renowned for causing eczema. After parabens, these are the most used preservatives. They are well established as a main cause of contact dermatitis (the American Academy of Dermatology). There are three commercial names for these chemical products: Germall II, Germal 115 and Germall Plus. None of them has a good antimycotic action and it must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at a little more than 10°C. These chemical products are toxic.

DEET – Plastic solvent used as an insect repellent. Very irritating to the skin. Cases of death related to DEET usage have been compiled by the American Federal Environment Agency. In December 2004 Health Canada will remove from store shelves any products containing more than 30% of DEET.

Isopropyl Alcohol – Solvent distorting properties, found in hair dyes, massage oils, hand creams after shave creams, perfumes and many other cosmetic products of large brands. Inhaling or ingesting the vapor could cause headaches, intoxication, sickness, narcosis or coma.

Parabens (methyl, propyl-, butyl- and ethyl) – Used to inhibit microbial growth and to prolong the shelf life of products. Widely used, even though commonly known to be toxic. Cause many allergic reactions and cutaneous eruptions. Extremely toxic.

Mineral oil – Derivative of petroleum, used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. It forms an oily layer on the skin and traps moisture under the skin thus preventing the skin from breathing. At the same time, it stops toxins and wastes from escaping.

Petrolatum and Paraffin Gel (petroleum jelly) – Mineral oil in a gel form; causes many problems for photosensitive skin (that is to say it augments damage from the sun). It also tends to interfere with the body’s natural moisturizing mechanism leading to dry skin. Any product sold that contains this chemical creates the very conditions that it claims to relieve. Many manufacturers use petrolatum because it is incredibly cheap. Highly comedogenic.

Propylene Glycol – Derived from petroleum oil and found in automatic brakes and industrial defrosters. The Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS: charter for use of the products) of propylene glycol warns against contact with the skin. Nevertheless, rare are the cosmetics that do not use it as a moisturizer. The effects of propylene glycol on human health are numerous and alarming. It could cause dermatitis, ototoxicity, kidney damage and liver problems, according to various clinical studies.

PVP / VA Copolymere – Derivative of petroleum used in shampoos and conditioners. It is considered toxic because its particles contributes to the penetration of other foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive people.

SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS) SODIUM LAURETH SULPHATE (SLES) – Detergent used as a moisturizer in floor cleaning products, found in engines and in Agent Orange (which served to kill vegetation and profoundly harmed human and animal life during and long after the Vietnam War.) SLS and SLES are used in laboratories as skin irritants in order to test soothing products. However, their low coast makes them present in the majority of shampoos and cosmetic foaming products. Several studies have underlined the harmful effects of their use: urinary infections, kidney and bladder infections, fertility problems, irritation to the eyes, skin and scalp, allergic reactions, lesions of the scalp and hair loss. Certain studies have asserted that SLS and SLES are carcinogenic.

Stearalkonium Chloride – A chemical used in conditioners, to detangle hair and in skin creams. It cause allergic reactions. The chloride of Stearalkonium was developed by the textile industry as a softening agent. It is much cheaper and easier to include in hair conditioners than plant proteins or extracts, which are healthier for the hair. Very toxic.

Synthetic Perfumes – The term “perfume” on the label of a conventional product is very misleading: behind this simple word hide 200 chemical products that are unabashedly unlisted. Some problems cause by these chemical products are: headaches, dizziness, hyper-pigmentation, violent cough, vomiting and skin irritation.

Talc – A white-gray mineral powder used especially as a baby powder and in deodorant products. Long term use can produce the same effects as those of asbestos. Besides the consequences of the respiratory system, talc can also affect the reproductive system.

Triethanolamine (TEA) – Often used in cosmetics to adjust pH. TEA cause allergic reactions, including eye problems, dry hair and skin, and can be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.


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