Toxins in Cosmetics

toxins in commonly used cosmetics

Used as a colour additive in cosmetics, especially eye shadows. Another form of Aluminum is used in deodorants and antiperspirants. Listed as carcinogenic, toxic and mutagenic.

Alcohol (cetyl, butyl, ethyl)
Acts as a carrying and antifoaming agent as well as a water and oil solvent. It dries quickly, and if synthetically produced is carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and can cause adverse reactions.

It is a known bone-marrow poison, yet is widely used and combined with other chemicals in many personal care products. Causes adverse reactions, is carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic.

Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane - UVA filter
Causes skin rashes, allergic reactions and inflammation; B-MDM's questionable stability in the sun means it may break down into chemicals that inhibit the skin's natural defenses against sunlight, leaving it more vulnerable to skin cancer and premature ageing.

BHT - butylated hydroxytoluene - Antioxidant.
Adverse effects include contact allergies and contact dermatitis. Potential carcinogen; may cause birth defects. If absorbed, BHT can accelerate the breakdown of vitamin D, which helps maintain immunity and healthy bones and teeth.

Coal Tar
Contaimed in many kinds of shampoo designed to treat dandruff and a flaky scalp contain it. Disguised with names FD, FDC or FD&C colour. Coal tar causes potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, and cancer.

Coconut oil (derived from) (Oleochemicals)
There are two kinds of synthetic chemicals: petrochemicals, made from crude petroleum, and oleochemicals, made from plant oils, most often coconut oil and sometimes from conventionally-grown, genetically-modified corn.  They're all processed in factories and chemically turned into a wide range of different substances through the use of high pressure, extremely high temperatures of thousands of degrees, and combinations with various solvents, catalysts and other chemicals. They all come under the official USDA definition of synthetic despite being described as having 'derived from' natural sources. Petrochemicals and oleochemicals aren't permitted in certified organic foods.

Cocomide DEA
Mostly found in shampoo. Contains nitrosamines which are known carcinogens causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds. When DEA is applied to skin known carcinogens can form.

DEA (diethanolamine)
A synthetic solvent, detergent and humectant widely used in brake fluid, industrial degreasers and antifreeze. Mostly used in liquid soap, shampoo & conditioner. Can be harmful for the liver, kidneys and pancreas. May cause cancer in various organs. Irritates skin, eyes, mucous membranes. Found also in hair dye, lotions, cream, bubble bath, liquid dishwashing detergent & laundry soap. Health risk especially to infants and young children. Forms nitrosamines known to be carcinogens. Causes allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. Hazardous & toxic.

Many tooth pastes and other tooth whiteners contain it. Damages your teeth enamel weakening their protective shell.

Secondary amines cause allergic dermatitis. Carcinogenic properties.

Debutyl phthalate (DBP)
A toxic chemical found in nail polishes, shampoos, conditioners and antiperspirants. Causes severe birth defects in animals. Especially damaging to the male reproductive system.

Hydantoin DMDM
Used in the synthesis of lubricants and resins, and is derived from methanol. Causes dermatitis. Acts as a preservative and may release formaldehyde and is a suspected carcinogen. Rats develop cancer when injected with this chemical.

FDC-n (FD&C)
These are available in various different colours. Some are simply irritants while others are strong carcinogens. Most are coal tar derived, and many scientists feel that adequate safety levels have not been established for each colour category.

Hazardous chemical. Fluoridated toothpaste is especially dangerous to young children who tend to swallow it after brushing their teeth. Supposed to stop tooth decay. Scientists are now linking fluoride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions and Crohn's disease. A toxic manufacturing by-product.

A colourless gas with vapours that are extremely irritating to mucous membranes. Used in nail polish and hardeners, soap, cosmetics and hair growing products. It is sometimes hidden under the name DMDM hydantoin or MDM hydantoin. Its trade-name is Formalin. Causes dermatitis, and ingestion can cause severe abdominal pain, internal bleeding, vertigo, coma, and a loss of ability to urinate. It is very toxic when inhaled, a severe skin irritant, and a suspected carcinogen that is linked to cancer. Its use in cosmetics is banned in Japan and Sweden.

Fragrances (Parfum)
Can contain up to four thousand ingredients (including animal urine), many of which are toxic or carcinogenic. Cause headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin discolouration, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes.

Glyceryl oleate - Emulsifier, Emollient
Adverse effects include skin allergies and dermatitis

Used as a humectant (emulsifier/moisturizer), can be derived from animal or vegetable, natural or synthetic sources. In most cases it is used as a cheap glycerine substitute. Propylene glycol can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage in laboratory animals. Diethylene glycol and carbitol are considered toxic. Ethylene glycol is a suspected bladder carcinogen. The FDA cautions manufacturers that glycols may cause adverse reactions in users. They have been shown to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic.

Isobutane - Propellants
Adverse effects include headache, mood swings, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. High doses can cause convulsions and coma. These highly flammable volatile organic chemicals accumulate in human breast milk. While isobutane doesn't destroy the ozone layer, it does contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, which can cause serious breathing problems.

Isopentane - Solvent
Adverse effects include breathing difficulties. Has an anaesthetic effect on the skin and can cause dry skin and contact dermatitis. Other symptoms include altered heart rhythms, dizziness, headaches and irritation to the nose and throat. A major component of gasoline vapour, and a chemical relative of isobutane.

Isotridecyl salicylate, Octyl salicylate - UVB filter and antiseptic
Skin irritants; some salicylates have hormone-disrupting potential.

Lauramide DEA
Lauric Acid derived mostly from coconut oil and laurel oil, and used as a base for soaps, detergents, and laurel alcohol because of their foaming properties. Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds, and nitrosamines are known carcinogens.

Methyl Chloroisothiazolinine
Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

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 ageing.

UVB filter belonging to the cinnamate family of chemicals. It is a skin irritant; some cinnamates have hormone-disrupting effects; research by the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority suggests that weak doses of cinnamates can cause premature death of animal skin cells.

Paba (p-aminobenzoic acid)
A water-soluble vitamin found in B complex. It is widely used in sunscreen lotions but can cause photo-sensitivity, contact dermatitis and allergic eczema.

Trademark for butyl, ethyl, germa, isobutyl, methyl, propyl paraben; butylated hydroxytoulene, tetrasodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol.
Causes dermatitis and allergic reactions. These are estrogen mimics that can disrupt the hormonal balance of the body. Parabens have been found in uterine and breast cancer tumours. It is the most common preservative used in a variety of personal care products especially cream and lotion. Petroleum based.

PEG (4-200)
Abbreviation for polyethylene glycol, polyoxethylene, polygocol, polyether glycol. A manufacturing by-product. Dangerous levels of the toxin dioxane has been found in this product. Many allergic reactions, as well as hives and eczema are known to occur from these synthetic plant glycols. Peg-14M is considered unsafe to use on damaged skin. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, which are linked to breast cancer.

Polypropylene Terephthalate - Film former
Type of polyester providing a superficial feeling of smoothness to the skin. Adverse effects: carcinogen, linked to pancreatic cancer; contains phthalates: oestrogen mimics linked to breast cancer.

Potassium Hydroxide
Controls alkalis. Health effects include skin irritation and eye damage.

Propylene Glycol (Dipropylene glycol)
The most common moisture-carrying vehicle other than water. Found in most shampoo and conditioners, even foodstuffs such as cakes and muffins. Derived from petroleum products. Also used in anti-freeze, de-icer, latex, paint, and laundry detergent. It can cause irritation of nasal and respiratory passages and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. It is documented to cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. Research also shows it is mutagenic, and a contributor to cardiac arrest. Japanese studies show it damages cell DNA (genetic code). Strongly degreases and dries the skin.

PVM/MA Copolymer
Plastic-like glue derived from polyvinyl, often found in hair gels and sprays, which sticks the triclosan, and other ingredients, to the teeth and gums. Health effects: Unknown.

Artificial sweetener. Carcinogenic: linked to bladder cancer in animals.

Triclosan - Antibacterial agent
Reduces plaque. Health effects include gum damage, premature cell death in gum tissues, allergic reactions and ulceration. Alters the biodynamic balance of the mouth: kills good and bad bacteria, which could make users more vulnerable to infection.

Silica (hydrated) - Abrasive stain remover
Weakens tooth enamel; tooth enamel rebuilds itself daily from ionic calcium and phosphorus in the saliva and regularly scratching the surface of the tooth with harsh abrasives interferes with this process.  In rare cases the silica can build up under the gum, causing inflammation. The safety of ingested silica has not been adequately proven, and some observers have linked it with Crohn's disease, though this connection remains unsubstantiated.

Sodium Fluoride
Strengthens tooth enamel, Antibacterial. Health effects: Fluorosis: spotting, mottling and yellowing of the teeth, especially in children; osteoporosis: ingested fluoride leeches calcium from the bones; allergy/hypersensitivity reactions. Ingestion can cause salivation, nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain and diarrhoea.


Sodium Laureth sulphate
Used mainly in shampoo and conditioners. Causes skin irritation and dermatitis.

Sodium Lauryl sulphate
An ingredient in 90% of commercially available shampoos and conditioners. Corrodes hair follicles and impedes hair growth. Is found in car wash soap, engine degreaser, toothpaste, cream, lotion, and garage floor cleaners. Penetrates your eyes, brain, liver and kidneys, and remains there. Degenerates cell membranes and can change the genetic information in cells and damage the immune system. May cause blindness and lead to cataracts. Retards the eye healing process. Studies also show that these additives react with the ingredients of food supplements and cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrates and dioxin. All of this may enter the circulatory system with each shampooing or each oral ingestion. The end result being that these harmful ingredients can be retained in the liver, heart, eyes, kidneys and muscles for several years after being used. It is further reported to cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, dandruff and allergic reactions.

Sodium Hydroxide
This is a poison (caustic lye) found in drain cleaners and tooth paste. 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'.

Sodium Oleth sulphate
May contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and/or dioxane, both potent toxins.

It is derived in powder form from the mineral magnesium silicate. It can be hazardous to one's health, and is toxic with prolonged inhalation. Some talc found to contain amphibole particle distribution typical to asbestos, which is cancer causing and a known lung irritant.

Tetrasodium EDTA
Preservative and penetration enhancer, causes: skin irritation, contact dermatitis, contact allergies, eye irritation.

Obtained from petroleum, it is used as a solvent in cosmetics, especially nail polish and dyes. It resembles benzene, and if ingested may cause mild anemia, liver damage, irritation to the skin and respiratory tract. Also in pharmaceuticals and gasoline as a blending agent.

Triethanolamine (TEA)
Can cause severe facial dermatitis, irritation and sensitivity. Used as ph adjuster. Reacts with stearic acid to form oil in water emulsions, typically lotions. May contain nitrosamines, known carcinogens. Its main toxic effect in animals is due to its over-alkalinity. It is used as a coating agent for fruits and vegetables.

Ingredients with unknown health effects:
12-15 alkyl benzoate. Purpose: Synthetic moisturizer and preservative
Diethylhexyl butamido triazone. Purpose: UV filter
Polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate. Purpose: Emulsifier - holds the mixture of water and oils together.
C18-36 acid glycol ester. Purpose: Synthetic moisturiser.
PVP/ hexadecene copolymer, acrylates/vinyl isodecanoate crosspolymer. Purpose: Keep the product stuck to the skin and improve water-resistance.


Toxins in Body, Hair and Skin Care Products

The condition of hair and skin is affected by what we eat, what we put on our hair, and our emotions. What we need for hair is the same as what we need for the skin, the outer layer of which is also keratin. If you eat plenty of fresh food, cut down on stimulants - coffee, tea, alcohol - increase your vitamin B levels, use cold pressed oils and unsaturated fatty acids, and get enough sleep, you'll be on your way to a glorious head of hair and healthy supple skin.

What chemical cocktails are in today's hair and skin care products? A main ingredient is Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) sulphate (SLS), and other surfactants, i.e. any names with 'lauryl', 'laureth', 'sulphate', 'dea'. These chemicals are used because they increase skin permeability roughly 100 times.

These chemical cocktails affect our skin as well as our hair. Many so called 'natural' products contain these synthetics. Surfactants strip away vital amino acids from hair and skin protein. Harsh surfactants have a skin roughening potential that increases along with the percentage used, leaving the skin and hair feeling dry and unmanageable, and looking dull and lifeless the more you use them. They rob the skin and hair of what they need.

For example: Lauramide dea, part natural but also part synthetic, is used to build up a lather. It is drying to hair and can also cause scalp itching and dermatitis. Oleyl betaine is a synthetic used to reduce static. It causes dandruff, dry hair and scalp, and is toxic when absorbed through the skin. Other commonly used 'natural' products (really toxins) are Sodium C14-16 and Olefin sulphate, petroleum derivatives used as wetting agents.
Other synthetics are sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium cetyl sulphate, and sodium laureth sulphate, Ammonium lauryl sulphate, and Ammonium laureth sulphate. These are surfactants, used to produce lots of bubbles. These can cause all manner of allergic reactions: hair loss, dry flaky scalp, and/or skin rashes. They often appear under the banner of 'natural' products.

Because of the way they are designed to work, surfactant molecules stay on hair and skin long after you think you've rinsed them off. As they sit there, they literally strip away fatty acids, moisture and amino acids from your hair and skin. They increase dryness and roughness, and disturb the healthy growth process of new hair and skin. Surfactants inhibit the activity of skin cell enzymes. These side effects reduce the water-binding capacity of skin, and contribute to dysfunctional growth of skin cells. The result can be skin that doesn't form properly, looks dull and dry, and even chaps and peels. The greater the percentage of surfactant used, the higher the potential for irritation. This is alarming knowing that some shampoos, conditioners, bubble bath and body wash contain up to 50% or more. These surfactants are not only in shampoos, conditioners, and body products, but also in toothpaste, shaving cream, laundry detergent, dish soap and many industrial cleaning products as well.

Other Common Toxic Ingredients

These chemicals (diethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and triethanolmine) are hormone-disrupting chemicals known to form nitrates and nitrosamines, often in conjunction with other chemicals present in a product, e.g., cocamide DEA, or lauramind DEA. They are almost always in products that foam; bubble bath, body wash, shampoo, soap, facial cleanser. A Federal government study says that DEA and DEA-based detergents have been shown to greatly increase the risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney cancer.

GLYCOLS (Propylene, ethylene, diethylene)
Found in almost every moisturizer, skin cream, hand and body lotion and many hair conditioning treatments. This dangerous solvent is used to protect machines and heavy equipment from freezing over the winter. It can also be found in brake fluid and other mechanical oils for the same reason. Because of PG's ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles when working with this toxic substance. It's Material Safety Data Sheet warn against skin contact because PG has systemic consequences, such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. Cosmetic companies use PG to help keep their products emulsified (thoroughly mixed and thick); keep it from freezing or spoiling; or to make the product spread easily. In reality, propylene glycol should not be used in hair or skin care products. It is dangerous. Cosmetic companies do not even have a warning label on products where the concentration is greater than that of most industrial applications.

Ethoxylated surfactants have been chemically combined with the compound 'ethylene oxide'. These ethoxylated surfactants are considered slightly milder because the molecules are larger. The more ethylene oxide you add, the larger the molecule becomes. The idea is to make the molecule large enough so that it won't irritate the skin or eyes, but this effect is negligible in most cases. The more ethoxylation, the greater the risk of exposure to harmful carcinogens, nitrosamines, and/or 1,4 dioxane. These react with other ingredients in shampoos to form dangerous nitrates. These nitrates are capable of permeating through intact skin each time you shampoo.

Products for children and babies usually use highly ethoxylated ingredients. Parents should not permit their babies to sit for periods of time in bubble baths, or use 'no tear' baby shampoos.  We advise that you keep young children away from harsh and highly ethoxylated surfactants.

Mineral oil
A petroleum derivative found in most commercial products. It is the main ingredient in so-called 'baby oil'. There is nothing natural in petroleum. It actually coats the skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the skin's natural immune barrier and inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb moisture and nutrition. As the body's largest elimination organ, it is vital that the skin be free to release toxins. Mineral oil impedes this process. Toxins accumulate, which can promote acne and other disorders. It also slows down skin function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging of the skin.

Parabens (Methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl)
These preservatives have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body with butylparaben being the most potent. It is estimated that 99 percent of all cosmetic and body care products contain some form of the paraben preservatives. British researchers have found traces of parabens in tissue taken from women with breast cancer. Some scientists have called for a review of the current paraben use.

Isopropyl & Ethyl Alcohol
A petroleum-derived solvent and denaturant (a poisonous substance that changes another substance's natural qualities). Alcohol is found in hair colour rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after-shave lotions, fragrances, mouthwash and many other cosmetics and personal care products. It is also used in antifreeze. According to 'Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients', ingestion or inhalation of the vapours may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.

If you really want to preserve your skin's youthful elasticity, health and vibrance, the first step should be to stop using creams that contain propylene glycol and mineral oil.
The most expensive skin preparations in the world contain essential oils and other natural ingredients. But, because the product must be able to endure a long shelf life, they contain chemical preservatives as well. All sorts of chemicals are used in commercial cosmetic preparations and some, such as steroids, cause serious problems.

When you put a shop-bought product on your face, you really don't know what effect it will have.

Some text derived from:
Medical Aromatherapy, Healing With Essential Oils
by Kurt Schnaubelt.

Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
by Valerie Ann Worwood.

The Practice of Aromatherapy,
by Jean Valnet, M.D

Chemicals in cosmetics can cause adverse reactions insusceptible people.

Hilary can test you to discover which toxins may be affecting you.