10 Ingredients to Avoid In Personal Care Products:
1) DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (momoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine): often appear on labels as Cocamide DEA and are commonly found in cleansers, shampoos and body washes as emulsifiers and foaming agents. According to a 1998 research study by the National Toxicology Program, these chemicals affect hormone function and are known to produce cancer-causing nitrates and nitrosamines in laboratory animals. The FDA is currently in the process of evaluating the link between DEA and cancer in humans.
2) FD&C Color Pigments: often made from coal tar, these artificial colorings can cause skin sensitivity and may be carcinogenic.
3) Added Fragrance: can be very sensitizing to the skin. Many of the compounds in fragrance are toxic and can cause headaches, dizziness or nausea.
4) Imidazolidinyl Urea & DM Hydantoin: these are the most commonly used preservatives after parabens. They are the second most identified cosmetic preservatives causing contact dermatitis according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These preservatives also release fomaldehyde, a chemical that can cause skin irritations as well as health problems such as migraines, allergies and asthma.
5) Isopropyl Alcohol: a petroleum-derived solvent found in hair rinses, hand lotions and shaving products. Also used as antifreeze at industrial strengths.
6) Mineral Oil: a petroleum-derived oil that is sensitizing to the skin and can inhibit the ability of the skin to breathe. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil.
7) Paraben Preservatives: Developed in the 1930’s, synthetic Methyl, Ethyl and Propyl Parabens were derived from benzoic acid and were considered effective and economical since they were inexpensive to use as both a cosmetics and food grade preservative. However, recently this preservative system has come into question as these substances have been found in cancerous tissues, especially breast tissue. The greatest concern of these preservatives focuses on their estrogen-mimicking factor in laboratory animals (i.e., their ability to mimic estrogen in the body). More research needs to be done to see if similar exposures to humans produces similar findings.
A study performed by the British Industrial Biological Research Assoc. that recorded the effects of parabens in decreasing testosterone levels and sperm counts on the male reproductive system. (British Industrial Biological Research Assoc. PG: 8 p YR: 1989 IP: VI)
It is estimated that 99% of all cosmetic and body care products contain some form of paraben preservatives.
8) PEG: is an abbreviation for polyethylene glycol and is used to break down oil or help thicken products. PEGs are often used in oven cleansers and are irritating to the skin.
9) Propylene Glycol (PG): an alcohol that can be manufactured synthetically, usually from petroleum or naturally, from corn. Synthetically derived, it is used as a surfactant or wetting agent and is an active ingredient in industrial antifreeze. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on propylene glycol warn users to avoid skin contact as it is systemic and can cause kidney and liver abnormalities. Propylene glycol may damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage to the skin.
10) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate: are used as detergent surfactants to remove dirt from the skin. These compounds are also found in car wash soaps and engine degreasers and yet are commonly found in many shampoos and shower gels. SLS is very irritating to skin and can be toxic to eyes.
Not only are these “immortal ingredients” toxic to our bodies, but they also, if petroleum-based, deplete the earth’s resources and can be toxic to the environment. Several studies have shown high levels of benzene and naphthalene in the brain tissue of rainbow trout and Coho salmon.