I love green/organic chemical free cosmetics mostly because I love to see what plants and natural ingredients can do but also i know its better for me. I have been using organic products for years but i still have a bad relationship with mainstream cosmetics (One day i’ll kick the habit for good) If you are interested in going down the green route but don’t know where to start, I have put a list together of chemicals to try to avoid and a brief reason why. This is only a short list as everyday new ingredients and their danger come to the surface and information changes.
Now in not say to you that they all have to go NOW because in the world we live in it is impossible to remove all toxins out of our life but removing as many as we can is making a big change to your health and well-being.
As I said this is a brief summary as it would be very difficult to put all the information that has been collected on each chemical in this small post this is just a first step post so I really recommend looking around and finding further in-depth information.
BHA/BHT :BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are considered by the National Toxicology Program as a likely carcinogen. Studies show that animals exposed to BHA/BHT developed stomach cancer & liver damage, and also developed complications with their thyroid and reproductive organs. They have been banned in Europe.
Coal Tar : It is recognised as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and can be contaminated by heavy metals that are toxic to the brain. On ingredient lists, it goes by aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine. Also look out for colours identified as “C.I.” followed by five digits in other products Can be found in hair dyes and dandruff and psoriasis shampoos.
Formaldehyde : Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was found as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) Both have been linked to occupational related cancers which are nasal & nasopharyngeal. It is also known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. Can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.
Fragrance/Parfum: This indicates a mixture of ingredient to create a scent. The worrying part is that companies legally don’t have to inform us what they are. 3000 or more can go into making a fragrance and even the so called “unscented” still contain fragrance s with masking agents. They have been linked to Allergic reactions and Dermatitis, asthma and breathing issues and some are linked to various cancers. Can be found in items such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturisers.
Hydroquinone : Studies have also shown that long term hydroquinone use can cause exogenous ochronosis, which is when your skin turns a bluish and black color. Hydroquinone not only inhibits melanin production to help lighten skin, but long term use can actually damage your pigment cell, doing this makes your skin more susceptible to UVA and UVB rays that can lead to dangerous sunburns, and over a prolonged period of time, an increased risk of certain types of skin cancer.
Mercury :We all know Mercury is really bad for us, yet some companies still insist on putting it into their cosmetics as a skin lightening agent. Mercury easily absorbs into the skin and if used enough can develop into mercury poisoning. Also known as “calomel,” “mercurio,” “mercurio chloride,” “mercury.”
Chemical Sunscreens : (with Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate) When some of the chemicals used in sunscreens are exposed to the sunlight cause reactions to occur between the active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. The toxic reactions include skin inflammation, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. They also contain Chemicals that actually promote cancer.
Parabens: (Ethyl, Methyl, Proply, Butyl & Isobutyl) Parbens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. The issue is Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that been associated with increased risk of breast cancer They can cause reproductive issues like infertility or slowed growth and developmental disorders in children. Can be found in body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products.
MEA/DEA/TEA : (monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine) are Ethanolamines which are ammonia compounds used as emulsifiers or foaming agents. They have not only known for being hormone disrupting chemicals but have been linked to miscarriages and inhibiting Fetal brain development and there are strong links to them causing kidney and liver cancer. Can be found in bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps, and facial cleaners. They’re also found in eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, make-up bases and foundations, fragrances, hair care products, hair dyes, shaving products, and sunscreens.
Phthalates: This group of chemicals that are used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics, The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. But be warned they are alway disclosed as they can come under the term “fragrance’ Can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers.
Ethoxylated Surfactants & 1,4 – Dioxane : 1,4 – Dioxane is classed as a class 2 carcinogenic in the EU but there are no regulation on trace limits. It can be present in a large number of cosmetics but will never been seen on the ingredients list because it is a contaminated product formed durning the production of certain ingredients. So how do you spot it then ? Many products contain surfactants that are made water soluble by exthorylation (example SLES) its in this process that the 1,4 – Dioxane is produced. Can be found in Baby shampoo, shampoo, Body-wash, Foam bath
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) :Are a small organic alcohol that are a petroleum-based compound that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases. worryingly PEGs can be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both known to cause cancer. Can be found in moisturiser, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.
SLS & SLES :Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) These surfactant can be found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products on the market basically in anything foamy. They are known cause irritation to the skin, lung, and eye but a massive concern about these chemicals is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, which is a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a multitude of other issues including kidney and respiratory damage. Can be found in shampoo, body wash, cleanser, mascara, acne treatment and even toothpaste.
Tricosan : Is widely used antimicrobial chemical and is a known endocrine disruptor especially thyroid & reproductive hormones, and can cause skin irritation in some. Concerns have also been risen that Triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. Can be found in toothpaste, antibacterial soaps and some deodorants