Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid
Compiled by Life Enthusiast Staff
Americans suffer from more degenerative disease then ever before. There is a definite link between the “Epidemic of Degenerative Disease” and the increase in the development of synthetic ingredients used in personal care products. Are you aware that there are products sold in your local grocery and health food stores that can compromise your health?
Like you, we were uninformed and always thought that the US Government, specifically the FDA, was watching out for our well being by making sure that we were safe from harm through regulations preventing companies from selling products that could cause problems. With more than 25,000 new cosmetic chemicals being developed over the last several decades, it is no wonder that personal care products have been found to cause hormone disruption, skin constipation, protein, cellular and DNA denaturing, respiratory distress, infertility, birth defects, cold sweats, circulatory collapse, convulsions, headaches, chronic fatigue, allergies, joint pain, dizziness, skin abnormalities, hyperactivity, irritability, depression, cancer and even death.
What you put on your skin can affect your health and sense of well-being… either negatively or positively. You have the ability to choose which… if you know the facts. Our skin, the body’s largest organ, is our most important immune defense barrier as well as our most efficient waste elimination mechanism. Commercial products with harmful petroleum ingredients can plasticize and “constipate” your skin, causing germs more likely to enter into our body, and toxins more likely to be retained and not released through our skin – the largest detox organ.
Every day we use products we think are safe, but the truth is, products we use every day are not always safe – and manufacturers are not required to tell us so. How shocked we were when we found out that our government relinquished the right to control the cosmetic industry in 1938, allowing that multibillion-dollar industry to become self-regulated. This “Cosmetic Conspiracy” means that products can be marketed without government approval, regardless of test results.
In a typical day, you may be exposed to over 200 chemicals, many of which are suspected of causing cancer or juggling hormones. EPA tests conclude that ingredients in shampoos, dyes and other personal care products “may be wreaking havoc with hormones that control reproduction and development.” A great way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to start checking all product labels and learn to avoid using products containing harmful, hazardous and dangerous ingredients.
The Most Common Toxic Skin Care Ingredients
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Detergents that pose serious health threats
- Used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers and in 90% of all personal-care products that foam
Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS. SLS may damage the skin’s immune system and can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. SLS can remain in the body for up to five days and maintain residual levels in the heart, lungs, liver and brain.
Alternative: Ammonium Cocoyl Isethionate
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)
- Hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates
- Restricted in Europe due to carcinogenic effects, yet are still used in the US
- Americans may be exposed 10-20 times per day with shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths
Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated applications of DEA-based detergents result in major increases in liver and kidney cancer. The FDA’s John Bailey says “the risk is significantly increased for children.”
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- Carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture
- Increases the appearance of aging and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria
- Used in spray-on oven cleaners and cleansers to dissolve oil and grease
- The most recent addition to personal care products
- This is a poison (caustic lye) found in drain cleaners
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.” Yet the cosmetic industry is now putting it in our skin care and oral care products.
Alternative Grapefruit Seed Extract & Hydrated Silica
- Synthetic “antibacterial” with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange!
- The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to human health and the environment
- It is in a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans
It may produce dioxin, a hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in parts per trillion; that is equivalent to one drop in 300 Olympic sized swimming pools! Hormone disruptors can change genetic material, decrease fertility and sexual function and foster birth defects. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse and convulsions. Stored in the body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs and can cause paralysis, brain hemorrhages and heart problems. Tufts University, School of Medicine says Triclosan can force the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Its widespread use in antibacterial cleaners, tooth pastes and household products may have nightmarish implications on future generations, with a half life in our water supply of over 500 years.
Alternative: Grapefruit Seed Extract
DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl)
Two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which can cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure also irritates the respiratory system, triggers heart palpitations or asthma, and aggravates coughs and colds. Other side effects includes; weakening of the immune system and cancer.
Alternative: Japanese Honeysuckle
A recent report is questioning the safety of the most common group of cosmetic preservatives called “parabens.” Studies show that parabens – alkyl hydroxy parabens – alpha hydroxy benzoate (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-parabens) are weakly estrogenic. In other words, these preservatives have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body with butyl-paraben being the most potent.
Alcohol, Isoproplyl (SD-40)
- Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses
- Made from the same petroleum derivative used in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products
Promotes brown spots and premature aging
A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
Alternative: Grapefruit Seed Extract
Petroleum byproduct 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 aging. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil!
Alternatives: Moisture Magnets (Saccharide Isomerate) from beets; Ceramides, Jojoba and other vegetable oils.
FD&C Color Pigments
Synthetic colors from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.
No Alternative Necessary
Can contain up to four thousand ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Causes headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes.
Alternatives: Aroma-therapeutic, organic essential oils
Now that you are aware of the 12 most notorious offenders in cosmetic ingredients, you are armed with the knowledge necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones from the “Cosmetic Conspiracy.” The only way to force the cosmetic industry to clean up their act is to read labels and refuse to use toxic products.
One trick that the cosmetic industry has been using lately is to give the toxic ingredients alternative nomenclature that the general public will assume are nontoxic.
To be confident that the personal care products that you use are totally safe, simply look for the “TOXIC-FREE” seal of approval, bestowed upon products tested to be completely toxic-free the Toxic-Free Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation.
More Toxic Ingredients To Avoid
There are more than 800 chemicals used commonly in commercial skin care products. Here is a list of the ones you will find most often, and why you should never use them. While this list may seem extensive, and boring, we want you to know that use of any of the chemical agents listed below can have severe adverse effects on your skin.
The FDA allows these ingredients, which are by and large very inexpensive, to be used in small quantities. The problem is that most of them have cumulative effects … they add together as you continue to use them. Topping it all off, imagine this… if ONE of these is bad for you; imagine what they do in COMBINATION with each other. We are convinced they make a TOXIC SOUP, and hope you will learn to avoid every one of them.
AHA (alpha hydroxy acid): Skin is exfoliated chemically instead of mechanically via abrasion, dries and increases skin aging. Supposed to be anti-wrinkle, found in many skin and hair care products. Used as a solvent originally in cleaning compounds and for tanning leather. A smooth finish is developed by stripping the outer layer of the epidermis, which causes the irritated skin to puff up and thus fill in the lines and wrinkles. The FDA warns that strengths over 3% may thin the skin.
Acetamide MEA: Used in lipsticks and cream blusher to retain moisture. Causes adverse reactions, and is toxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic.
Alkyl-phenol-ethoxylades: Has been found to reduce male sperm count, and to mimic estrogen in the body. It is widely used in shampoo, causes adverse reactions and has been shown to be toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic.
Ammonium Laureth Sulphate: This substance contains ether and is also easily absorbed by the skin. It is found in hair and bubble bath products. It is known to cause adverse reactions, to be carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic.
Aluminum: Used as a color additive in cosmetics, especially eye shadows. Another form of Aluminum is used in deodorants and antiperspirants. Listed as carcinogenic, toxic and mutagenic.
Alcohol: Acts as 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.
Benzene: 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.
Coal Tar: Many kinds of shampoo designed to treat dandruff & flaky scalp contain it. Disguised with names FD, FDC or FD&C color. Coal tar causes potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, and cancer.
Cocomide DEA: 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 causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. Mostly found in shampoo. Synthetic nonionic surfactant.
Cocomidopropyl Betaine: Used in shampoo in combination with other surfactants. Synthetic. Causes eyelid dermatitis.
Carbomer 934, 940, 941, 960, 961 C: Used as a thickener and stabilizer in creams, toothpaste, eye makeup, bathing products. It is a known allergen that has a high acidic pH in 1% water solution. Synthetic emulsifier that can cause eye irritations and should be avoided.
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.
Dioform: Many tooth pastes and other tooth whiteners contain it. Damages your teeth enamel weakening their protective shell.
Dimethylamine: Secondary amines cause allergic dermatitis. Carcinogenic properties.
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 colors. 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 color category.
Fluoride: Hazardous chemical. Researchers linked it to cancer years ago. No one is listening. 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, can lead to Crohn’s disease. A toxic manufacturing byproduct
Formaldehyde: It is a colorless gas with vapors that are extremely irritating to mucous membranes. Used in nail polish and hardeners, soap, cosmetics and hair growing products. Due to it’s bad name it is sometimes hidden under the name DMDM hydantoin or MDM hydantoin. Its trade-name is Formalin. Released by imidazolidinyl urea. 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: Can contain up to four thousand ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Causes headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes.
Glycols (group): Used as a humectant (emulsifier/moisturizer), that can be from animal or vegetable, natural or synthetic. In most cases it is used as a cheap glycerine substitute. Propylene glycol did 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.
Imidazolidinyl Urea: After parabens, this is the second most commonly used preservative in cosmetics. It is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Used in powders, baby shampoo, bath oils, colognes, eye shadows, blushes, hair tonics, lotions. Causes dermatitis. If heated to higher temperatures it produces formaldehyde.
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 byproduct 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 aging.
Paba (p-aminobenzoic acid): It is a water-soluble vitamin found in B complex. It is widely used in sunscreen lotions but can cause photo-sensitivity and contact dermatitis and allergic eczema.
Parabens: Trademark for butyl, ethyl, germa, methyl, propyl paraben. Causes dermatitis and allergic reactions. It is the most common preservative used in a variety of personal care products especially cream & lotion. Petroleum based.
PEG (4-200): Abbreviation for polyethylene glycol, polyoxethylene, polygocol, polyether glycol. A manufacturing byproduct 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…
Polyquaternium: Followed by any number they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and cause adverse reactions. Induced contact dermatitis, causes fatal drug allergy (anaphylactic shock), may cause increased sensitivity to muscle relaxants.
Propylene Glycol: It is the most common moisture-carrying vehicle other than water that is used. Found in most shampoo and conditioners, even foodstuffs such as cakes & muffins. Derived from petroleum products. Also used in antifreeze, deicer, latex, paint, and laundry detergent. It can cause irritation of nasal and respiratory passages and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 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.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Used mainly in shampoo and conditioners. Causes skin irritation and dermatitis. Has ether added and is toxic.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: An ingredient in 90% of commercially available shampoo and conditioner. Corrodes hair follicle and impedes hair growth. Is found in car wash soap, engine degreaser, toothpaste, cream, lotion, and garage floor cleaners. Penetrates your eyes, brain, liver, kidneys and remains there for a long time. Degenerates cell membranes and can change the genetic information (mutagenic) in cells and damage the immune system. May cause blindness and lead to cataracts. Eyes cannot heal properly. Retards the eye healing process. Studies also show that these additives react with the ingredients of food supplements or 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 Cyanide: Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse 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 Sulfate: May contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and/or dioxane, both potent toxins.
Styrene Monomer: Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions. May be irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.
Stearamidopropyl Tetrasodium EDTA: Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens.
Talc: 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.
Toluene: 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, irritate 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.
Triclosan: Synthetic “antibacterial” with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange, is used in antibacterial cleansers, tooth pastes, baby and household products! The EPA registers Triclosan as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to human health and the environment. It is in a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Hormone disruptors can change genetic material, decrease fertility and sexual function and foster birth defects. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse and convulsions. Stored in the body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs and can cause paralysis, brain hemorrhages and heart problems. Tufts University, School of Medicine says Triclosan can force the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. With a half life of 500 years and a toxicity level of one part per trillion (one drop in 300 Olympic sized swimming pools), Triclosan may be a contributory factor to the sterility of future generations.