Ingredients to Avoid in skin care, body care, and cosmetics

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

This helpful list was compiled by our friends at Good For You Girls. We are exposed to hundreds of chemicals in our daily beauty routine. By knowing what's in the products we use, we can be empowered to make educated decisions. We want to look beautiful and feel beautiful without needlessly exposing ourselves to harmful ingredients.

Ingredients to Avoid:
  • Acrylamides - Thickeners used for a variety of cosmetic purposes. In personal care products, they act as stabilizers to add richness and body. However the material may be a possible human carcinogen because of its potentially harmful impurities. It is already a restricted substance in European cosmetics.
  • Alcohol denat (denatured alcohol) - A petrochemical byproduct. Usually contains benzyl alcohol, making it undrinkable. Can cause systemic eczematous, contact dermatitis and chemical sensitivities. Used in all commercial perfumes, used as solvent.
  • Aluminum ingredients - Skin irritants, linked to Alzheimer's and lung disease.
  • Benzyl alcohol - Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Severe irritant for eyes, skin and respiratory system. Petrochemical.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride - Bismuth is put in cosmetics because it gives a sheen to the face, is soft to the touch, and is extremely inexpensive. A byproduct of lead and copper refining, bismuth oxychloride is a heavy metal. Heavy metals have been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.
  • BHA and BHT - Encourages the breakdown of vitamin D, can cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase. Linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.
  • Diethanolamine - DEA is used as a skin softener and humectant in personal care products. It can be carcinogenic when combined with other ingredients. It's a skin irritant. It's close and dangerous cousins are TEA, and MEA.
  • Ethoxylates - Chemical compounds made as reaction products involving ethylene oxide. Ethoxylated materials include ingredients such as Laureth, Myreth, Ceteth, Ceteareth, Glycereth, etc. Trace contaminants in some ethoxylates have been implicated as potent carcinogens.
  • Formaldehyde - A preservative which includes Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. A known irritant and potential carcinogen. It is often hidden in other ingredients, banned in Sweden and Japan mainly because of its inability to inhibit the growth of acid producing bacteria and it's implication in cancer.
  • Fragrance - Highly allergenic. Companies do not have to list the chemicals used in fragrances. They contain large quantities of toxins and chemicals not disclosed. Fragrance-free means that fragrance chemicals have been added to the product to mask the natural aromas of the ingredients.
  • Glycol - Often used as solvents for preservatives and other materials. Glycols are potentially irritating and harmful to the skin. Examples are: Propylene, Butylene, Pentylene, Hexylene, and Caprylyl Glycol.
  • MMP (Matrix Metalloproteinase) - An enzyme that breaks down collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. They are involved in wound healing, but also cause premature aging of the skin and tumor cell metastasis.
  • Methylisothiazolinone - An antimicrobial agent found in some shampoos and hand creams and widely used in industrial settings. It inhibits the development of particular neuron structures that are essential for transmitting signals between cells. Prolonged exposure to low levels of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) may have potentially damaging consequences to a developing nervous system.
  • Phthalates - Phthalates are synthetic chemical compounds mainly used as softening agents and to create fragrance. Look out for your plastics - squeeze bottles, shower curtains, soft plastics. Possible carcinogen.
  • Parabens - Parabens are synthetic compounds used as a preservative in most beauty products. You can find them listed as methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens. Parabens cause many allergic reactions and skin rashes. They have also been found in breast cancer tissue and implicated in a multitude of health problems.
  • PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) - A water soluble polymer used as an emulsifier and plasticizer. Impurities in these materials have been cited as potentially carcinogenic.
  • Petrochemicals - Derived from raw materials of petroleum or natural gas origin. These include materials such as propylene glycol, ethoxylates, acrylamides, mineral oil and polyethylene glycol (PEG).
  • Petrolatum - A derivative also known as petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is very occlusive and can clog pores. Additionally, it provides no nutritive value to the skin and contains no essential fatty acids. Petroleum by-products can pass through the brain barrier and cause ADD/dyslexia symptoms. Acne producing, may be carcinogenic, causes dry skin, respiratory toxins, and may cause dizziness.
  • Phenoxyethanol - A synthetic ether alcohol preservative. Synthetic preservatives are considered by leading dermatological associations to be the number one cause of contact dermatitis.
  • Silicone - A synthetic additive used to provide emolliency. Some forms of silicone such as Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane, Methicone, and Phenyl Trimethicone can be harmful or irritating to the skin.
  • Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate - Is used in many soaps, cleansers, and shampoos to enhance the foaming action of a product. It is a common skin irritant and is rapidly absorbed into the heart, liver, brain, and eyes, which can cause long term effects. It has been linked to cataracts in adults and inhibiting proper development of children's eyes.
  • Synthetic Dyes - Synthetic colors are byproducts of the petroleum industry. The molecular structure of these products are so small that they can pass through the brain barrier. This can manifest itself as turning numbers backwards when writing or reading, peeling skin, acne, or ADD symptoms. Many people have allergies to artificial colorings, especially red 40.
  • Talc - Talc has asbestos in it. Asbestos is another dangerous carcinogen. Do not use on babies, linked to ovarian cancer, possible respiratory toxin.
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) - Contains ammonium salts. It is an eye irritant, and sensitizer and is mildly toxic.

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