The Dirt On
The Dirty Dozen:
Why we don’t use these
ingredients, and why we
recommend you avoid them.
- SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE
- SYNTHETIC COLOR
- 1,4 DIOXANE
Be careful out there…
We encourage you to check out the labels on your hair, skin, body, dental, personal hygiene products, and beauty cosmetics. There are many “known to cause cancer”, and “endocrine disruptors”, and”toxic” ingredients out there that are perfectly legal (in this country) for companies to put in their products.
Over the last 100 years, the rate of cancer in the U.S. has sky-rocketed from 1 out of 800 people diagnosed, to 1 out of 3 today. Scientists are racing to find the cause of the alarming rise in the instances of Autism and ADD. Many are wondering WHY? What is so much different in our lives now than 50 or 100 years ago?
We believe what we are now putting IN and ON (which gets “in”) is causing a multitude of problems. We choose not to use any questionable ingredients or known irritants in our products.
We honestly are amazed every day by how many companies offer products to their loyal consumers with proven adverse effects- when perfectly healthy and safe alternatives are available.
Many people believe that if it’s on the shelves for sale that it is safe. That the FDA wouldn’t allow unsafe ingredients to be sold. Why would it be allowed on the shelves if it was bad for you, right? Unfortunately, the answers will anger you, but just know that many other countries (like the EU and Japan) have banned many of these ingredients – hopefully the US isn’t far behind them in doing the right thing. Until then, you will need to be your own advocate and stay vigilant! Rest assured that when it comes to personal care products, skin care, and lip products, we have your back.
The Dirty Dozen:
SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and/or Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Both are used as detergents and surfactants in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners, and engine degreasers. Yet these two are most widely used as foaming agents in shampoo, shower gel, liquid soap, baby products, bubble bath, and other foaming products. Exposure causes eye damage, hair loss, depression, diarrhea and many other ailments. This is perhaps the MOST DANGEROUS of all ingredients, and when used in combination with other chemicals, can form nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogen. An undisputed skin irritant and is easily 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 developement of children’s eyes. Associated with eczema. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology states this chemical has a “degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties” and that “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration.” It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation “comes from coconut”.
2.) Synthetic Fragrance
One in every 50 people may suffer immune system damage from fragrance and become sensitized, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products. Once sensitized to an ingredient, a person can remain so for a lifetime, enduring allergic reactions with every subsequent exposure. Fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks. When “Fragrance” is listed on a label, it can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. How do you know if the ingredients in the “Fragrance” in your shower gel are of the carcinogenic kind? You don’t. Companies are not required to list the actual make-up of its “fragrance” because it is considered a “trade secret”. This is a great hiding place for all kinds of stuff they don’t want to tell you is in the product. What we do know is that synthetic fragrance is one of the BIGGEST culprits affecting our skin and our bodies. Symptoms reported to the USA FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability. Most fragrances are no longer made from natural substances (like essential oils), but are made from synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum. WHY, you ask? WHY use synthetic fragrance when beautiful, natural aromas exist in nature? Bottom line – -they’re cheap. In 1989 the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects. They identified 884 of them as toxic substances. The US Environmental Protection Agency found that 100% of perfumes contain toluene, a toxic volatile organic compound (VOC). The average North American uses between 17 and 21 scented products per day, exposing themselves to a random chemical soup with unknown health effects. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, fragrances cause 30% of all allergic reactions, and 70% of all asthmatics develop respiratory symptoms when exposed to perfumes.
1,4-dioxane is generated through a process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. This process creates 1,4-dioxane. For example, sodium laurel sulfate, a chemical that is harsh on the skin, is often converted to the less-harsh chemical sodium laureth sulfate (the “eth” denotes ethoxylation), which can contaminate this ingredient with 1,4-dioxane. ??Alternatives do exist, but many companies don’t take advantage of them. Vacuum-stripping can remove 1,4-dioxane from an ethoxylated product, or manufacturers can skip ethoxylation entirely by using less-harsh ingredients to begin with. Organic standards do not allow ethoxylation at all. 1,4-Dioxane is a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer”. It is included on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected by the state to cause cancer or birth defects (x). The California Environmental Protection Agency also lists 1,4-dioxane as a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant. In fact, it’s carcinogenicity has been reported since the mid sixties. So, for a change, there is no controversy that it is harmful per se. Yet it finds its way into a myriad of common skin care products – lotions, body washes, soaps… Dioxane readily penetrates the skin. While dioxane can be removed from products easily and economically by vacuum stripping during the manufacturing process, there is no way to determine which products have undergone this process. Labels are not required to list this information. You will also not find 1,4-dioxane listed as an ingredient – as it is a byproduct of other chemicals reacting to one another. The Organic Consumer Association recommends that To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, consumers should search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. From Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): ?1,4-DIOXANE MAY EXERT ITS EFFECTS THROUGH INHALATION, SKIN ABSORPTION, AND INGESTION.?1,4-DIOXANE IS LISTED AS A CARCINOGEN.??EFFECTS OF OVEREXPOSURE: 1,4-DIOXANE IS AN EYE AND MUCOUS MEMBRANE IRRITANT, PRIMARY SKIN IRRITANT, CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DEPRESSANT, NEPHROTOXIN, AND HEPATOTOXIN. ACUTE EXPOSURE CAUSES IRRITATION, HEADACHE, DIZZINESS, AND NARCOSIS. CHRONIC INHALATION EXPOSURE CAN PRODUCE DAMAGE TO THE LIVER AND KIDNEYS, AND BLOOD DISORDERS.??MEDICAL CONDITION AGGRAVATED BY EXPOSURE PRECLUDE FROM EXPOSURE THOSE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISEASE OF THE BLOOD, LIVER KIDNEYS, CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, AND THOSE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DERMATITIS.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many personal care products, particularly in shampoos and liquid body soaps. These chemicals help prevent bacteria from growing in water-based products, but can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to both skin sensitivity and cancer. Personal care products such as baby shampoo, baby soap and body washes may contain formaldehyde even though it is not listed as an ingredient. That’s because these products may contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs). The European Union restricts the use of formaldehyde in personal care products, and requires that products with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-release ingredients carry the label “contains formaldehyde.” Canada also restricts the concentration of formaldehyde, and it is banned from use in cosmetics and toiletries in both Japan and Sweden. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are commonly used in place of formaldehyde, and release small amounts of formaldehyde over time. Quaternium-15 is the most sensitizing of these FRPs. Other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives include dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol). Since low levels of formaldehyde can cause health concerns – at levels as low as 250 parts per million (x), and even lower levels in sensitized individuals – the slow release of small amounts of formaldehyde are cause for concern. Formaldehyde is considered a probable carcinogen by many expert and government bodies, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. A recent review of the literature on occupational exposures and formaldehyde shows a link between formaldehyde and leukemia.
Ethyl, Methyl, Propyl and Butyl Parabens. You can find a certain combination of these materials in almost every beauty product, because they inhibit microbial growth and greatly extend product’s use time this way. Parabens are popular because they are very cheap ingredients. But you may suspect that cheap doesn’t mean healthy. Parabens irritate skin and cause allergic reactions because they are highly toxic. Parabens are used in lotions and other skin care products as a preservative, but they have been connected to so many negative things that I’m amazed anyone is still comfortable using them. Parabens are known endocrine disrupters that affect the hormone balance in your body, and can interfere with fetal development. Also, they have been liked to breast cancer, and are an immuno-toxin that can cause a myriad of allergic reactions. Parabens, found in breast cancer tissue, are a suspected carcinogen. “Measurable concentrations of six different parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors,” reports the Breast Cancer Fund. “The particular parabens were found in relative concentrations that closely parallel their use in the synthesis of cosmetic products.” Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. They also increase the expression of genes usually regulated by estradiol (a form of estrogen); these genes cause human breast tumor cells to grow and multiply in cellular studies Many manufacturers argue the jury is still out on this chemical, but–do you really want to risk it? In short, it helps to store your skin care cream for an indefinite period, but it speeds up the aging on your skin. It also affects the body’s hormonal balance and impair adrenal system and brain function.
Banned from personal care products in Europe, phthalates (thay-late) are gender-bending steps into the great unknown. Phthalates are found in nail polish, deodorants, lotions, shampoos and other personal care products, and they are used as carriers for fragrances. Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemical compounds that are mainly used as softening agents. A joint Swedish-Danish research team found a very strong link between allergies in children and phthalates. Two decades of research suggest that phthalates disrupt hormonal systems, which can cause harm during critical periods of development. Phthalate exposure in pregnant women, as measured by urine samples, has been associated with a shortened distance between the anus and genitals in male babies, indicating a feminization had occurred during genital development. Shorter anogenital distance is characteristic of female sex in both humans and animals. Other research in humans has shown that baby boys exposed to phthalates in breast milk had alterations in their hormone levels. Other research in adult human males has found exposure to some phthalates is associated with poor sperm quality and infertility. Further research in male animals has shown that exposure to various phthalates causes birth defects of the genitals – such as hypospadias (an abnormal location for the opening of the urethra on the underside of the penis) and undescended or small testicles – resulting in low sperm counts and infertility. Female laboratory animals exposed to phthalates also have been found to have alterations in sex hormones and experience fetal loss. One of the ways that phthalates interfere with reproductive functioning is by reducing the levels of sex hormones, which are critical for development and functioning of the sex organs. Additional research suggests that these same mechanisms may link phthalates to breast cancer. Phthalates have also been shown to cause proliferation of breast tumor cells and renders anti-estrogen treatments, such as tamoxifen, less effective against tumors. Most personal care products that contain phthalates don’t list them on the label. A significant loophole in the law allows phthalates (and other chemicals) to be added to “fragrances” without disclosure to consumers.
Petroleum and Petroleum derivatives such as coal tar, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, and propylene glycol are used extensively in skincare products ranging from the most basic pharmaceutical creams and preparations for eczema and psoriasis to high-end ultra expensive skincare and cosmeceuticals. Mineral oil, or liquid petroleum, is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. It is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like plastic wrap, which stands in the way of the skin’s natural function of releasing toxins from the body. It slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!) Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). There has been much debate as to its use in skincare; however, according to the International Agency for Research into Cancer in Geneva, mineral oils are most likely carcinogenic. Mineral oils are cheap and, for this reason, are used extensively in skincare, but ironically, they offer no skin benefits. In fact, by forming an occlusive barrier they prevent the skin from breathing and functioning normally.? The many natural plant oil alternatives, which offer both skin and health benefits, do cost considerably more – hence the reluctance by large skincare companies to remove mineral oils and reformulate. Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. It is used as moisturizer, although it actually works the other way around. Petrolatum is so called mineral oil jelly (Vaseline); it coats a skin (which is very unhealthy effect), stimulates sun damage and inhibits natural moisturizing processes of skin. Why is it used in the industry then? You can guess it easily: it is extremely cheap. Petroleum-Based Wax can pass through the brain barrier and cause ADD/dyslexia symptoms. Bottom line, it is said to be acne producing, may be carcinogenic, causes long term dry skin, and is a suspected respiratory toxin. One final note: Any skin care creams that contain mineral oils are strictly banned in Europe.
8.) Synthetic Colors
These are categorized as either D&C– Drugs&Cosmetics, or FD&C– Food, Drugs&Cosmetics. Personal care products contain both categories. “D&C” followed by a color holds certification for external use only. You will not find it in lipstick or other products intended for mucous membranes. (Note: Since skin absorbs much of what is applied, “external use” provides little protection.) FD&C & other coal tar and lake dyes are carcinogens, topical irritants, may cause acne & skin irritations, may contain aluminums, have caused tumors in rats, low-level exposure is linked to cancer. FD&C color, you see these at the end of every ingredient list, but not because they are inconsequential. Many cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. Most are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic (cancer causing). For example, FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder cancer. Even though it is considered a carcinogen it is still used in non-food products. Synthetic colors are a by-product 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 406. Colors made from coal tars have not only been found to be carcinogenic in varying degrees, but can cause nausea, mood swings, headaches and fatigue. Research at the University of Pittsburgh indicates that up to twice as much toxic material can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin as the digestive system, which makes colors a problem in shampoos, bath and body products, make-up and lipstick. Unlike most ingredients used by the industry, synthetic colors are regulated by the FDA. Yet, these colors are allowed even though many people are allergic to coal tar, and there is the association of coal tar and cancer. Most all coal tars cause cancer when subcutaneously injected in lab mice. In fact, many formerly approved colors are now banned in the EU because of recognized carcinogenic properties.
Talc is a fine powder and is chemically similar to asbestos. It is found in baby powders, feminine powders, condom lubricants, and in cosmetics. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral which is carcinogenic when inhaled. Use of talc-containing feminine powders and sprays in the genital area has been linked to an increased ovarian cancer risk (60% and 90% respectively). Airborne talc in body powders and antiperspirant sprays can irritate the lungs. Talcum powder is reported to cause coughing, vomiting, and even pneumonia. Many pediatricians now tell parents to avoid using talc on babies as it can cause respiratory distress, sometimes resulting in death. Talc has also been linked to testicular cancer. Talc is found in blushes, face powders, eye shadows, liquid foundation and skin fresheners. Used near the eyes, it can irritate sensitive mucous membranes.
Antibacterial ingredient, widely used in skincare products and deodorants (also weed killers). Since 2000, a number of studies have found microorganisms that are resistant to triclosan, and there is mounting evidence linking the use of triclosan with the promotion of bacteria resistant to both antibiotic medications and antibacterial products. Triclosan-resistant strains of microorganisms such as E-coli and Salmonella have already been identified. Studies indicate that use of triclosan provides a suitable environment for the emergence of antimicrobial drug-resistant bacteria, even at the low concentrations found in many FDA-regulated products and cosmetics. Because triclosan’s mode of action and target site in the bacteria is similar to antibiotics, there are concerns that bacteria that become resistant to triclosan will also become resistant to antibiotics. Studies have found concentrations of triclosan in three out of five human milk samples as a result of exposure through personal care products containing triclosan. Triclosan has also been found in umbilical cord blood of infants. These results raise concerns for the developing fetus during vulnerable periods of development, and make the bioaccumulative and endocrine-disruptive potential of triclosan more even more alarming. Since the majority of the products that contain triclosan are eventually washed down consumers’ residential drains, high levels of triclosan are accumulating in water systems and negatively impacting the environment. Triclosan is toxic to algae (because algae is a first-step producer, the destruction of algae is particularly disruptive to aquatic ecosystems) and is there is evidence that triclosan is accumulating at high levels in fish and other aquatic life. Triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial ingredient with a chemical structure similar to that of Agent Orange. And it behaves the same way: The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol, a chemical class suspected of causing cancer in humans. It is a hormone disrupter, which means it affects sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Its manufacturing process produces Dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects in quantities as small as parts per trillion (that’s one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools). Triclosan stores away in body fat and can accumulate to toxic levels in the liver, kidneys and lungs. It can cause paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, and household products. A study reported by the Associated Press on 9/9/2000 reports that nearly half of all hand and bar soaps contain anti-bacterial ingredients, which some experts say could be killing harmless germs and contributing to the spread of hard-to-kill germs: “With more commercial soaps containing anti-bacterials, bacteria may become resistant to these soaps, and the speed with which the resistance develops is likely related to the amount used by the public. Anti-bacterial soaps and lotions should be reserved for the sick patients, not the healthy household.” Synthetic antibacterials such as Triclosan have been banned in Europe, but Anti-Bacterial is still available in the United States. There is evidence that triclosan is also an endocrine disruptor and impacts thyroid function and thyroid homeostasis. One recent study found that triclosan had an effect on thyroid hormone concentrations, and another showed that triclosan interacted with androgen and estrogen hormone receptors. Triclosan has proved to be both dangerous and unnecessary—in 2005, the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water for protecting consumers from bacteria.
Lead, which may be an impurity in nearly 3 percent of all personal care products on the market, is a proven neurotoxin – linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in both men and women, hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities and delays in puberty onset in girls. At puberty, boys’ developing testes may be particularly vulnerable to lead. Pregnant women and young children are also vulnerable because lead crosses the placenta and may enter the fetal brain. Concerns about lead toxicity have existed since early civilization, and some countries banned lead from paint over 100 years ago. Research during World War II showed that lead created problems at lower levels than previously thought. Nevertheless, the United States did not take concerted action until the 1970s, when lead was phased out of paint and gasoline after decades of public challenge against the lead industry. It still has not been actively phased out of cosmetics. We know Lead is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor, and it is readily absorbed through the skin and stored in the bones. Large accumulations can result in leg cramps, muscle weakness, numbness and depression. Bismuth Oxychloride is a by-product of lead and copper refining, and is a heavy metal. It is put in mineral cosmetics because it gives a sheen to the face, is soft to the touch, and is extremely inexpensive. Heavy metals can lead to Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.?Aluminum is another metal that should be avoided in personal care products, especially deodorant. It has been linked recently to Alzheimers, and is a lung and skin irritant.
Nitrosamines are a potential impurity in 53 ingredients and more than 10,000 of the personal care products on the market today. Due to the common nature of this impurity, nearly every kind of personal care product, including mascara, concealer, conditioner, baby shampoo, pain relief salve and sunless tanning lotion, can contain nitrosamines as an impurity. Nitrosamines have been banned from use in cosmetics by Canada and the European Union. Nitrosamines are created in cosmetics when nitrates and various amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are in favorable conditions to combine. Specifically, nitrosamines form when certain proteins, such as diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine (TEA), are used in the same products as preservatives that can break down into nitrates. As these various compounds break down over time, they can recombine into nitrosamines. Both DEA and TEA are common additives used to adjust the pH or act as wetting agents. The inadvertent creation of this carcinogenic compound can add a whole new challenge for consumers reading labels for safety, since nitrosamines do not appear on a label, and the precursor building blocks are not clearly noted. Numerous studies and databases link nitrosamines to cancer. They are listed as possible human carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the U.S. National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens and the California EPA Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Several other databases cite strong to moderate evidence regarding the cancer-causing properties of nitrosamines. In addition, there is some evidence of endocrine disruption at very low doses. Studies have also linked nitrosamines to developmental or reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and systemic toxicity. The UK Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform characterizes nitrosamines as more toxic in more animal species than any other category of chemical carcinogen.