After doing research on a number of commercial skin care brands, we were alarmed that so many of these brands manufacture products that are filled with potentially toxic chemicals and animal-based ingredients. Some of the side effects of these harmful ingredients can cause irritation, which can cause damage at the cellular level. Irritants cause inflammation. This inflammation (DNA damage) and the bioaccumulation of toxic ingredients, some of what are carcinogenic, are linked to rapid aging, dermatitis and cancer.
The following Toxins List provides you with a list of ingredients to avoid and the reasons behind their toxicity.
May contain as many as 200 undeclared ingredients. Some of them can be phthalates – hormone-altering preservatives. There is often no way of knowing, since companies don’t have to reveal the chemical constituents of a fragrance. They can just list it as “fragrance,” when it may contain hundreds of chemicals. They are also associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. On the toxic scale from 1-10, it rates an 8.
Is a lightening compound that inhibits the production of skin pigmentation. It has been found to be mutagenic in laboratory studies and can cause contact dermatitis as well as degeneration of collagen and elastin fibers. Studies have shown liver effects at low doses, and tests on mammal cells have shown hydroquinone to have mutation (possibly carcinogenic) properties. On the toxic scale from 1-10 it rates a 9.
Derived from sheep, can be an endocrine disrupter because carcinogens such as Dioxan and DDT may be present in the grass that the sheep ingest.
PARABENS (including methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens, isopropyl and isobutyl)
Are a group of preservatives used to extend the shelf life of cosmetic products. Estimates say over 90% of all cosmetics contain parabens. Studies have shown them to be estrogenic and capable of being absorbed by the body through the skin. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors. Methylparaben rates a 4 on the toxic scale, Propylparaben rates a 7, Ethylparaben rates a 4, Butylparaben rates 7, Isobutylparaben rates a 7, Isopropylparaben 7.
Is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant or skin conditioning agent—a substance that promotes moisture retention and keeps products from drying out. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives, contact dermatitis and eczema. This chemical is also drying to the skin. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware—these are related synthetics.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are cheap, harsh detergents used in body washes, and face cleansers for cleansing and foam-building properties. They can cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, dry skin, and allergic reactions. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology concluded that through skin absorption, sulfates enter and maintain residual levels in the heart, lungs, and the brain. It also noted that sodium lauryl sulfate has a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein-denaturing properties. High levels of skin penetration may occur at even low-dose concentration. Also noted Sodium Laureth Sulfate is an ingredient derived from ethoxylated lauryl alcohol and used as a surfactant; may be contaminated with a potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane- a known carcinogen. The carcinogen 1,4-dioxane contaminates up to 46% of personal care products tested (OCA 2008, EWG 2008). The chemical is an unwanted byproduct of an ingredient processing method called ethoxylation used to reduce the risk of skin irritation for petroleum-based ingredients. Though 1,4-dioxane can easily be removed from products before they are sold, its widespread presence in products indicates that many manufacturers fail to take this simple step.
TEA, MEA, DEA
Are ammonia compounds often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. These chemicals contain ammonia compounds and can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of hair and skin. Any of the three can be toxic if absorbed into the body for a long period of time. If they come in contact with nitrates, they can form harmful nitrosamines, which can be carcinogenic.
Are synthetic ingredients widely used as preservatives as well as water-binding and exfoliating ingredients. (Also known as Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, or DMDM Hydantoin and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.) The American Academy of Dermatology has found them to be a primary cause for contact dermatitis. Urea has also been shown to release formaldehyde. Non-synthetic forms are derived from animal urine. On the toxic scale from 1-10 these usually rate a 6.
(Also known as Glycerol) is a naturally occurring alcohol compound and component of many lipids. Glycerin may be of animal or vegetable origin. This ingredient is listed on PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide: A byproduct of soap manufacture warning that is may be derived from animal sources (animal fat).
Is a long chain organic alcohol: according to PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide this ingredient may be derived from animals or plant origin. It’s a wax found in whales a or dolphins. Alternatives: vegetable (e.g. coconut).
Is a strongly alkaline substance used as a surfactant, PH adjusting chemical, and a fragrance ingredient. On a scale of 1-10 for toxicity it rates a 5. It known for being toxic to the organ system.
Did you know that even “natural” skin care products might contain pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful ingredients that hurt your skin and even internal organs over time? Look for products that have “safe” natural ingredients.
Is a preservative used in cosmetics and personal care products. It is known to cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and lungs. On a toxic scale of 1-10 it rates a 4.
Is the sodium salt of “hyaluronic acid” a very popular ingredient in the market place today. It’s a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in connective tissues such as cartilage. This ingredient is listed in the PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide as derived from animal sources. Although very low on toxic scale the fact that can be directly sourced from animals makes it toxic. There are alternatives to sourcing it.
This ingredient is quaternary ammonium salt used as a preservative: it acts as a formaldehyde releaser. The European Union has determined that ingredient ‘ may not be safe’ for use in cosmetics. It’s found in many name brand companies (most drug store make-up) baby washes, face towletts, mascara, and some skincare creams. This is one of the most dangerous on the toxic scale of 1-10 it rates an 8.
This is an antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. People exposed to such formaldehyde-releasing ingredients may develop an allergy to the ingredient itself. In the U.S. approximately 20% of cosmetics contain a formaldehyde-releaser and the frequency of contact allergy to this ingredient is much higher among Americans compared to studies in Europe. This ingredient also carries the PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide that it may be derived from animals, specifically from urine and other bodily fluids. It can be found in mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, and shampoos. On the toxic scale from 1-10 it rates a 6.
ENDOCRINE DISRUPTERS – (ED)
Chemicals at certain doses interfere with the Endocrine (hormone) system. They can cause tumors, birth defects and other development disorders. They can be associated with learning disabilities, cognitive brain development and breast cancer. Be aware of these types of ingredients.
Is a chemical compound that consists of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E). There is strong evidence that it is a human skin toxicant or skin allergen. Animal studies have shown tumor formation at high doses. On the toxic scale from 1-10 it rates a 3.
A naturally occurring lipid found in plants and animals. Maybe obtained from eggs or soybeans. This ingredient may be derived from animal sources as well. It carries PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide warning. It’s a waxy substance found in nervous tissue of all living organisms. Can be found in eye creams, lipsticks, lotions and creams.
Naturally occurring fatty acid listed in PETA’s Caring and Consumer Guide of animal origin. Found from fat of farm animals and domestic animals like cows and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters. Can be harsh and irritating. Is used in cosmetics, creams, lotions, candles, and chewing gum.
Is a form of vitamin B5. Its used as a moisturizer and lubricating compound. This ingredient is listed in the PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide and can be of animal or plant origin.
Is a preservative used in pharmaceuticals it’s a fragrance ingredient and a preservative often used for masking smells in products. It rates on the toxic scale from 1-10 as a 3.
Is a naturally occurring and synthetic ingredient used as a solvent and preservative. It has been associated with contact allergy. It’s also linked to organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). It rates on the toxic scale from 1-10 as a 5.
Is a sunscreen ingredient associated with photo allergic reactions. It’s known for biochemical or cellular level changes, developmental and reproductive toxicity. This chemical is an ED (endocrine disrupter) If absorbed through the skin in significant amounts. Remember sunscreen need to re-applied and re-applied. It rates on the toxic scale 1-10 as an 8.
It is a mixture of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) with a denaturing agent. Ethanol is considered to be broadly toxic. It is used as an antifoaming, antimicrobial agent. In Canada it’s classified as expected to be toxic or harmful. On a toxic scale 1-10 it rates a 4.
It is a zinc salt of gluconic acid. It’s used as a skin-conditioning agent. In Canada it is listed as expected to be toxic or harmful and suspected to be an environmental toxin and bioaccumlative.
This ingredient is used as a skin conditioning agent or solvent. It is known to be an ED (endocrine disruptor) and linked to organ system toxicity. It is also linked to development and reproductive toxicity. On a scale from 1-10 it rates a 5.
Petrolatum is a semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. It is used as a skin-conditioning agent. It is on Canada’s domestic environment substance list as “expected to be toxic or harmful” It is linked to Organ system toxicity. On the toxic scale from 1-10 it rates a 4. It is also known to contain a possible impurity known as PAHS; banned in Canada (found to be unsafe) for use in cosmetics and known to be a human carcinogen. PAHS rates a 9 on the toxic scale.
Is a naturally occurring and synthetically produced substance. It’s mainly used in cosmetics as a preservative. It is also used in mouthwashes, creams deodorants, aftershave lotions, etc. On a toxic scale from 1-10 it does rate low as a 3, however, this ingredient is listed in the PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide to be derived from animal sources. A better alternative would be cranberries.