Ingredients to Avoid in your skincare, shampoo, toothpaste etc.
Dawn Mellowship wrote a very extensive book on this subject, but here is a precis. (Dawn kindly mentioned our company in her book as being one with safe and pure ingredients).
Here is a basic list of ingredients that we tend to avoid and you may wish to as well. You certainly wouldn’t want to eat or drink them so it is probably wise not to put them on your skin either. Remember, what you put on your skin is absorbed into the body. Think skin patches!
Many countries have now banned parabens, but these are still allowed in UK and USA.
- Parabens(Methylparaben/Propylparaben/Butylparaben/Ethylparaben) – a preservative ingredient which mimics estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptor. Found in nearly ALL breast tumours.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)– has recently been linked to a rise in cases of eczema and dermatitis. Some professionals including many doctors would like to see a ban on its use in personal care products.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)– is a surfactant (detergent) which is a foaming agent, found in cosmetic products and used as an industrial cleaning chemical (used to degrease engines!). It is has the potential to cause irritation to skin
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) & Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)– same as above. Derivatives of SLS may vary slightly in mildness BUT the general action and effects are similar.
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate– an antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. Can cause allergic reactions.
- Titanium Dioxide . You may be surprised to find this here, but I have always been allergic to it and now increasing evidence is pointing to it’s possible dangers. Kumazawa, et. al. in their study, “Effects of Titanium Ions and Particles on Neutrophil Function and Morphology” concluded that cytotoxicity (danger to the cell) was dependent on the particle size of titanium dioxide. The smaller the particle size, the more toxic it is). This conclusion is relevant to the consumer because of the cosmetics industry’s increasing use of micronized pigments in sunscreens and colour cosmetics. Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are used in sunscreens because they are colourless at that size and still absorb ultraviolet light.
- Zinc Oxide. Also contains nano-particles. EWG says “The potential negative environmental effects of nanoscale and conventional zinc and titanium should be carefully studied and weighed against the environmental impact of other UV blockers. Sunscreen ingredients have been shown to damage coral, accumulate in fish and the environment and disrupt hormones in fish and amphibians (Buser 2006, Danovaro 2008 Giokas 2007, Kunz 2004, Kunz 2006, Weisbrod 2007).
For all sunscreens, including nanoscale zinc and titanium, there is an urgent need to carry out thorough environmental assessments so that regulators have the data they need to begin to control hazards associated with widespread use of these and other chemical ingredients in personal care products.”
- Mineral oil (e.g paraffinum liquidum) – a petroleum derived ingredient, used as a skin emollient, no proven effectiveness, often found in so called ‘aqueous’ creams. NICE have agreed that this can cause irritations despite the fact that creams containing this are still prescribed for skin conditons.
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)– this can be from a natural source but it’s usually a synthetic petrochemical mix
- Artificial Fragrance or Parfum– an undisclosed collection of chemicals due to being protected by Trade Secret Laws but it is associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory issues and potential effects on the reproductive system. When we have ‘fragrance’ on our ingredients it is always from essential oils.
- Artificial Colours– These are labelled as FD&C or D&C on the label, followed by a colour and a number. Worth noting that Carmine (aka Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4 C.I. 75470 or E120) is derived from boiling insects!
- DEA(diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine)
- Formaldehyde– common ingredient in nail polish and Brazilian Blow Dry. It is a carcinogenic impurity released by a number of cosmetic preservatives, including diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, and sodium hydroxylmethylglycinate. Linked to irritation of skin, eyes and lungs.
- Urea– excreted from urine and other bodily fluids so may be derived from animals, if you are vegetarian/vegan you will probably chose to avoid. Can also be a synthetic ingredient.
- Triclosan– antibacterial agent and preservative, persistent in the environment and may be associated with endocrine (hormonal) toxicity. Linked to skin irritation.
- Phthalates(DBP/DMP/DEP) & bisphenol A (BPA) – mainly used as plasticizers and have raised health concerns. Tests on animals have shown plasticizers and BPA affect reproductive systems. They act as endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, mimicking sex hormones in the body.
- Talc– can be contaminated with asbestos fibres, posing risks for respiratory toxicity and cancer.
- Japanese Honeysuckle– often regarded as a controversial ingredient “natural paraben”, more research is needed and within “green” community online opinion is divided over the safety of this ingredient.
- Phenoxyethanol –as above divided opinions over the use of this ingredient. Often used as a replacement for parabens. Certainly better than parabens and I am still undecided on this one. Not considered potentially carcinogenic but may cause skin irritations in sensitive people.
- Cocamidopropyl betaine – a synthetic surfactant that has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis
- Lanolin– extracted from sheep wool and a product of the oil from their glands. It is used as an emollient in skin care products and regarded as an allergen with no proven effectiveness. (look out for E913 on food labels)
- Emu Oil– a popular ingredient in Australian skincare, it is a by-product of the meat industry, the emu is killed for it’s meat and the oil is obtained from fat on the emu’s back.
- Silk– Silkworms (caterpillar stage of the silk moth) spin cocoons when in their pupal stage, silk thread is extracted from the cocoons by placing in boiling water, which kills the silkworms.
- Shellac– natural polymer derived from lac beetles found in nail polish & food (look for E904)
- Bee Venom– Bees are given a tiny electric shock as they enter the hive, which we are told is not enough to kill them. I imagine some would die of shock. However, it puts them in a bad mood so they will release venom. The bee population is already under threat without this.
- Keratin– Protein from horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals and popular in hair products. There are alternatives derived from fruit and nuts.