Synthetic colors: If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.
Synthetic Fragrance: This particular category is pretty scary, because what does “fragrance” mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.
Phthalates: A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.
Parabens: Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleanser products.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. It can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.
Toluene: A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It can be found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.
Isopropyl Alcohol (SD-40): a very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin’s moisture and natural immune barrier, making you more venerable to bacteria, molds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative and is found in many skin and hair products, fragrance, antibacterial hand washes as well as shellac and antifreeze. It can act as a “carrier” accelerating the penetration of other harmful chemicals into your skin. It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia, and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine): hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates and nitrosamines. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. In the United States however, they are still used despite the fact that Americans may be exposed to them 10-20 times per day with products such as shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated skin applications…. of DEA-based detergents resulted in major increase in incidence of liver and kidney cancer. The FDA’s John Bailey says this is especially important since “the risk equation changes significantly for children”.
DMDM Hydantion & Urea (Imidazolidinyl): just two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure may also irritate the respiratory system, trigger heart palpitations or asthma, and aggravate coughs and colds. Other possible side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer.
FD&C Color Pigments: synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins into the skin, causing skin sensitivity and 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. Synthetic Fragrances: mostly synthetic ingredients can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the 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, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): detergents and surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers – and in 90% of 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 because proteins are dissolved. SLS may also damage the skins immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. When combined with other chemicals, SLS can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. Your body may retain the SLS for up to five days, during which tie it may enter and maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, the lungs, and the brain.
Triclosan: a synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient – with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It is classified as a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Its manufacturing process may produce dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in the parts per trillion; that is only one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools! Hormone disruptors pose enormous long-term chronic health risks by interfering with the way hormones perform, such as changing genetic material, decreasing fertility and sexual function, and fostering birth defects. It can temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings, so contact with it often causes little or no pain. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, and convulsions. Stored in body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs and can cause paralysis, suppression of immune function,brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. Tufts University School of Medicine says that triclosan is capable of forcing the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Its widespread use in popular antibacterial cleaners, tooth pasts and household products may have nightmare implications for our future.
Sunscreen Chemicals: Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. They can be found in sunscreen products.
Methylparaben: is used as a fragrance and as a preservative ingredient in skin care products, according to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. It is toxic to non-reproductive organs in the human body and may cause cancer, skin irritation, neurotoxicity and may disrupt endocrine function.
Oxybenzone or Benzophenone-3: is an ingredient used in skin care products as a sunscreen agent, ultraviolet light absorber or ultraviolet filter. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Database states that oxybenzone may cause cancer and developmental toxicity.
Stearalkonium Chloride: is a toxic chemical that can cause allergic reactions. It is used in creams and hair conditioners and was originally developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener and is cheaper to use in hair conditioners than herbals or proteins.
Aluminum: Reproductive or developmental harm - limited evidence limited evidence reproductive or developmental toxin - thought to possible present risks to human reproduction and development, linked to potential for reduced fertility or reduced chance for a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application has been associated with cancer in animal studies.