Cosmetics Linked to Health Problems
Make-up and body care products have been linked to allergic reactions, birth
defects, and even cancer. It is a medically recognized fact that our body absorbs
significant amounts of what we put on our skin. With certified organic food
rapidly becoming the nutrition of choice by the health conscious amongst us,
why would we accept any less for our skin? An environmental health specialist
at Stirling University in Scotland, Dr. Baillie-Hamilton details how toxins
may be linked to dozens of serious health problems, including immune system
diseases, neurological disorders, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances,
cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, hyper-sensitivity, obesity, musculoskeletal
disorders and childhood health problems. "These chemicals are simply not going
to go away," Institute reports "pesticides are a likely cause of immune suppression
for millions of people throughout the world" and that 25% of the chemicals in
the environment are neurotoxins linked to increased incidence of brain disease.
Unprecedented Warning to the Cosmetics Industry
February 3, 2005 the Food and Drug Administration issued an unprecedented
warning to the cosmetics industry stating that the Agency is serious about enforcing
the law requiring companies to inform consumers that personal care products
have not been safety tested. When risky chemicals are used in cosmetics, the
stakes are high. These compounds are not trace contaminants. They are the base
ingredients of the product, just as flour is an ingredient in bread. Many of
these chemicals are found in percent levels in personal care products, nearly
all easily penetrate the skin, and some are ingested directly after they are
applied to lips or hands. And increasingly, companies are adding customized,
futuristic "penetration enhancers" to drive ingredients even deeper into the
skin, like Loreal's new nanoparticle technology, a miniscule, fluid-filled
sack designed to burrow deep into the skin to deliver its "active ingredients."
No safety testing required. Scientists find common cosmetic ingredients in human
tissues, like industrial plasticizers called phthalates in urine, preservatives
called parabens in breast tumor tissue, and persistent fragrance components
like musk xylene in human fat. Do the levels at which they are found pose risks?
Those studies have not been done. They are not required.
Make-up and body care products contain ingredients suspected of causing
cancer; potential neuro-, liver-, and immunotoxins; and suspected hormone disruptors
that could cause birth defects in any children she might bear in the future.
Many consumers may be surprised to learn that the US federal government doesn't
require health studies or pre-market testing on personal care products. Manufacturers
are free to put just about anything they want into cosmetics, a far-reaching
category used by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include everything
from make-up and deodorant to lotions and mouthwashes.
Instead, the safety (or not) of the ingredients in these products is looked
into almost exclusively by a manufacturer-controlled safety committee called
the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel. Consequently, "89 percent of 10,500
ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety
by the CIR, the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution," says the
nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). "The absence of government oversight
for this $35 billion industry leads to companies routinely marketing products
with ingredients that are poorly studied, not studied at all, or worse, known
to pose potentially serious health risks."
For example, EWG found ingredients certified by the US government as 'known
or probable carcinogens' in one of every 120 cosmetic products on the market,
including shampoos, lotions, make up foundations, and lip balm. What this adds
up to, says the group, is that "one of every 13 women and one of every 23 men
are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens every
day through their use of personal care products."
Safety of Phthalates in Cosmetics
Also of particular concern are the inclusion
of phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals linked to birth defects that are used in many cosmetic products, from
nail polish to deodorant. Phthalates are not listed as ingredients on product
labels; they can only be detected through laboratory analysis. In April of this
year, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a coalition of environmental, social
justice, and consumer groups, learned that the FDA has completed a study on the
safety of phthalates in cosmetics but is refusing to release its findings. According
to preliminary information uncovered by the CSC, two-thirds of health and beauty
products analyzed by the FDA late last year contained phthalates. Two of the
most toxic phthalates, DBP and DEHP, have been banned from cosmetics products
sold in the European Union (EU) but remain unregulated in the US. In response
to the FDA's refusal to publicly release this information, Friends of the Earth,
a founding member of the CSC, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request
to obtain the study.
Another class of chemicals that's gotten some press recently is parabens,
short for 'para hydroxybenzoate.' These preservatives are widely used in cosmetics,
particularly nail polish. Recent studies have implicated parabens as being associated
with breast cancer, though more testing is needed.
Though there isn't always definitive evidence that a given chemical can cause
adverse health affects, the fact that so few have been studied for safety is
of significant concern. Plus, there's the effect over time of all these chemicals
we're applying to our bodies to consider. The average person's morning routine
puts him/her into contact with over 100 chemicals before breakfast, according
to Aubrey Hampton and Susan Hussey, founder and vice-president of marketing,
respectively, of Aubrey Organics. The cumulative effect of all of the chemicals
in these products can add up over time, and no one truly knows what the results are.
Unprecedented exposure to chemical contaminants, pollution, toxic products
and stress has increased unhealthy conditions, from arthritis and
cancer to heart disease, and even
the symptoms of aging. An environmental health specialist at Stirling University
in Scotland, Baillie-Hamilton details how toxins may be linked to dozens of
serious health problems, including immune system diseases,
neurological disorders, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, cardio-vascular
diseases, cancer, hyper-sensitivity, obesity, musculoskeletal disorders and
childhood health problems. "These chemicals are simply not going to go away,"
Institute reports "pesticides are a likely cause of immune suppression for millions
of people throughout the world" and that 25% of the chemicals in the environment
are neurotoxins linked to increased incidence of brain disease.
Michelle Alpert, D.O . - "The world we're living in today is a toxic minefield
from vaccines to pesticides to antibiotic laden foods to
mercury poisoned fish to pollution both indoors and outdoors. It's no wonder so many people are suffering from
fatigue and chronic illness, as well as chronic infections with viruses, bacteria
and fungi. You can learn how to protect yourself from the forces that can damage
your body and wear down your immune system .
Unborn Babies soaked in Chemicals, Survey finds
WASHINGTON, July 14, 2005 (Reuters) - Unborn U.S. babies are soaking in a
stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according
to a report to be released on Thursday. The report by the Environmental Working
Group is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical cord blood taken by the American
Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including
mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.
232 Toxic Chemicals found in 10 Babies
Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group have detected
bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic component and synthetic estrogen, in umbilical
cord blood of American infants. Nine of 10 randomly selected samples of cord
blood tested positive for BPA, an industrial petrochemical. BPA has been implicated
in a lengthening list of serious chronic disorders, including cancer, cognitive
and behavioral impairments, endocrine system disruption, reproductive and cardiovascular
system abnormalities, diabetes, asthma and obesity. In all, the tests found
as many as 232 chemicals in the 10 newborns, all of minority descent. The cord
blood study has produced hard new evidence that American children are being
exposed, beginning in the womb, to complex mixtures of dangerous substances
that may have lifelong consequences.
From the time we start preparing a room for a new baby, we are making choices
about the child's environment. Many people get ready for a new child by painting,
papering, and carpeting a baby's room with conventional products. They donâ€™t
realize that by doing so they may be creating an environment high in toxic chemicals.
Most of us take it for granted that babies should be soothed with petroleum
jelly and mineral oil, washed and shampooed with chemical-based cleansers, fed
from plastic bottles, swaddled in disposable diapers, surrounded by scented
products and put to sleep in pajamas treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
But although parents act out of love, they are often unaware that the choices
they make may be harmful to their child. There are baby care products by the
hundred. How can a parent identify healthy alternatives?
Oxybenzone linked to Allergies, Hormone Disruption, and Cell Damage
25 MAR 2008 - A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals
that 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely-used sunscreen ingredient
called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and
cell damage. A companion study published just one day earlier revealed that
this chemical is linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are
exposed during pregnancy. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, a chemical
that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin. Environmental Working Group identified
nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the U.S. that contain oxybenzone, including products
by Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat as well as 172 facial moisturizers,
111 lip balms, and 81 different types of lipstick. The Food and Drug Administration
has failed miserably in its duty to protect the public from toxic chemicals
like oxybenzone in personal care products. At the request of industry lobbyists,
including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who represented the Cosmetic
Toiletry and Fragrance Association, the agency has delayed final sunscreen safety
standards for nearly 30 years. FDA issued a new draft of the standards last
October under pressure from EWG, but continues to delay finalizing them at the
behest of the regulated industry.
Modern chemistry keeps insects from ravaging crops, lifts stains from carpets,
and saves lives. But the ubiquity of chemicals is taking a toll. Many of the
compounds absorbed by the body stay there for yearsâ€”and fears about their health
effects are growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released
data on 148 substances, from DDT and other pesticides to metals, PCBs, and plastic
ingredients, measured in the blood and urine of several thousand people.
Dr. Steve Nugent, the past president of the American Naturopathic
Medical Association, reported recently that "in the typical American home there
are more toxins inside the home than outside the home! Your cells actually contain
over 400 new toxins that didn't even exist 45 years ago and we are losing the
battle against toxins!" It's a fact. There are increasing amounts of toxins
and chemical agents in the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe
- they all contribute to the breakdown in cellular communication and disease. Studies have discovered various
chemicals from our foods and environment that indicate man contributes 700,000
tons of pollutants into the air every day, ranging from everyday household cleaners
to cosmetics and hair dyes. Chemicals and toxins accumulate in fat tissue. The
more chemicals and toxins, the more fat the body manufactures.
According to "National Geographic," studies, various chemicals from our foods
and environment that indicate man contributes 700,000 tons of pollutants into
the air every day, ranging from everyday household cleaners to cosmetics and
hair dyes "One new chemical enters industrial use every 20 minutes," says Paula
Baillie-Hamilton, MD, only to join many hundreds of thousands of synthetic chemicals
already in use. "As a result, the average person living in the developed world
is now contaminated with up to 500 industrial toxins, few of which have been
properly tested for harmful effects." Indeed, the US has only recently begun
long-term research to establish a baseline for toxins in a portion of our population.
Five percent of the 1,007 women in one such study had troubling levels of polychlorinated
biphenyl (or PCB 188), which has been linked to breast cancer and weight gain.
"A staggeringly large number of the most common diseases of the developed
world [most kinds of cancer, hormonal disorders, and low energy including chronic
fatigue syndrome, immune disorders, heart disease, and sexual problems] are
related to or can be triggered by these toxins," Dr. Baillie-Hamilton adds.
Nowhere does the idea of â€œnaturalâ€ or â€œorganicâ€ take a more gratuitous bruising
than in the skin care industry. Many labels have long lists of chemical names,
some followed by the phrase â€œderived from â€¦â€ (some natural substance). This
is grossly misleading for consumers who are looking for genuine safe skin care products.
Do you have a question about Natural Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372
Consumers Deserve Strong Organic Standards for Cosmetics
WASHINGTON, DC -Scores of "natural" cosmetic companies will be in Washington,
DC September 5-7 for the Natural Products Expo East, the largest natural
products trade show on the East Coast. While most companies that sell increasingly
popular "natural" soaps, shampoos and skin creams in natural supermarkets
such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes do not claim their products are "organic,"
an increasing number of these brands, such as Avalon Natural Products, JASON,
and Nature's Gate, are misleading consumers into thinking up to 70% of such
products are in fact "organic."
The body care companies in question claim that "organic floral waters"
are somehow key functional components of their products. However, floral
waters, that are also called "hydrosols," did not exist as an ingredient
in body care formulations until companies started to use them to make fraudulent,
inflated "organic" claims. Not only is the presence of these hydrosols largely
inconsequential, their actual organic content is minimal since they are
mostly ordinary distilled water. Nonetheless, various so-called "natural"
body care manufacturers are using these waters to green-wash their products
and make organic label claims, even though their formulations are in fact
largely composed of the same conventional synthetic cleansers, conditioners
and preservatives found in mainstream products. These companies assert "70%
organic ingredients" on their labels and advertising to mislead consumers
into thinking that they are buying mostly organic products when they assuredly are not.
Similar to an infusion or tea, which is made by boiling botanical material
in water, floral waters are made by steaming plants, and then cooling the
steam back to water. Products made with infusions or teas cannot count the
water in such teas or infusions as organic in calculating organic content
under NOP food standards. However, it has become distressingly common practice
to use "Steam Tea" as the main "organic" ingredient in many personal care
products by misleadingly counting the ordinary water in such "Steam Teas" as organic. .
The fraudulent practice of counting such water as "organic" in some major
companies' body care products has been getting a lot of attention in mainstream
press, from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to Consumer Reports.
The OCA has demanded that organic body care standards should mirror the
standards for organic food products. This means that:
- Certified organic agricultural feed-stocks are utilized exclusively,
versus petroleum or conventional vegetable feed-stocks, in the manufacture
of the key basic cleansing and conditioning ingredients.
- Manufacture of such ingredients is reasonably simple and ecological.
- The toxicity of each ingredient is minimal.
- Non-agricultural water is not counted in any shape or form as contributing
to organic content.
- The OCA is a grassroots nonprofit organization concerned with food safety,
organic farming, sustainable agriculture, fair trade and genetic engineering.
Chemicals and Toxins Are The Primary Cause of Illness, Disease and Obesity
Substances that are toxic to our bodies
come at us from all directions:
the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the cleaning products
we use, and the metabolic waste produced inside us. Toxins build-up in the
body contribute to premature aging and chronic and degenerative diseases.
Studies have discovered various chemicals from our foods and environment
that indicate man contributes 700,000 tons of pollutants into the air every
day, ranging from everyday household cleaners to cosmetics and hair dyes.
Chemicals and toxins accumulate in fat tissue. The more chemicals and toxins,
the more fat the body manufactures.
Natural Skin Care ... What does "natural" mean?
As the number of people who are concerned about toxins in our environment
grows, more and more skin care companies are jumping on the "natural" and
"organic" anti-aging skin care product bandwagon.
But what does "natural" and "organic" mean when we see them on a mainstream
manufacturers skin care product label?
- How do we really know if the skin cream product is really natural?
- How do we really know if herbal skin care products are safe and non-toxic?
- What are the best natural alternatives to synthetic and mostly toxic chemicals?
Natural skin care - is it really any better for us?
Our skin is the largest eliminatory organ in the body. It is a two-way
membrane. Toxins are eliminated through the skin via perspiration and absorbed
through the skin into the bodyâ€™s circulation system, through hair follicles
and sebaceous glands, but not through the sweat glands. One square inch
of skin contains approximately 65 hairs, 100 sebaceous glands and 650 sweat
glands. Every square inch of your skin is like a thousand open mouths, absorbing
into the body most of what is put on it.
What skin care products are truly natural and proactive?
Skin care manufacturers are not supposed to claim that their products
penetrate the skin. If they did, the products would then be labelled as
â€œdrugsâ€ and would be governed by much stricter regulations. However, it
is now recognised that the skin does absorb many ingredients in skin care
preparations. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means our skin
can be nourished from the outside with some wonderful ingredients. Bad,
because some skin care manufacturers can use harmful chemical ingredients
that would never be allowed to be taken orally, but are still absorbed into
our system, through our skin.
SO - WHAT DOES â€œNATURALâ€ AND THE UBIQUITOUS â€œORGANICâ€ MEAN ON SKIN CARE
Nowhere does the idea of â€œnaturalâ€ or â€œorganicâ€ take a more gratuitous
bruising than in the skin care industry. If we first take the word "natural"
and look it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary we would find this description
of natural thus; â€œexisting in, or caused by nature; not artificial; uncultivated;
wild existing in natural state; not disguised or alteredâ€.
It seems pretty clear what "natural" actually means to me! Does it to
you? However when vested interests in the skin care industry get hold of
the word natural - they put a whole new slant on it. It may seem pretty
clear to you and me exactly what we mean by natural but for the marketing
men they obviously haven't read the dictionary and start bending the interpretation
of natural to suit themselves.
Many labels have long lists of chemical names, some followed by the phrase
â€œderived from â€¦â€ (some natural substance). This is grossly misleading for
consumers who are looking for genuine safe skin care products.
Synthetic Chemicals are anything but natural!
When chemicals such as Cocamide DEA or Sodium Hydroxysultaine are followed
by the words â€œderived from coconut oilâ€ the consumer is led to believe that
these synthetic chemicals must somehow be "natural". While this may be true
in some cases where a natural oil or extract is actually used, it is ultimately
irrelevant because what you end up with after the chemical solvent extraction
and processing is usually anything but natural or pure. It is just another
chemical concoction with some rather awful sounding long names to describe
the process the original "natural" substance went through
Now what about "organic"?
Again if we look in the dictionary for the word organic it is pretty
obvious to us what we expect to find as far as safe natural products in
general are concerned. Would you say in the context you are expecting to
use or find the term organic that this would be a fair description;
"produced and involving production without the use of pesticides, artificial
fertilizers or synthetic chemicals."
To me it seems rather elementary that when describing a product as organic
that the above is exactly what the customer would expect. However to the
marketing men this is not what they mean by organic. Lets delve a little
deeper into this play on words
To create Cocamide DEA, a foaming agent found in some shampoos, requires
the addition of a synthetic chemical and known carcinogen, Diethanolamine
â€“ DEA, to the coconut oil. It is therefore no longer natural, or safe! If
we look at the term â€œorganicâ€ on a label, we usually think it means â€œgrown
and cultivated without the use of chemicalsâ€ as stated above. That is the
conclusion most skin care companies would like us to come to when they use
the rather loose term organic.
Unscrupulous skin care companies are cynically using the chemistry definition
of â€œorganicâ€ â€“ which is also defined in the dictionary as "a compound that
contains a carbon atom" to confuse consumers. This is known in the trade
as confusion advertising so the real picture becomes blurred. Carbon is
found in everything that has ever lived. Vested interests - by using this
definition of organic, they are saying that a toxic petrochemical preservative
called Methyl Paraben is â€œorganicâ€ because it was formed from natural leaves
that rotted over thousands of years to become crude oil, which was then
used to make this toxic totally un-natural preservative.
How absurd is this when consumers are looking for natural skin care products?
The play on the word organic gets even worse. An increasing number of
companies are now claiming to use â€œorganicâ€ herbs in their products. But,
what about the rest of the ingredients? Are they safe? Are they "natural"
or from an "organic" source? Surely there must be an authority that governs
the use of the term â€œorganicâ€ on labels? The simple answer is NO.
What skin care products are truly natural?
The term â€œCertified Organicâ€ IS governed by a number of internationally
recognised bodies. In Australia the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA)
is the largest. Searching for products with the logo of a certifying body
on the label is the only way you can guarantee the organic authenticity
and integrity of every ingredient in the product. This can then truly be
called a natural skin care product. Without the "Certified Organic" label,
the organic claim means nothing, as it cannot be verified and most likely
it is a complete hoax perpetrated by the marketing men and their hype.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE BUYING IS REALLY A 'NATURAL' SKIN CARE PRODUCT?
Fortunately, there is a very simple way to differentiate between the
hype and truth in skin care and that is to read the ingredient list on the
label. It is a legal requirement that all skin care products must be labelled
with the ingredients in descending order of their quantity in the product.
A good rule of thumb is to divide the ingredient list into thirds: the top
third usually contains 90-95% of the product, the middle third usually contains
5-8% and the bottom third, 1-3%.
Here is the ingredient list of a so-called â€œnaturalâ€ and â€œorganicâ€ skin
moisturizer from a well known â€œnaturalâ€ skin care company. (compare to an
ingredient list of a Certified Organic natural body moisturiser.)
Natural or Organic ingredients include
1 Water (deionised)
2 Isopropyl Palmitate (Palm Oil Derivative)
3 Apricot Kernel Oil
4 Bis-Digyceryl Caprylate/Caprate/Isosterate/Stearate/ Hydroxysterate Adipate
5 Glyceryl Stearate SE (vegetable derived)
6 Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (glycerin-derived emollient)
7 Ceteareth - 12 (Organic Emulsifier)
8 Tocopherol Oil (vitamin E)
9 Chamomile Extract
10 Sage Extract
11 Linden Extract (Lime Blossom Extract)
12 Balm Mint Extract
13 Shea Butter (From Karite)
14 Wheat Germ Oil
15 Carrot Oil
16 Cetyl Alcohol (organic Co-emulsifier)
17 Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster)
18 Sorbic Acid (Organic Compound)
19 Tocopherol Acetate (vitamin E Derivative)
20 Methyl Paraben
21 Propyl Paraben
22 Imidazolidinyl Urea (Organic Compound)
24 FD and C Yellow No 5, D7C Red No. 33.
Content: Apricot oil (2.5%)
Take note of the last point that says "Content: Apricot Oil (2.5%). Notice
Apricot Oil is No 3 on the list. Because skin care manufacturers are required
to list the ingredients in descending order this means everything AFTER
Apricot Oil makes up less than 2.5% of the volume.
This effectively means that about 90% of the product is water and Isopropyl
Palmitate. Isopropyl Palmitate is derived from Isopropyl Alcohol, synthetic
alcohol and Palmatic Acid, a fatty acid from palm oil. It is known to cause
skin irritations and dermatitis and has been shown to have comedogenic (acne
Nos 5 and 5 are all produced by chemical reactions between various fatty
acids and glycerol (synthetic glycerine). They are largely synthetic and
have been shown to cause allergies and dermatitis! Far from natural!
No 7 is a synthetic emulsifier that may contain dangerous levels of ethylene
oxide and dioxane - both are known carcinogens. Again far removed from natural!
Nos. 8 to 15 are natural ingredients used in tiny amounts merely to make
the product look good. They may have been grown using toxic organo-phosphates,
other pesticides and chemical herbicides and extracted with the use of chemical
solvents. Again anything but natural!
No. 16 May be natural or synthetic and has been shown to cause contact
dermatitis and eczema
No. 17 Is otherwise known as caustic soda or lye - a powerful drain cleaner
extremely alkaline and corrosive. A known sensitizer for many people with
No. 18 Sorbic acid was once isolated from the Mountain Ash berry, but
is now chemically synthesised and is a toxic preservative. No longer natural!
No. 19 is synthetic Vitamin E.
Nos. 20-22 are toxic and allergenic preservatives which have been linked
to increasing estrogen levels in women and is implicated in the rising
incidence of breast cancer.
No. 23. Probably synthetic, may contain phthalates that have been linked
to birth defects. Phthalates are toxic gender bending chemicals found in
virtually everyone tested for them. It is certainly not natural to have
phthalates in your body or on your skin I can assure you.
No. 24. Synthetic colours that could be potentially carcinogenic.
Be Careful of what you put on your Skin
Make-up and body care products have been linked to allergic reactions,
birth defects, and even cancer. It is a medically recognized fact that our
body absorbs significant amounts of what we put on our skin. With Certified
Organic food rapidly becoming the nutrition of choice by the health conscious
amongst us, why would you accept any less for your skin?
Here's what you need to know.
Suzanne Anich of Minneapolis, MN, has a morning routine similar to that
of many women. She shampoos and conditions her hair with products that contain
'natural ingredients,' according to the labels. She brushes her teeth, then
washes her face with an upscale facial wash with the word 'purity' emblazoned
across the jar. Then, she applies an anti-aging moisturizer and what she
calls a 'low-maintenance' selection of makeup.
Suzanne was surprised to find out that nearly all of the personal care
products she uses on her face and body contain ingredients suspected of
causing cancer; potential neuro-, liver-, and immunotoxins; and suspected
hormone disruptors that could cause birth defects in any children she might
bear in the future.
"I'm shocked that the US government allows these products to be put on
store shelves," Suzanne says. "I'll be throwing out most of my make-up and
starting over. It's too bad, because the stuff I used seemed to work well, too
bad the people who make them don't seem to care about their customers' well-being."
Fortunately, it's easier than ever to find products that won't endanger
your health, and companies that do care about their customers' well-being.
Here's what you need to know about the personal care products you may be
using and what your alternatives are.
Regulated or Not?
Like Suzanne, many consumers may be surprised to learn that the US federal
government doesn't require health studies or pre-market testing on personal
care products. Manufacturers are free to put just about anything they want
into cosmetics, a far-reaching category used by the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to include everything from make-up and deodorant to lotions and mouthwashes.
Instead, the safety (or not) of the ingredients in these products is
looked into almost exclusively by a manufacturer-controlled safety committee
called the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel. Consequently, "89 percent
of 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated
for safety by the CIR, the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution,"
says the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). "The absence of government
oversight for this $35 billion industry leads to companies routinely marketing
products with ingredients that are poorly studied, not studied at all, or
worse, known to pose potentially serious health risks."
"For example, EWG found ingredients certified by the US government as
'known or probable carcinogens' in one of every 120 cosmetic products on
the market, including shampoos, lotions, make up foundations, and lip balm.
What this adds up to, says the group, is that one of every 13 women
and one of every 23 men are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable
human carcinogens every day through their use of personal care products."
Also of particular concern are the inclusion of phthalates, a group of
industrial chemicals linked to birth defects that are used in many cosmetic
products, from nail polish to deodorant. Phthalates are not listed as ingredients
on product labels; they can only be detected through laboratory analysis.
In April of this year, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a coalition
of environmental, social justice, and consumer groups, learned that the FDA
has completed a study on the safety of phthalates in cosmetics but is refusing
to release its findings. According to preliminary information uncovered
by the CSC, two-thirds of health and beauty products analyzed by the FDA
late last year contained phthalates. Two of the most toxic phthalates, DBP
and DEHP, have been banned from cosmetics products sold in the European
Union (EU) but remain unregulated in the US. In response to the FDA's refusal
to publicly release this information, Friends of the Earth, a founding member
of the CSC, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the
Another class of chemicals that's gotten some press recently is parabens,
short for 'para hydroxybenzoate.' These preservatives are widely used in
cosmetics, particularly nail polish. Recent studies have implicated parabens
as being associated with breast cancer, though more testing is needed.
Though there isn't always definitive evidence that a given chemical can
cause adverse health affects, the fact that so few have been studied for
safety is of significant concern. Plus, there's the effect over time of
all these chemicals we're applying to our bodies to consider. The average
person's morning routine puts him/her into contact with over 100 chemicals
before breakfast, according to Aubrey Hampton and Susan Hussey, founder
and vice-president of marketing, respectively, of Aubrey Organics. The cumulative
effect of all of the chemicals in these products can add up over time, and
no one truly knows what the results are.
There are signs of hope that the cosmetics industry could be poised for
a major overhaul, however:
Major Companies Phase Out Phthalates: Under pressure from the CSC, top
cosmetics companies L'OrÃ©al, Revlon, and Unilever recently said they have
voluntarily removed phthalates DBP and DEHP from products sold in the US.
Avon, Procter and Gamble, and EstÃ©e Lauder agreed to remove phthalates from
their products in 2004.
FDA Gets Tough: By law, companies are required to post a warning label
on products that have not been assessed for safety. In the past, most companies
haven't adhered to this law. But last February, the FDA issued an unprecedented
warning to the cosmetics industry stating that it will be taking steps to
enforce the label law. "Such an enforcement action could ultimately require
companies to issue consumer warnings for the more than 99 percent of personal
care products on the market that have not been publicly assessed for safety,"
says the EWG.
The EU Gets Tougher: This past September, an amendment to the EU's Cosmetics
Directive took hold, which requires companies doing business in Europe to
eliminate chemicals in their cosmetics that are known or strongly suspected
of being carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins. Of the thousands
of questionable chemicals in these products, the directive targets about
450. (Compare that to the nine chemicals the FDA has banned or restricted
in personal care products.)
California Follows the EU's Lead: Hoping to emulate the EU's efforts,
California state senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) has introduced
the California Safe Cosmetic Act of 2005. This bill would require manufacturers
peddling cosmetic products in California to provide the state Department
of Health Services with a list of their products and to identify products
that contain chemicals identified as carcinogens or reproductive toxins.
And another recent bill (AB 908), introduced by Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey
Park), would ban phthalates DBP and DEHP from cosmetics sold in the state.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: Thc CSC is calling on all cosmetics
companies to phase the chemicals banned from the EU out of products sold
in the US. Visit www.safecosmetics.org to help the CSC call on companies
to be responsible. "Consumers have real power they're not exercising," Janet
Nudelman of the CSC told Dragonfly Media. "We need to let cosmetics companies
know we're not going to buy their products unless they make a strong commitment to safety."
- Be Suspicious of Labels: Though words like 'natural' or 'hypoallergenic'
look reassuring, on some products, they're basically meaningless. The
FDA has no control over these labels. Products labeled 'natural,' for
example, may contain some natural ingredients, but they may also include
synthetic dyes and fragrances. 'Hypoallergenic' merely means that the
most common irritants are left out, but other potentially problematic
chemicals may still be in the mix. 'Fragrance-free' means a product
has no perceptible odor, and synthetic ingredients may still be added to
- Scrutinize Ingredients: The EWG recently launched its Skin Deep
online database, making it easier than ever to check the safety of over
7,500 personal care products, from OPI nail polish to Aveda shampoo
to Johnson's Baby Oil. Visit www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep. If your product
of choice isn't yet listed on Skin Deep, you can enter suspicious-looking
ingredients into Environmental Defense's chemical database, Scorecard.org.
Scorecard lets you know about known and suspected health effects caused
by hundreds of chemicals, along with the sources (often government agencies)
that have questioned each chemical.
- Cosmetics that contain certified organic ingredients generally contain
mainly natural ingredients, including those that have been grown without
the use of toxic pesticides. Unfortunately, organic doesn't necessarily
mean problem-free. Even organic companies need to keep their products
from rotting away on store shelves, in warehouses, and in your medicine
cabinet. Some may turn to synthetic chemicals to keep their products
fresh and useful. Be sure to check the ingredients list on your favorite
The Compact for Safe Cosmetics
To date, 87 companies have signed the CSC's
"Compact for Safe Cosmetics," pledging to phase the 450 chemicals banned
by the EU out of all of their products. The vast majority of them are organic
and natural products companies including members of Co-op America's Business
Network, who are screened for their commitment to going the extra mile to
protect their workers, consumers, communities, and the environment. In addition,
cosmetics giants L'Oreal and Revlon say their cosmetics now comply with
European law, though they haven't signed the compact. You can find a list
of the companies who have signed at www.safecosmetics.org/companies/signers.cfm.
The very best option is to find a cosmetics company that has signed the
CSC's compact and uses certified organic and natural ingredients. Those
companies are listed in the box on this page, and many have products that
are readily available at natural products and food stores, as well as online
or by mail order.
One such company is EcoColors, which sells 'almost all-natural' commercial
and home hair dye kits made with organic ingredients. "When I became pregnant
with my son in 1990, I was a hairdresser doing five colors a day in the
salon and teaching hair color at night," says Lisa Saul, president of EcoColors.
"I started getting rashes on my wrists and having sinus issues, and I thought,
â€˜If these chemicals are doing this to me, what are they doing to my child?"
That question led her to found her company, and it also takes her to
the lab on a regular basis, where she works on pinpointing problematic hair
dye ingredients and making her company's products as safe as possible.
"I've known so many people who've gotten hurt by the chemicals in different
products,' she says. "So I'm committed to making sure hairdressers and my
customers are using things that are healthy for them."
WHAT ARE THE NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO CHEMICALS?
All skin care products, both synthetic and natural, contain items from
the following categories in some combination or other:
Emollients serve two functions; they prevent dryness and protect the
skin, acting as a barrier and healing agent. Water is the best emollient,
but because it evaporates quickly it is ineffective. It needs to be held
on the skin by emollient oils in what is called an emulsion. Synthetic emollients
are occlusive i.e. they coat the skin and do not allow it to respire (much
like plastic wrap), which can cause skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients
can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable,
causing a negative environmental impact. Far from natural!
Natural emollients actually nourish the skin and care for it. They are
metabolised by the skinâ€™s own enzymes and absorbed into it. They are readily
biodegradable and are of edible quality. Completely natural!
Some Synthetic Un-"Natural" Skin Care Emollients:
PEG compounds (eg PEG- 45 Almond Glyceride) may contain the toxic by-product
dioxane Synthetic alcohols (anything that contains the phrase benzyl â€“,
butyl-, cetearyl-, cetyl -, glyceryl-, isopropyl-, myristyl propyl-, propylene-,
or stearyl-) eg Isopropyl Palmitate, Diglyceryl Caprylate) have been shown
to cause allergies and dermatitis. Hydrocarbons (eg mineral oil, petrolatum,
paraffin) contain carcinogenic and mutagenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
(PAHs) and can cause chemically induced acne. Silicone Oils (eg dimethicone,
cyclomethicone, copolyol) can clog the skin like plastic wrap and cause
tumours when painted on lab animals (according to the Material Safety Data
Sheet supplied by the manufacturer).
Some Natural Skin Care Emollients:
Plant Oils (eg. Jojoba, Avocado, Rosehip) Shea, Cocoa and Jojoba Butters
The main purpose of any cream is to keep the skin moist. Many conventional
creams form a suffocating film on the skin to prevent moisture loss. Even
a natural humectant, glycerin, actually attracts water from the air and
surrounding tissue. It keeps the skin moist as long as there is sufficient
moisture in the air. In a dry climate it actually draws moisture from the
skin. Collagen, elastin and keratin enjoy some popularity as humectants.
Whilst they are compatible with the skin and deposit a protective film,
they are usually sourced from animals and therefore cannot be termed 'cruelty
free'. Some skin care companies would like you to believe that your skin
can use special animal proteins to rejuvenate and replace aging cells. This
is nonsense! The size of the molecules, even when broken down (hydrolysed),
are far too large to penetrate the skin. Even if they could get in, they
would be immediately rejected as foreign matter and attacked by the immune
Natural phospholipids, from lecithin, are fantastic humectants. An important
benefit of phospholipids is that they are hygroscopic (attract water from
the surrounding air) and hold water where an increased level of hydration
is needed. Therefore, phospholipids increase the hydration levels of the
skin without being occlusive (forming a film to prevent water loss, and
preventing normal cellular function). A recent study proved the value of
topically applied phospholipids in skin care. It found that environmental
factors (sun, wind, pollution) and the detergents and solvents, found in
most skin cleansers, actually stripped the natural phospholipid content
from the top layer of skin. This loss resulted in a rough feel and a pitted
appearance under a microscope. Importantly, the phospholipids in the uppermost
skin layers cannot be replaced by natural cell function, as the top layer
of cells no longer metabolise; they serve only as a protective barrier.
Remarkably, the study showed that topically applied plant phospholipids
restore the barrier function of the skin, protecting it from substances
such as bacteria and harmful chemicals.
Some Synthetic Un-"Natural Humectants
1. Propylene Glycol â€“ causes irritation and contact dermatitis
2. Ethylene/Diethylene Glycol causes irritation
and contact dermatitis
3. PEG compounds (eg Polyethylene Glycol)
may contain the toxic by-product dioxane
Some natural Humectants
2. Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5)
Surface-active-agents are substances capable of dissolving oils and holding
dirt in suspension so it can be rinsed away with water. They are used in
skin cleansers and shampoos which are often claimed to contain "natural"
A serious problem with ethoxylated surfactants (those that utilise ethylene
or propylene oxide in the chemical reaction) is that they are often contaminated
with dioxane, a potent carcinogen. The exact same toxic carcinogen sprayed
on the Vietnam jungle during Agent Orange which caused hundreds of thousands
of birth defects and cancers in Vietnamese civilians and huge increases
in the cancer rates for US and Australian army personnel. Far from NATURAL!
These surfactants are listed on labels as ingredients ending with -eth,
(like laureth) or containing the phrase PEG (Poly Ethylene Glycol), or PPG
(Poly Propylene Glycol). Another dangerous class of surfactants are amides.
These are listed on labels containing the term TEA - TriEthanolAmine, DEA
- DiEthanolAmine and MEA MonoEthanolAmine. All compounds containing TEA,
DEA, and MEA can undergo nitrosation with other chemicals to form nitrosamines,
which are carcinogenic. One study found that over 40% f products containing
triethanolamine (TEA) were contaminated with these potent carcinogens.
Would you call this "Skin Care"?
Natural saponins (foaming agents) are a much better choice for shampoos.
They gently cleanse the hair skin and scalp without stripping the natural
Some Synthetic Surfactants
1. Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl or Laureth Sulphate
2. Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
3. Sodium Lauroyl or Cocoyl Sarcosinate
4. Cocomidopropyl Betaine
5. TEA compounds
6. DEA compounds
7. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) compounds
8. Quarternium -7,15,31,60 etc
9. Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine
10. Disodium Oleamide or Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate
11. etc. etc. etc.
Some Natural Surfactants
1. Castile Soap
2. Yucca Extract
4. Quillaja Bark Extract
The decaying process is natural and happens with or without preservatives.
Skin care products do not (and should not) last for ever. Just like food,
all natural skin care products will eventually deteriorate and go rancid.
The effectiveness, not safety, of synthetic chemical preservatives has only
been â€œprovenâ€ by cruel animal testing. Chemical preservatives are generally
used because they are much cheaper than, and extend the shelf life of the
product more than natural alternatives. Once again so far removed from natural
it isn't funny.
You know eating fresh natural produce is far better for you than eating
denatured long shelf life food - Don't you? Well the same applies to your
skin care products. Safe non-toxic fresh skin care products are far better
for your health than the alphabet soup of chemical concoctions the "skin
care" companies generally come up with.
Storing natural products in the fridge will help extend their life. Some
1. Imidiazolidinyl Urea (Germall 115) and Diazolidinyl Urea (Germall
II) Causes contact dermatitis. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde over 10Â°C.
2. DMDM Hydantoin Highly toxic, causes contact dermatitis, contains formaldehyde.
Used in shampoos and deodorants. Un-natural!
3. Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben Toxic, Causes allergic reactions
and skin rashes. Used in a huge range of products and is implicated in increasing
breast cancer rates when used as a preservative in underarm deodorants.
4. 2-Bromo-2-Nitro-Propane-1, 3-diol. (Bronopol). Toxic - causes allergic
contact dermatitis. Used in face creams, shampoos, mascaras and bath oils.
5. Benzalkonium Chloride - Highly toxic, primary skin irritant. Used in
shampoos, conditioner and deodorants. UN-natural!
6. Quarternium-15 Toxic, causes skin rashes and allergic reactions. UN-natural!
7. Chloromethylisothiazolinone and Isothiazolinone - Cause contact dermatitis
8. Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone- Both cause allergies
9. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) - Both
cause allergic contact dermatitis - worse BHT is carcinogenic!
This alphabet soup of unnatural synthetic chemicals which go into making
the average skin care product and/or cosmetic is believed to be playing
a major part in the enormous increase in cancer rates in the developed countries
of the world. Research scientists such as Dr Samuel Epstein have been speaking
out strongly for decades trying to warn the public of the dangers of un-natural
toxic chemicals in personal and skin care products. We are losing the "winnable
war on cancer" due to vested interests totally ignoring the damage that
low level exposure to toxins over may years do to our immune systems. Our
grandparents were never exposed to this vast array of artificial toxic chemicals.
Some Natural Preservatives
1. Tea Tree essential oil
2. Thyme essential oil
3. Grapefruit Seed Extract
4. D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E)
Toxaemia and Internal Cleansing
Dr. Bruce Fife - "Every day we are exposed to toxins
in one form or another. We encounter them in the air we breath, the food
we eat, and the water we drink. The environment is filled with natural and
manmade toxins. Even our own bodies produce toxic metabolic waste. While
our immune system can detoxify and eliminate many of the toxins we are exposed
to each day, it can only do so much. If we are exposed to more toxins than
our immune system can process and eliminate, these toxins accumulate in
body tissues. As toxins accumulate in our bodies, cells and tissues begin
to degenerate. When this happens symptoms arise."
"Autogenous self-generated poisoning is what we call Toxaemia."
Natural Hygiene holds that the one cause of all disease is the
toxic saturation at the cellular level of the bodily tissues, bloodstream,
and fluids brought on by the depletion of Nerve Energy reserves through
wrong living habits. This state of self-poisioning is alternately termed
"Auto-Intoxication," "Toxicosis," and "Toxemia." Every act of every cell
in the body produces waste. This waste is poisonous, it is incompatible
with the life of the cell..." "The cells throw their waste into the lymph
that carries it back to the blood. The blood takes the waste to the excretory
organs mentioned above for elimination." "Normal elimination keeps the blood
and lymph clean. Toxaemia is hence the aftermath of Enervation. Enervation
in brief is the sum total of all our expenditures of nerve energy involved
in our day to day living. When the sum of our daily expenditure is greater
than we can or than we do recuperate daily, we become enervated. When an
enervated individual is saturated with toxins, any additional enervating
influence that puts an added check to elimination will cause the toxaemia
to be pushed above the point of toleration, and will precipitate a crisis,
a process of compensatory elimination through channels whose main work is
not elimination, e.g., en mucous membranes (colds, catarrh, inflammation
and skin eruptions)." "Natural Hygienists know the cause and they also know
how to remove it. Fasting will enable the body to rid itself of toxins and
hygienic living will prevent their recurrence."
"There is really only one disease of the body. It is called Toxemia.
Many doctors of natural hygiene have proven this in their work, but common
knowledge of the way the body works, along with common sense, will also
support this statement. In his book "Toxemia Explained" Dr. John Tilden
explains the definition of Toxemia as natures effort to eliminate toxins
from the blood."
We should all avoid toxic synthetic chemicals from all sources. We can
do this largely by sourcing organic produce as much as we possibly can and
using only certified organic completely natural personal care products and
cosmetics. You may be amazed at the huge difference these simple measures will make
to your health. Informed people make informed choices.