Monthly Archives: September 2013

A-Z Glossary of Harmful Chemicals and Additives to Avoid in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Complied by Klaus Ferlow, Vancouver, BC – and shared with permission from author

(A list of the most harmful chemicals to your health are listed here from the over 10,500 toxic chemicals to be found in cosmetics and personal care products)

  • AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): the skin is exfoliated chemically instead of mechanically via abrasion, dries and increases skin aging. Supposed to be anti-wrinkle, found in many skin and hair care products. Used as solvent originally in cleaning compounds and  for tanning leather. A smooth finish is developed by stripping the outer layer of the skin, irritated skin can puff up.
  • Acetamide MEA: used in lipsticks and cream blusher to retain moisture, causes adverse reactions, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic.
  • Acetone: on EPA, RCRA, CERCLA hazardous waste list. Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throats, dizziness, nausea, in coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma. Acts primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. You will find it in cologne, dishwashing liquid, detergent, nail enamel remover.
  • Alkyl-phenol-ethoxylades: mimics estrogen, used in shampoo, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic. Causes adverse reactions. Reduces sperm count.
  • Ammonium laureth sulphate: found in hair and bubble bath products. Laureth contains ether that is listed as carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.
  • Aluminum: used as colour additive in cosmetics, especially eye shadow. Listed as carcinogenic, toxic and mutagenic.
  • a-Pinene: sensitizer, damaging to the immune system, in bar and liquid hand soaps, cologne, shaving cream, deodorants. Dishwashing liquid, air freshener.
  • a-Terpineol: highly irritating to mucous membranes, aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema., also can cause excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS respiratory depression, headache, prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact, found in perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, Vaseline lotion, soap, hairspray, after shave, roll-on deodorant.
  • Bentonite: used in fascial mask, makeup, face powder. Supposed to draw out toxins and claimed to be non-toxic, but rats died when injected with it.
  • Benzaldehyde: narcotic, sensitizer, local anesthetic, CNS depressant, irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, an GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain, may cause kidney damage, do not use with contact lenses. Found in perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergents, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent.
  • Benzene: found combined with other chemicals in many personal care products and is known a bone-marrow poison, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.
  • Benzyl acetate: carcinogenic, linked to pancreatic cancer, from vapours irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough, can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects, do not flush to sewer, used in perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorant.
  • Benzyl alcohol: irritating the upper respiratory tract, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure. Used in perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener.
  • Benzyl violet: used as a colouring in various products, including nail treatment, it is a possible human carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, Group 2B), on US and European labels, it is frequently listed as violet 2 or violet 6B.
  • BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyamisole) and (butylated hdroxytolune), are closely related to synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, and other cometics. They are wildely used as food preservatives too, cancause allergic reactions in skin,the International Agency of  Research on cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen. The European Commission of Endocrine Disruptors has lisstedBHA asa category1 priorityl substance based on evidence that it interferes with hormone function. BHT is harmful to fish and wildlife.
  • Camphor: local irritant and CNS stimulant, readily absorbed through body tissues, irritation of eyes, nose and throat, dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions, avoid inhalation of vapours, found in perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener.
  • Coal Tar derivatives: many kinds of shampoo designed to treat dandruff and flaky scalp  contain it. Disguised with names such as FD, FDC or DF&C colour. It causes potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, cancer, carcinogen, cough, redness of skin, burning sensation, can irritate nose, throat, hoarseness, nosebleeds, coughing, phlegm, changes in skin pigment and a rash. A 2001 California study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that women who used to permanent hair dyes once a month were twice likely to develop bladder cancer! There are many factors involved with hair colouring. Studies in the U.S. have suggested that the chemical reaction created by hair colouring products may be having a carcinogenic effect and have also associated hair colourings with an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Try to avoid dark hair dyes entirely and choose products made with natural ingredients instead. Banned in EU cosmetics!
  • Cocamide DEA: (also listed as Cocamide diethanolamine, triethanolamine, monoethanolamine, cocamide DEA), emulsifiers and foamers in  range of products inclusive shalmpoos, face and body washes, make-up nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines, nitrosamines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds, are known to be carcinogen causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. When DEA is applied to the skin known carcinogens can form, mostly found in shampoo. The National Toxicology Program in the U.S. published in 1998 a study that topical skin application of cocamide DEA created in mice and rats liver tumours.
  • Cocomidopropyl Betaine: used in shampoo in combination with other surfactants, synthetic, causes eyelid dermatitis.
  • Carboner 9ds34, 940, 941, 960, 961C: as thickener, stabilizer in creams, toothpaste, eye makeup, bathing products, may cause eye irritation
  • DEA (Diethanolamine): a synthetic solvent, detergent and humectant (moisturizer) widely used in brake fluid, industrial degreaser and antifreeze. Mostly used in liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner. Can be harmful for the liver, kidneys and pancreas. May cause cancer in various organs, irritates skin, eyes, mucous membranes. Found also in hair dye, lotions, cream, bubble bath, liquid dishwashing detergent and laundry soap. Creates health risk especially to infants and young children. Forms nitrosamines known to be carcinogens. Causes allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, hazardous and toxic.
  • Dibutyl phthalate: used in nail polish in combination with toluene and formaldehyde, a colourless, oily liquid with a week aromatic odour, irritation of eyes, nose throat, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, may cause nausea, tearing of eyes, vomiting, dizziness, long term exposure may cause liver and kidney damage, my harm the development of foetus and male testes, may cause mutations, reproductive damage, headache, drowsiness, seizures, affect nervous system, harm to the unborn child, possible risk of impaired fertility, dangerous for the environment, banned in EU cosmetics, used in epoxy resins, insect repellent, clothing and a solvent for perfumes, oils and textiles.
  • Dimethylamine: known to cause cancer, can irritate and cause severe burns of the skin, irritate and burn the eyes with possible permanent  damage, even causing blindness, prolonged exposure may damage the liver, can affect you when breathed in and by passing through the skin, cough, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, irritable mood, used in de-hairing, detergents and pesticides, used in leather tanning and pharmaceutical products, banned in EU cosmetics.
  • Dioform: many toothpastes and other tooth whiteners contain it, damages your teeth enamel and weakening their protective shell
  • Dioxane: also called 1,4 Dioxane, a flammable liquid, may form explosive chemicals, especially when anhydrous (very dry), enters the body when people breathe air or consume water or food contaminated with dioxane., can also be absorbed through skin contact, causes watering of the eyes, redness of skin and eyes, pain, headaches, nausea, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness. Is used in facial moisturizer/treatment, shampoo and a variety of cosmetics.
  • Disodium EDTA: may contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and or dixane, both potent toxins, a manufacturing by- product, also used as chelating agent, carcinogenic.
  • Hydantoin DMDM: causes dermatitis, acts as a preservative and may release formaldehyde and is suspected carcinogen. Rats develop cancer when injected with is chemical.
  • Elastin: supposedly improves the elasticity of the skin when applied topically, but there is no proof it’s true.
  • Ethanol: On EPA hazardous waste list, creates fatigue, irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations. Inhalation of ethanol vapours can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness impaired vision, ataxia, stupor, causes CNS disorder, found in bar and liquid hand soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener.
  • Ethyl acetate: narcotic, on EPA hazardous waste list, irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract, may cause headache and narcosis (stupor), de-fatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking, anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys, wash thoroughly after handling, found in after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color ,nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid.
  • Ethylacrylate: acrylates and methacylates are monomers that are combined with other monomers or polymers to produce plastics us in cosmetics, medicine, dentistry and manufacturing industries. When inhaled causes cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, redness of eyes and skin, pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin allergy, liver and kidney damage, severe irritations and burns of the eyes and skin, respiratory system, sensitization by skin contact and is a flammable and reactive liquid, a fire and explosion hazard, banned in EU cosmetics.
  • FDC-n (FD&C): various artificial different colours and some are simply irritants while others are strong carcinogens.
  • Fluoride: hazardous chemical, researchers linked it to cancer years ago, but no one was listening. Fluoridated toothpaste is especially dangerous to young children who tend to swallow it since it is tasty after brushing their teeth. Supposed to stop tooth decay, however, it seems just to do the opposite and Scientists are now linking fluoride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions, can lead also to Crohn’s disease, a manufacturing toxic by-product.
  • Formaldehyde: due to its bad reputation it is sometimes hidden under the name DMDM hydantoin , methanol, formic aldehyde, methyl aldehyde, oxomethane, oxymethane, DMDM hydanhydantoint , diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, trade name is formalin.  Immune system toxicant used as a preservative, especially in nail products, hair colourant, false eyelash adhesives, amony others.Released by diazolidinyl urea, causes dermatitis, adverse effects, is very toxic when inhaled or swallowed, skin irritant, a suspected carcinogen and linked to cancer, burning sensation, cough, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, watering eyes, blurred vision, corrosive, should be handled with extreme caution, can irritate nose, throat and mouth, is a highly flammable gas and a dangerous fire hazard, should be handled with extreme caution. To be continued next month…

 Note: we carry a number of products by Ferlow Botanicals which are free from harmful ingredients. 

Klaus’s Bio: Honorary Master Herbalist, Dominion Herbal College, Professional Herbal Advocate, Canadian Herbalist’s Assn. of BC, author, innovator, lecturer, researcher, founder and co-owner FERLOW BOTANICALS, Div. of Ferlow Brothers Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., manufacturer of herbal medicinal and personal care products without harmful ingredients to holistic health practitioners in traditional medicine since 1993. Klaus is writing a book about the miraculous healing power of Neem to be published in 2014 and is is also the co-author of the book “Seven steps to dental health”, available  in print and e-book from amazon.