Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top Ten Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

Here's what to look out for, and steer clear of, on ingredients lists in the personal care product aisles.

1. Aluminum Starch/ Octenylsuccinate: Linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm.

2. Antibacterials/ antimicrobials such as Triclosan, which promote the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

3. Coal tar colors: Includes FD&C and D & C colors, especially blue 1 and green 3. Cancer links.

4. Ethoxylated Chemicals (the “PEGs” and “Eths”s): These sudsing/moisturizing agents are made by adding ethylene oxide to fatty acids so they’ll become more water soluble. This process can create carcinogenic 1,4 dioxane. Watch out for PEG-80 sorbitan laurate, PEG-6 methyl ether, Polyethylene glycol, PEG-20, Sodium laureth sulfate,Ceteareth-20 and -30, and many more substances with “PEG”- and “eth” in their names.

5. Formaldehyde: While it won't show up on ingredients lists, this known human carcinogen can be present as a contaminant in nearly all types of personal care products. Look for its contaminated "cousins": diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium .

6. Fragrance: Synthetic fragrance using phthalates, isoeugenol, cinnamal, and BHT--a fragrance used to mask fragrance--is linked to cancer and developmental/ reproductive harm, allergies.

7. Heavy Metals: Lead and mercury in lip and eye makeups can cause nervous system and brain damage.

8. Nano particles: Still new on the block, but research indicates they may pose possible brain damage, cancer risks.

9. Synthetic Preservatives: Methylparaben and other parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors and stimulate growth of breast cancer cells in the lab.

10. Silica: A risk mostly when used in powders that can be easily inhaled. Mica and talc, also used in powders, are low-risk, although talc can be contaminated with fibers similar to cancer-causing asbestos.

The list was compiled using Environmental Working Group's awesome Skin Deep Database .


Patricia said...

Try these natural, phthalate-free fragrances. They are made with only 100% pure essential oils and organic grain alcohol. Nothing harmful-only nature!


Agape & Zoe Naturals said...


Claude said...

Kindly remove Sodium Coco Sulfate from that list. I will not have the noble coconut maligned in such a fashion!

But thank you for this list. I love Skin Deep. I love not experiencing a slow death from misguided consumerism.

GreenFemme said...

Hey Claude,
Thank you for the nice correction! I over-compensated on the precaution here; Skin Deep Database gives Sodium Coco Sulfate a zero hazard rating, even though it is ethoxylated. Here's a good report on the state of detergent science. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/86/8603cover.html