How can you tell when a product that claims to be natural, really is? You might try reading the label, but unless you are a chemist, this may get a little confusing. Ingredients in skin care and beauty products are listed by the chemical names. An all-natural product should stand out from the rest because it should contain more easily recognizable ingredients. But if you want to be sure, you should carefully scrutinize the label and research any ingredients that you are unsure about. Here are a few in particular to avoid:
1,4-dioxane: This carcinogen is found in many cosmetics as a by-product of other chemical combinations. Products that use Ethoxylated surfactants as foaming agents or emulsifiers often produce 1,4-doixane in the manufacturing process. This chemical is considered toxic if it is inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested.
Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): This drying agent is a common ingredient in many cosmetic products. When used directly on the skin, it strips off the outer most protective layer, exposing the body to bacteria, fungus, molds, and other toxins. It is derived from petroleum and may promote brown spots or premature aging.
Anionic Surfactants: surfactants are used in about 90% of foaming personal care products. They are also used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, and as engine degreasers. Common anionic surfactants include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen, TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine, Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, and Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate. Avoid all of these ingredients if they are on the label.
Cationic Surfactants: These surfactants are commonly used in hair conditioning products as they have anti-static properties. However, they are synthetic, irritating to hair follicles, and toxic. Long-term use can cause hair to become dry and brittle. Common cationic surfactants include Stearalkonium chloride, Benzalkonium chloride, Cetrimonium chloride, Cetalkonium chloride, and Lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen.
Chloromethylisothiazolinone and Isothiazolinone: these two harmful chemicals can be corrosive to the eyes and skin. Long term exposure can cause permanent eye damage and third degree burns to skin. They can be fatal if ingested and they can cause damage to the mucous membranes of the lungs if inhaled.
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine): These chemicals are often used in personal care cleansers to adjust the pH of the formula. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, dryness, and toxicity if used over long periods. These known carcinogens are already restricted in Europe but they may still be found in the formulas of American and Asian cosmetics.
Diazolidinyl urea and DMDM Hydantoin: These chemicals contain formaldehyde, a toxic carcinogen, and it can cause dermatitis, burning, irritation of the mucous membranes, inflammation, and watering of the eyes.
Ethoxylated surfactants: These surfactants are commonly used in cosmetic formulas as foaming agents, emulsifiers, and humectants. They may be listed on the ingredient label as "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol." These chemicals form 1,4-dioxane (a known carcinogen) as a byproduct in the manufacturing process.
FD&C Color Pigments: These synthetic color pigments are made from coal tar. They contain heavy metal salts that leave toxic byproducts on the skin. These chemicals have been tested on animals and found to cause cancer.
Formaldehyde: This is another cancer causing agent that is commonly found in commercial make-up products. It can cause allergic reactions, headaches, and chronic fatigue.
Imidazolidinyl urea: This chemical releases another harmful chemical, formaldehyde, as a byproduct in the manufacturing process. It may be listed under the trade name Germall 115.
Lanolin: Lanolin is used in many commercial cosmetic formulas, and it is often considered harmless. However, it is obtained from the wool of sheep and is therefore contaminated with the pesticide DDT unless it is obtained from organic sources.
Mineral Oil: Also called liquid parrafinum, mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum that coats the skin like plastic. It disrupts the skin's natural ability to purge itself of toxins, slows down cell function and can cause premature aging. Mineral oil can also be found in paraffin wax, paraffin oil and petrolatum.
Nitrosating Agents: Chemicals that cause nitrosamine contamination have been found in laboratory tests to cause cancer. Nitrosamines can be found in the following chemical ingredients: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Cocoyl Sarcosine, DEA compounds, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Formaldehyde, Hydrolysed Animal Protein, Lauryl Sarcosine, MEA compounds, Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, and TEA compounds.
Paraben preservatives (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl): These chemicals are often used in cosmetic formulas to inhibit microbial formation and extend the shelf life of the make-up products. They are commonly used in commercial applications even though they are known to be highly toxic and to cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) compounds: This petroleum product is used in commercial cleaners to break up grease and in spray on oven cleaners. Over time, this chemical can cause premature aging when used in personal care products.
Propylene/Butylene Glycol: This chemical compound is considered so toxic by the EPA that it mandates that its workers wear protective equipment when handling it. It is a petroleum product that penetrates the skin easily and can cause brain, liver, and kidney malfunctions. This ingredient is often found in stick deodorants where it can cause acute and chronic health hazards.
Rancid Natural Emollients: Creams and other commercial cosmetics made from refined vegetable oils contain harmful transfatty acids. Polyunsaturated oils can also oxidize quickly, causing free-radical damage to the skin and premature aging. They are also missing the essential nutrients, fatty acids, and vitamins that help protect and moisturize the skin.
Silicone derived emollients: Like other emollients, these products coat the skin like plastic wrap, and disrupt the skin's ability to breathe and release toxins. They can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes and promote the development of tumors. Common silicone derived emollients include Dimethicone, Dimethicone Copolyol, and Cyclomethicone.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES): When combined with other ingredients, these chemicals form nitrosating agents and have a carcinogenic effect on the body. Be especially wary of semi-natural products that claim to be derived from coconut oil.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS): These chemicals can alter the immune system and cause damage to the eyes, digestive system, nervous system, lungs, and skin. They are commonly found in foaming personal care products. And may be listed as ingredients on semi-natural products that claim to come from coconut oil.
Stearalkonium Chloride: Originally developed as a fabric softener, this chemical is often found in hair conditioners and creams. They are toxic chemicals that can cause allergic reactions on contact.
Toluene: This chemical can be particularly dangerous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Aspiration can cause chemical pneumonitis, a fatal disorder. It is highly flammable in both liquid and vapor form and it may affect the liver, kidneys, nervous system, and blood. Overexposure can cause fatigue, confusion, headache, dizziness, or numbness. Severe overexposure can cause coma and death. Exposure to toulene can also affect the proper development of a growing fetus.
For more information on natural skin care go to http://www.skin-care-support.org.
About The Author
Dr. Group, the founder/CEO and clinical director for the Global Healing Center, heads a research and development team producing advanced, new, natural health protocols and products. To learn more visit http://www.ghchealth.com.
The information of this page is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for your dermatologist's advice or treatment. For further details, please read our disclaimer.
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