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Published on September 3rd, 2010 | by Emma Pezzack

21

25 Toxic Ingredients :: What To Avoid

It recently came to my attention that there are still a huge number of us who are not sure what ingredients are particularly toxic in our personal care products. Given that there is very little oversight or regulation within the industry, we owe it to ourselves to get armed with how to make well-informed buying decisions. Learn this checklist and eliminate these 25 toxic chemicals from your beauty arsenal, and you’ll be off to a flying start with making safer, healthier choices.

1. ALUMINUM ZIRCONIUM and OTHER ALUMINUM COMPOUNDS

Function: Used to control sweat and odor in the underarms by slowing down the production of sweat.

Present in: Antiperspirants. Banned by EU.

Health concerns: Linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease; may be linked to breast cancer; probable neurotoxin; possible nervous system, respiratory, and developmental toxin.

2. BENZYL ACETATE

Function: Solvent; hidden within “fragrance.”

Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.

Health concerns: Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.



3. BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE and BENZETHONIUM CHLORIDE

Function: Antimicrobial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide.

Present in: Moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, acne treatment, pain relief. Restricted in Japan and Canada.

Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain, nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen.

4. BRONOPOL

Function: Preservative.

Present in: Moisturizer, body wash, facial cleanser, makeup remover, anti-aging products. Restricted in Canada.

Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects; irritant.

5. BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT)/ BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA)

Function: Anti-Oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color.

Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.

Banned by EU.

Health Concerns: Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.

This article continues…see next page.


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About the Author

Self-confessed organic glamazon, responsible hedonist, makeup mogul and all round lover of life. Current roles include: CEO/Founder of Futurenatural :: Proclaimed a new 'Sephora' for the savvy organic & natural beauty set and loved by Nylon Magazine + Teen Vogue, this award-winning store is the modern-cool-stylish boutique for all the best, cutting edge, organic & natural beauty products in the world. http://www.futurenatural.com Editor-In-Chief - Organic Beauty Review :: Bringing you the latest in trends, savvy surveillance and stylish brands from the modern side of organic and natural beauty. http://www.organicbeautyview.com Beauty Director - Coco Eco Magazine :: Bi-monthly online glossy bringing you everything that's stylish, good, green and glam. http://www.cocoecomag.com Beauty Writer - Feelgood Style :: www.feelgoodstyle.com



21 Responses to 25 Toxic Ingredients :: What To Avoid

  1. Thanks for putting this list together. Like you, I think it is best to avoid these ingredients. At the same time, I’ve been following the discussion about the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010, and the data put forth by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I wrote a blog post about lead in lipstick, for instance. It seems the picture is not quite so black and white as I initially thought. Who doesn’t want safe cosmetics? But are we starting to emerge from the Environmental Working Group’s “Reign of Error?”

    • Emma Pezzack says:

      It’s a deeply complex topic Gaelle – you’re so right. I believe that we’re headed in the right direction and there desperately needs to be industry oversight and regulation – though the delays in getting anything worthwhile passed are frustrating. If the bills that are being introduced are constantly being slammed down, let’s all just agree that there are KNOWN toxins, based on science and fact, not sensationalism & heresay, that should be banned now, and with a sense of urgency.

  2. Thanks for putting this list together. Like you, I think it is best to avoid these ingredients. At the same time, I’ve been following the discussion about the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010, and the data put forth by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I wrote a blog post about lead in lipstick, for instance. It seems the picture is not quite so black and white as I initially thought. Who doesn’t want safe cosmetics? But are we starting to emerge from the Environmental Working Group’s “Reign of Error?”

    • Emma Pezzack says:

      It’s a deeply complex topic Gaelle – you’re so right. I believe that we’re headed in the right direction and there desperately needs to be industry oversight and regulation – though the delays in getting anything worthwhile passed are frustrating. If the bills that are being introduced are constantly being slammed down, let’s all just agree that there are KNOWN toxins, based on science and fact, not sensationalism & heresay, that should be banned now, and with a sense of urgency.

      • Karen Wood says:

        It’s good though, don’t you think that the labelling laws that are coming in ensure that all the ingredients will be disclosed. This makes it easier to make informed choices. You are right Emma, it’s crazy that known carcinogenics and other toxins are still used in todays formulations! Because of this I formulated my own range http://www.keshiorganics.com.au now I know EXACTLY what i am putting on my skin. For me that means NO NASTIES! xKaren

        • Emma Pezzack says:

          I couldn’t agree more about the labelling laws. As it stands companies do have to disclose ingredients on labels, apart from the generic ‘fragrance’ (which is an issue), but the problem is also with chemicals that are used for extractions and processing that don’t have to be disclosed on labels. It’s one of the things that the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics is trying to change – that all companies must disclose all ingredients (trace or not) that have been used in the manufacture of a product, and the products must be registered with a nationwide database that everyone will have access to. The Personal Care Council has agreed fundamentally but no legislation or guidelines have as yet gone into action. It’s nowhere near enough but at least it’s a start…

          • I’m totally on-board with the need for better labeling regulations and the drive to get poisons out of our personal care products. The problem with the Safe Cosmetics Act, though (as I understand it), is that everyday organic products, like olive oil, would fall foul of its provisions. It’s one of those things where the more detailed the analysis of the proposals, the more unworkable they appear to be. I’m no expert in this field and take guidance from people who clearly know more than me, and who are oriented the same way as I am with respect to living an organic lifestyle. Gay Timmons would be an example. Are there people or organizations you could recommend?

          • Emma Pezzack says:

            Gaelle, thanks again for your comments! There’s much misinformation about what the SCA would legislate, coversely there are some relevant concerns. I just wish we didn’t have to keep going back to the drawing board and could accomplish some kind of common ground on the most toxic ingredients. In terms of organizations or people – I’m not sure what you’re looking for? Like-minded people? Or specific places to get information you need?

          • Hi Emma
            Thanks for your response. I am not looking for people who agree with me; rather, people who can point me to data to support their position. There is a post on the Essenttial U blog, for instance, called “The Lead Debate Made Simple.” It seems to shoot down the whole lead issue. I have not seen similar data from the other side of the debate. I’m assuming there must be some.

  3. I’m totally on-board with the need for better labeling regulations and the drive to get poisons out of our personal care products. The problem with the Safe Cosmetics Act, though (as I understand it), is that everyday organic products, like olive oil, would fall foul of its provisions. It’s one of those things where the more detailed the analysis of the proposals, the more unworkable they appear to be. I’m no expert in this field and take guidance from people who clearly know more than me, and who are oriented the same way as I am with respect to living an organic lifestyle. Gay Timmons would be an example. Are there people or organizations you could recommend?

  4. Emma Pezzack says:

    Gaelle, thanks again for your comments! There’s much misinformation about what the SCA would legislate, coversely there are some relevant concerns. I just wish we didn’t have to keep going back to the drawing board and could accomplish some kind of common ground on the most toxic ingredients. In terms of organizations or people – I’m not sure what you’re looking for? Like-minded people? Or specific places to get information you need?

  5. Hi Emma
    Thanks for your response. I am not looking for people who agree with me; rather, people who can point me to data to support their position. There is a post on the Essenttial U blog, for instance, called “The Lead Debate Made Simple.” It seems to shoot down the whole lead issue. I have not seen similar data from the other side of the debate. I’m assuming there must be some.

  6. drew says:

    You should really check out this site for the real scoop on these ingredients..some listed here are correct, some however like hydroquinone and oxybenzone are NOT toxins along with Parabens, and this site points to the peer reviewd scientific research to prove that point beyond all doubts! hope this helps, http://www.cosmeticscop.com/learn-skin-care-facts.aspx#

    • Drew says:

      If you look a little further into her website she has a full ingredient list dictionary with endless descriptions and saftey info on cosmetic ingredients! which i have found most helpful as well! also try joining her on facebook!

  7. Amarya says:

    Thank you for the information and list of ingredients to avoid. I feel that the cosmetic industry is not regulated effectively and that companies can still get away with using dangerous/toxic ingredients in their products. The long term health implications of using these type of products can only be negative.

    • Colin says:

      I formulate cosmetic products for a living. I could probably write a book on the science behind them. But instead could I just ask a question. When people like Amarya say we are allowed to ‘get away with using dangerous/toxic ingredients’, why do you think we would want to do that? Are we evil? Are we ignorant? Or is there some advantage to making dangerous things?

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