A report recently compiled by dermatologists reveals how the preservative chemical methylisothiazolinone, or MI for short, has led to a massive increase in eczema and other skin allergies in recent years, and calls on regulators to ban the chemical. The preservative – known as MI – is used in a wide range of shampoos, moisturisers and shower gels as well as make-up and baby wipes. (source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ )
More than 10,000 ingredients are allowed for use in personal care products — and the average woman wears 515 of them every day, according to a 2009 British study that looked at the routines of over 2,000 women. More than 90% of these ingredients have never been tested for their effects on human health, and complete toxicity data are available for only 7% of them.
Below is a list of ten Toxic Chemicals you need to watch out in your personal care products.
Methylisothiazolinone (MI): MI is generally recognized by regulatory authorities in both the U.S. and Europe as safe and non-toxic. According to the Telegraph, concentrations of MI in personal care products today are as high as 100 parts per million (ppm), up 2,500 percent from around 4 ppm in previous formulations. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer watchdog organization, MI is moderately hazardous, having been linked to various allergies and immune disorders. Studies identified by the group also link MI to brain cell damage, and the chemical has been implicated in causing nerve damage in humans. Some companies have already begun to quietly and voluntarily phase out the use of MI in their products, but many other brands such as Nivea, Wet Ones, and Dove still use it, according to reports. Even some popular “natural” brands like Seventh Generation and Burt’s Bees use MI in their product formulations.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids: Marketed as a way to remove wrinkles, blemishes, blotches and acne scars. They can be found in skin care products ranging from moisturizers and cleansers to eye creams and sunscreen. The FDA estimates that they injure 1,000 Americans every year by burning the skin. They contribute to UV skin damage and may raise the risk of skin cancer.
Benzyl Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol – Both benzyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol irritate the skin. They are used as fragrance ingredients and as preservatives, solvents and anti-foaming agents for hand sanitizers, sunscreens, lotions and baby wipes. There is also evidence that these two alcohols are neurotoxic. Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Side effects of using the topical benzyl alcohol lotion may include itching, irritation, redness and numbness or tingling at the application site. Children younger than 3 years old are particularly at risk for toxic effects if they are exposed to benzyl alcohol.
Hydroquinone: Found in many skin lightening products used to lighten the dark patches of skin (also called hyperpigmentation, melasma, “liver spots,” “age spots,” freckles) caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or injury to the skin. Hydroquinone is classified as a cancer causing agent by Health Canada. It has been linked to kidney damage, and can cause a skin condition called ochronosis in which the skin becomes dark and thick.
FD&C Color Pigments: Most FD&C color pigments are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic. Many of these pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder.
Mineral Oil: Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like saran wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing and excreting. It also slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil – and 100% bad for your baby’s sensitive skin.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): This is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG’s are often used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG’s contribute to stripping the Natural Moisture Factor, leaving the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic. According to a report in the International Journal of Toxicology by the cosmetic industry’s own Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee, impurities found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide; 1,4-dioxane; polycyclic aromatic compounds; and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, and arsenic.
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine): These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers. Look for names like Cocoamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, etc.
Fragrance: Present in most deodorants, shampoos, sunscreens, skin care, body care and baby care products, fragrances are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic. Most or all of them are synthetic. Symptoms reported to the FDA have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical observation by medical doctors have shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) – Listed on labels as benzalkonium chloride, cetrimonium bromide and quaternium-15, these compounds are caustic and can irritate the eyes. Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde releaser and the number one cause of preservative-related contact dermatitis. For about 5% of people, quats are an extreme sensitizer and can cause a variety of asthma-like symptoms, including respiratory arrest. When they are used with hot running water, steam increases the inhalation of vapours. These compounds are used in a wide range of products as preservatives, surfactants and germicides. They make hair and skin feel softer immediately after use but long-term use will cause dryness.
Stop buying the products with listed ingredients, throw them out, and start buying products that actually protect your health.