- Methyl, Propyl, Butly, and Ethyl Paraben (or the ugly paraben sisters): These are used to inhibit microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. At the very least they cause many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Even more concerning, studies are showing that they are weakly estrogenic and could be carcinogenic.
- Diethanolamine (DEA), Trethanolamine (TEA): These chemicals emulsify or cause a product like shampoo or soap to foam. Unfortunately they also cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. DEA and TEA are "amines" (ammonia compounds) and can form cancer-causing nitrosamines when they come in contact with nitrates. They are especially toxic when absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
- Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea: These chemicals are used as preservatives. The American Academy of Dermatology has found them to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis. Both of these chemicals release formaldehyde which can be toxic
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate: This is a cheap, harsh detergent used in shampoos for its cleansing and foam-building properties. It is often derived from petroleum. These chemicals are known to cause eye irritation, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
- Petrolatum: Another name for this is petroleum jelly. This mineral oil is used for it's emollient properties in cosmetics and because it's extremely cheap to use as opposed to vegetable based plant oils which actually contain some nutritive value for the skin. The problem is that it can interfere with the bodies own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dryness and chapping - the very conditions it's supposed to correct.
- Propylene Glycol: Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. More often though it's a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives, and eczema. Also watch out for PEG (polyethlyene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol).
- PVP/VA Copolymer: A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, styling aids and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since inhaled particles can damage the lungs of sensitive persons.
- Stearalkonium Chloride: A quaternary ammonium compound used in hair conditioners and creams. Developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, it is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which are beneficial to the hair. This chemical is toxic and causes allergic reactions.
- Synthetic Colors: These are labeled with FD&C or D&C followed by a color and a number. Many synthetic colors can be carcinogenic.
- Synthetic Fragrances: When you see "Fragrance" listed on an ingredient deck, it can contain as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals you are being exposed too. Many report symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation, and etc, after using products with synthetic fragrances.
I hope this list is helpful as you try to weed out the harmful chemicals from your skin and beauty products.
Does anyone have a favorite brand of natural beauty product they want to share? Give our readers some ideas of brands to try.
Have a wonderful weekend!