Industrial chemicals are basic ingredients in personal care products. The 10,500 unique chemical ingredients in these products equate to about one of every eight of the 82,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S. Personal care products contain carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants. They are the chemical industry in a bottle.
No premarket safety testing required - this is a reality of both the personal care product industry and the broader chemical industry as a whole. For industrial chemicals, the government approves an average of seven new chemicals every day. Eighty percent are approved in three weeks or less, with or without safety tests. Advocating that industry have an understanding of product safety before selling to the public finds common messages, common methods, and common gains whether the focus is cosmetic ingredients or other industrial chemicals.
Learn about a few of the most common toxic ingredients and contaminants to avoid, based on the science linking of each to adverse health impacts, and the types of products they’re found in.
A carcinogen linked to organ toxicity & cancer. You’ll find this in “sudsing” products like shampoo, liquid soaps & bubble bath as well as hair relaxers and more. This won’t be listed on ingredient labels because it is a contaminant that is formed from the reaction of other ingredients when combined. Look for Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, and chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth.
Acrylates are chemicals derived from acrylic acid and are commonly found in artificial nail products like acrylic nails and nail enhancing polishes. Main exposure to these chemicals is through inhalation or skin contact. Health concerns include cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, cellular and neurological damage and irritation. Listed on labels as Ethyl Acrylate (aka Acrylic Acid Ethyl Ester, Ethyl Propenoate, EA); Ethyl Methacrylate: (aka Ethyl Ester, Methacrylic Acid, Ethyl 2-Methyl-2-Propenoate, EMA); Methyl Methacrylate (aka Methacrylate Monomer, Methyl Ester of Methacrylic Acid, Methyl-2-Methyl-2-Propenoate, MMA).
Benzophenone (and related compounds)
Benzophenone, and derivatives of it, such as benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone benzophenone-3 or BP3) are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity. Commonly found in lip balm, nail polish, foundations, sunscreen, fragrance, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, & moisturizers. Listed on labels as: Ingredients containing the word benzophenone, BP# (for example BP2), oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, sulisobenzone sodium.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole & Butylated Hydroxytoluene are preservatives found in lip and hair products, makeup, sunscreen, antiperspirant/deodorant, fragrance/perfumes, and moisturizing creams. Both chemicals are also used as preservatives in food and have been linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicty, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer and irritations. Listed on labels as BHA and BHT.
Carbon Black & Coal Tar
Carbon Black is a dark black powder used as a pigment in eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, nail polish, blush & foundation and is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based products like Coal Tar. Coal Tar is a known carcinogen derived from burning coal, and itself is commonly found in shampoos, soaps, scalp treatments, hair dyes and lotions. Health concerns include cancer & organ system toxicty. Carbon Black can be listed on labels as Carbon Black, D & C No. 2, Acetylene Black, Channel Black, Furnace Black, Lamp Black and Thermal Black. Coal Tar can be listed on labels as Coal Tar Solution, Coal, Tar, Carbo-Cort, Coal Tar Solution USP, Crude Coal Tar, Estar, Impervotar, KC 261, Lavatar, Picis Carbonis, Naphtha, High Solvent Naphtha, Naphtha DIstillate, Benzin B70, Petroleum Benzin.
Ethanolamine compounds are a chemical group made up of amino acids and alocohols. They are mainly used as emulsifiers, fragrance and pH adjusters in products such as shampoos & conditioners, soaps, hair dye, lotion, shaving cream, paraffin/waxes, household cleaning products, ointments, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, foundation, makeup bases, fragrances/perumes, and sunscreens. Many of these compunds have been banned in Eurpoe due to their links cancer. Other concerns include organ system toxicity and environmental bioaccumulation.
You'll see this listed on almost every personal care product inluding sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, lotion, makeup, moisturizers, toners, serums, scrubs & perfumes, but very few actually name the spcific ingredients that make up their "fragrance." While most fragrance chemicals are not disclosed, we do know that some are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive & developmental toxicity, allergies and skin sensitivities. Look on the label for: Fragrance, Perfume, Parfum, aroma.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are often used in shampoos and baby products, but are also found in nail polish, nail & eyelash glues, hair gel, hair smoothing products, baby shampoo, bar soap, body wash, and colored cosmetics. These chemicals are used to help prevent microbes from growing in water based products, but they are linked to cancer and allegic skin reactions. Look on the label for: Formaldehyde, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, Polyoxymethylene Urea, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) & glyoxal.
Homosolate is an organic compound that belongs to a class of chemicals called Salicylates. Salicylates protect skin by absorbing ultravioelt (UV) light. It's most commonly found in sunscreen and skincare products with an SPF. Studies show Homosolate to be an endocrine disruptor and may enhanc the absorbtion of pesticides in the body.
Hydroquinone is most commonly used for it's skin lightening properties, and can be found in cleansers, moisturizers, conditioners, skin lighteners, and nail coating products. Hydroquinone is a known carcingen linked to cancer & organ system toxicity. Synthetic Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) is commonly contaminated with Hydroquinone.
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