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There are tens of thousands of chemicals in our everyday personal care products, many of which pose serious health threats.  Xenoestrogens, respiratory toxins, neurotoxins.  We do our own independent research on every chemical that we post so you have the latest information available.

Thursday
Jul092009

Cyclohexylamine

Today's Chemical:
Cyclohexylamine

EWG Risk Score:
7

What is it?
Cyclohexlylamine is a buffering agent and corrosion inhibitor used in hair spray. It keeps the hair spray from corroding the metal bottle it's in.

Why is it a risk?
The National Library of Medicine deems cyclohexylamine as a known human immune system toxin and RTECs states that it shows respiratory, gastrointestinal, sense organ, reproductive, brain and nervous system effects at very low doses, especially in products that are airborn (like hairspray). It also caused cell mutations in lab tests and moderate evidence towards skin irritation.

Although it's an anti-corrosive agent on metal, it is corrosive on skin, according to the European Union. The National Library of Medicine HazMap states that it is a skin sensitizer, a dermatoxin, and can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition that disables the blood from processing hemoglobin and oxygen properly. OSHA states that "human subjects exposed to 125 mg using skin patch tests over 48 hours showed a severe reaction. Workers, wearing personal protective equipment, exposed to 4-10 ppm cyclohexylamine showed no ill effects. Cyclohexylamine has been reported to cause human mutation in sperm. Symptoms of exposure are lightheadedness, drowsiness, anxiety and apprehension, nausea, slurred speech, vomiting, and pupillary dilation. "

What type of products is it found in?
Hairspray

Companies that use this chemical:

  • Suave
  • Dove
  • Pantene
  • Rave
  • Finesse
  • ThermaSilk
  • Aqua Net

Steph's Opinion:

I consider this to be a highly dangerous chemical, especially because you're breathing it in as an aeorosol product. In addition to its adverse effects on practically every bodily system, it's highly flammable, and can ignite spontaneously at higher temperatures.

Sources:

http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=701737
http://www.osha.gov/dts/sltc/methods/partial/pv2016/2016.html

Tuesday
Jul072009

FD&C Yellow 5 Aluminum Lake

Today's Chemical:
FD&C Yellow Aluminum Lake

EWG Risk Score:
4

What is it?
This is an artificial color derived from coal tar.

Why is it a risk?
FD& C Yellow Aluminum Lake is known to be a reproductive toxin and hazardous to the nervous system. Also known as tartrazine, it's a suspected cause of asthma, dermatitis, and other allergic and inflammatory responses.

What type of products is it found in?
Eye shadow, blush, nail polish, mascara, lip balm, facial powder, lipstick, lip liner, sunscreens

Companies that use this chemical:
Please review product labels for current ingredient information.

  • MAC
  • Hard Candy
  • Boots
  • Bare Escentuals
  • Revlon
  • Pysicians Formula
  • Max Factor
  • Cover Girl
  • Avon
  • ULTA
  • Almay
  • Bonne Bell
  • Clinique
  • L'Oreal

Steph's Opinion:
Any FD&C color is basically junk food for your skin. Although it's not one of the worst chemicals out there, it's not beneficial in any way. In over 1900 products, it's disheartening to know that so many companies use it needlessly when there are so many other alternatives for coloring that are natural and safe.

Sources:
http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=702443&refurl=%2Fsearchres.php%3Fsearchtype%3Dingredients%26rs_cats2%255B%255D%3Ddevel_repro%253E10%26submit%3DFIND%2BINGREDIENTS%26showmore%3Dingredients%26start%3D0%26order%3Dnproducts%2BDESC%26

http://allergies.about.com/od/specifceliminationdiets/a/tartrazine.htm

 

Thursday
Jul022009

Butyl Benzyl Phthalate

 

Today's Chemical:
Butyl Benzyl Phthalate

EWG Risk Score:
6

What is it?
Butyl Benzyl Phthalate is a plasticizer used in PVC. It's created by combining phthalic acid, benzyl alcohol and n-butanol. In cosmetics it's used as a fragrance.

Why is it a risk?
The state of California and the European Union recognize BBP as a possible human developmental toxin, and the EPA and International Agency for Research on Cancer suspect it as a possible carcinogen. It is bioaccumulative in wildlife, an endocrine disruptor, and a neurotoxin. The EU say it is "dangerous for the environment" and "very toxic to aquatic organisms." They also state that it "may cause harm to the unborn child" and poses a "possible risk of impaired fertility." Animal studies by RTECS showed fetal death in rats, liver toxicity, endocrine toxicity, blood and lymphatic toxicity, and respiratory underdevelopment in rats and rat fetuses exposed to BBP.

What type of products is it found in?

Because companies don't have to disclose the ingredients in "fragrance" it could be in any ingredient with "fragrance" listed on the label, from lotions to baby shampoo. It can be lurking anywhere.

Companies that use this chemical:

Not disclosed. There are no companies that list BBP on their labels, however, anything with "fragrance" can contain this chemical.

There are thousands of companies that use "fragrance" including:

L'Oreal

Pantene

Dove

Kiss My Face

Johnson & Johnson

Sure

Secret

Steph's Opinion:

You always hear about avoiding phthalates--well, this is one of them! To avoid BBP and other phthalates, Be sure to use products that use essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances. Some companies use "phthalate-free" synthetic fragrances, however, they still don't have to disclose their ingredients. And just because a fragrance is phthalate-free doesn't mean that it's safe.

Sources
http://www.mineco.fgov.be/organization_market/competition/press_releases/press_release_04042008_en.pdf
http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=717096&refurl=%2Fsearchres.php%3Fsearchtype%3Dingredients%26rs_cats2%255B%255D%3Ddevel_repro%253E10%26rs_cats2%255B%255D%3Dendo%253E10%26submit%3DFIND%2BINGREDIENTS%26showmore%3Dingredients%26

Monday
Jun292009

Dimethicone

Today's Chemical:

Dimethicone

EWG Risk Score:

3

What is it:

Dimethicone is a silicone product that's used as a skin conditioning agent and emollient.  According to EWG, "Dimethicone is a mixture of fully methylated linear siloxane polymers end blocked with trimethylsiloxy units."  It's also known at "polydimethylsiloxane"

Risk/Safety Info:

According to the MSDS sheet found here, Dimethicone:

  • May bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms
  • May cause eye irritation
  • May cause skin irritation
  • May be harmful if absorbed through the skin.
  • May cause irritation of the digestive tract; harmful if swallowed
  • May cause respiratory tract irritation.  May be harmful if inhaled.
  • Adverse reproductive effects have been reported in animals. 
  • Animal studies have reported the development of tumors. 

Steph's Opinion:
It is unknown if the reproductive effects and tumor growth animal studies are based on external application or ingestion (typically there are ingested in those types of studies).  However, "may be harmful if absorbed through the skin" is a pretty clear clue to avoid this ingredient. 

Sources:

http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=702011&refurl=/product.php?prod_id=49387&&nothanks=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polydimethylsiloxane

http://fscimage.fishersci.com/msds/95130.htm

Saturday
Jun272009

Propylene Glycol

Today's Chemical:
Propylene Glycol

EWG Risk Score:
5

What is it?
A skin conditioning agent, solvent, humectant.

Why is it a risk?
Propylene Glycol, among other things, is a penetration enhancer, meaning it's a carrier for other chemicals, bringing them into your skin and directly to your bloodstream. It's also a suspected immune system toxin, neurotoxin, reproductive toxin, respiratory toxin, and skin toxin.

What type of products is it found in?
Over 7,800 products! Lotions, shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, deodorants, personal lubricants, sunscreens, styling gels, and hair colors.

A few companies that use this chemical:

  • Tom's of Maine
  • Kiss My Face
  • Earth Science
  • Blue Lizard
  • Willow Lake
  • Aveeno
  • Jason
  • Rogaine

Steph's Opinion:
For some reason, a lot of the "natural" brands think that it's okay to use propylene glycol. Despite the fact that it's anti-freeze! Not only is it anti-freeze, but it's used at the airport as de-icing fluid! After my appearance on Studio 5 a few months ago, a pilot wrote in to the station Here's what he said:

Yesterday, during your segment with Bubble and Bee, I had to shake my head when you talked about how some shower body washes contain the chemical propylene glycol. Your guest stated that it is a "penetration enhancer" and that it will go directly to your blood stream. I'm and airline pilot, based out of SLC, and the de-icing fluid that all airlines use to remove snow, frost and ice from their aircraft is mix of heated propylene glycol and water. For us,
the propylene glycol is listed as a hazardous material. If you get it on your skin and don't wash it off, it will irritate the skin, and you will get ill when it is absorbed.

I get so many customers who say that certain commercial deodorants that are supposedly natural cause underarm rashes. I tell them it's most likely the propylene glycol breaking down their skin cells and causing irritation.

Sources: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient.php?ingred06=705315
http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id=57-55-6#hazards