Buying natural and organic personal care products can be difficult. Many products are falsely labeled as 'natural' and 'organic' and the ingredients are called 'naturally derived'. To be sure you are purchasing an organic product make sure it is certified organic by a known certification body. Some products may be organic but are not certified due to the costly process involved in becoming certified, these products will most likely be found in a health food store rather than the supermarket.
A natural and organic approach to health and beauty will not only benefit your skin but also your body. Many of the personal care products on the market today contains synthetic chemicals that are not only known carcinogens, sensitizers and allergens but can also contain heavy metals such as mercury and lead which is highly toxic.
Learn to read the labels and know what to avoid. Below is a list of ten toxic ingredients commonly used in personal care products claiming to be 'natural'
1. Methyl, Propyl, Butyl & Ethyl Paraben — Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Are known to cause allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methyl paraben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals. Highly toxic.
2. Imidazolidinyl Urea & Diazolidinyl Urea — The most common preservatives after parabens. They are well established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115. Neither of the Germall chemicals have a good antifungal, and must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just over 10°. These chemicals are toxic.
3. Petrolatum — A mineral oil jelly that can cause a lot of problems when used on the skin such as photosensitivity (promotes sun damage), and it tends to interfere with the body's own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and chapping. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.
4. Propylene Glycol — Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. Has been known to cause allergic and toxic reactions.
5. PVP/VA Copolymer — A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, wavesets and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons.
6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate — This synthetic substance is used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut."
7. Stearalkonium Chloride — A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic.
8. Synthetic Colors — The synthetic colors used to make a cosmetic "pretty" should be avoided at all costs. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic colors are believed to be cancer-causing agents.
9. Synthetic Fragrances — The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply say "Fragrance." Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation.
10. Triethanolamine — Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
For a full toxic ingredient glossary click here.
Source: Organic Consumers Association
Image: Culture Mag