You want natural skin care products, but reading the label can be confusing for anyone but a pharmacist! All-natural products should have easily recognizable ingredients, but many do not. And some claim to be natural, but are not. For example, an ingredients label may list sodium laureth sulfate derived from coconut oil. But when this chemical combines with other ingredients in the product carcinogenic nitrosating agents are created. If you really want to be safe, read labels carefully and "Google" any ingredients you do not recognize, or email or call the company.
Look for labels with easy-to-understand ingredients, not long chemical names, even if they say they come from natural sources. Instead of harsh chemicals on the label, you should find natural ingredients like Eucalyptus Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Sandalwood Extract, Lemon Oil, Apricots, Aloe Vera Gel, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Green Tea. Learn to read the labels on the products you use and choose those that are non-toxic and safe.
Here's a list of a few common skin care chemicals to avoid:
1,4-dioxane: This is a known carcinogen found in many cosmetics as a by-product of other chemical combinations. Products that use Ethoxylated surfactants as foaming agents or emulsifiers often produce 1,4-doixane in the manufacturing process. This chemical is considered toxic if it is inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested.
Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): This is a drying agent used in many cosmetic products. When used directly on skin it strips off the outermost protective layer, exposing the body to bacteria, fungus, molds, and other toxins. It is derived from petroleum and may promote brown spots or premature aging.
Anionic Surfactants: surfactants are used in almost all personal care products that make foam. They are also used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, and as engine degreasers. Common anionic surfactants include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauryl Sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen , TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine, Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, and Disodium Diocetyl Sulfosuccinate. You should avoid all of these chemicals.
Cationic Surfactants: These are surfactants used in hair conditioners for their anti-static properties. However, they are synthetic, irritating to hair follicles, and toxic. Long-term use can make hair dry and brittle. Common cationic surfactants include Stearalkonium chloride, Benzalkonium chloride, Cetrimonium chloride, Cetalkonium chloride, and Lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen.
Chloromethylisothiazolinone and Isothiazolinone: these harmful chemicals can be corrosive to the eyes and skin. Long term use can permanently damage the eyes and cause serious skin burns. They can be fatal if swallowed and damage the lungs if inhaled.
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine): These ingredients are often used in personal care cleansers to adjust their pH (acidity or alkalinity). They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, dryness, and toxicity when used over time. These known carcinogens are already restricted in Europe but they may still be found in the formulas of American and Asian cosmetics.
Diazolidinyl urea and DMDM Hydantoin: These contain formaldehyde, a toxic carcinogen, and can cause dermatitis, burning, irritation of the mucous membranes, inflammation, and watering of the eyes.
Ethoxylated surfactants: These surfactants are commonly used in cosmetic formulas as foaming agents, emulsifiers, and humectants. They may be listed on the ingredient label as "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol." These chemicals form 1,4-dioxane (a known carcinogen) as a byproduct in the manufacturing process.
FD & C Color Pigments: These synthetic colors are made from coal tar. They contain heavy metal salts that leave toxic byproducts on the skin. When tested on animals they cause cancer.
Formaldehyde: This is another cancer causing chemical commonly found in commercial make-up products. It can cause allergic reactions, headaches, and chronic fatigue.
Imidazolidinyl urea: This chemical releases another harmful chemical, formaldehyde, as a byproduct in the manufacturing process. It might be listed under the trade name Germall 115.
Lanolin: This chemical usually looks harmless, and is used in many cosmetic formulas. However, it comes from the wool of sheep and is there contaminated with the pesticide DDT without it is obtained from organic sources.
Mineral Oil: Also called liquid parrafinum, mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum that coats the skin like plastic. It disables the skin's natural ability to purge itself of toxins, slows down cell function and can cause premature aging. Mineral oil can also be found in paraffin wax, paraffin oil and petrolatum.
Nitrosating Agents: Chemicals that cause nitrosamine contamination have been found in laboratory tests to cause cancer. Nitrosamines can be found in the following ingredients: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Cocoyl Sarcosine, DEA compounds, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Formaldehyde, Hydrolysed Animal Protein, Lauryl Sarcosine, MEA compounds, Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, and TEA compounds.
Paraben preservatives (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl): These chemicals are often used in cosmetic formulas to inhibit microbial formation and extend the shelf life of the make-up products. They are commonly used in commercial applications even though they are known to be highly toxic and to cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) compounds: This petroleum product is used in commercial cleaners to break up grease and in spray on oven cleaners. Over time, this chemical can cause premature aging.
Propylene / Butylene Glycol: This chemical is considered so toxic that the EPA mandates that its workers wear protective equipment when handling it. It is a petroleum product that penetrates the skin easily and can cause brain, liver, and kidney malfunctions. This ingredient is often found in stick deodorants.
Rancid Natural Emollients: Creams and other commercial cosmetics made from refined vegetable oils contain harmful transfatty acids. Polyunsaturated oils can also oxidize quickly, causing free-radical damage to the skin and premature aging. They are also missing the essential nutrients, fatty acids, and vitamins that help protect and moisturize the skin.
Silicone derived emollients: these products coat skin like plastic, and disrupt the skin's ability to breathe and release toxins. They can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes and promote the development of tumors. Common silicone derived emollients include Dimethicone, Dimethicone Copolyol, and Cyclomethicone.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES): When combined with other ingredients, they create nitrosating agents and are carcinogenic. Be especially wary of so-called natural products that claim to be derived from coconut oil.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS): These chemicals can alter the immune system and cause damage to the eyes, digestive system, nervous system, lungs, and skin. They are commonly found in foaming personal care products. And may be listed as ingredients on semi-natural products that claim to come from coconut oil.
Stearalkonium Chloride: Originally developed as a fabric softener, this chemical is often found in hair conditioners and creams. They are toxic chemicals that can cause allergic reactions.
Toluene: This chemical can be particularly dangerous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Aspiration can cause chemical pneumonitis, a fatal disorder. It is highly flammable in both liquid and vapor form and it may affect the liver, kidneys, nervous system, and blood. Overexposure can cause fatigue, confusion, headache, dizziness, or numbness. Severe overexposure can cause coma and death. Exposure to toulene can also affect the proper development of a growing fetus.