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Ingredients to Avoid

Is a by-product of a petrochemical process called ethyoxylation, which involves using ethylene oxide (a known skin carcinogen) to process other chemicals. For example, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – notoriously harsh on the skin – is often converted to the gentler chemical Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) by processing it with ethylene oxide (the "-eth" denotes ethoxylation), which can result in 1,4-dioxane contamination. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is just one common example. More than 56 cosmetic ingredients are associated with the contaminant 1,4-dioxane.
The following is a list of some of the most commonly used ethoxylated ingredients:
Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
Ammonium laureth sulfate
Triethanolamine laureth sulfate
All ingredients with "eth" in the name e.g. ceteth, oleth, steareth, ceteareth, myreth followed or not by a number
All ingredients with "PEG" in the name e.g. PEG-8, PEG-40 glyceryl cocoate, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil
All ingredients with "oxynol' in the name
All ingredients with "polythylene","polyethyleneglycol" or "polyoxyethylene" in the name
All the Polysorbates
All are synthesised by ethyoxylation and contain the carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane

Here are two links about 1,4-dioxane if you want to read more:

Synthetic Fragrances or Perfume
Your skin, your body's largest organ, absorbs fragrance chemicals by direct application, by contact with fragranced items, and by exposure to air containing fragrances. Today's fragrances make you think they are made from flowers and fragranced products provide constant source of fragrance chemicals that are absorbed by your skin and inhaled as vapours. Did you know that 95% of the chemicals in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum? Some fragrance chemicals can alter the skin's surface tension, which greatly facilitates the absorption of other chemicals into the skin. Fragrances can be skin allergens, irritants and photosensitizers; contact dermatitis can be caused by contact with fragrance materials in the air or on surfaces. Fragrances easily volatilize and linger a long time in the air. They settle and stick to your skin, hair, clothes, furnishings, furniture, food...everything! Fragrance chemicals affect the brain and nervous system, with some effects being immediate and transitory, and other effects being chronic and long lasting. Fragrances can: modify brain blood flow, alter blood pressure, pulse and mood and trigger migraine headaches; musk ambrette, a fragrance used for decades, was found to be neurotoxic. Fragrances can induce or worsen respiratory problems. A majority of known fragrance chemicals are respiratory irritants and some are respiratory sensitizers. Fragrances can trigger asthma in school-age children and asthma is now the leading serious chronic illness among youth. Every year more and more commonly-used chemicals are found to be hormone disrupters, and it is presently unknown what percentage of the hundreds of fragrance chemicals has these properties. Fragrances often contain large amounts of phthalates, a group of toxic chemicals that are known estrogens and testosterone hormone disrupters. Phthalates are used to impart an oily moisturizing film and to help dissolve and fix other ingredients in fragrances.

Here are two links about fragrance or perfume if you want to read more:

Benzoyl Peroxide
Is primarily used in the treatment of acne due to the antibacterial activity that these types of peroxides display. The drug is marketed under a variety of trade names in over 200 formulations. A skin allergen, irritant and toxic by inhalation Canada does not permit in cosmetics intended to be applied to the skin but it is permitted as a catalyst in products to be applied to the fingernails or in hair dyes. It is rated as a high hazard by the Skin Deep Cosmetic database.

Synthetic pigments and colours
May contain heavy metal salts that may leave toxic by-products on the skin. They are a contributor to skin irritations and contact dermatitis. Coal-tar chemicals are found in many "FD&C" or "D&C" colours used in almost all coloured personal care products, makeup and hair dye. FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Green 3 are possible carcinogenic, and impurities in other colours -- D&C Red 33, FD&C Yellow 5 and FD&C Yellow 6 -- have been shown to cause cancer when applied to the skin. Coal tar derivatives are used as a dye base for dark hair colouring.
Coal tar is a known human carcinogen and some substances derived from it that are used in hair colouring have been linked to bladder cancer and non-Hodgkin's' lymphoma.

Mineral Oil
Widely used in creams and lotions, cleansers, moisturizing products, hair products and make-up. A liquid mixture of liquid hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. Interferes with skin's ability to breathe, slows down skin function and cell development. Can cause allergic reactions, dryness and clog pores. Also known as paraffin oil, it is used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!). Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap

Petrolatum -Mineral oil in a gel form;
Causes many problems for photosensitive skin (that is to say it augments damage from the sun). It also tends to interfere with the body's natural moisturizing mechanism leading to dry skin. Any product sold that contains this chemical creates the very conditions that it claims to relieve. Many manufacturers use petrolatum because it is incredibly cheap. Highly comedogenic. Petrolatum is listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union's Dangerous Substances Directive (UNECE 2004), and its use in cosmetics will be banned by September 2004 with the following caveat: “The classification as a carcinogen need not apply if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.”
(methyl-, ethyl-, -propyl- , isopropyl, -butyl, benzylparaben, etc) are the most commonly used synthetic preservatives in many cosmetics. Parabens are used in skin care products because they ensure a long shelf life by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, yeasts and moulds. But they are suspected of posing grave health risks with long term exposure. It is a fact that up to 60 percent of whatever we place on our skin goes into our blood stream. This is where the danger starts. Parabens pose a potential health danger because they are endocrine disruptors—they interfere with the proper functioning of the endocrine system, which controls the production and release of hormones. Parabens mimic oestrogen, and scientists are concerned that this may increase the risk for breast cancer.

Are fat-loving chemicals, so they build up in our fatty tissues. One study looked at twenty breast cancer tumours and found a type of paraben in almost every single one of them (Darbre, P. D., Aljarra, A., Miller, W. R., Coldham, N. G., Sauer, M. J., Pope, G. S. Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours. Journal of Applied Toxicology 24(1): 5-13.) Their tests suggested the chemicals had seeped into the tissue after being applied to the skin. "This is the first study to show their accumulation in human tissues," said Dr Darbre. "It demonstrates that if people are exposed to these chemicals (parabens), then the chemicals will accumulate in their bodies." Dr Darbre said there may be reason for people to be concerned about the findings. "Their detection in human breast tumours is of concern since parabens have been shown to be able to mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen," she said. "Oestrogen can drive the growth of human breast tumours. It would therefore seem especially prudent to consider whether parabens should continue to be used in such a wide range of cosmetics applied to the breast area including deodorants."
Parabens are just one of a large bunch of toxic chemicals that no-one has any idea of what the long term effects are if you use them every day on your skin.

Aluminum Chlorohydrate
Did you know that aluminum can be found in many popular antiperspirant deodorants? Did you know that the link between your deodorant and breast cancer may not be an urban legend? A study was conducted in 2004 by Dr. Kris McGrath, a Chicago allergist who claims to have found a connection between antiperspirants, underarm shaving and cancer. He believes the culprits in these antiperspirants are the toxins in aluminum salts such as Aluminum Chlorohydrate. He says they don’t normally penetrate the skin enough to cause a problem–unless the skin is shaven. If you disrupt the skin by shaving, it can open up the door, because just under the skin is the lymphatic system, which is connected to the breast. In this study, more than 400 Chicago-area breast cancer survivors recalled their lifetime history of using antiperspirants and underarm shaving. He found that women who perform underarm shaving more aggressively had a diagnosis of breast cancer 22 years earlier than the non-users.

Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol:
Petroleum plastics act as surfactants (wetting agents, solvents). EPA considers Propylene Glycol so toxic it requires protective gloves, clothing, goggles and disposal by burying. Because Propylene Glycol penetrates skin so quickly, EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. There is NO warning label on products where concentration is greater than in most industrial applications. Used as a solvent, propylene glycol is probably THE most common ingredient found in personal-care items, such as make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shave, deodorants, mouthwashes, and toothpaste. (Check the labels of your favourite products!!) It is also the active component in antifreeze; and there is no difference between what’s used in industry and what you apply to your skin! Industry uses it to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of); it’s so strong that it can take barnacles off the bottom of boats.
But because it is so inexpensive, it is widely used in very high concentrations in most personal care formulations—even ones from "natural food" stores.

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
Detergents and surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and 90 percent of personal-care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, depression, laboured breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation–even death. SLS may also damage skin’s immune system by causing layers to separate, inflame and age.

Sunscreen chemicals
Avobenzone, Benzophenones, Octylethoxycinnamate, PABA are commonly used ingredients that are known free radical generators and are believed to damage DNA or lead to cancers. Avobenzone is easily absorbed through the epidermis and is still a chemical absorbs ultraviolet radiation energy. Since it cannot destroy this energy, it has to convert the light energy into chemical energy, which is normally released as free radicals. In sunlight, avobenzone degrades and becomes ineffective within about 1 hour. Benzophenone (benzophenone-3 or -4)Scientists discovered that benzophonones, one of the five of six chemicals commonly used in chemical sunscreens studied, seemed to mimic oestrogen and recommended more studies to look at possible long-term effects as a hormone disruptor. Homosalate and Octylmethoxycinnamate (octinoxate) are common sunscreen ingredients. Concern because they have shown estrogenic activity in lab tests - disrupting hormones, affecting development of the brain (particularly the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal system) and reproductive organs in laboratory rats. PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) is though rarely used now in sunscreens, be aware of products that contain the ingredient. Forty percent of the population is sensitive to it, experiencing red, itchy skin.

Physical sunblocks, made with the minerals titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, stay on skin's surface, reflecting UV rays. However, to make them more aesthetically appealing and less opaque, some newer products use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide reduced to microscopic nanoparticles. A nanometer (nm) is about a billionth of a meter-a unit so small that a single human hair is about 80,000 nm in diameter. The nanoparticles are unpredictable - they could penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream, where they may damage cells.
A white-gray mineral powder used especially as a baby powder and in deodorant products. Long term use can produce the same effects as those of asbestos. Besides the consequences of the respiratory system, talc can also affect the reproductive system.

synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient with chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! EPA registers it as a pesticide, posing risks to human health and environment. Classified as a chlorophenol, chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Tufts University School of Medicine says triclosan is capable of forcing emergence of ’super bugs’ it cannot kill. The Canadian Paediatric Society called for parents to stop buying antibacterial products, and instead use soap and water to wash toys, hands or household items.

Oestrogens are commonly found in many products, usually not listed on labels. Health effects include damage to liver/kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in girls and boys.
MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (Diethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
Commonly used in personal care and cosmetics products to adjust the pH balance or formulation is a skin/eye irritant and causes contact dermatitis. Easily absorbed through skin to accumulate in body organs, even the brain. Repeated use resulted in major increases of liver and kidney cancer. May contain nitrosamines, a known carcinogen, or can generate nitrosamines as a by-product of manufacturing and which readily penetrate the skin. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated skin applications . . . of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.
(DEA, DEA-CETYL phosphates, DEA OLETH-3 phosphates, Myristamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, Cocamide MEA, Lauramide MEA, Oleamide DEA, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate) - These chemicals ingredients are used as emulsifiers and foaming bases in the majority of body care products. In spite of the fact the the FDA (The American Food and Drug Administration) has warned the industry of their potential danger since 1979. Furthermore, in 1998 a study by the NTP (American National Toxicology Program) seriously condemned their use and designated them nitrates and nitrosamins, cancer causing elements.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde releasers
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). It causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes). Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (Bronopol), Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc., DMDM Hydantoin, Hydroxymethylglycinate are just some of many preservatives that release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure may irritate the respiratory system, trigger heart palpitations or asthma and aggravate coughs and colds.
(a preservative used in many so-called “natural” skin care products) Enter phenoxyethanol into the Chemical Toxicity Database, and seven entries are listed. A sample of information found on phenoxyethanol includes:

Hazards Identification

  • Harmful if swallowed
  • Causes skin irritation
  • May cause central nervous system depression
  • May cause kidney damage
  • May cause respiratory and digestive tract irritation
  • Target Organs: Kidneys, central nervous system

  • Skin Contact: Severe irritation or burns
  • Eye Contact: Severe irritation or burns
  • Ingestion: May cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • May cause central nervous system depression
  • May cause headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea
  • Advanced stages may cause collapse, unconsciousness
  • May cause coma and possible death due to respiratory failure
  • May cause kidney failure
  • May be harmful if swallowed
  • Lesions may appear in the brain, lungs, liver, meninges and heart
How do you feel about using products that include that ingredient?
Plastic solvent used as an insect repellent. Very irritating to the skin. Cases of death related to DEET usage have been compiled by the American Federal Environment Agency. In December 2004 Health Canada will remove from store shelves any products containing more than 30% of DEET.

Silicone and Silicone
Derived emollients are occlusive - that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to breathe (much like plastic wrap would do.) Recent studies have indicated that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumour promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.

Any chemicals used on sheep will contaminate the lanolin obtained from the wool. The majority of lanolin used in cosmetics is highly contaminated with organo-phosphate pesticides and insecticides.

Seeking out responsible personal care products, like your food choices should be fun. Treat your body as best you can. Using Green Beaver healthy organic certified products is really an easy way to begin the process.