| Cosmetic Counter Intelligence*
8 9 INGREDIENTS THAT YOU WON'T FIND IN OUR PRODUCTS
The cosmetics, hair and skin care industries use over 7,000 ingredients in products derived from natural or synthetic sources. As many as one-in-seven of these have harmful or toxic effects on the skin or body, ranging from minor skin irritation or contact dermatitis to carcinogenic implications. While risk factors appear to be greater with synthetic ingredients, they still exist with certain plant-derived ingredients. We refuse to use any ingredient where credible evidence casts doubt over its safety. This offers an ounce of prevention by excluding potentially harmful substances from our products and your usage. The following is our list of
eight nine ingredients to avoid and our reasoning. Chances are that at least one is among your non-MGA personal care products.
1. PARABENS (METHYL-, PROPYL-, BUTYL- etc.)
This is a group of synthetic preservatives widely used in foods and personal care products, even many that claim to be ‘natural’ or 'organic'. Parabens are used because they are antimicrobial killing a wide range of bacteria and molds that may infect products. Recent research
by Darbre et al links for the first time parabens and their estrogenic properties with human breast cancer tumors. Parabens can also be allergenic and toxic and have also been linked to asthma and eczema.
You can read the Darbre et al full report or a layman's version.
2. SODIUM LAURYL or LAURETH SULFATE (SLS or SLES)
Sodium lauryl sulfate is an inexpensive and potent detergent commonly found in foaming rinse-off products such as facial cleanser, shampoo, shower gel, soft soap, shave cream, dish soap and toothpaste. Its strong degreasing action can irritate and dry the skin, hair and scalp. Sodium laureth sulfate is somewhat milder than Sodium lauryl sulfate yet either used in shampoo can lead to episodes of dandruff or a dry flaky scalp. Used on the skin, they may cause cracking of the epidermis and severe inflammation of the underlying layer. Any product containing SLS or SLES must be thoroughly rinsed off and discontinued if rash or irritation symptoms occur.
3. PETROLATUM (Petroleum Jelly)
This is a heavy oil extracted from petroleum. It is comedogenic, meaning it does not absorb well into the skin, and thus can be pore clogging. This may trigger dermatitis, pimples or even acne. Furthermore petrolatum smothers skin so that it cannot breathe naturally and may cause discoloration of the skin. Frequently used in lip balms for extended durations, petrolatum provides quick moisturization effect while it gradually thins the skin of the lips, which eventually causes chapping and a "lip balm
4. PROPYLENE GLYCOL
An inexpensive substance derived from petroleum, propylene glycol is used as a humectant (moisture retainer), surfactant (spreading agent) and solvent (dissolving agent). In the motor vehicle industry it is used in antifreeze and hydraulic brake fluid! Studies have shown it can penetrate the outermost skin and carry other ingredients into the deeper layers of the epidermis where it often causes allergic and toxic reaction.
5. DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA) or TRIETHANOLAMINE (TEA)
These are synthetic compounds, made from ammonia and ethylene oxide, that are used in many skin lotions, eye gels, moisturizing creams, shaving foams, shampoos and dermatological soaps as emulsifiers or acidity regulators.
DEA and TEA may contain nitrosamines that are potential carcinogens and can also cause severe facial and contact dermatitis.
6. IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA and DIAZOLIDINYL UREA
These are commonly used antibacterial preservatives with poor anti-fungal action so are often combined with parabens for broad-spectrum activity. Both compounds can potentially cause skin sensitization and allergic reaction, especially in those sensitive to formaldehyde because under certain circumstances they can release this colorless and poisonous gas.
7. GSE aka GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT
Some makers of natural products claim that GSE is a natural preservative and use it in their products. However studies have identified the presence of synthetic antimicrobial agents - including methyl paraben - in commercial grapefruit seed extract.
See the FDA report on GSE.
This FDA study found that when pure GSE (ie product free of contaminants) was laboratory tested against commercially available GSE as a preservative for personal care products, pure GSE had little or no natural antimicrobial attributes of its own.
This impartial study documented that commercial GSE preparations contain the synthetic compound benzethonium chloride in significant quantity to act as an antimicrobial agent. And contrary to the manufacturer's claim, this compound is not naturally occurring and it could not have been synthesized from pure GSE itself. Furthermore benzethonium chloride is a suspected carcinogen and is restricted in cosmetic use in Canada and Japan.
Manufacturer's claims about GSE sound too good to be true. This is why MGA has banned the use of GSE in our products since 2007.
8. SILICONE and 'CONES
Do not confuse silicone with silica or silicon. Silicone is a synthetic compound (commonly polydimethylsiloxane) and silicon is sand (commonly silicon dioxide). Variations of silicone include dimethicone, cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane and others, of which have environmental and human persistence and known bioaccumulation problems.
Silicones are commonly used in commercial hair care products to coat hair for extreme shine, and in skin care products to coat the skin and make it feel velvety smooth. We aren't particularly fond of hair that looks like it's plastic. Instead we use active botanical ingredients such as organic shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, macadamia oil and rosehip seed oil that actually condition and repair hair and that are beneficial to the health of our skin.
9. ETHOXYLATED INGREDIENTS: ie PEG-, -ETH COMPOUNDS
Ethoxylated compounds have been processed with ethylene oxide which is a known human carcinogen, neurotoxin and potent skin irritant. The names of these compounds begin with PEG- or end with -eth or it may be in the middle like sodium laureth sulfate and polyethylene. In all cases, traces of ethylene oxide can remain in a product along with byproducts such as 1,4 dioxane.
9a. VEGETABLE EMULSIFYING WAX or EMULSIFYING WAX NF
This is a real sleeper because vegetables are good, right? Something is needed to make a cosmetic emulsion into a stable cream and this is the easiest way to do it. This seemingly innocuous emulsifying wax is primarily a combination of an oil, a PEG- and a polysorbate. PEG-anything is toxic (see #9 above) and polysorbate is a nice name for a polyoxyethylene ester. Despite the name, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax is not a benign or a natural ingredient.