You are what you eat . . . 

Unfortunately, you are also what you apply to your skin. Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It acts as our protector and filter from the pollutants of the outside world.  At the same time, it allows us to absorb things into our body, for better or for worse, and we begin to see why we should pay close attention to the soaps, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and powders we use on our skin every day. We tend to forget that the things we put on our body have a direct, lasting impact on our health.

Here's a very sobering paragraph that appears on the Cancer Prevention Coalition web site: "Cosmetic ingredients most certainly are absorbed through the skin. Some chemicals may penetrate the skin in significant amounts, especially when left on the skin for long periods, as in the case of facial makeup." But, just a few simple precautions may dramatically minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals.

The average woman uses 12 toiletries every day and applies more than 175 chemical compounds to her body in the process. And men are not off the hook either. When you think of cosmetics, you may think of facial makeup, lipstick, mascara, etc., but the broad definition of cosmetics includes deodorants, hair colorings, shaving creams and soaps, toothpaste, and bath products, including shampoos. Even top name brands for babies and children, including shampoos, baby powders, and bubble baths, are packed full of harmful chemicals.

The Cancer Prevention Coalition offers these cosmetic and body care products safety tips:

  • Choose products that contain the fewest ingredients
  • Handle all products in a way that prevents bacterial contamination
  • Do not leave product containers uncapped
  • Do not share cosmetics and body care products
  • Use applicators – do not apply makeup with your fingers
  • Avoid harmful chemical ingredients (some, but not all, are listed below)

As an ingredient in ingestible products, alcohol may cause body tissues to be more vulnerable to carcinogens. Mouthwashes with an alcohol content of 25 percent or more have been implicated in mouth, tongue, and throat cancers. As a solvent and denaturant (a poisonous substance that changes another substance's natural qualities), alcohol is found in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after-shave lotions, fragrances, and many other cosmetics and personal care products. A petroleum-derived substance, it is also used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac and diluted essential oils. According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, ingestion or inhalation of the vapor may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depressions, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anaesthesia, and coma. The fatal ingested dose is one ounce.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Skin care products containing AHA exfoliate the skin to remove wrinkles and expose the younger skin cells beneath. In the process, as outer skin cells are exfoliated, the skin's protective barrier is removed, thus exposing premature skin to environmental damage. Therefore, use of AHA's could make you age much faster and long-term damage may result from their use.

A metallic element used as an ingredient in antiperspirants, antacids, and antiseptics. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease and other disorders affecting the nervous system and brain cells. It has recently been linked to breast cancer in women.

(also known as ammonium chloride, ammonium hydroxide, benzalkonium chloride)
An irritant that affects the skin, eyes, and respiratory passages. It is extremely toxic when inhaled in concentrated vapors and repeated exposure may lead to bronchitis and pneumonia, and has been shown to produce skin cancer.

Amyl Acetate
A skin irritant and neurotoxin causing central nervous system depression. Found in furniture polish, nail finishes, nail polish remover, and perfume.

(also known as sodium hypochlorite, hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, sodium dichloroixocyanutate, hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid)
A powerful irritant and can be fatal upon inhalation. This toxic chemical causes the most household poisonings in the U.S., and ranks first in industrial injuries and deaths. Exposure to chlorine in tap water, showers, pools, laundry products, cleaning agents, food processing, and sewage systems can contribute to asthma, hay fever, anemia, bronchitis, circulatory collapse, confusion, delirium, diabetes, dizziness, irritation of the eyes, mouth, nose, throat, lung, skin, and stomach; and heart disease, high blood pressure, and nausea. There is growing evidence that chlorinated drinking water causes bladder and rectal cancer. Chlorine and compounds are environmentally damaging, break down slowly in the ecosystem, are stored in the fatty tissue of wildlife, and are a prime cause of atmospheric ozone loss.

(also Cocamide DEA, and Lauramide DEA)
Found in many mainstream cosmetics and toiletries. Repeated skin application induces liver and kidney cancer. Dea is readily absorbed through the skin and accumulates in the organs, such as your brain, where it induces chronic toxic effects. They are almost always in products that foam: bubble bath, body wash, shampoo, soap, and facial cleanser. On the TV show "CBS This Morning", Roberta Baskin said that "It [DEA] is in hundreds of cosmetic products. but it does something more than make soap bubbles. A Federal government study says that DEA and DEA-based detergents have been shown to greatly increase the risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney cancer, and the risk rises significantly in children.

DMDM Hydantoin & UREA
These are just two of many preservatives that release formaldehyde, called “formaldehyde donors”. (see Formaldehyde below)

FD&C Colorants
According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, “....many color pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, and absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body, and death”. In Home Safe Home, author Debra Lynn Dadd says “....colors that can be used in foods, drugs, and cosmetics are made from coal tar. There is a great deal of controversy about their use because animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.”

Normally used as sodium fluoride, monofluorophosphate, or stannous fluoride, which are all derived from hydrofluoric acid. One of the most common ways fluoride is made is by filtering airborne industrial waste given off by fertilizer producers. The fluoride added to water is an unprocessed, industrial waste product from the pollution scrubbers of the phosphate fertilizer industry. A growing body of evidence indicates that water fluoridation is both ineffective and unnecessary. Fluoride is known to cause learning disabilities and tooth and gum problems. Just as fluoride can damage cells in developing teeth, it can damage cells in other organs as well. Fluoride is poisonous to humans. Since the early 1930s, scientists have been aware that too much fluoride can wreak havoc on the human body. Overexposure has been linked to the thickening of bone to the point of spinal fusion, as well as mouth, throat, and bone cancer; emphysema-like respiratory conditions; skin lesions; liver and kidney damage; neurological disorders; and a host of other ailments.

According to the Mayo Clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions, and trigger heart palpitations. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. It can also aggravate coughs and colds, and trigger asthma. Other possible side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer. Formaldehyde releasing ingredients are very common in nearly all store brands of skin, body, and hair care, antiperspirants, and nail polish. Irritating, allergy-producing, and carcinogen, it can cause insomnia, coughing, headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and skin rashes. A common air pollutant, it is also used in permanent press sheets, carpet, mattresses, foam, and plastics.

Fragrance Oils
Artificial fragrances are 95% derived from petrochemicals. The word "fragrance" listed on a label can indicate that as many as 4,000 separate chemicals have been used in the formula. Some, such as methylene chloride, are carcinogenic, and some fragrances contain and release formaldehyde. Symptoms reported to the FDA have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical observation has shown hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.

Glycol Ether
(also known as butyl chloride)
Name for a large group of chemicals. Can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and some are hazardous to the reproductive system. Can damage the kidney, liver, and central nervous system. Can be absorbed quickly through the skin. Found in some household cleaning products, paints, cosmetics, and perfumes.

Toxic. Readily absorbed through the skin. Known to cause convulsions and seizures. Animal carcinogenic. Found in shampoos.

Mineral Oil
A derivative of crude oil (petroleum). Instead of penetrating the skin, mineral oil forms an oily film over the skin that actually coats the skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the skins natural immune barrier and inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb moisture and nutrition.  It locks in toxins and wastes, and hinders normal skin respiration and keeps oxygen out. This process allow toxins to accumulate which can promote acne and other disorders by slowing down skin function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging of the skin. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil.

(also known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben)
Preservatives that have a greater than normal potential for causing irritation and allergic reactions. Reported to be toxic. This group of chemicals in products such as skin care, makeup, and deodorants have been found to have adverse effects when injected under the skin of laboratory animals. Scientists believe that parabens may be absorbed through pregnant women’s skin, where they then may act as an alien female hormone. A male exposed to this hormone as a fetus may develop fertility problems as an adult. Widely used in personal care products including shampoos and cosmetics.

(also see parabens)
One of the leading causes of contact dermatitis. Grapefruit seed extract, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sorbic acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are extremely gentle, effective, and seem to be the least irritating and allergenic preservatives.

Propylene Glycol (PG)
As a surfactant or wetting agent and solvent, PG is actually the active component in antifreeze. There is no difference between what is used in industry and what is used in personal care products. Industry uses it to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of), yet it is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shave, deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, and is even used in food processing. Because of PG’s ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles when working with this toxic substance. PG’s Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact because PG has systemic consequences, such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities, but there are no warning labels on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that of most industrial applications.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
(also Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
Used as a foaming agent, SLS is well known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant and scalp irritant. It is rapidly absorbed and retained for up to 5 days in the eyes, brain, heart, lungs, and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. In addition to contributing to the formation of possible carcinogens, SLS could retard healing, cause cataracts in adults, and keep children's eyes from developing properly. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing or teeth brushing. Clinical studies show that it could cause hair loss when applied to the scalp. Main ingredient in toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, baby shampoo, and more. The FDA has stated that levels of dioxin formation in products containing SLS are unacceptable.
Don't be fooled by products that list SLS as "coconut oil" or "derived from coconuts". SLS is originally derived from coconuts, however, coconut oil is NOT SLS and SLS is not coconut oil.

(talcum powder)
Cosmetic talc is carcinogenic. Talc based powder has been linked to ovarian cancer. Found in baby and bath powders, face powders, dry rouges, and foot powders.  See: Talc

The latest rage in the arsenal of antibacterial chemicals, triclosan is included in detergents, dish soaps, laundry soaps, hand soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, creams, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. In 1998, Americans snatched up $540 million of these products, without proof that they even do what they claim. The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It is a chlorinated aromatic, similar in molecular structure and chemical formula to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth: dioxins,
PCB’s, and Agent Orange. Its manufacturing process may produce dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects in the parts per trillion (one drop in 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Hormone disruptors pose enormous long-term chronic health risks, because they interfere with the way hormones perform (such as changing genetic material, or fostering birth defects). Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Externally, it can cause skin irritations, and can temporarily deactivate the sensory nerve endings. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, convulsions, coma, and even death. Stored in body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys, and lungs, and can cause paralysis, sterility, suppression of immune function, brain hemorrhage, decreased fertility and sexual function, heart problems, and coma. Employing a strong antibiotic agent such as triclosan for everyday use is of questionable value, as it takes a shotgun approach to killing all microscopic organisms while also destroying the beneficial bacteria in the environment and in our bodies. Triclosan is capable of creating ‘superbugs’ that it cannot kill. Experiments have shown that it may not be the all-out germ killer that scientists once thought it was. Using triclosan daily in the home, in products ranging from children’s soaps to toothpaste to ‘germ-free’ cutting boards, may be unwise. Doctors say that washing your hands with soap and water is the best preventative, and some doctors admit that including triclosan in soap is unjustified; plain soap does just as well.

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The information provided in this catalog has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always test a new product on a small patch of skin.  If an irritation develops, discontinue use.
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