The Dirty Truth
We all read the ingredients labels on our food with interest and a greater knowledge than a few years back. But have you ever actually read the ingredients list on the back of your shampoo, conditioner, face wash or bubble bath? Have you ever wondered what exactly all those ingredients are and what they do? Have you ever stopped to think how manufacturers achieve those bright pearlescent colours, the sweet aromas or the miracle results they promise?
Most commercially produced products contain a complex list of chemicals, many with un-pronouceable names and no explanation of their properties or the reasons they are present.
Today, there are over 7000 ingredients available in the manufacture of cosmetics and toiletries and nearly 1000 aromatic or synthetic perfume chemicals.
Of these, 1000 are known to have harmful effects on us. Another 900 known ingredients may have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals during the manufacture of everyday toiletries.
Technically all beauty products are safe, having been approved by the EU but there is an undeniable link between the presence of all these chemicals and the alarming increase of eczema, allergies, skin sensitivities and cancer.
So what are these chemicals?
What do they do?
Why are they there?
What harm are they potentially doing us?
SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS)
or SODIUM LAURETH SULPHATE (SLES)
These are strong detergents and are found in pretty much everything in your bathroom that creates foam. These are the main ingredients found in car wash cleaners, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. There is absolutely no difference between the detergents in your household cleaning products and those you use on your skin. It's simply a matter of concentration.
These are the most dangerous of all ingredients in toiletries. Research has shown that if SLS combine with certain other chemicals used in the manufacture of toiletries, they can produce carcinogens that stay in the body up to 5 days and leaves residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs and brain. This potentially could lead to cancers of all these organs.
SLS and SLES have been connected to skin irritation, diarrhoea, breathing problems, depression and eye damage (especially in small children where SLS has dissolved eye protein and the eyes have not developed properly.)
PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG)
This is a "surfactant" or wetting agent and a solvent and is the active component in anti-freeze. There is absolutely no difference between what you have in your engine radiator and what is in your toiletries. In industry it is used to break down protein and cellular structures, but that's exactly what skin is! This is classed a toxic substance with recorded instances of brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.
POLYTHELENE GLYCOL (PEG)
This is a preservative, surfactant and skin conditioning agent that actually alters and reduces the skin's moisture levels. PEG's increase the appearance of aging, and allows the skin to be more vulnerable to bacteria. It is commonly used in caustic oven cleaners as well as bath and shower products.
DEA (di-enthylolamine), MEA (mono-ethylolamine) and TEA (methylolamine)
Look for names such as Cocamide DEA or MEA or Lauramide DEA. These are hormone disrupters and are known to form cancer causing nitrates in the body. They are almost always found in products that foam.
This is a petroleum derived solvent that alters the structure of other substances. It is also used in anti-freeze. Prolonged contact with Isopropyl will result in dry, split skin, headaches, dizziness, depression and nausea.
PARABENS (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl)
These are all highly toxic preservatives used in most skin care products. They are estrogen-mimics that disrupt hormones. They are known to cause allergic reactions and severe skin rashes.
DMDM Hydantoin and UREA (imidazolidinyl)
These are two of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde. This can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions and trigger heart palpitations. Formaldehyde can also cause dizziness, nausea and trigger asthma, it weakens the immune system and has been linked to cancer.
This is used in many body lotions (baby oil is 100% mineral oil) and coats the skin like a plastic wrap, disrupting the skin's immunity and not allowing the skin to breathe or release toxins. The skin is the largest organ of toxin elimination. Allowing toxins to accumulate results in abnormal cell development, premature skin aging, acne and other skin disorders.
This is not an exhaustive list but works as an introduction to the ingredients in commercial beauty products that may be causing us problems.
For further reading try:
Unreasonable Risk by Dr. Samuel Epstein
Cosmetics Unmasked by Dr. Stephen and Gina Atczak