Most body care and cosmetics companies include highly toxic ingredients in their products. But, more and more companies are touting their products as healthy alternatives to the chemical-laden brands. I randomly selected two products from a popular natural body care and cosmetics company to determine whether there were any nasty chemicals lurking there. Here’s what I found (these toxins are common to many brands of products):
-Five different types of parabens—butyl-, ethyl-, isobutyl-, methyl-, and propyl- parabens. These commonly-used preservatives are known toxins that irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract; and have been linked to many allergic reactions. Doesn’t sound so bad? Keep reading.
-Butylene glycol—this petrochemical-derived substance penetrates the skin, where it can weaken protein and cellular structure. Outside the beauty industry, it is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats, another way in which it is used. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it toxic enough to warrant protective clothing, goggles, and gloves when handling it for industrial uses. Yet it is used in higher concentrations in skin care products. The EPA warns against skin contact that it claims can cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.
-Yellow Dye #5 and Red Dye #4—these synthetic pigments are typically derived from coal-tar and can contain heavy metals. In animal studies, they have been identified as carcinogens.
Learn about the nervous system toxin that is hiding in most cosmetics on page 2.
-Fragrance—This single synthetic ingredient can contain up to 500 chemicals, many of which are derived from petrochemicals. According to an article in the journal, The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, many of these ingredients are “neurotoxins, which have a causal link to central nervous system disorders, headaches, confusion, dizziness, short-term memory loss, anxiety, depression, disorientation, and mood swings.”
-Two types of benzoates—these chemicals are scientifically documented to form benzene in the presence of vitamin C. Benzene has been linked to anemia, mental confusion, fatigue, rapid heart rate, nervous system damage, immune system suppression, and cancer, particularly leukemia.
The lesson: read labels. You might be surprised to learn what’s lurking in your favorite products.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.