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ChemPendium of Chemicals To Avoid Part II

J Henry Fair 2Ph: J.Henry Fair.  Here the damage from a steam plant in North Carolina is shown in a cold scene.

WE LOVE OUR PRODUCTS, but let’s keep them clean. Below are the top 20 chemicals to avoid in your skin care products:

Acrylamide is found in many moisturizers and anti-aging creams. It is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant and a potential human carcinogen.

A chemical salt that minimizes perspiration and is highly absorbent, hence its use in many antiperspirant preparations. However, blocking the sweat glands over time compromises the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. Aluminum is a neurotoxin and has been found in large quantities in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. There are also studies that have linked breast cancer to aluminum accumulation in the body, as it is mainly used on the armpits which are in close to the breasts.

The amine family consists of monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), and triethanolamine (TEA). They are ammonia compounds that serve as pH adjusters, surfactants, emulsifiers and foaming agents in various skin care products. They are known allergens, hormone disruptors and immune and respiratory toxicants. In the presence of nitrates, they can form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in many skincare products. They are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to organ and glandular toxicity.

A petroleum derivative that is used as a colorant in many cosmetic products. It is a known carcinogen, skin allergen and respiratory toxicant. P-phenylenediamine and ‘Cl’ followed by 5 digits are all coal tar variants.

A preservative used in many skincare products that is linked to dermatitis, respiratory complications, chronic fatigue and developmental toxicity. The U.S. National Toxicology Program believes it is “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer.” Look out for formaldehyde-releasing ingredients like DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and hydroxymethylglycinate.

Also appears as ‘parfum’ in ingredient listings as part of a proprietary blend of hundreds of chemicals that may also contain phthalates. These undisclosed ingredients can cause skin irritation, allergies, headaches and allergy symptoms.

Found in many skin lightening formulas and hair dyes. It inhibits the production of melanin and is known to increase exposure to UVA and UVB light. It is a skin irritant and is potentially mutagenic and carcinogenic. Other chemicals names that are synonymous with hydroquinone include: 1,4-benzenediol, dihydroxybenzene, hydroxyphenol and dioxybenzene.

These are widely-used preservatives that are known skin irritants and are used in skin cleansers, soaps, shampoos and moisturizers. Research has associated methylisothiazolinone with neurotoxicity.

A byproduct of the ethyoxylation process in cosmetics manufacturing. Ethoxylated ingredients include sodium laureth sulfate, PEGs and ceteareth. They occur when ethylene oxide is added to sulfates to soften them. 1,4 dioxane is a skin, eye and lung irritant and is a possible human carcinogen.

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