Home > OG info > Cosmetic Toxins we'll help you to avoid

Below you will find a list of the toxins that are commonly found in conventional cosmetics and body care.  
YOU WILL NEVER FIND ANY OF THESE IN A TRILLIUM PRODUCT
 
 The science is well established, daily application of small doses of toxic substances, such as personal care use, has a dramatically harmful effect on our health.
 
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1,4-Dioxane: A carcinogenic contaminant of cosmetic products. Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10
Hazard, which is the highest rating, and cited for Allergy/Immunotoxicity, Carcinogenic Activity, Renal Toxicity, Sense Organ Toxicity, Respiratory Toxicity, Eye Irritant, Reproductive Toxicity and Neuro-toxicity. It is also cited as a Eco-toxin and Persistent Bio-accumlative in Wildlife. It is banned in Canada and the European Union.

Acrylamide: Hazardous air pollutant, possible human carcinogen, may contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products, skin sensitizer, neurotoxin. MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for a 6% acrylamide premix states: “WARNING! HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED, INHALED OR ABSORBED THROUGH SKIN. CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. AFFECTS CENTRAL AND PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS AND REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM. SUSPECT CANCER HAZARD. CONTAINS ACRYLAMIDE WHICH MAY CAUSE CANCER. Risk of cancer depends on level and duration of exposure. POSSIBLE BIRTH DEFECT HAZARD. MAY CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS BASED ON ANIMAL DATA.“  Under Potential Health Effects, it states: “Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects, ” and “Prolonged or repeated exposure through any route may cause muscular weakness, incoordination, skin rashes, excessive sweating of hands and feet, cold hands, peeling of the skin, numbness, abnormal skin or muscle sensations, fatigue, and cause central and peripheral nervous system damage. Suspect cancer hazard. May cause cancer. May affect the reproductive system and act as a teratogen (agent that causes malformations of an embryo or fetus.)”

Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40):  A very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that reduces the dermal moisture and acid mantle, critical for dermal metabolism and immune function. Found in many skin and hair products, fragrance, antibacterial hand washes. May cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia, and coma.  

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)See Anionic Surfactants and Ethoxylated Surfactants

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)See Anionic Surfactants

Anionic Surfactants: Anionic refers to the negative charge of these chemicals. They are frequently contaminated with nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic and remain undisclosed on the label. Synthetic Anionic Surfactants can pose serious health threats. They are used in car washes, as garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers - and in 90% of personal-care products that foam. Anionic Surfactants include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen, TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine, Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate

Benzoates (Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate or parahydroxy benzoate)Used as a preservative in cosmetics.
Implicated in a wide variety of health problems including testicular cancer, cell mutation, and other cancers.

Butylhydroxy (BHA)Synthetic preservative approved for use in food and cosmetics. Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10 Hazard, which is the highest rating, and cited for Allergies/ , Carcinogen, Neurotoxicity,
Endocrine System Disruptor, Reproductive Toxicity and Liver Toxicity. It also cites it as an Ecotoxin and Persistent Bioaccumlative in wildlife.
 
DEA (diethanolamine) & MEA (monoethanolamine)Causes allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair
and skin. Toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. Used to create “foam” in products like shampoo, shaving creams, and bubble bath. See Nitrosating Agents

Dimethylamine: Immune system toxin, liver toxicant, neurotoxin, cardiovascular and blood toxicant, respiratory toxicant.  Frequently found in hair care products and body gels. Prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union.

Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Ethoxylated Surfactants

Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate: See Anionic Surfactants

DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl):  Preservatives that often release formaldehyde
which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue,
dizziness, and loss of sleep. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release
formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include
quaternium-15, DMDM  hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory
results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with these formaldehyde
releasing ingredients.

Ethoxylated surfactants: Widely used in cosmetics as foaming agents, emulsifiers and humectants. On the label, they are identified by the incorporation of  "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol-" into ingredient names. According to the Environmental Working Group, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “1,4-dioxane is generated through  process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. This process creates 1,4-dioxane. For example, sodium laurel sulfate, a chemical that is harsh on the skin, is often converted to the less-harsh chemical sodium laureth sulfate (the “eth” denotes ethoxylation), which can contaminate this ingredient with 1,4-dioxane.” Almost 50% of cosmetics containing ethoxylated surfactants were found to contain 1,4 dioxane.

FD&C Color Pigments: Synthetic colors made from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation.  Animal studies have shown them to be carcinogenic

Formaldehyde:   Used as a cosmetic biocide, denaturant and preservative. It is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). Causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes). Listed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Level 10 Hazard, which is the highest rating. Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM  hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory
results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with this hyper-toxic
ingredient.

Fragrance/ Parfum:  Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many
toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the USA FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics gives fragrance/parfum a High Hazard rating of 8, and cites Allergies/Immunotoxicity and Neurotoxicity.  

Isopropyl Palmitate: A fatty acid from palm oil combined with synthetic alcohol. Industry tests on rabbits indicate the chemical can cause skin irritation and dermatitis. Also shown to be comedogenic (acne promoting.)

Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine: See Anionic Surfactants

Lead Acetate: Color additive, known human reproductive/development toxin, possible human carcinogen. Prohibited in the European Union.  Still found in color cosmetics in the US.

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone: Both cause cosmetic allergies and potentially
dangerous neuro-toxic effects. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cites these preservatives for Allergy/Immunotoxicity and
Neurotoxicity in humans. They are also cited as Ecotoxins and Persistent Bioaccumulatives in wildlife. Both ingredients are
restricted in Canada and Japan.

Nitrosating Agents: Nitrosamine has been determined to form cancer in laboratory animals. There are wide and repeated concerns in the USA and Europe about the contamination of cosmetics products with nitrosamines with the use of the following chemicals:
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
  • Cocoyl Sarcosine
  •  DEA compounds
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrolysed Animal Protein
  • Lauryl Sarcosine
  • MEA compounds
  • Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate 
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
  • TEA compounds


Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben)Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life
of products. Widely used even though studies have shown parabens to be carcinogenic and associated with breast cancer.
Studies have shown that they are weakly estrogenic and can be absorbed by the body through the skin.  Found to cause allergic reactions and topical dermatitis.

Petrolatum/Mineral oil:   Petroleum coats the skin like plastic. It interferes with normal skin metabolism and acid mantle health, resulting in a build-up of toxins, promoting acne and other skin disorders.  Petroleum by-products impair dermal cellular development, resulting in premature aging. Any petroleum by-product may be contaminated with cancer-causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petroleum by-products because they are extremely cheap. Petroleum-derived ingredients include mineral oil, paraffin oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum and liquidum paraffinum.

Phenoxyethanol (also called ethylene glycol monophenyl ether):  Preservative often touted as non-toxic in
“organic and natural” products. Animal studies show it to be toxic, citing damaging effects on the brain and the nervous system at moderate concentrations. Additional studies have shown irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Environmental Protection Agency data sheets state, “chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and reproductive damage in mice.” Phenoxyethanol breaks down to phenol and acetaldehyde, and acetaldehyde converts to acetate. Phenol can dis-able the immune system’s primary response mechanism. It is ironic that phenoxyethanol is used as an anti-bacterial in vaccines.  Restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan and the European Union.

Phthalates: A synthetic chemical used as a plasticizer. Health effects include reproductive system disruptor, endocrine systemdisrupter, skin sensitizer, immune system toxin, kidney toxicant. It has been shown to be dangerous to the environment, toxic to aquatic life. All 289 people in a recent test for body load of chemicals tested positive for phthalates. Phthalates are implicated with low sperm counts and also causing sexual abnormalities and deformities. Prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European
Union since September 2004.

 
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) compounds:  Synthetic petrochemicals used as humectants in moisturizers, thickeners and melting point adjusters.  Also used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease. Potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin's natural moisture factor.  Known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema.  Commonly used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners. See Ethoxylated Surfactants

Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen: See Anionic Surfactants

Propylene Glycol/Butylene Glycol: Used as solvents, humectants and viscosity controlling agents. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. These chemicals are petroleum derivatives that penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Studies show that these ingredients cause skin irritation, particularly on mucous membranes; are immune toxins; and produce positive mutation in mammals (cause cancer.)  

Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc: Toxic formaldehyde releasers that cause skin rashes and allergic reactions.  Dr Epstein reports in his book Unreasonable Risk "Substantive evidence of casual relation to leukaemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other cancers." In March 2009, the Campaign’s report “No More Toxic Tub” presented third-party laboratory results showing that many baby care products are contaminated with this hyper-toxic ingredient. See Nitrosating Agents and Formaldehyde

Silicone/Dimethicone/Dimethicone Copolyol/Cyclomethicone: Silicone and silicone-derived emollients are very long-lasting synthetic occlusives. They coat the skin like a plastic-wrap adhesive, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to “breathe,” thus interfering with normal skin cell metabolism. Recent studies indicate that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumour promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.

Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):  Anionic Detergents and Surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in 90% of personal-care products. Exposure can lead to eye damage, depression,  labored breathing, severe skin irritation, and even death.  Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS and ALS because
proteins are dissolved. SLS and ALS may also damage the skin's immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation "comes from coconut". See Anionic Surfactants, Nitrosating Agents and Ethoxylated Surfactants

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate: See Anionic Surfactants and Nitrosating Agents

Synthetic Fragrances:  Fragrance can indicate the presence of 4,000 ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic.  Symptomsinclude headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration. Can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.

Talc: The National Toxicology Program report found that cosmetic grade talc caused tumors in animals, even though it contained no asbestos-like fibers. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics cites it as an Ecotoxin, Persistent Bioaccumulative in Wildlife and Humans, Respiratory Toxin and Skin Irritant. It is also cited as a source of asbestos contamination.

Triclosan: a synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient is classified as a chlorophenol.  This hormone disrupter can pose enormous long-term chronic health risks by interfering with the way hormones perform, such as changing genetic material, decreasing fertility and sexual function, and fostering birth defects.

TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate & TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate: Anionic surfactants used as pH adjusters, emulsifiers and preservatives. Found in shampoo, body gel, liquid soap, moisturizer, shaving cream, cosmetics and acne treatments, including self-identified “natural” brands. Has been found to form carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds on the skin or in the body after absorption when mixed with nitrosating agents. Potential asthma inducer.
See Anionic Surfactants, Nitrosating Agents and Ethoxylated Surfactants

Titanium Dioxide:  Most personal care products in the marketplace that contain Titanium Dioxide, or Ti02, contain nano- particles. Particles that have been micronized below 120 nanos wide are a danger to health and to the environment. Most nano- particle Titanium Dioxide is 7-15 nanos wide, allowing it to cross the protective blood-brain barrier. Ti02 is a mineral and will never metabolize, and there is no evidence that this ingredient is safe. It is used heavily in self-reported “natural” sun care products. There is no law requiring companies to disclose the use of nano-particles in personal care items and very few companies using nano particles indicate use of these ingredients on their labels. Nano particles are prohibited in Soil Association certified organic products, but have not yet been prohibited by the USDA National Organic Program.

Zinc Oxide: Most personal care products in the marketplace that contain Zinc Oxide, or Zn0, contain nano-particles. Particles that have been micronized below 120 nanos wide are a danger to health and to the environment. Most nano-particle Zinc Oxide is 7-15 nanos allowing it to cross the protective blood-brain barrier. Zn0 is a mineral and will never metabolize, and there is no evidence that this ingredient is safe. It is used heavily in self-reported “natural” sun care products and even more substantially in baby care products. There is no law requiring companies to disclose the use of nano-particles in personal care items, and very few companies using nano particles indicate use of these ingredients on their labels. Nano particles are prohibited in Soil Association certified organic products, but have not yet been prohibited by the USDA National Organic Program.  It is for this reason that we do not yet make a sunprotection product. We have not been able to source a reliably nano free large particle  zinc oxide. 

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