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Five Cosmetic Ingredients That Might Kill You

Cosmetics are comprised of a wide range on ingredients and despite these ingredients being listed on products, the majority of the time, consumers do not really know what they are putting on their body.  While most products are completely safe, there are a number of ingredients that consumers may want to be wary of.  Below is a list of the top five cosmetic ingredients that often trouble consumer and that you might want to keep an eye out for and avoid.  The jury is actually out on whether these items actually cause cancer or serious health concerns, but several of them are linked to cancer and others can be serious irritants.

Cosmetic Ingredients You Might Wish to Avoid


1.  Parabens

Parabens is the collective name for a group of chemicals called Methylparaben, Propylparaben, IIsoparaben and Butylparaben.  These chemicals are widely used as an inexpensive synthetic preservative in cosmetics such as body and facial moisturizers, cleansers and body washes.  While preservatives are necessary to safety in many cosmetics, Parabens are also known to cause skin rashes and other allergic reactions in some people. Parabens have also been found in association with breast cancer tumors, although there is wide disagreement on whether Parabens in cosmetics actually are a serious cancer concern. In any event, they are found in many cosmetics outside of the natural and organic products areas.

2. Sulfates:

Petroleum derived Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are widely used in industrial cleaners, car wash soaps and engine degreasing products.  They are also extensively used in cosmetics such as shampoos, soaps, toothpastes and cleansers.  These products are known to react with other ingredients and can cause carcinogenic dioxins and nitrates to develop.  This is a major concern because these chemicals are easily absorbed into the body once they have come into contact with the skin.  SLS is the most common of the two used in cosmetics and it is particularly problematic because once it is in your body SLS is known to mimic estrogen and has been linked to breast cancer and reducing male fertility.  Like with Parabens, there is wide disagreement on the actual level of cancer risk.

Sulfates can cause acne and also allergic reactions.  Common complaints include dry scalp, eye irritation, acne and other skin rashes. Sulfates also cause hair color to fade quicker. To avoid sulfates in you hair products, See our list of sulfate free shampoo.

3. Bismuth Oxychloride:

Bismuth Oxychloride, simply referred to as bismuth, is a common by-product of lead and copper ore refining and is slightly radioactive. It is most frequently found in mineral cosmetics designed for the face, lips, eyes and nail.  Unfortunately this product can be highly irritable, causing rashes, allergic reactions, itching and mild or severe acne. Because of this, we recommend seeking out bismuth free mineral makeup.

4. Triethanolamine (TEA), Ethanolamine (ETN) and Diethanolamine (DEA):

These are colorless viscous liquids found widely used in industrial detergents.  They are characterized by strong ammonia-like scent and can be found in cleansing or shaving gels and creams, body wash, shampoos, hair dyes, waterless hand cleaners, bubble baths, facial creams and hand and body lotions.   They are used as foaming agents and to control the pH in cosmetics.  They are known to be toxic to the body after periods of long exposure and have been links to cancer in animal laboratory testing.

5. Propylene Glycol:

In its synthesized form, propylene glycol is commonly used in stain removers, fabric softeners, wallpaper stripper, industrial antifreeze, automatic brakes and hydraulic fluids.  It is used frequently in cosmetics such as shampoo, hair styling products, all types of skin creams and cleansing creams, deodorant, acne treatment, toothpaste, aftershave, mascara and soaps.  It is known to cause a number of skin irritations including hives, eczema, dry skin and eye irritation.  It basically dries the skin from the inside out.  In addition to skin irritations, this chemical has also been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity and infertility.

These are just five examples of some of the many substances in cosmetics that consumers may wish to avoid to minimize their damaging effects on our health.

Want a brand that is generally free of ingredients of concern? Take a look at Korres natural products.

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