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Elements to avoid

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Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Skin care products containing AHA exfoliate the skin to remove wrinkles and expose the younger skin cells beneath. In the process, as outer skin cells are exfoliated, the skin's protective barrier is removed, thus exposing premature skin to environmental damage. Therefore, use of AHA's could make you age much faster and long-term damage may result from their use.


A metallic element used as an ingredient in antiperspirants, antacids and antiseptics. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease and other disorders affecting the nervous system and brain cells. It has recently been associated to breast cancer in women because aluminum blocks the skin pores therefore preventing toxins to be excreted through sweating.

These toxins then go directly to the breasts.

Ammonia (also known as ammonium chloride, ammonium hydroxide, benzalkonium chloride)

An irritant that affects the skin, eyes, and respiratory passages. It is extremely toxic when inhaled in concentrated vapors and repeated exposure may lead to bronchitis and pneumonia, and has been shown to produce skin cancer.


The collagen found in most skin care products is derived from cow hides and ground up chicken feet. Collagen's molecules are too large to penetrate the skin, rendering this ingredient useless. On top of being ineffective, however, collagen forms a layer of film on the skin's surface that may suffocate skin cells.

DEA (also Cocamide DEA, and Lauramide DEA)

Chemical ingredients used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in body care products that foam: bubble bath, body wash, shampoo, soap, and facial cleanser. DEA is readily absorbed through the skin and accumulates in the organs, such as your brain, where it induces chronic toxic effects. A Federal government study says that DEA and DEA-based detergents have been shown to greatly increase the risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney cancer, and the risk rises significantly in children. The FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) has given warnings for their potential danger since 1979. In 1998 the NTP (American National Toxicology Program) seriously condemned their use and characterised them as carcinogens.

DMDM Hydantoin & UREA (Germall PLUS, Germall 115, Germall Imidazolidinyl)

The second widely used preservatives after Parabens. These preservatives release formaldehyde so they are highly toxic and have the same effect as formaldehyde (see Formaldehyde below). They are associated with eczema and contact dermatitis (The American Academy of Dermatology).


According to the Mayo Clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions, and trigger heart palpitations. Other possible side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer. Formaldehyde releasing ingredients are very common in nearly all store brands of skin, body, and hair care, antiperspirants, and nail polish. Irritating, allergy-producing, and carcinogen, it can cause insomnia, coughing, headaches, nausea and skin rashes.


A derivative of crude oil (petroleum). Instead of penetrating the skin, mineral oil forms an oily film over the skin that actually coats the skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the skins natural immune barrier and inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb moisture and nutrition.  It locks in toxins and wastes, and hinders normal skin respiration and keeps oxygen out. This process allow toxins to accumulate which can promote acne, photo sensitivity and other disorders by slowing down skin function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging of the skin. Paraffinium is the main ingredient in many commercial baby care items (because of the low price) although it suffocates the skin leading to rashes and eczema!

Parabens (also known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben)

Preservatives that have a greater than normal potential for causing irritation and allergic reactions. Widely used in personal care products, so can be found in cosmetics ranging from facial products to baby creams. Medical research has proved that the estrogenic effects of parabens on humans is rising the risk of breast cancer in women. It has been blamed for skin and eye allergies. With long term use it may even cause skin melanoma and cancer. Scientists believe that parabens may be absorbed through pregnant women’s skin, where they then may act as an alien female hormone. A male exposed to this hormone as a fetus may develop fertility problems as an adult.

Preservatives (also see parabens)

One of the leading causes of contact dermatitis. Comparing to parabens and other synthetic preservatives, natural preservatives such as grapefruit seed extract, potassium sorbate, sorbic acid, tocopherol (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), are extremely gentle, effective, and seem to be the least irritating and allergenic.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

PG is actually the active component in antifreeze. There is no difference between what is used in industry and what is used in personal care products. Industry uses it to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of), yet it is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shave, deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste... As a surfactant or wetting agent and solvent it is used to maintain moisture in cosmetics. PG’s Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact because PG has systemic consequences, such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities, prevent skin cell growth and cause membrane damage, dehydrate the skin and cause chapping. It is widely used due to it's extremely low cost and there are no warning labels on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that of most industrial applications.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (also Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLS)

Used as a synthetic foaming agent it is a main ingredient in toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, baby shampoo... SLS is well known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant and scalp irritant. It creates scales on the hair, dandruff, prevent hair growth and corrode the hair follicle resulting in hair loss. SLS damage the skin barrier function, induce allergic responses to other toxins and allergens, cause roughness on the skin. It is rapidly absorbed and retained for up to 5 days in the eyes, brain, heart, lungs, and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. In addition to contributing to the formation of possible carcinogens, SLS could retard healing, cause cataracts in adults, and keep children's eyes from developing properly. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing or teeth brushing. The FDA has stated that levels of dioxin formation in products containing SLS are unacceptable. Don't be fooled by products that list SLS as "coconut oil" or "derived from coconuts". SLS is originally derived from coconuts, but coconut oil is NOT SLS and SLS is not coconut oil.

Talc (talcum powder)

Cosmetic talc is carcinogenic. Talc based powder has been linked to ovarian cancer. Found in baby and bath powders, face powders, dry rouges, and foot powders. 

Triclosan (antibacterial)

The latest rage in the arsenal of antibacterial chemicals, triclosan is included in detergents, laundry soaps, hand soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, creams, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It is a chlorinated aromatic, similar in molecular structure and chemical formula to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth: dioxins, PCB’s and Agent Orange. Its manufacturing process may produce dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects. Hormone disruptors pose enormous long-term chronic health risks, because they interfere with the way hormones perform (such as changing genetic material). Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Externally, it can cause skin irritations, and can temporarily deactivate the sensory nerve endings. Employing a strong antibiotic agent such as triclosan for everyday use is of questionable value, as it takes a shotgun approach to killing all microscopic organisms while also destroying the beneficial bacteria in the environment and in our bodies. Using triclosan daily in the home, in products ranging from children’s soaps to toothpaste, may be unwise. Doctors say that washing hands with soap and water is the best preventative, but admit that triclosan in soap is unjustified - plain soap does just as well.


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