Would you apply small amounts of arsenic to your body every day?

A rhetorical question? I'm afraid not.

There's nobody whom we can trust these days. Not the manufacturers and certainly not the government. It's amazing how the health regulators can allow the use of chemicals that are proven to cause birth defects and can even be passed down 3 generations. While the government continues to develop new ways to spy on us, they are neglecting their duty to protect us from the corporations that prey on the trusting, lazy and ill-informed consumer. I was one of those consumers - until yesterday.

I'm embarrassed to say that I always thought that what I use on my skin affects only my skin (and I'd been too lazy to check the ingredients in fine print - I have a headache from reading them!). Actually, it can directly enter the blood stream through the skin, without being filtered by the liver and intestines. In that way it can be worse than swallowing the same amount of it. Also, when we use pressured/aerosol sprays the water particles are smaller than normal and they can be inhaled and enter the blood stream through the lungs. We should be careful what we apply on our skin and eliminate all aerosols.

I checked for harmful ingredients in my toiletries and cosmetic products which I currently use, have used in the past, or have the samples. This is how I categorized them: Products that contain chemicals that may cause cancer, organ failure or cause reproductive problems go into my "fail" list (scroll down for the list of chemicals). The products that pass are not necessarily safe. Many contain chemicals which may cause allergic and some contain unknown ingredients such as "fragrance" (I wouldn't know its contents).

This was what I found:
30% are safe while 70% aren't. On the left are the 20 products which "pass" and on the right are the 49 products in my "fail" list.

Pass: Kiehls rare earth deep pore cleansing masque, The Body Shop seaweed ionic clay mask, The Body Shop Peppermint cooling pumice foot scrub, Estee lauder Take It Away Gentle Cleansing Milk, Estee Lauder Double wear light stay-in place makeup, Kiehls rare earth pore minimising lotion, Lemongrass House fresh handmade spa products rose soap, Goodskin Z-pore instant pore refiner, Loccitane foaming rice cleanser, Loreal eversleek conditioner, Johnsons baby lotion, Johnsons baby oil, Premier dead sea handcream, Marks and spencer china blue powder, GNC vitamin E ointment, Crabtree and evelyn Distillations soothing body lotion, loccitane shea butter vineyard rose, kiehls powerful wrinkle and pore reducing cream, estee lauder idealist pore minimizing skin refinisher, skin and lab dont worry wrinkle

The main reasons why harmful chemicals continue to be used:
- Lack of strong evidence of harmful effects.
- Governing bodies allow certain limits to the percentage of chemicals in products. They determined that under normal usage or usage as directed, it is "safe" to use harmful chemicals. E.g. a chemical may kill you immediately when swallowed but you remain alive when you apply it onto you skin.

But absence of evidence should never be construed as evidence of absence, and how would you like applying small amounts of arsenic to your face every day?

Nevermind the reproductive problems observed in the laboratory such as male fish become female fish after exposure and lab rats giving birth to deformed baby rats; or the observed higher rate of ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder to dust their genital area or apply talc on their pads and tampons (I wonder what gave them the idea to do that!) and traces of the hormone disruptor paraben were found in the breast cancer tumours. These were insufficient to get the authorities ban the harmful chemicals.

And the cosmetic industry has been promoting the use of more and more layers of products per day. Cleanser, toner, moisturizer, serum, primer, BB cream, sunscreen, foundation, powder, colour, mist, etc. The more layers you apply, the more harm you are doing to your body! So although 0.05% harmful content might not sound much but when you're using 10 different types of products? Well, you can do the math. You're killing yourself softly with each application. Sure, those products prevent wrinkles - because consumers won't be living long enough to get them!

There are many more harmful chemicals than these but these are most common ones that I found in the products I have on hand:

PARABEN (Anything with "PARABEN" in it, e.g. METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, BUTYLPARABEN) Parabens are in 50% of the products that I used: shampoo, conditioner, face mask, body wash, air freshener, sunscreen, makeup remover, moisturizer, toner. Parabens is added to the products as a preservative. Parabens have estrogen-like effects and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors. Traces of the hormone disruptor paraben were found in the breast cancer tumours.

These products contain Parabens:
Loreal Everstrong Conditioner, Eucerin Sensitive Skin Lotion, Scentio Goat Milk cream bath, Boots Strawberry & Yoghurt Shampoo, KK Spa Cool Hydration Mask, KK Spa Marine Algae Essence Mask, The Healing Garden zzztherapy sleep well, Crabtree & Evelyn la source Relaxing Body Wash, Crabtree & Evelyn la source hand therapy, Nivea Sun medium protection lotion SPF20, Simple Conditioning Eye Make Up Remover, Molton Brown energising seamoss bath & shower gel, Molton Brown healthy ziao jao hairwash, Molton Brown relaxing yuan zhi bath & shower gel, Welcos Pink Peach Hand Essence, Origins sleep time gel, The Body Shop Moisture Foundation SPF15, The Body Shop Blue Corn Deep Cleansing Mask, Lancome Visionaire Advanced Skin Corrector, Maybelline Volum Express Turbo Boost, Skin & Lab Mont-Blanc Glacial Water Drop, Skin & Lab Glacial Clay facial mask, Skin & Lab Trouble Finish Essence, Skin & Lab Triple Action Essence, Lancome Whiteness Activiting Spot Eraser, Lancome Pre-correcting advanced emulsion, Jericho moisturzing day cream, Loccitance purifying rice toner.

EDTA (Anything with "EDTA" in it, e.g. Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA)
This is found most often in moisturizers. It acts as a penetration enhancer - to allow your skin to absorb the chemicals into the deeper layers of you skin. Studies have found that large oral doses lead to reproductive and developmental effects.
These products contain EDTA:
Summer's eve feminine cleasing wipes, The Body Shop Cranberry Joy Body Polish, Clarins Extra-Firming Night rejuvenating cream, Clarins Multi-active skin renewal serum, Shiseido Sheer and perfect foundation, Shiseido perfect hydrating BB cream SPF 30, Lancome Renergie Multilift, Estee Lauder Cyberwhite Advanced Spot Correcting Essence, Rexona free spirit anti-antiperspirant deodorant, dermalogica dermal clay cleanser, Molton Brown travel-reviving cempaka bath & shower gel, L'occitance purifying rice toner.

Denatured alcohol is a mixture of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) with a denaturing agent. Ethanol is considered broadly toxic and linked to birth defects following excessive oral ingestion. Potential risks from ethanol in personal care products are significantly smaller than the health risks posed by the consumption of alcohol.
These products contain Alcohol Denat.:
Loreal Studioline fix & shine, Loreal Studio Hotcurl, Lancome Renergie Multilift

BHT is used as a preservative and anti-oxidant in cosmetic products. Studies have shown that this chemical can cause cancer and organ failure.

These products contain BHT:
Rexona clear pure crystal anti-antiperspirant, Dior Hydraction Cleansing Oil, Crabtree & Evelyn Aramotherapy Distillations Gentle Cream Body Wash, Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater triple milled soap, Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator.

This chemical is a sunscreen. Studies have demonstrated it to be absorbed by the body and it secreted into urine, and that it may cause cancer.
These products contain B-MDM:
Molton Brown Patchouli & Saffron Body wash.

Limited studies done on this chemical indicate that it may be a carcinogen.

These products contain DEHA:
Clarins Extra-Firming Day Cream (2013 formulation), Clarins double serum complete age control concentrate.

Although this chemical has been proven to be harmful in low doses, this chemical continues to be used in toothpaste for its anti-gingivitis effect.

These products contain Triclosan:
Colgate Total Pro-gum health toothpaste.

This is a solvent and lubricant to give a smooth finish when applied to the skin. Studies have shown tumour formation at moderate doses.

These products contain CYCLOPENTASILOXANE:
La Roche-Posay Soothing proective skincare sunscreen.


David said...


A very good posts on a topic many ignore. Kiehls, Clinique and others you mentioned go the extra research to ensure thier products do not contain allergens or products that might be harmful or even suspicious of causing harm at any dose level.

I'll do some offline research and let you know what I find.


David said...

Yu-Kym, I had time for a more research into the substances discussed in this post.

BHT appears to be controversial in terms of whether is it harmul or beneficial for humans.

From: http://www.wisegeek.org/on-nutrition-labels-what-is-bht.htm#slideshow

The health risks of this food additive are a topic of debate, and further research is clearly needed. Some studies have linked BHT with an increase in tumors and malignant cancers, while others have suggested that it may help to protect the body from free radicals which cause other cancers.

It also seems to have some antimicrobial and antiviral activities, and it has been used in medical research for treating conditions like herpes.

The US Food and Drug Administration still considers BHT to be safe, although consumers who wish to avoid it may want to check their labels carefully.

From: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1071-BHT%20(BUTYLATED%20HYDROXYTOLUENE).aspx?activeIngredientId=1071&activeIngredientName=BHT%20(BUTYLATED%20HYDROXYTOLUENE)

BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a lab-made chemical that is added to foods as a preservative. People also use it as medicine.

BHT is used to treat genital herpes and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Some people apply BHT directly to the skin for cold sores.

How does it work?

BHT is an antioxidant. It may damage the protective outer layer of viral cells. This may keep the viruses from multiplying and/or doing more damage.

It appears that one cannot paint all these substances as completly safe or completly dangerous.

Keep in mind that something to life as water can be ingested in such quantities that one can cause harm or even death from taking to much of what for humans is a substance essential for life.


Yu-Kym said...

The Kiehl's products which I checked do contain allergens but they do not contain any listed hormone disruptors or carcinogens. However, more chemicals are hidden in added fragrances and their contents are not revealed.

US Food and Drug Administration is not a reliable source of information for this purpose. They are ones who allow manufacturers to continue adding known hormone disruptors and carcinogens.

David said...

Yu-Kym, You are opening a can of worms debating the testing efficacy of the USDA.

Some of the substances in this posts are dangerous. However when one looks at how much of some of these substances would have to be ingested to cause harm, the amounts would be impossible to take in within several lifetimes.

European agencies often complain the USDA is to conservative in banning some substances accepted in the Euro zone.

Testing for harmful levels of substances for safety will always be a topic of contention. As I mentioned one can take in so much water, a substance needed for life, that an individual can harm their health.

One could drink so much milk that calcium build ups would occur and cause health problems.

The issue with many substances is what level or concentration of a substance does it take to trigger an event harmful to health. Some substances would require one to literally bath in a harmful substance every day for tens of years for harm to occur.

Arsenic & Mercury were once used in many medicines, these substances are now known to be poisonous and their use carefully controlled.

Even drugs used to treat cancer can be harmful if improperly used, yet millions of people are cancer survivors through careful application of these powerful meds.