Glossary

Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are a common class of chemicals used in many household products and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to improve flexibility, and in cosmetics to bind fragrance to the product. Different types of phthalates include diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), and many others. Global phthalate production is estimated at 11 billion pounds per year. It is thought that of the adverse health effects of phthalates include: Early puberty in girls, Premature delivery, Impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, Genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys, Genital defects and testicular cancer. (Source: Environmental California)

Parabens – Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas. These compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. They are also used as food additives. Animal experiments have shown that parabens have weak estrogenic activity therefore sending up a flag with researchers. In one controversial study parabens were found in breast tumors. This study has fueled the belief that parabens in underarm deodorants or other cosmetics migrated into the breast tissue and contributed to the development of the tumors. The cosmetic industry holds steady that parabens are safe for general population use, but its hormone mimicking properties have proven enough of a “what if” that consumers are opting now for paraben-free products and cosmetics.

Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate – Is found in many beauty products.  Mainly in shampoos and body washes, but also in toothpaste, mouthwash, and detergents to name just a few.  SLS’s are a foaming agent and give shampoos and the like that thick “luxurious” foam that makes it seem like you’re getting cleaner when you’re really not.  SLS’s are also a penetration enhancer, and known skin irritant.   Ick!

1,4 Dioxane – Possible carcinogen. 1,4-Dioxane is primarily used in solvent applications for manufacturing; however, it is also found in fumigants and automotive coolant. Additionally, the chemical is also used as a foaming agent and appears as an accidental byproduct of the ethoxylation process in cosmetics manufacturing. It may contaminate cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes. 1,4-dioxane is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant. It is suspected of causing damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Dioxane is classified by the IARC as a Group 2B carcinogen: possibly carcinogenic to humans due to the fact that it is a known carcinogen in animals. (See also 1, 4-Dioxane in Organic Body Care Products)

Propylene Glycol – Propylene glycol is a thickening/filling agent derived from glycerin and is in everything from store bought hair dyes to many of your natural deodorants. Propylene glycol has been determined as “generally safe for use” by the FDA for both food and cosmetic use, yet it raises your risk of cancer, carries toxins that affect reproduction, is a known allergen and eye irritant and can also be toxic to your immune system.

PEG’s – (also known as Polyethylene Glycol) – Polyethylene glycol is a family of synthetic chemicals that function in cosmetic formulations as surfactants, cleansing agents, emulsifiers, skin conditioners, and humectants. PEG’s are thought to increase cancer risks, including women’s risk of breast cancer. PEG compounds often contain small amounts of ethylene oxide. According to experimental results reported on in the National Toxicology Program’s Eighth Annual Report on Carcinogens, ethylene oxide increases the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer. PEG compounds are routinely contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. (see above) Source: Aubrey Organics Article.

Phenoxyethanol –  used as an anti-bacterial in cosmetics as well as a stabilizer in perfume. The FDA has warned that phenoxyethanol can cause shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. It’s popping up more and more because companies are trying to go paraben-free and using this as an alternative.  Read a better explanation on Truth In Aging or on the Green Beauty Guide blog.  Also find it in the Chemical of the Day blog by Stephanie of Bubble & Bee.

Oxybenzone – Used significantly in sunscreens. Associated with photoallergic reactions. This chemical absorbs through the skin in significant amounts. It contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans according to Centers for Disease Control research. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor which can affect the nervous system, has been linked to cancer in some laboratory studies, and creates free-radicals when exposed to the sun which are harmful.

Toluene – Used mainly in nail polishes and hair dye.  Toluene is not only noxious smelling, but it hosts a whole hot bed of awful issues, such as, developmental and repoductive toxcity, skin and lung irritation and possibly cancer.

Legal: Lovely SafeMama doesn’t present this material as opinion or fact, just as a brief overview of what each item is and where to find definitions.

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