Friday, 10 May 2013

Theory into practice - Cosmetic chemical ingredients

Below is the beginning of a glossary of chemicals which is published on the toxic beauty website, it lists all the harsh chemicals which beauty products are full of. 

1,4-dioxane (dioxane)

Found in May be an impurity in moisturizer, shampoo, hair colour/bleach, facial cleanser, body wash, styling gel/cream, exfoliants, foundation, acne treatment, lipstick, face mask, eyeshadow, tanning lotions/creams, hairspray, shaving cream, body bar, bubble bath, liquid hand soap, blush, face powder, lip gloss, make-up remover, depilatory, baby wipes, bronzer/highlighter, fragrance, aftersun, mouthwash, body spray, nail treatment, sunscreen.

Purpose 1,4-dioxane is not used as a cosmetic ingredient. It is an accidental by-product of the ethoxylation process used during the manufacture of certain ethoxylated cosmetic ingredients. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, these ingredients are identifiable by the prefix or descriptors, ‘PEG’,‘polyethylene’,‘polyethylene glycol’,‘polyoxyethylene’,‘-eth’ or ‘-oxynol’.

Adverse reactions In studies on rats, mice and guinea pigs, orally administered dioxane resulted in an increased incidence of hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas in mice, tumours of the nasal cavity, liver, subcutaneous tissues and mammary gland and peritoneal mesotheliomas in rats, and tumours of the liver and gall-bladder in guinea pigs. 1,4-dioxane has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Association for Research on Cancer and the US Environmental Protection Agency based on its carcinogenicity in studies on experimental animals. It is readily absorbed by the skin. Acute inhalation of 1,4-dioxane can cause vertigo and eye, nose, throat, skin and lung irritation.


Found in Hair colour.

Purpose Used as an oxidizing base in permanent and semi-permanent hairdye formulations.

Adverse reactions 4-amino-2-nitrophenol caused dose-dependent bladder tumours in male rats and several female rats, and demonstrated DNAdamaging potential in bacterial and mammalian cells. It has also induced tumours of the urinary bladder in male mice. It is banned for use in cosmetics and hair dyes in the EU and in Canada.


Found in Fragrances, nail products. nail products.

Purpose Manufactured by the oxidation of ethyl alcohol and the hydration of acetylene and used in resins, dyes, disinfectants, cosmetics (as a fragrance ingredient), pesticides, varnishes, explosives, some fuel compounds, foods (in flavourings) and pharmaceuticals. It occurs naturally in coffee, ripe fruit, broccoli, mushrooms, onions and fresh bread; also as a result of forest fires, in animal wastes and in insects.

Adverse reactions Acetaldehyde has been linked to asthma,mild irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract in humans, as well as gene mutation and developmental and reproductive abnormalities in experimental animals. It is cited as a possible human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Symptoms of exposure to acetaldehyde include nausea, vomiting, headache, dermatitis and fluid in the lungs. It has a narcotic effect and can cause drowsiness, hallucinations and loss of intelligence.

Acetamide MEA

Found in Shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, hair relaxer, hair colour/bleach, antiperspirant/deodorant, styling gel/cream.

Purpose An amide produced from acetamide and monoethanolamine (MEA) used as a skin and hair conditioning agent, surfactant and humectant in cosmetics.

Adverse reactions Acetamide MEA has been identified as a mild skin irritant in one rabbit study and caused liver cancer when given orally in high doses to experimental animals. Acute exposure has been linked to depression of the central nervous system, lung irritation and hepatic, renal and lung injury along with skin irritation and burns. Acetamide MEA can become contaminated, forming carcinogenic nitrosamines in the presence of nitrosating agents.

Acetic Acid

Found in Conditioner, moisturizer, hair colour/bleach, shaving cream, styling gel/cream, nail treatment, tanning cream/lotion.

Purpose A carboxylic acid used in various topical medical formulations as an antibacterial and antifungal (for instance in products intended to destroy warts and in ear drops); in the manufacture of numerous chemical compounds, pharmaceuticals, plastics, dyes, insecticides, photographic chemicals, vitamins, antibiotics and cosmetics (as a fragrance, pH adjuster and solvent), as well as in textile printing, foods (as a preservative) and as a solvent for gums, resins and oils. Acetic acid occurs naturally in apples, cheese, cocoa, coffee, vinegar and a variety of other food products.

Adverse reactions Acetic acid can cause allergic reactions. There is evidence that it is a respiratory toxicant. Inhaling concentrated vapours can damage the lining of the nose, throat and lungs. In Europe it is classified by the European Commission as a flammable and corrosive substance that can cause severe burns. Direct contact with the skin causes redness, pain and blisters. When administered to mice orally or via injection acetic acid has caused cancer.


Found in Nail polish remover, nail polish, facial cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliant, hairspray, acne treatment.

Purpose An organic solvent, used as a denaturant, solvent and fragrance ingredient in nail polish removers and perfumes, and present in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke and landfill sites. It is also used to make plastic, fibres, drugs and other chemicals. Acetone is present naturally in plants, trees, volcanic gases, as a result of forest fires and in small amounts in the human body (formed when the body uses fat instead of glucose for energy).

Adverse reactions According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, brief exposure via inhalation to medium to high levels of acetone can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, headaches, arrhythmia (palpitations), an elevated pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and menstrual abnormalities in women. If acetone comes into contact with the skin, it may cause irritation and skin dryness and cracking.


Found in Hair colour/bleach, hairspray, mascara, lipstick, body wash, moisturizer, nail polish, sunscreen, lip gloss, exfoliant, styling gel/cream, foundation, concealer, face powder, eyeshadow.

Purpose Acrylates are film-formers, emulsifiers and surfactants. They are added to cosmetic and personal care products to adhere to the skin, hair or nails and generate a continuous film, as well as increasing the product’s spreadability.

Adverse reactions Acrylates used for artificial nail building have been linked to allergic contact dermatitis and have been identified in some studies as occupational sensitizers and skin irritants. Certain acrylates, when inhaled, have been shown to cause occupational asthma and rhinitis. Common acrylates include acrylates copolymer,C10–30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer and polymethyl methacrylate.


Found in Mouthwash,moisturizer, fragrance, facial cleanser, acne treatment, body spray, hand sanitizer.

Purpose The word ‘alcohol’ usually denotes ethanol, a volatile liquid obtained by the fermentation of sugars, starches and other carbohydrates. Ethanol is actually a primary alcohol. We are most familiar with its use in alcoholic beverages, but it is also used for numerous medical and industrial applications as a solvent, and in cosmetics as a solvent, astringent, fragrance ingredient and viscosity-decreasing agent.

Adverse reactions Ethanol can cause skin and eye irritation. Ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting and inebriation. Chronic ingestion can potentially cause liver damage. In animal studies, reactions to ethanol have included reproductive effects, mutation, endocrine disruption and skin irritation. Alcohol is a penetration enhancer (able to modify the structure of the skin, enhancing the absorption of other chemicals).

Alcohol Denat (denatured alcohol, SD40)

Found in Fragrance, acne treatment, hairspray, aftershave, hair colour/bleach, moisturizer, antiperspirant/deodorant, sunscreen.

Purpose Denatured alcohol is ethanol mixed with small amounts of foul tasting chemicals such as methanol (methyl alcohol) and isopropanol to make the mixture toxic and unfit for consumption. It is commonly used in the production of artificial flavourings, perfumes, varnishes, inks, and in cosmetics and pharmaceutical preparations.

Adverse reactions If denatured alcohol comes into contact with the skin it can cause frostbite. High concentrations can cause central nervous system depression and aggravation of bronchitis. It is also a penetration enhancer (able to modify the structure of the skin, enhancing the absorption of other chemicals) and can cause skin irritation and dryness at low doses. (See also Alcohol).


Found in Facial cleanser, toner/astringent, hair colour/bleach, shaving cream, body wash, face mask.

Purpose Synthetic chemicals mainly used to produce alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs),which are non-ionic surfactants that were widely used in household and industrial detergents to make them clean effectively.

Adverse reactions Alkylphenols (such as nonylphenol and octylphenol) are toxic to aquatic organisms and oestrogenic to fish. They can cause skin irritation in humans (which usually clears up once use of the product stops), skin reddening, contact dermatitis and photosensitivity. Low levels have been detected in drinking water in the UK and USA.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

Found in Moisturizer, facial cleanser, toner/astringent, hand cream, aroundeye cream, acne treatment, exfoliant, skin lightener, sunscreen, face mask.

Purpose A group of acids originating from a range of sources, including fruit and milk sugars, which are used in cosmetic products as exfoliants to remove the outer layer of skin. Some AHAs are also used as pH adjusters and emollients. AHAs are used in much higher concentrations by dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons to reduce the signs of ageing and treat skin disorders, in the form of chemical or facial peels.

Adverse reactions Alpha hydroxy acids can increase sensitivity to sunlight because of their ability to remove the protective outer layer of skin when applied topically. They can also cause skin irritation and stinging. Key AHAs incorporated into cosmetic products are: glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, ammonium glycolate, ammonium alpha-hydroxyethanoate, alphahydroxyethanoic acid, among others. AHAs used in peels include: trichloroacetic acid, phenol, resorcinol and salicylic acid. The AHAs used in cosmetics are artificially produced.


Found in Fragrance, deodorant stick, hairspray, shampoo, body bar.

Purpose A volatile component of essential oils, used as a fragrance (in a range of consumer products), antioxidant and flavouring ingredient. It is found in fruits such as grapes, guavas, apricots, plums and nectarines, and manufactured from alpha-pinene.

Adverse reactions Alpha-terpineol mist or vapour is irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. If inhaled, Alpha-terpineol can lead to depression of the central nervous system, hypothermia and respiratory failure. In rabbit studies alpha-terpineol was shown to be moderately irritating to the skin. It has not been safety tested by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel.


Found in Antiperspirant/deodorant, toner/astringent, moisturizer, aftershave, acne treatment.

Purpose Alums are salts of aluminium used as astringents, fire retardants, antibacterial agents in deodorants, food additives and in the production of foamite (used in fire extinguishers for chemical and oil fires). Examples include potassium alum, aluminium sulphate, sodium alum and ammonium alum, which are used in cosmetics for various purposes depending on the compound and as oral care drugs.

Adverse reactions In 1992 the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on 415 ingredients from seven categories of non-prescription drugs because they had not been shown to be safe and effective for their stated use. The list included potassium alum (banned from topical antifungal drug products, skin protectorant drug products and astringent drug products) and ammonium alum (banned from skin protectorant drug products). There is a lack of safety data for alum.

Alumina (aluminium oxide)

Found in Moisturizer, foundation, concealer, sunscreen, toothpaste, exfoliant.

Purpose Naturally present in emery, topaz, amethyst, ruby, sapphire and emerald. It is commercially extracted from ores such as bauxite, cryolite and clays and is used to produce aluminium. It is also used as an abrasive, catalyst, absorbent (in the petroleum industry), filler for coatings, food additive, and in ceramics, glass, electrical insulators and resistors and dental cements. In cosmetics it is used as an abrasive, anti-caking agent, bulking agent and opacifying agent.

Adverse reactions High concentrations of inhaled alumina dust may irritate the respiratory tract. It is also toxic by inhalation.The dry powder can cause skin and mucous membrane inflammation and corrosion. Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal irritation and corrosion, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Occupational exposure can cause lung diseases. (See also Aluminium).


Found in Eyeshadow, nail polish, eye liner, mascara, glitter, bronzer/highlighter, blush, lipstick, concealer. Aluminium salts are used in antiperspirants.

Purpose Aluminium is a silvery-white ductile metal used as a structural material in construction, in automobiles and aircraft, and in the production of metal alloys. Aluminium compounds are used in the production of glass, ceramics, rubber, wood preservatives, pharmaceuticals and waterproofing textiles. They are also used in packaging (foils and cans), water treatment, cooking utensils and a variety of other products. Aluminium powder (made up of fine aluminium particles) is used as a colour additive in face powders, eyeshadow, mascara, blusher, lip gloss, nail polish, facial moisturizers and hair colourings. Aluminium salts are used in antiperspirants. Aluminium is a common element in the earth’s crust and found naturally in soil, air, plants, animal tissues and water.

Adverse reactions Aluminium can cause contact dermatitis. Human exposure to aluminium in the environment (other than occupational exposure) mainly occurs through the ingestion of food and water. Researchers have found that aluminium binds to oestrogen receptors in the breast, mimicking the effects of oestrogens. There is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that aluminium is neurotoxic in experimental animals, and aluminium compounds can be neurotoxic in humans. Aluminium and its salts have been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in some scientific studies. Occupational exposure has also resulted in asthma and lung diseases, as well as impairment of cognitive function where workers were exposed to aluminium fumes. If aluminium particles enter the eye they can damage the cornea. Aluminium has also demonstrated a toxic effect on male and female reproduction. Prolonged used of antiperspirants and deodorants based on aluminium zirconium and zirconium has been linked to the development of underarm granulomas (nodular tissue inflammation).


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