The Dirty Dozen

Posted on June 22, 2012

The David Suzuki Foundation May 4 2010

 From shampoos, to soaps, to lotions, to makeup — it’s not uncommon for a single person to use 10 or more personal care products each day. But some of the ingredients in beauty products aren’t that pretty. U.S. researchers found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants.

Here is a list of 12 chemicals you might want to avoid:

 1. BHA or BHT – used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as antioxidants and preservatives. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) BHA is toxic to the immune system and a possible human carcinogen. BHT may be toxic to the skin, lungs, liver, and immune system. Both chemicals can cause allergic reactions, are suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption), and may promote tumour growth.

 2. Coal Tar Dyes – used in hair dyes (Look for p-phenylenediamine or colours identified as “C.I.” followed by a 5-digit number) Phenylenediamine, has been found to be carcinogenic. Coal tar itself is recognized as a human carcinogen and the main concern with coal tar.

 3. DEA – used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy (Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA) DEA (diethanolamine) and DEA compounds irritate the skin and eyes and may be toxic to the immune and nervous systems. DEA compounds can also react with other ingredients in cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.

 4. Dibutyl Phthalate – used mainly in nail products and are also unlisted fragrance ingredients. It can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations, although it is not a mutagen itself. In laboratory experiments, it has been shown to interfere with hormone function (endocrine disruption) causing reproductive and developmental problems.

 5. Formaldehyde-releasing Preservatives – used as preservatives in cosmetics (Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quarternium-15, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate) Formaldehyde is a recognized human carcinogen. They are also toxic to aquatic organisms.

 6. Fragrance or Parfum Fragrance recipes are considered a trade secret, so companies are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals in the list of ingredients. Many of these hidden ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergic attacks, migraines, and chemical-induced nerve irritation in sensitive individuals. Individual fragrance ingredients have been associated with cancer and neurotoxicity.

 7. Parabens – are widely used in cosmetics as a preservative (Look for ingredients ending in “paraben” (e.g., methylparaben)) Suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption).

 8. PEG compounds – are widely used in cream bases in cosmetics (Look also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol)). May harm the nervous system and interfere with human development.

 9. Petrolatum – used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin in a variety of moisturizers A petrochemical, it can be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

 10. Siloxanes – used in cosmetics to soften, smooth, and moisten (Look for cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in “siloxane” (e.g., cyclotetrasiloxane) They are also suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption) and of liver toxicity.

 11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate – used in cosmetics as a cleansing agent and also to make products bubble and foam (Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate). Contaminants may cause cancer.

 12. Triclosan – used mainly in antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers as a preservative and an anti-bacterial agent Is suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption).

 To enjoy the full article and to have access to some of the research, visit the David Suzuki website at: