Monday, December 19, 2011

Historical 2002 Exposure Blog Posts from our Original BlogSpot blog – 
October 2002 to December 2002
(previously archived)

14 October 2002

The Debate is Resolved! Finally, The Official USDA definition of the word "Synthetic." In previous days, a manufacturer could confuse and delude people with their own "definition" of the word "natural." Now, the USDA has set the record straight. Click here to view the legal definition

Turn on the Tap and Pour Yourself a Glass of Your Shampoo, Your Body Lotion and Sunscreen. An amazing, must-read, govenrment report by a top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist outlining a major source of chemical pollution in our drinking water. Also, the report details the scientist's deep concern about the serious detrimental health effects of these pollutants. Click here

Drinking Your Shampoo...A Recipe for Drive-by Shootings? An earlier EPA report that discusses the details about the powerful effects of small daily doses of body care chemicals and drugs in our drinking water.
Click here

"The Body Toxic" A journalist writes about the body care chemicals in the drinking water, referencing the EPA reports above. This is an excellent article for your mother or your sister to read. Well-written and easy to understand. A wake-up call!
Read more

Sunscreens in lip balms? Did you know that sunscreen chemical agents were never tested as food additives and yet they are used in many lip balm products that are applied to your lips and children's lips. When your lip balm tube is empty, where did the product go? You ate it!  This is just one of the many reasons that TerrEssentials doesn't use sunscreens in body care products. To learn more about why we don't use sunscreens, keep reading.

Mother Jones and Michael Castleman Reveal How You Get Burned in Their Article "Sunscam." An extremely well-written and convincing article that casts a very dark shadow on the myths about "protective" sunscreens.
Read the expose

Blurring the Link Between Sun exposure and Melanoma. A very interesting article dissecting commonly promoted sun and skin cancer myths and the questionable science that substantiates sun exposure and melanoma links.
Read more

"Ozone depletion is not the cause of the increase in skin cancers." Professor Moan of the Norwegian Cancer Institute made an astounding discovery when researching rising skin cancer rates in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Click here for more information

Be Sure Your Baby Gets Her Daily Dose of Sunscreen...In Your Breastmilk! Many "natural" sunscreen chemicals have now been found to be estrogenic and have been detected in breastmilk and in fish.
Read more

Exposing the Myths About "Safe" Sunscreens

So now you're thinking that the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide might be "safe" sunblocks, right? Isn't that what "natural" personal care products manufacturers have suggested? See below for some interesting information about the photochemical reactions of supposedly "inert" sunscreen agents.

The following excerpt is taken from the book:
"Sunscreen Photobiology--Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Aspects" by Francis Gasparro (Springer-Verlag Publishing)

"Zinc oxide has been used for years as an ingredient of many skin ointments and titanium dioxide is a standard ingredient of many paints, attractive because of its great opacity and low price. Both of these, and especially titanium dioxide, are nowly widely used as sunscreens, and are sometimes marketed as "nonchemical materials," implying a high degree of safety. However, both compounds are semi-conductors which can absorb light and generate reactive species from its energy.

'Illumination of titanium dioxide suspensions with sunlight can degrade organic materials and purify drinking water, while illumination with short wave UV kills human cells. This work shows that the distinction between organic, 'chemical' sunscreens and inorganic, 'physical' sunscreens, attractive though it may be to those who market them, is not based on any significant difference. Both varieties have the potential to produce reactive species that can attack biological materials (human skin cells) when they are exposed to normal sunlight.

'In sunscreens, titanium dioxide is usually used as 'micronized' particles in the size range of 20-50 microns for very good cosmetic reasons. Such particles are small compared with the wavelength of the incident of light and so they scatter it (the light) according to Rayleigh's law, which states that the intensity of the scattered light in inversely proportional to the fourth power of the wavelength. Consequently, micronized particles do not scatter visible light and are virtually invisible on the skin. However, they still absorb UVB and UVA, and absorption can be followed by the generation of hydroxyl radicals.

'...even though titanium dioxide is virtually insoluble in water, there are suggestions from biopsies of clinical material followed by energy dispersive X-ray analysis or electron probe microanalysis that it can pass through the skin. The findings are far from conclusive and the possible route of entry is not at all clear, but it may not be safe to assume that titamium dioxide cannot enter skin. Zinc oxide has a small but finite solubility in water, and there is some evidence from direct analysis of zinc content and from autoradiographic studies using Zinc oxide that it may be able to pass through rabbit skin into the dermis and below, probably through hair follicles. This whole question of permeability of human skin to inorganic sunscreens need to be examined carefully, with methods that are sensitive enough to detect the very low levels that are relevant to DNA damage. What is established is that particles of titanium dioxide as large as 220 nm can enter human cells in culture, and so it seems entirely plausible that if titanium dioxide does pass through skin it could enter cells under the skin (carrying with it the absorbed UVA and UVB radiation and hydroxyl radicals)."

Chemical Sunscreens Used in "natural" and "organic" Body Care Products:

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)
Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate)
Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
Digalloyl trioleate
Menthyl anthranilate
Avobenzone [butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789]

Now for 2 last nuggets that, question the myth of an "inert" titanium dioxide:

nugget 1:

Excerpts from the article: "Sun City also rises in Fort Myers" by Judy Stark for the St. Petersburg Times, July 14, 2001

Welcome the self-cleaning window

Put down that squeegee and spray bottle of window cleaner, and make way for self-cleaning windows. By year's end, American consumers will be able to buy window glass that cleans itself, produced by Pilkington, a British glassmaker.

Typically, when water hits glass, it beads up and runs off, and the dust particles in the rainwater or on the windowpane leave streaks or spots. Pilkington's glass has a permanent coating of titanium dioxide, which attracts water and makes it run down the glass in a continuous sheet, pushing dirt particles off and diffusing dust across the window, rather than clumping it together in droplets.

In sunny weather, once the titanium oxide is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, it also acts as a catalyst that breaks down organic dirt into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Homeowners could watch smudges slowly disappear. The self-cleaning function works only on the outside of the windows because it requires the sheeting action of rain to wash away the dirt.

nugget 2:

According to a Press Release from the Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), The Mesoporous Ceramics Research Group, working at the Ceramics Research Institute of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), has succeeded in developing a new tooth-bleaching agent, the first of its kind, using a titanium dioxide photocatalyst.

The bleaching agent, consisting mainly of titanium dioxide photocatalyst and low concentration (3.5%) hydrogen peroxide, was applied to the surface of the tooth, which was then irradiated for several minutes with violet light of 400 nm. The commonly used titanium dioxide only reacts to ultraviolet light of wavelength 380 nm or less, but the whitening agent developed at AIST reacts to visible light in the vicinity of 400 nm.

If the titanium dioxide can cause biological material on windows to degrade and can bleach teeth, think about what it is doing to human skin when topically applied in sunscreen products?

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Learn the truth about synthetic detergents, "soaps," fatty acids, preservatives, fragrances, foam boosters, thickeners and color cosmetics and the hush-hush secrets "natural" personal care manufacturers don't want you to find out about.

Following is an excerpt from an article in the September 2002 issue of Happi (Household and Personal Products Industry)--a chemical industry trade journal "Cosmetic Product Preservation" by Jabbar Mufti:

"Typical preservatives used in the cosmetic industry include methyl paraben, ethyl paraben and propyl paraben and their derivatives. They disable enzyme activity in the bacterial wall to prevent fungal contamination. This action continues when the product is on the skin and may be absorbed into the skin tissue, taken up by the blood stream and ultimately reside in the major organs. The preservative action is so stable, it continues to work while inside the body, limiting the normal enzyme activity of the body.

'How do we know this? Autopsies performed on cancerous tumours have shown residues of methyl-, ethyl- and propyl parabens. "

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Read Your Body Care Labels and Scrutinize Those "Natural" Ingredients Now!
Methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl- Parabens have been found to be estrogenic. Scientists are worried about skin absorption of these chemicals. Click here for more information

Study Shows Some Grapefruit Seed Extracts Found to Contain Chemical Preservatives: Benzethonium and/or Triclosan and/or Methyl Paraben. Grapefruit seed extracts are synthetic (according to the USDA National Organic Program [NOP]) quaternary ammonium compounds and are NOT permitted in organic products. Recent studies question the preservative claims for this ingredient. Click here for more

Still more about grapefruit seed extracts...
Read more

And yet still more about grapefruit seed extracts
learn about this ingredient

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More worrisome ingredients in "natural" and "organic" personal care products. 

FDA Report: Diethanolamine and Cosmetic Products
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) completed a study in 1998 that found an association between the topical application of diethanolamine (DEA) and certain DEA-related ingredients and cancer in laboratory animals.
Click here to view the entire Fact Sheet

Synthetic detergents/surfactants washed down the drain every day don't ever go away--they accumulate! Scientists in the UK are worried about the oestregenic effects of detergents in the water. Is your "natural" or "organic" shampoo, body wash or bubble bath detergent on the list? Read more

Did you know that True Soap occurs in nature? Did you know that soap has been known to humans and used by humans for more than a thousand years? Synthetic detergents -- surfactants -- do not occur in nature and, despite claims of "biodegradeability" and "mildness" are proving to have serious detrimental environmental and health effects. Why use them at all?

Synthetic olefin sulfonate detergent is NOT approved for use in any eco-labeled products. The Scandinavian countries are known and respected world-wide for their environmental policies and the protection of their citizens. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservancy has published its list of approved and not approved surfactants. True soaps (castile types) of all types topped the list as being the number one, environmentally-friendly surfactant. Why is olefin sulfonate in products labeled as "natural" and "organic?" Click here to check your labels to see how your products stack up

Eczema rise is blamed on bath gels Synthetic detergents found in "natural" products can cause skin problems.
Read more

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A collection of information about Cocamidopropyl Betaine, a foam-boosting surfactant additive.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB)

A number of studies in both animals and humans have been conducted by the manufacturers of products containing cocamidopropyl betaine in concentrations as high as 50% of full strength (which isconsidered to be 30% activity). Results of these studies have been voluntarily submitted to the CTFA and reviewed by the CIR (Cosmetics Ingredients Review) panel.

The following information (studies and conclusions) used to compile this health hazard review was adapted from the published materials of the CIR panel, unless otherwise cited. Summary CAPB, primarily used in hair shampoos but also in formulations used as hair conditioners, hairdyes and colors, bath soaps/detergents, skin cleansing preparations, and bubble baths, is reported as a potentially irritating substance. Concentrations of CAPB in these formulations range from 0.1 to 50% (expressed as a percent dilution of commercially supplied CAPB that is 30% active).

CAPB does not appear to have undergone any studies of reproductive or developmental toxicity or neurotoxicity or chronic studies of systemic effects. The single carcinogenicity study employed CAPB in a formulation. Without any remarkable response, its results suggest that CAPB does not increase systemic tumors above background, but are not enough to be conclusive. Although no dermal subchronic toxicity testing appears to have been performed, results of a 28-day oral test suggest a CAPB potential for irritation, which is consistent with outcomes from a collection of patch and ocular animal tests.

Absorption/Metabolism--No studies were found on the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of CAPB. It is unclear whether the amide bond of CAPB can be hydrolyzed to yield the fatty acids and 3-aminopropylbetaine. No metabolism data are available on the latter compound.

Acute Toxicity--Humans--No studies have been located discussing acute effects of CAPB in humans by any route of administration.

In a 28-day gavage (forced-feeding) short-term study in rats, with full-strength solution (30% CAPB), treatment-induced lesions were produced in the nonglandular portion of the stomach in the high-dose group but no tin the low-dose group. No other studies discussing subchronic effects of CAPB in humans or animals have been located.

Neurotoxicity--No studies have been located discussing neurotoxic effects of CAPB in humans or animals.

Developmental/Reproductive Toxicity--No studies have been located discussing reproductive or developmental effects of CAPB inhumans or animals.

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"Organic" Water in Your Shampoo? The USDA National Organic Program bans water from calculation of ingredients for organic foods. Water is not organic as it is not a living growing thing.  Water is allowed in organic products, but it is not permitted to be counted as an "organic" ingredient in organic products. Read the exclusion for yourself. Read more 

(Salt is also not an organic ingredient as it is not a living/growing thing.  Salt is permitted in organic foods, however, but it is excluded from the calculations of organic ingredients in a certified organic product.)

Natural Fragrance--An Alluring, Yet Vague Description of a Chemical Soup. Is It In Your Skin Care Products? Just a little whiff of that fruity lotion might be cause for concern. Read this eye-opening report on the hazards of chemical fragrances. Click here for more

Make-up kit holds hidden danger of cancer Are you still wearing make-up? Here are some good reasons for you to finally stop buying color cosmetics. Read more

Review a patent for the oleochemical PEG 30 Glycerol Cocoate. Does this sound like a "natural" ingredient.that you would want to eat? Read more

Now that you've learned about glycerol cocoate, would you like to learn about Ethylene Glycol?
Click here to become informed about this hazardous chemical

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And now some "lite" reading about synthetic carbomer thickeners...Collected tidbits from various websites:


Products for pharma and cosmetics industry for various gel formulations such as viscosity or thickening agents. For pharmaceutical industry, it can be used in oral liquid, suspension, tropical gel, lotion and ointment. For cosmetic industry, it can be used in all personal care products such as shampoo, hair styling gels, moisturizers, body washes, perfume, shaving cream, nail polish, sun screen lotion, various creams, toothpaste. Their range are synthetic high molecular weight crosslinked polymers of acrylic acid, which conform to USP/NF, specifications as " CARBOMER"

Excellent thickening efficiency at high viscosity and sparkling clear transparency is possible in aqueous or hydroalcoholic solutions suitable for use in cosmetics and topical application :

- Tooth Paste
- Shampoos
- Cleansing cream
- Skin Freshener
- Hair, Skin and Moisturizing Creams
- Shaving and Sunscreen Creams
- After Shave Lotions.

Carbomer products (carbomer is the generic name for Carbopol polymers), are linear polyacrylates and crosslinked polyacrylates.

**Recently the EP (European Pharmacopeia) has revised their carbomer monograph to limit the benzene content to 2ppm. Furthermore, the FDA has adopted guidelines limiting the benzene level in new formulations to 2 ppm.**

U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration

**Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is produced by the burning of natural products. It is also a component of products derived from coal and petroleum. It is found in gasoline and other fuels, and is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals.**

Research has shown benzene to be a **carcinogen (cancer causing)**. With exposures from less than 5 years to more than 30 years, individuals have developed, and died from, leukemia. Long-term exposure may affect bone marrow and blood production.

**Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death.** The current permissible exposure level is 1 part per million (ppm) in air for an 8 hour average with a short-term exposure limit of 5 ppm.  

**Benzene can also be absorbed through the skin.**

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17 October 2002

This just in...toxic cosmetic and body care chemicals expose!

Boston Globe -- 16 October 2002:

Scent of trouble surrounds cosmetics--Women shun products with chemical linked to birth defects read the story!

Environmental groups collaborated to study toxic chemicals in commonly used body care products found in department stores, drug stores and discount stores--but they made a serious omission--they forgot to examine body care products in health food stores! The amounts of toxic chemicals found in the products tested were disturbingly high. The manufacture, sale and use of these products affects all of us. People are spraying these products into our air and washing them into our drinking water. More evidence to invest in chemical-free and True Organic products!

From In May 2002 a coalition of environmental and public health organizations contracted with a major national laboratory to test 72 name-brand, off-the-shelf beauty products for the presence of phthalates, a large family of industrial chemicals linked to permanent birth defects in the male reproductive system. The laboratory found phthalates in nearly three-quarters of the products tested (52 of 72 products, Table 1), including nine of 14 deodorants, all 17 fragrances tested, six of seven hair gels, four of seven mousses, 14 of 18 hair sprays, and two of nine hand and body lotions (Table 2), in concentrations ranging from trace amounts to nearly three percent of the product formulation. read the report!

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The Natural Products Industry is Not Really interested in Being Truly Natural

At a natural products industry meeting in 2002 that included personal care product manufacturers, retailers, distributors and ingredient suppliers, a competing manufacturer of personal care products accused me of being an "elitist" when I expressed my concerns about companies using synthetic chemicals in body care products -- especially those using the word organic or organics in their company and/or product names.

For a brief moment in that meeting, after that derogatory comment was made, I felt vastly outnumbered and very alone. But now, back in the natural world, I am revitalized because I know that a growing part of the population shares my concerns. Are you concerned about chemicals? You're not alone! Continue to read our web site articles, blog and newsletter to learn more about the simple things that you can do to protect yourself and your family every day.

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Some companies use true organic essentials oils in their products. Other companies, looking to cut corners and make more money (at your expense), use synthetics of petrochemical origin.

There is a technical analysis process called "head space technology" where natural plants oils are analyzed by a unique gas chromatograph system that calculates a chemical recipe for companies to make synthetic versions of essential oils from petrochemical sources. In the personal care industry these synthetics are identified as "nature identicals" or "natural fragrance." Beware!

Another example of cutting corners is the use of the synthetic chemical azulene in place of true organic essential oil of blue chamomile. Blue chamomile essential oil has a delightful. sweet aroma, tremendous holistic properties and a lovely and strong blue color; however, when it comes down to making money, blue chamomile is costly, azulene is cheap.

Take a look at the following link on azulene synthesis to decide if you would prefer to use blue chamomile essential oil instead of a non-sustainable synthetic Click here

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18 October 2002

Now that we've gotten you through your Intro to Body Care Ingredients crash course, let's explore some additional synthetic cosmetic ingredients. The safety issues surrounding certain ingredients aren't always black and white.

We're different from most other personal care product companies.  Our primary goal in formulating the certified organic products that we use and love is that all of our ingredients must be traditional botanical herbs and oils, beeswax, distilled water or clays/minerals, and those ingredients should also have a long history of human use. Secondly, the processing/manufacturing of ingredients should be of low environmental impact and be an approved certified organic process. If it meets these criteria, then it stands to reason that the ingredient will be healthy for people, pets, wildlife and the planet, too.

There is an excellent reference book, a chemical dictionary, that professional label readers, who may have had some chemistry courses in their high school or college days, would appreciate and that we highly recommend. The book "Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary" by Richard S. Lewis is definitely a good investment to every concerned organic-minded individual or the committed environmentalist.

Stay with us as we cover a few additional categories of ingredients/issues.  Our ultimate goal is to help you develop your ingredient recognition skills so that you'll have the background to be a confident label reader. We'd like to make it real difficult for trickster companies to pull the wool over your eyes!

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Dimethicone A lot of companies like to use this synthetic for it's "slippery" feel in body care products and because it's cheap. We have seen many times in print, that this ingredient is "derived from sand." Well...not exactly. It can originate from silicon crystals (of synthetic or natural origin) that are reacted with methyl chloride. Methyl chloride is created via the chlorination of methane or through a reaction of hydrochloric acid on methanol. No matter which way you slice it, methyl chloride doesn't look like a good environmental ingredient.

Many people purchase products with the following ingredients listed on the labels: "fatty acid--derived from coconut" or "coconut fatty acids," "fatty or cetyl alcohol--from coconut." These ingredients are found in premium-priced products labeled as "natural" and "organic." Folks often assume (because they get confused by the phrase "fatty acid"--it sounds a lot like "essential fatty acid") that these materials are just like the coconut oil that is used in their favorite Thai foods or in pina coladas. It is a mistake to view these materials in that way. All of the materials above belong to a class of synthetics known as oleochemicals. Oleochemicals are not cold-pressed certified organic vegetable oils. They are conventionally-grown oils that are processed via many different methods for many commercial/industrial uses and, in the industrial processing, are split into various fractions or new materials using combinations of high temperatures and pressure, and numerous chemical agents and toxic catalysts. It is important to note that the vast majority of these processing methods are not permitted in the processing of organic food according to the USDA's National Organic Program. To see an interesting diagram of conventional oleochemical processing technology click here.

To learn more about oleochemicals used in cosmetics, their environmental impact, potential health effects, why and how they are used and more about their processing, continue reading...

Trans Isomers

Most well-educated people today do not eat hydrogenated fats. Thanks to the media and the healthy food watchdogs, just about everybody is aware of trans fatty acids and knows that they have been associated with free radical formation, cholesterol issues and arterial blockages. Trans fats can be found in many different oleochemicals. Depending upon how they were processed, fatty acids, fatty alcohols and partially-hydrogenated oils are examples of oleochemicals that might have trans isomer content.

Why are oleochemicals used so frequently in personal care products? They are used because they benefit manufacturers greatly--financially and in formulating. Generally, vegetable (or petrochemical) oils, can be split into different oleochemical fractions. Essentially, the oil and wax molecules of a single oil are separated in an intensive manufacturing process. What the personal care manufacturer typically wants is just the waxy part of the oil. Simplistically-speaking, when the oil portion is split and removed, the waxy part is left and, without an oil molecule to oxidize and go rancid, the shelf life has been increased dramatically--from 12-18 months to 36-48 months to..forever! The part that remains is "waxy" in feel, without an oily, greasy feel. These split oil fractions also more appealing because oleochemicals are much less expensive than cold-pressed and certified organic vegetable/plant oils like cocoa butter, sunflower or olive or coconut oils.

Oleochemicals are used in just about every type of personal care product and are used, in one form or another, by virtually every manufacturer.  Oleochemical-containing products are sold in department stores, health food stores, spas, drug stores, etc. These waxy agents are used in skin creams, body lotion, hair conditioners, lip balms, etc. They're also used as the main ingredient in facial cleansers (detergent-based products that are slyly-labeled as "soap-free" or "oil-free") or as the base of synthetic shampoo detergents or "soaps."

Following are descriptions of just two of the many processing methods employed to manufacture oleochemicals (according to the web site

Method one: "triglycerides are hydrolyzed (perhaps with a reactive synthetic genetically-modified enzyme or a strong, caustic acid?) to breakup into fatty acids and glycerol by a reaction termed as fat splitting. This output has to be distilled to produce fatty acids. Fatty acids of different chain lengths can be obtained by passing them through a series of evaporators to get various grades of glycerol and glycerine."

Method two: "the other process involves alcoholysis using excess glycerol or methanol in the presence of catalysts to attain glycerates and esters, which are converted into alcohol."

According to Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, methanol is the 22nd highest-volume chemical produced in the USA. It is hazardous. Toxic by ingestion and can cause blindness.

So what's the problem with oleochemicals? For one thing, the processing/manufacturing of oleochemicals often incorporates the use of toxic chemicals and catalysts that are harmful to humans and the environment and, secondly, the trans fatty acids in the final product have the potential to generate free radicals. (Then there's the issue of the tax dollars spent on the regulatory oversight of chemical factories and the maintenance of EPA Toxic Release Inventory Lists.)

According to the article "Trans Isomers in Cosmetics" in Soap & Cosmetics magazine (May 2001) by James Brown and Robert Kleiman "Trans fatty acids have been implicated in the inhibition of and desaturation of polyunsaturated fatty acids; i.e., the metabolic pathway to prostaglandin formation. Prostaglandins are important mediators of skin metabolism. Topical introduction of trans fatty acids may disrupt normal prostaglandin formation." The article goes on to say that "Trans isomers of lipid (oil) materials occur infrequently in nature. Non-natural trans isomers are usually formed when lipid materials are subjected to various chemical transformations such as partial hydrogenation, oxidation, transisomerization, or certain enzymatic reactions."

Brown and Kleiman also state that "The CTFA (Cosmetic, Toiletries & Fragrance Association) List of Japanese Cosmetic Ingredients, 4th edition (1999) lists seven "Partially Hydrogenated" product categories. These are Horse oil, Jojoba oil, Methyl abietate, Palm oil, Fatty acid, Perilla oil, Squalane and Tallow acid. Where (INCI) names have been assigned for these lipids in the USA, those names do NOT include a "Partially Hydrogenated" category. The CTFA includes a listing for "Jojoba Butter" a transisomerized (synthetically-processed form) of Jojoba oil containing about 50% trans isomers."

When you begin to experiment with new man-made chemicals there are bound to be surprises, sometimes down the road a bit. Take isopropyl myristate for example. A common synthetic oleochemical emollient, lubricant and solvent, this oleochemical is unique in its category in that it also exhibits astringent properties and began to be used heavily during the 60' and 70's. Then, oops, the lid on Pandora's box popped open. Scientists discovered that isopropyl myristate readily penetrates the skin (it is also a skin, eye and respiratory irritant) and, if combined with other ingredients contaminated with nitrate compounds, the absorption potential of the nitrates was increased 230 times. After this discovery, everyone began to think more about skin permeability and skin absoprtion a bit more. Many scientists worry about large areas of the body being rubbed with this ingredient, such as in a body lotion application. They are concerned that there could be significant absorption of nitrates from a contaminated product left on the skin for many hours. This should make trans isomers in body creams and lotions an area of concern, too, shouldn't it?

Due to their extreme industrial processing, oleochemicals do not have the vital, living energies and nutritional qualities of cold-pressed organic oils that you would want to eat and, since we know that contaminants in oils can penetrate your skin, or may be the source of potential reactions on the skin's surface or subdermal layers, why use them on your body? We wonder if people would still rush to pay premium prices for their "natural" and "organic" body care products if they suspected that they might be buying unhealthy trans fats...

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More to come....


Castor Oil

Hydrolyzed Proteins

Animal Testing

Octyl Methoxycinnamate

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27 October 2002

True soap does occur in nature.

Castile soap is a natural soap and is considered to be the safest, most environmentally-benign cleanser. When you read a label for a cleansing type of product such as a shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser, bubble bath, etc., if it doesn't say "castile soap," then you are looking at a bottle of oleochemical or petrochemical detergent. Unfortunately, a number of years back, giant chemical interests lobbied the government and were granted an exception to call their oleochemical and petrochemical detergents "soap." Don't be fooled by labels that read "derived from coconut." The words "derived from" are your clue that you are looking at a synthetic, most likely, toxic chemically-treated ingredient.  

Just about all of the big personal care and household cleaning product companies use these synthetic oleochemical detergents and, because of increasing consumer awareness about product ingredients, more manufacturers utilize greenwashing marketing tactics in an attempt to disguise their use of synthetic chemicals. 

If the giant companies were truly environmental, then they would all be using real organic castile soap. They could use all real organic essential oils. They could use all organic base oils. Big companies have the money, the capital resources, the purchasing power, the volume of sales to commit to using ALL organic materials, to invest in organic farming operations on a global basis. They have the means, but most choose to do the least that they can.

Part of the typical corporate greenwashing plan is to focus on one or a few "natural" or "organic" (are they really--without third-party verification, can you be sure?) ingredients that they list as being a part of their mostly chemical soup (in undetermined and, most likely, minute quantities if they're even in the product at all) and then dazzle you with their large, colorful ads depicting lovely fields of flowers, fresh young smiling women caressing slick customized, green-looking packaging, while painting themselves as natural and organic heroes.

Don't be fooled by these marauders. Read all of the ingredients in every product, and when you do, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable feeding that product -- the ingredients -- to yourself, a child or your cat. Don't believe their stories when they try to convince you that there just aren't enough organic ingredients for them to buy. There are thousands of farmers around the world who are dying to find buyers for their organic oils and herbs so they can feed their families and expand their family farms. These farmers are desperate for a small amount of financial aid through advance contracting (advance capitalization--think CSA farms) to secure their official organic certification and increase the market value of their crops. If these conventional large chemical product manufacturers were committed to being truly green and being USDA certified organic, they would have environmental programs, such as what I've described previously, in place now--working with small third-world farmers, now--and, unfortunately, the majority don't. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if, after reading this log entry, they began scurrying to convince you that they've been supporting and developing these kinds of programs all along. If they attempt to make these claims, ask for hard evidence, demand proof. Let's join together to hold these companies responsible for their INaction and their Actions.

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29 October 2002

Polyvinylpyrrolidone. PVP. This is an ingredient typically found in hair styling and some hair conditioning products. It is found in products that are labeled as "natural." Does "vinyl" sound like a natural or botanical ingredient to you?

Would you like to eat some PVP for lunch? Before you ask someone to pass the hot sauce, it might interest you to know that the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding reported that the FDA proposed that a number of drug products be included on the list of drug products withdrawn or removed from the market because they have been found to be unsafe or ineffective. PVP had been marketed as Povidone or "Polyvinylpyrrolidone in Normal Saline" to doctors as a plasma expander and that it was "found unsafe for use as plasma expander in emergency treatment of shock because povidone (Polyvinylpyrrolidone) accumulates in the body and may cause storage disease with formation of granulomas; also interferes with blood coagulation, hemostasis and blood typing and cross matching." It was recommended to be withdrawn from the market on April 19, 1978. Do you want this ingredient in your body care products? 

The following information about Polyvinylpyrrolidone--PVP comes from a Manufacturers Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Curiously, PVP is often found in hair sprays and we were disturbed to read the following warnings under the section titled "PERSONAL PROTECTION AND CONTROLS":

A. Respiratory Protection: operation causes a misting condition in occupied area, persons should use a NIOSH approved respirator for dusts and mists.
B. Ventilation: General room ventilation acceptable except where sprayed or heated so that a mist is created.
C. Skin and Eye Protection: chemical goggles or safety glasses with side shields and rubber gloves and protective clothing as
necessary to minimize skin contact.

Strong circumstantial evidence implicates PVP as the causative agent for lung thesaurosis in susceptible individuals with chronic exposure to hairsprays containing PVP. Although this effect cannot be reproduced in laboratory animal tests and epidomiologic studies have failed to show excess prevalence to exposed individuals, inhalation exposure to PVP should be kept to a minimum.
Read the MSDS

Lung thesaurosis is a medical condition in which tiny particles of substance, in this case PVP, become imbedded in lung tissue. Scar tissue can form over the imbedded particles, thus reducing pulmonary (lung) function/breathing capacity. There is the possibility that PVP may aggravate inflamed lung tissues of those diagnosed with asthma or other breathing disorders.

Ruth Winter's book "A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients" says that "Ingestion (of PVP) may produce gas and fecal impaction or damage to lungs and kidneys. It may last in the system (the body) for months to a year."

Why are personal care products that contain PVP in a spray mist type of product not required to provide the user of the product with hazardous warning information right on the package label itself? Cigarettes are required to carry warning labels; perhaps it is time to require warning labels on personal care products?

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The following comments and question came from an intelligent Exposure reader, Deb S.: "I found it interesting to read about the hazards in many commonly used personal care products. I had been wondering about these things for some time. I have seen an ingredient in several skin oil and lotion products that I can't seem to learn much about, and wonder if you have any information regarding 'cyclomethicone'. Is this something I want to be spraying onto my skin? Thanks for providing such an important public service. It is about time the truth about these substances was made known."

Here you go Deb!

Cyclomethicone. This is a synthetic chemical that is a "dry liquid"--fluid, without an oily feel. It is volatile--evaporating readily into a vapor. It is a member of the silicone family. (Remember all of the controversy and lawsuits back in the early 1990's when so many women were having autoimmune problems that their doctors were linking to silicone gels leaking from breast implants?)

Researchers have investigated silicon materials/compounds in association with several different illnesses: lupus, scleroderma, A.D.D., cancer, Some researchers speculate that silicon may be linked to allergies, fibrocysts and irritable bowel syndrome.

Silcon-containing chemicals and polymers create environmental hazards in their manufacturing which relies on high-temperature processing that generates byproducts such as hydrochloric acid.

We found it odd that there are very few studies available on the web that discuss cyclomethicone. Most that is available is information prepared by the manufacturers of the chemical itself.

Cosmetic Toiletries & Fragrance Association (CTFA) Category Descriptions of Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone :

A low-viscosity fluid with relatively high volatility. Non-polar and insoluble in water, it is completely miscible in lower alcohols as well as other typical solvents. In personal care applications, it is often used as a carrier that evaporates without residue, while providing lubricity and detackification.

A versatile substance that ranges from low molecular weight polydimethylsiloxane fluids to high molecular weight polymers that are gum-like in nature.

According to the HAPPI September 1992 article "Novel Silicone Esters for Cosmetics" by Virginia Van Valkenburgh and Raymond Thimineur of GE Silicones:

"The cyclomethicone silicones are a major component of most antiperspirants; dimethicone silicones are valued as conditioning agents in 2-in-1 shampoos; and amine functional silicones improve the wet and dry combing performance of hair conditioners."

The following is information about a silicone polymer blend that contains the additive/adjuvant decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (cyclomethicone) excerpted from the Australian government's National Occupational Health and Safety Commission's report of August 2000:

An analogous chemical to the notified polymer showed some evidence of effects on reproduction in rats, following subcutaneous administration (Kennedy, 1976). The use of the notified polymer at 0.1 – 1 % in personal care products means that a small amount will be applied to the skin for each use. Likely skin application sites, such as underarms, possess large numbers of sweat glands, and consequently there is potential for increased dermal absorption at these sites. This is not of concern in this case, as the notified polymer is of high molecular weight (NAMW > 15500) and is unlikely to penetrate biological membranes, suggesting limited systemic absorption following normal use.

I prefer to decide for myself what my "limited systemic absorption" will be from. After researching cyclomethicone and other silicon compounds--I think I'll pass. I'll take certified organic cold-pressed oils and butters and pure, sweet beeswax any day over industrial chemical lubricants, thanks.