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Are products healthy or just plain toxic?

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Article by Amina Kitching

Safe Cosmetics Australia [SCA] Profile | Email | Website
Safe Cosmetics Australia [SCA] SCA is the first nontoxic certification program in Australia. We ensure that items used every day are MADE SAFE without ingredients that are known or suspected to cause harm to human health or the environment. Our mission is to raise chemical awareness, advocate for a pre-market regulatory scheme and verify products that are MADE SAFE Non-Toxic Certified for a sustainable & healthy future: see the TOXIC-FREE LIST
Australia 2000
0418 870 869

Current legislation permits the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetics. This is why Safe Cosmetics Australia [SCA] plays an important role in raising awareness concerning the hazardous chemicals used to formulate products you use everyday. The government may not be doing the best by you in permitting hazardous chemicals for use in personal care and household products, but do we really all need a PhD in science to select a body lotion or shampoo?! Products containing toxic chemicals should at least carry the appropriate warnings on the labels - but they don't. 

The skin is the largest organ of the body and you can control what you put on the skin. This is very important as everything you apply to the skin is absorbed directly into the body. Think about topical pharmaceuticals that are applied to the skin, these drugs wind up in the blood within minutes.

NICNAS is the Australian Government department that overseas chemicals permitted for use in this county. They offer a statement on chemicals, quote: "Even though a chemical may be classified as hazardous under the ASCC Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances, and may be listed in the List of Designated Hazardous Substances [ASCC: 10005(1999)] when it is present as an ingredient in a mixture it may not be present in concentrations that cause health effects"

"It may not be present in concentrations that cause health effects" NICNAS - this is all that stands between your body and known hazardous chemicals used in everyday products "it may not" But it may, yes? This is the BIG question?

Scientists have already proven direct links between many chemicals used to formulate products sold in Australia. The Australian Government PERMITS the use of Triclosan and Triclocarban even when they are BANNED in the US. These chemicals are not permitted by Safe Cosmetics Australia's, toxic-free certification criteria. Australian Certified Toxic-Free® brands exclude Triclosan and Triclocarban from their product formulations.

SCA's message is simple: 

Act with caution now, prevention is better than a cure

NICNAS has determined that many chemicals are hazardous if taken internally yet these chemicals are permitted for use topically - science has proven that your skin absorbs everything that is applied, so what is the difference between allowing hazardous chemicals to be applied topically yet not permitting them to be taken internally? (Common sense prevails) Bottom line: what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it

Look at how toxic chemicals enter your body: Through your skin, nose, eyes and ears

Look at how toxic chemicals exit your body: Through your nose, mouth, urinary tract, colon, skin & bowel movements

Look at what you can control:

  • You can control what you apply to your body
  • What products you expel into the air, to an extent what you breath
  • Where you live and work determines the amount of pollutants you are exposed to
  • Purchasing products that are free from known toxic chemicals
  • You can control how much exercise you do or don't do
  • How you relieve stress including your thoughts and what you say
  • You can maintain a healthy diet

Conventional beauty products are littered with toxic chemicals. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it absorbs everything including these harmful chemicals. Therefore, it is important to know what they are and in what products they can be found. Once you know this vital information, shopping for healthier cosmetic options becomes much easier. Below are a few synthetic and toxic ingredients to watch out for in the products you use or may consider purchasing in future: 

  • Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA): These are used as foaming agents, but can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of the hair and skin. DEA and TEA are toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time, and are associated with cancer in lab animals.
  • Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea: Often used as preservatives, these chemicals were found to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis (irritation caused by foreign substance). Both these chemicals release formaldehyde, which can be toxic.
  • Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Parabens: Used as a preservative to inhibit microbial growth and extend shelf life. Unfortunately, it can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes. Preliminary research found parabens in human breast cancer tumours.
  • Petrolatum: Also known as petroleum jelly, this is a mineral oil derivative that can clog your pores. This in turn disrupts your body's natural ability to moisturize its own skin, leading to dryness and chapping. Manufacturers use it because it's really inexpensive.
  • Propylene Glycol: Ideally this is vegetable glycerine mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural, but it's usually made from synthetic chemicals. It has been known to cause hives and eczema. Beware of related chemicals labelled PEG and PPG.
  • PVP/VA Copolymer: A petroleum-derived chemical that's used in hair styling products and some cosmetics. Considered toxic if inhaled, it can damage the lungs.
  • Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate: This is a cheap, harsh detergent used in many shampoos for its ability to cleanse and foam. Often derived from petroleum, it causes eye irritation, dry scalp, skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
  • Stearalkonium Chloride: This toxic chemical was designed by the fabric industry for use as a fabric softener. Companies use it in hair conditioners and lotions because it's much cheaper than natural conditioning ingredients such as proteins.
  • Synthetic Colors: Labelled as FD&C or D&C and followed by a number, these make products look pretty but can be carcinogenic.
  • Synthetic Fragrances: Labelled simply as "fragrance," there's no way to tell what chemicals are actually in the product. People can get headaches, dizziness, rashes, and respiratory problems from them. People may also experience hyper-pigmentation, which means this chemical may cause brown spots to form on your skin.

Article by Amina Kitching, Founder & Editor

Safe Cosmetics Australia, The Toxic-Free Campaign ®

Our mission is to raise chemical awareness

Advocate for a premarket regulatory scheme

Verify products that are Australian Certified Toxic-Free ®

Sign The Toxic-Free Petition if you agree that products should be free from toxic-chemicals

21 Oct 2016

Last Update: 18 May 2017

Article/Information supplied by Amina Kitching

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.