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Skin Care Secrets Revealed: Raw materials to avoid in skin and hair care
By Kolbjorn Borseth
Many High Street products contain potentially harmful raw
materials. There are many reasons why producers continue to make formulations
containing toxic chemicals but the most likely explanation is ignorance. Many
cosmetic chemists must promote the use of chemicals as they are paid or funded
by the chemical companies directly or indirectly. There are many people in
factories all over the world making products but they often don’t have the
knowledge to decide which raw materials are potentially harmful. This is
therefore left to the chemical suppliers, who often make the recipes for them.
Some harmful ingredients can take many years of use before
health problems arise and then it is often too late to identify the specific
source of the problem. I think that it is very important that producers know
more about the raw materials that they are using. It is important to make safe
and informed choices for you and your family and to always read product labels
Here is a selection of commonly used potentially dangerous raw materials in
salts such as Aluminium
hydroxychloride, Aluminium chlorohydrate Aluminium sulphate, etc. They
block pores and are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium salt is
used in most antiperspirants nowadays. It acts as a sweat inhibitor, closing
off the skin's sweat pores so that the sweat is unable to come out. Closing off
the body's most important secretory organ day after day (sweating from the
armpits included) and with a substance than can be irritating to the skin and
is easily absorbed by damaged skin, is not necessarily the best solution for
our sweat problems.
cream is paraffin and
water in suspension and should be avoided as it is based on mineral oils from
the petrochemical industry. (See ‘mineral oil’ further down.)
BHT is Butylated hydroxytoluene is
a synthetic phenol. It is an antioxidant which prevents fats and oils
from going rancid and essential oils from oxidising. BHT is a controversial
substance - some research indicates that it is carcinogenic while other
research indicates that it acts as a protective agent against the effects of
carcinogenic substances. It is possible that BHT is absorbed by the skin
because it mixes easily with fats and oils. In our view, this substance does
not belong in natural cosmetics.
Borax is Sodium borate, a
strong irritant which may be carcinogenic. It is used as an emulsifier
triglycerides are refined,
very stable fatty acids produced from coconut oil. (Research uncertain at the moment.)
Collagen is often taken from young animals or
aborted fetuses. Do you really want to have this injected into your lips?
myristate Iso-propylmyristate. This is a very commonly used substance in the cosmetics industry. It
is obtained from isopropyl alcohol and myristic acid (a vegetable based fatty
acid). At room temperature it is a watery-clear, odourless, oily liquid. Isopropyl
myristate can be used in cosmetic preparations as a substitute for vegetable
oils. It makes the skin feel soft but without the fatty feel which the
vegetable oils give it. However it can react chemically with triethanolamines
creating other compounds which are absorbed by the skin and can create health
chloroisothiazolinone (and) Methyl isothiazolinone
Kathon CG is used as a preservative against bacteria and
fungi in cosmetics. It is also used in anti-freeze for cars and as a
preservative for wood in pressure treated timber. It is registered as a class 2
fungicide. Kathon is used in 10-20% of cosmetics on the market. Kathon is
suspected to be one of the most common causes of allergic reactions to
cosmetics. Symptoms include redness, blisters, itchiness, boils, rashes,
peeling and swelling of the skin. There are no less than 30-40 different names
Lanolin made from wool can be contaminated
with pesticides from sheep dip e.g. DDT.
oil Linum usitatissiorum. A vegetable oil extracted from
linseed which contains 30-40% oil. Extraction occurs through the crushing and
pressing of the seeds. Linseed oil contains a high level of linolenic acid
(50%) and is the most familiar of those oils known as 'dry' oils. Linseed oil
goes rancid on exposure to oxygen and turns into a solid mass. The oil is used
in putty (for windows) and in the making of paints. For the latter a particular
kind of linseed oil is used - cooked linseed oil - which is treated with lead
oxide. Cooked linseed oil should never be either taken internally or used
topically. Linseed oil has no history of use in skin care but is very readily
absorbed by the skin. However, this may be because it does not keep at all well
and goes rancid very quickly.
oil is petroleum
based, blocks pores, acts as a barrier, and suppresses normal skin functions.
products is used
mostly in lubrication oil in sewing machines and floor wax. Prevents absorption
of vitamins, clogs pores and may be carcinogenic.
Lauryl Sulphate Sodium
Lauryl Ether Sulphate. A detergent which is very aggressive on the skin.
cetaceum is obtained
from the head of the sperm whale.
Acid is derived from
dead silk worms.
Tallow is a fat derived from sheep and
slaughtered animals. It is then refined through a process of melting and
filtering. Tallow is a solid fat which melts at 45-50ºC and has a white or off-white
colour. It contains 50-55% oleic acid and 45-50% stearic and palmitic acid. Tallow
comes in different grades. In food making it is used in margarine, which in
turn is used in e.g. bread and cakes. Industrial tallow is used in the making
of soaps (shaving foams and soaps), candle grease, emulsifiers, lipsticks,
detergents and thickening agents for detergents. Because of the high content of
heavy metals and pesticides in the fat, it is not recommended for use in skin
care products or food.
Triethanolamine is petroleum-based,
very irritating and can be carcinogenic. Used as emulsifiers by many High
Vaseline® is petroleum-based, blocks pores, destroys vitamins, and may be
rancid within just 1-2 weeks of production. This is due to the high content of
linolenic acid in the oil and is the cause of the bad smell associated with
Wheatgerm products. Unfortunately many English aromatherapy books have written
favourably about wheatgerm as an antioxidant or preservative. Many people now
realise that this is totally wrong. If you want your products to spoil quickly,
just add wheatgerm oil!
2-broma-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol is a solvent used in nail
varnish, amongst other things. Also used as a preservative even though it is a
dubious substance to use in cosmetics at all. Can form nitrosamines when combined
with triethanolamines. People working with chemicals who inhale this substance
can lose their appetite and experience diarrhoea and headaches.
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About Kolbjorn Borseth