Questionable Skincare Ingredients – The skin experts weigh in

In today’s internet age, ease of access to information has pros and cons, especially when it comes to the medical world. Almost all of us are guilty of self-diagnosis using Dr Google at some point and I’m sure you know how that turned out – initially helpful but totally terrifying if you find out too much!

This ease of access to information has made us all so much more aware of the world around us… and for moms this has been empowering as well as scary!

Most of us moms are far more aware than our own moms were about what we use on, and put in, bodies. We have the whole wide web to access information, whereas they only had their trusty Dr Spock book.

Being so well informed about a wide variety of issues can also come with a negative cost – a wealth of misinformation can cause much confusion.

All moms want to do the best by their kids but with such conflicting information available out there on the web (and in the media) we can be left with a whole lot of question marks.

One of the biggest areas that gives us moms cause for concern is the cosmetic industry and specifically the ingredients contained in the multitude of products we use on our babies and kids. All the conflicting information and advice can really make our heads spin, I know, I’m spinning myself!

Recently I had the chance to meet with a few industry experts at various events I’ve attended over the past few months, and again, the advice was different! So I sat feeling totally overwhelmed about who to trust and which products to promote and use.

If I feel like this then I’m sure I’m not alone!

This feeling led me to start investigating for this blog post… I wanted to get some real answers about questionable skincare ingredients from the experts! But not just one expert, a few, I wanted to get a good cross section of input and feedback – from industry professionals, brand managers, dermatologists, aesthetic doctors, GPs, Paediatricians, natural health practitioners. Anyone who would be willing to share their knowledge, expertise and research.

I’m sure we ALL agree that the safety of skincare ingredients is paramount when it comes to baby and beauty personal care products so with that in mind I asked a few different professionals to weigh in on some of the more “questionable” ingredients found in baby and beauty products.

Below I’ve listed a few questions about various ingredients that often raise alarm bells amongst parents along with their (verbatim) feedback.

My hope is that this advice would align, and if not, that you, the readers would be able to feel more educated and better equipped to make your own decisions for the health of your family.

Meet the Experts

First up let me introduce you to the skincare experts who will be weighing in with their opinions, research and knowledge about the various questionable ingredients. I really do appreciate them taking the time to share their feedback on my questions and I value each opinion and respect their input. Please do the same.

Caro Copeland, Owner of Tocara Health & Skincare – importers of Dr Hauschka, creators of Pradiance (CC)

David May, PHARMD, MBA, Senior Director, Global Scientific Engagement – Beauty, Baby, Oral, Compromised Skin, Therapeutic Hair, and Feminine Care (DM)

Emilie Dumas, Owner of Nine Aesthetics, Norwood, Johannesburg (ED)

Dr Noori Moti-Joosub, MBBCh (WITS), FCDerm (SA), Dermatologist at Laserderm (NM-J)

Amanda Lock, BSc (UKZN), DipHE (UNISA), Dip Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK), New Product Development and Brand Strategy Consultant at Pure Beginnings. (AL)

Dr Alek Nikolic, aesthetic medical practitioner & Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Medicine Society of South Africa (AN)

Questionable Skincare Ingredients

Based on your experience as well as the latest research can you please answer the following to the best of your knowledge…

Is natural always better?

CD
This beautiful earth has provided us with healing plants and herbs. The human body and mind thrives when it is fed organic plant based foods, the same applies to the skin. When the skin is provided with natural skincare including organic ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals, its natural skin moisture improves, scar tissue heals far quicker, uneven pigmentation and hyper-pigmentation can gently disappear because the health of the skin is good, wrinkles soften, pimples and spots heal quicker. The skin glows with vitality and good health because it is ‘happy’ and healthy. There are many harmful ingredients used in skincare products that I feel should be banned. The accumulation of years of using day creams, cleansers, make-up, lip products etc. can amount to a substantial amount. If you have the choice to have healthy products rich in natural botanicals, vitamins and minerals that are naturally anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle or to have synthetic chemical products, which would your skin feel healthier with?

DM

Many parents want products with natural ingredients, but not all natural ingredients are safe for baby in their raw form. For example, some plant-based ingredients like essential oils often introduce higher levels of allergens. Olive oil is included in some adult products, but it’s not suitable for baby skin as it contains oleic acid that breaks down the skin barrier. In these cases, we believe a synthetic ingredient is best.

ED

At nine aesthetics, we focus on natural and organic cosmetics with clean formulations, because we believe that they are better. Not because we do not think that pharmaceutically or chemically produced cosmetics are ineffective, in fact, we see a lot of evidence that they are, but we know that there are natural cosmetic products using naturally occurring active ingredients that are as effective as the synthetic types. Ingredients that are farmed and harvested organically with cruelty free policies in mind and whom purposefully omit known pathogenic fillers, preservatives and toxic perfumes from their products. That being said, there are definitely times when a medical/ pharmaceutical product may be needed for some severe conditions, but often we find that with good natural product, dietary changes and supplementation one can make leaps and bounds in a person’s skin care and health.

N M-J

Fragrance free and perfume free is always better. 

AL

Our bodies are well adapted to deal with all we encounter in nature. Many of the chemicals used in personal care have been shown to have short term effects such as rashes or reactions, as well as long term side health effects and the many lifestyle diseases we see so prevalently. Natural ingredients don’t have these concerns, and so, yes, when it comes to personal care, natural is better.

AN

This is a yes and no answer. Natural ingredients are not always better. There are numerous ‘natural’ ingredients that are considered ‘bad’ for the skin. Mostly because there is not enough research on these ingredients and generally speaking, they are difficult to preserve. Furthermore, it has been shown that natural ingredients over time can sensitize the skin with repeat applications. Not all natural ingredients are like this and there are plenty that are considered safe and good for the skin, but we cannot state that all natural ingredients are always better for the skin.

 

What is your take on parabens as preservatives?

CC

Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. (Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally occurring hormone estrogen, and exposures to external estrogens have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer). The most popular ones to look for: methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl parabens. None of our products contain parabens. Why we say no to Parabens and Phthalates: Cosmetic companies will argue that we don’t need to worry about harmful chemicals in their products because they are used on our skin and hair. For e.g. the cosmetics industry has long stated that their widespread use of Parabens and Phthalates is not harmful because they remain on our skin and are not absorbed into our body. However, a recent study found Parabens in human breast cancer tissue, raising obvious questions about the ability of Parabens to accumulate in our bodies.

DM

Without preservatives, everyday products could expire within weeks or even days. Products labeled “preservative free” aren’t necessarily better or safer. Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products — stopping fungus, bacteria and other microbes from growing in products, especially in the moist, warm environment of a bathroom. Although numerous studies have concluded that parabens are safe to use at prescribed levels, many consumers are still unconvinced. For this reason, we made a commitment in 2014 to remove them from all of our baby products and have stood by that promise² which is why none of our baby personal care products worldwide contain any parabens. We do not make this claim on our packaging because of stringent regulations from the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) which govern the use of “non-content” claims both on packaging and consumer communication.

ED

Our take on parabens? Banish them from your life! Parabens mimic the estrogen hormone in your body and are known carcinogens and are linked to serious conditions such as breast cancer, infertility, reproductive illnesses and conditions, and EARLY AGEING of the skin and body. Don’t know how to recognise a paraben in your cosmetics look for names like: Methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and polyparaben. Parabens are everywhere look out for them in your food, drinks and cosmetic or hygiene products. You will not find them in, fresh fruit and veggies, fish, nut, beans and legumes, water and fresh juices, and certain cosmetics, ask your salon if they stock paraben free natural cosmetics and treatments.

N M-J

Unfortunately parabens are good preservatives, but recent studies have showed on oestrogen-based cancers there are higher paraben levels. The studies often have flaws as there was no control, so it’s always difficult to ascertain the truth. Personally I don’t always look for paraben free products, if I find suitable ones I do opt for them, but I do believe there are more harmful carcinogens to avoid such as UV rays and cigarette smoking.

AL

There are many other preservatives available that ensure product preservation as successfully as Parabens but have none of the safety concerns. Parabens have a long history of studies showing that they are not optimal for human health and have a number of unintended consequences. Parabens have been banned by a number of countries and are on the list of ingredients that can not be used if you want your brand to be certified organic by Ecocert. Ecocert have extremely stringent guidelines for ingredient safety. We believe strongly that, better, safer and more natural choices should be made when they are available. One’s overall health (not price) should be the driver when it comes to formulating products.

AN

The quick answer is that parabens are fine in low concentrations in skincare. Parabens are used as preservatives and only in small quantities, so they should be safe to use. Interestingly parabens are found naturally in plants and in particular blueberries. There is a link between parabens disrupting hormonal balance and even a link with cancer so the best approach if one is concerned is to only use skincare products that are paraben-free. There are numerous other preserving ingredients that are considered safe and are not related or derived from parabens.

 

Do you think it is necessary for brands to test on animals?

CC

Absolutely 100% NO

DM

The Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies does not conduct testing of our cosmetic or personal care products on animals and we do not ask others to test on our behalf, except when testing is required by law or specific governments, as in China. JOHNSON’S® complies with the requirements of the European Union (EU) ban on animal testing.

ED

No, we do not believe that animal testing is necessary. Beyond the moral implications, we believe that although we have similarities to animals, our bodies do not respond in exactly the same way as theirs. With technology and science progressing as it has, there have been many successful alternatives developed to animal testing which are not only cruelty free, but also extremely accurate, fast and more cost effective. It is very important to note that China tests all products on animals, so even if a brand does not test on animals themselves, if they sell the product in China, they cannot label themselves as cruelty free.

N M-J

No

AL

No, testing on animals is completely unnecessary.

AN

100% and absolutely no. there is no need to test on animals. Most testing can be done in a petri dish especially with new ingredients. Furthermore, once these tests have been passed there is nothing stopping brands to test on human volunteers that can give proper consent taking into consideration the potential side effects if any.

 

Is petroleum jelly safe to use on baby skin?

CC

The top of my ‘to avoid’ ingredients is paraffin which is found in a surprisingly large amount of baby products, skin care (day creams) and make-up (foundation) products. Paraffin or petroleum is a cheap and nasty (in my opinion) by-product of gasoline mining! I absolutely avoid this product 100%. It can clog pores and can CAUSE blackheads and pimples to form. It can basically stifle the skin and prevent the skin from breathing!! There is NOTHING good about petroleum and paraffin when used in baby products, skincare or make-up. There are far kinder ingredients to use on baby’s skin.

DM

Petroleum Jelly is derived by careful distillation and separation from petroleum. It is highly refined and does not contain chemicals or impurities. It is widely used in cosmetics and skin care products due to its natural ability to prevent Trans Epidermal Water Loss. Its use is supported by strong clinical studies that confirm its safety and benefits for use on infant skin. Much of its bad press results from the incorrect notion that because it is a petroleum derivative, it is impure.

ED

Petroleum jelly has no place in skin care and especially not for infants. It is derived from crude oil (the same substance you put in your car), and has been found to contain a host of neurotoxins and carcinogenic properties and is not bio renewable.  Look for alternatives such as organic Jojoba oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter or almond oil.

N M-J

Yes, it is safe. It is a very occlusive barrier and provides moisture especially for extremely dry circumstances.

AL

While possibly safe, the question we should ask is, is it optimal? Petrochemicals create a barrier on the skin and a dependence on it’s use (like how someone can become ‘addicted’ to lip moisturisers for example). They also block the skin from any ingredients being absorbed (and toxins released). Using natural ingredients that can penetrate into the skin and encourage the skin to become healthier should be the intention.

AN

Petroleum jelly (or sometimes referred to as Vaseline) is safe to use on baby skin and specifically on a baby’s bottom. Typically, it is applied to a baby’s bottom to help prevent diaper or nappy rash as the Petroleum jelly provides a moisture barrier that repels water including urine. A drier skin helps keep the skin free from irritants and sensitivity. It however does not moisturise or provide any nutrients to the skin. There is a concern if Petroleum jelly is inhaled that it may cause pneumonia so, if applied, the diaper should be secured.

What about mineral oil (paraffinum)?

CC

All the same ingredients – petroleum, petrolatum, paraffin

DM

Our #1 priority is providing safe products for you and your family. Mineral oils are particularly well-suited for many cosmetic products due to their excellent skin tolerance and protective properties and are an efficient mild emollient that locks in moisture and provides gentle moisturising needed by a baby’s delicate skin. They are safe and pure compared with other oils, and free from contaminants such as bacteria and heavy metals. JOHNSON’S® use only highly refined, high quality pharmaceutical grade mineral oils in our products. The mineral oil-based ingredients used in our products have been scientifically evaluated and are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and suitable for use on sensitive skin.

ED

Again, this is a derivative from crude oil, which is known for its neurotoxic activity. Its molecular structure is too large to be absorbed and thus it will lie on the surface of the skin, blocking anything from coming in or out of the skin. Our opinion? If your skin care range contains mineral oils or petroleum jelly…find a better range!

N M-J

I do recommend this also as a cheap, but effective, moisturizer, especially for the scalp. 

AL

Mineral oil is another petrochemical so it has the same concerns as petroleum jelly.

AN

Mineral oil should not be used on the skin as it has the potential to block pores and provides a barrier to the environment. This can stress the skin and disrupt the delicate skin barrier leading to sensitivity reactions and excessive drying of the skin. Furthermore, if swallowed mineral oil is difficult to break down.

 

Is fragrance harmful to the development of the baby or adult brain?

CC

There is great importance in differentiating between natural as opposed to synthetic chemical fragrance. Natural fragrance derived from natural essential oils (preferably organic) are the safest to use as they are not linked to neurotransmission.

DM

Did you know smell is one of our strongest senses? In fact, it can be closely linked to memory!³ That’s why we give our baby products fresh, clean and familiar scents to help your little one relax and enjoy bath time, bed time or even playtime. All of the fragrances in our products follow strict safety and quality standards and are evaluated to make sure they are safe and gentle for delicate baby skin. We also have fragrance-free variants (for example, Jelly and Aqueous Cream) for those who prefer them.

ED

Leading cosmetic brands are slowly and knowingly poisoning you, by including chemicals such as;  acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool and methylene chloride – usually in some kind of combination in their perfumes. These chemicals are known to be linked to reproductive issues, allergies and some cancers. Your skin is your largest organ, and it is porous, which means that it absorbs whatever is put on it. Perfumes and perfumed products therefore penetrate your blood stream and accumulate in your body, which can lead to serious health issues, we have not personally seen any studies linking perfumed products to brain developmental issues, but we know that they disrupt a whole host of other essential bodily functions and should be avoided.

N M-J

None of the studies are conclusive in this regard. Fragrance does cause allergic responses and this from a dermatological point of view, I always encourage fragrance-free products.

AL

Not qualified to answer this, however, many products that include “fragrance” on their ingredient label include an ingredient called Phalathes which have many health concerns that we see in modern society.

AN

Not my area of expertise. But generally speaking fragrances are not good for baby’s skin due to sensitivity, allergic reactions.

 

What is your take on Aqueous Cream?

CC

Petroleum mixed with water… need I say more ☹

DM

JOHNSON’S® Baby Aqueous cream does not contain any SLS, colourants or parabens. It is a very gentle formulation that is dermatologist and paediatrician tested. It is very gentle on baby skin and can be used as both a cleanser and a moisturiser. We have a fragrance-free and a lightly fragranced variant.

ED

We do not like to discredit any brand, however we would not recommend aqueous cream to our clients, due to it containing chemical ingredients, which are questionable in our opinions such as: sodium laurel sulphate and a crude oil derivative (paraffin wax). We believe that there are superior products available.

N M-J

It is a great moisturizer for humid environments, however on the Highveld we need more moisture in a product.

AL

Aqueous is a very general name for a base cream. The ingredients which make up the Aqueous are what differentiate the good from the bad. Some aqueous creams contain petrochemicals and sodium lauryl sulfate, two ingredients with questionable skin health concerns. A natural oil based aqueous with no chemicals would be much more beneficial to the skin.

AN

Aqueous cream is a good cheap moisturiser for the skin, however there is a concern when using it on sensitive or eczema skin. It is though that the sodium lauryl sulfate can cause skin irritations and even aggravate eczema.

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) a skin irritant?

CC

This is a common chemical found in shampoos, hair conditioners, toothpaste, body washes, bubble baths and skin care products. SLS started its career as a strong, harsh detergent used in industry as a degreaser and a powerful floor cleaner. 90% of all commercial soap shampoos use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) that can be retained in tissues up to 5 days even after a single drop. When applied to the skin it has the effect of stripping off the oil layer and then irritating and eroding the skin, leaving it rough and pitted. Studies have shown that: SLS could retard healing and keep children’s eyes from developing properly. SLS can cause cataracts in adults and delays in healing wounds on surface of cornea. SLS has a low molecular weight and is easily absorbed by the body; it builds up in the heart, liver and brain. SLS is such a caustic cleanser that it actually corrodes the hair follicle and impairs the ability to grow hair.

DM

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is used as a surfactant or foaming agent in cosmetic products. When considering the use of SLS/SLES in any product, it is not enough to consider just the ingredient.  You have to look at the whole formula and the intended use. Often, additional ingredients with emollient and skin/hair protectant/conditioning properties are added to ensure a gentle, but effective, cleaning. Technology in JOHNSON’S® products also help to keep the cleansing agents interacting at the surface level of the skin, thereby minimizing any risk of irritation.” Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has been shown to be a skin irritant when used at certain concentrations, especially with leave-on products. The skin irritation potential of SLS correlates with its concentration in the product. As per local regulations and EU cosmetic regulations, the use of SLS in cosmetic products is not prohibited. The US Cosmetic Ingredient Review declared SLS safe for use in formulations designed for brief use followed by rinsing off. JOHNSON’S® top-to-toe™ Extra Creamy Wash contains less than 100 fold of the reported levels that cause irritation and its safety has been established through clinical studies

ED

Yes it is and it completely strips the skins natural barrier, weakening the skins resistance to pathogenic substances and toxic chemicals, leaving it vulnerable and prone to inflammation which in turn causes all sorts of chaos in the skin from itching, dryness to more serious conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and premature ageing. It is very difficult to find products that do not contain this chemical and it is found in most commercial cosmetics, hygiene and cleaning products. Its environmental impact is also very serious and far reaching, it has a bioaccumulative effect, especially on marine life. Bioaccumlate means a toxic substance that accumulates inside an organism, this is dangerous as the substance then gets transferred to different species via the food chain.

N M-J

Yes it can be.

AL

Yes, many studies reveal that it is a proven skin irritant and adjusts the ph of the skin.

AN

SLS is a sulphate derivative and there is a concern that sulphates can also clog pores and aggravate acne. According to the article published: Environ Health Insights. 2015; 9: 27–32. The conclusion was that: “It is concluded that the use of SLS in cleaning product formulations does not introduce unnecessary risk to consumers or the environment because of the presence of the ingredient, and, if properly formulated and qualified, does not pose danger to human health and safety. Therefore, the perception that SLS is a threat to human health is not scientifically supported, and claims made to the contrary should be regarded as false and misleading.” So I believe SLS should only be avoided in people who have sensitive/eczema skin or oily/acne prone skin.

 

Does 1,4 dioxane cause cancer?

(note: this ingredient is not intentionally added to products, but may occur as an unintentional byproduct in some ingredients, that may be listed on the product label, including: PEG. polyethylene. polyethylene glycol)

CC

I have not done any research on this ingredients (sorry)

DM

There is a significant online discussion about whether or not 1,4 dioxane in personal care products can cause cancer or other health issues. We closely monitor these discussions as well as the latest official reports from regulatory agencies regarding the safety of 1,4 dioxane. The compound 1,4-dioxane itself is not an intentionally added ingredient in personal care products but is a manufacturing by-product. Incidentally, it is also naturally found in trace amounts in cooked chicken, shrimp, and tomatoes. The International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR), a voluntary international group of cosmetics regulatory authorities, propose a 25 ppm maximum allowable presence of 1,4 dioxane in personal care products. JOHNSON’S® allows much less in our baby products – below 4ppm.

ED

Studies are showing that over exposure to 1.4 dioxane a trace contaminant from some chemicals used in certain cosmetics has been linked to organ toxicity and some cancers. Again, we would not recommend it.

N M-J

Certain studies have shown it having carcinogenic effects. But not all the studies were conclusive.

AL

Not qualified to answer, however, it is banned by Ecocert so we would not use it as their concerns would make us question its safety.

AN

1,4-Dioxane is a trace contaminant of some chemicals used in cosmetics, detergents, and shampoos and is used as a solvent. Exposure to large amounts can be linked to kidney and even liver damage, but this is with long term exposure and typically if found in water. In three epidemiologic studies on workers exposed to 1,4-dioxane, the observed number of cancer cases did not differ from the expected cancer deaths. A study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of rats and mice exposed to 1,4-dioxane in their drinking water reported increased incidences of liver carcinomas and adenomas and nasal cavity squamous cell carcinomas. Liver carcinomas and gallbladder carcinomas were observed in mice and guinea pigs, respectively. So, the short answer is unsure, but I would stay away from using a skincare product if the ingredient is listed.

 

Does Talcum Powder cause ovarian cancer?

CC

Nervous to answer but I know Talc in loose powders is not permitted in the EU as to breath it in is not advised due to the particle size. Talc is permitted in compact powders though and it obviously has to be asbestos free.

DM

JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder has been around since 1894 and it does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer. Cosmetic talc safety has been reviewed by scientists, regulatory agencies and independent institutions for decades and the data continues to support the safety of JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder. For more information about talc visit: www.FactsaboutTalc.com. The recent jury verdict goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products, and while we sympathize with the plaintiffs, we strongly disagree with the outcome and will continue to defend the safety of JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder. To date, the talc cases against Johnson & Johnson that have completed the appeals process have all been reversed.

ED

There is A LOT of controversy around talc and its effects on female ovaries, there have been several studies performed and a big brand was sued recently and lost a case against a woman suing them for their product giving her ovarian cancer. There is never smoke without a fire. We advise against talc products, and stock talc free products and a makeup range with a rice powder base.

N M-J

Declined to answer

AL

Not qualified to answer however talc is banned by Ecocert so we would not use it as their concerns would make us question its safety.

AN

Not my area of expertise.

 

What is your opinion on Phthalates?

CC

Phthalates are ingredients that can dissolve plastic and petroleum so that they can be used in skin care products! A nice feeling, but not at all healthy for a breathing skin! Phthalates are even found in BABY LOTIONS! Phthalates are known to cause a broad range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments – these have been proved in laboratory animals that are exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy and after birth. Phthalates are known to be hormone mimicking chemicals, many of which disrupt normal hormonal process, raising concern in their implications for increased breast cancer risk.
September 2000 scientists from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found phthalates at surprisingly high levels in every 289 people tested, especially women of reproductive age. The authors concluded that ‘from a public health perspective, these data provide evidence that phthalate exposure is both higher and more common than previously suspect’.

DM

When most people think of, or talk about phthalates, they often are referring to conversations around their use to make plastics and one called DEP (diethylphthalate) which can be found in some fragrances. While some phthalates have been banned in cosmetic protects, others with excellent and long-term safety records like DEP continue to be internationally accepted by global regulatory authorities for cosmetic and fragrance applications. Like other ingredients we have spoken about, we have focused on meeting and or exceeding the expectations of parents around the world and in 2002 moved to no longer use any phthalates in our baby fragrances anywhere in the world.

ED

Phthalates again are known endocrine suppressors  and are also linked to health issues affecting the excretory organs and reproductive system. Phthalates in cosmetics are mostly found in products such as nail polish, hair spray and perfumes. It is also used to soften plastics and, therefore, is found in most plastic products. Because of our obsession with convenience, everything we get is covered in plastic, from when we buy it, to after we’ve cooked and stored it back in our fridges in plastic container, our water bottles our reusable cups our babies bottles, are all plastic and full of phthalates. The best way to fight the war on these toxic substances is to educate people about them, there is so much scientific evidence about this and manufacturers are FULLY aware of the dangers that they are posing to our health and that of our environment. But if we vote with our money then we are a bit harder to ignore. Make conscious choices when choosing your cosmetic, hygiene and cleaning products, store your food and beverages in glass or stainless steel containers and avoid plastic as much as possible. Support local organic and eco friendly manufactured products, farmers, markets and small businesses and teach your children to live consciously and look after their planet.

There are no passengers on spaceship earth, we are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan

N M-J

Research in this area still continues, but the majority of studies have shown no risk to ovarian cancer. Some have shown a slight increase and for this no conclusion has been reached.

AL
Phthalates are banned by Ecocert due to the numerous studies showing their endocrine disruptive properties. As our products are intended mostly for children this is something we take very seriously and would never use phthalates in any of our products.
AN

According to the US Food and Drug Administration study on phalates the FDA determined that there wasn’t a sound, scientific basis to support taking regulatory action against cosmetics containing phthalates: FDA reviewed the safety and toxicity data for phthalates, including the CDC data from 2001, as well as the CIR conclusions based on reviews in 1985 and 2002. While the CDC report noted elevated levels of phthalates excreted by women of child-bearing age, neither this report nor the other data reviewed by FDA established an association between the use of phthalates in cosmetic products and a health risk. It’s not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health. An expert panel convened from 1998 to 2000 by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institute for Environmental Safety and Health, concluded that reproductive risks from exposure to phthalates were minimal to negligible in most cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on March 21, 2001, titled “National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.” The report described a survey of a small segment of the U.S. population for environmental chemicals in urine. One group of chemicals surveyed was phthalates. However, the CDC survey was not intended to make an association between the presence of environmental chemicals in human urine and disease, but rather to learn more about the extent of human exposure to industrial chemicals. In 2002, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel reaffirmed its original conclusion (reached in 1985), finding that DBP, DMP, and DEP were safe as used in cosmetic products. (See “Annual Review of Cosmetic Ingredient Safety Assessments 2002/2003,” International Journal of Toxicology (Supplement 1), 1-102, 2005.) Looking at maximum known concentrations of these ingredients in cosmetics, the panel evaluated phthalate exposure and toxicity data, and conducted a safety assessment for dibutylphthalate in cosmetic products. The panel found that exposures to phthalates from cosmetics were low compared to levels that would cause adverse effects in animals. (The CIR is an industry-sponsored organization that reviews cosmetic ingredient safety and publishes its results in open, peer-reviewed literature. FDA participates in CIR on a non-voting basis and may or may not accept CIR findings.) Historically, the primary phthalates used in cosmetic products have been dibutylphthalate (DBP), used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes (to reduce cracking by making them less brittle); dimethylphthalate (DMP), used in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair); and diethylphthalate (DEP), used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances. According to FDA’s latest survey of cosmetics, conducted in 2010, however, DBP and DMP are now used rarely. DEP is the only phthalate still commonly used in cosmetics.

 

That’s it! A round up of answers to all the questions I’ve wanted to ask the experts. I hope you’ve found this article interesting and helpful and that you feel more informed about what products and ingredients you are happy to use on yourself and your family.

 

Please share this post with someone you feel would find it useful.

 

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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