Ten Synthetic Ingredients to Avoid (emphasis
by Aubrey Hampton
If you want natural products, you have to be willing to search
them out. Learn to read labels, and refuse to settle for half-natural hair and
skin care. Below I've listed and described my "ten most wanted" I most
want to see off the labels of so-called natural hair and skin care products.
1. Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea — These
are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are well
established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of
Dermatology). Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall
115. Neither of the Germall chemicals have a good antifungal, and must be
combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at just
over 10°. These chemicals are toxic.
2. Methyl and Propyl and Butyl and Ethyl Paraben —
Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products.
Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Have caused many allergic
reactions and skin rashes. Methyl paraben combines benzoic acid with
the methyl group of chemicals. Highly toxic.
3. Petrolatum — I see this on lip products from time
to time, which is humorous to me because they're usually advertised as
protecting the lips from sunburn, chapping and so forth. Petrolatum is mineral
oil jelly, and mineral oil causes a lot of problems when used on the skin
photosensitivity (i.e., promotes sun damage), and it tends to interfere with the
body's own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and
chapping. You are being sold a product that creates the very conditions it
claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably
4. Propylene Glycol — Ideally this is a vegetable
glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually it is a
synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. Has been known to cause
allergic and toxic reactions.
5. PVP/VA Copolymer — A petroleum-derived chemical
used in hairsprays, wavesets and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic,
since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive
6. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate — This synthetic substance
is used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye
irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to
dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in
pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation "comes
7. Stearalkonium Chloride — A chemical used in hair
conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium
chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot
cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or
herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic.
8. Synthetic Colors — The synthetic colors used to
supposedly make a cosmetic "pretty" should be avoided at all costs,
along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a
color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic
colors are believed to be cancer-causing agents. If a cosmetic contains
them, don't use it.
9. Synthetic Fragrances — The synthetic fragrances
used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know
what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply say
"Fragrance." Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are
headaches, dizziness, rash, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing,
vomiting, and skin irritation. You should avoid buying a cosmetic
that has the word "Fragrance" on the ingredients label.
10. Triethanolamine — Often used in cosmetics to
adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate),
which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions
including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic
if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
To Summarize: Look for natural
ingredients in the products you buy. Do not use cosmetics that are artificially
colored. Is the shampoo bright green or blue? Very likely it contains a coal tar
color. Does the product contain synthetic fragrances? Don't buy it. You may
find that some of your allergy problems will suddenly disappear when you no
longer use cosmetics formulated with petrochemicals and other synthetics.