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Label Search - 10 things to avoid 

Looking at labels and trying to decide if its ok or not can be quite daunting.  I have compiled a list of what we would consider to be the major ingredients to avoid when purchasing a product.  You can always check out other ingredients in our glossary.  If you still can’t find what your looking for you can always email us we have piles of research data here at The Organic Salon.com HQ!.  For a product that comes so up close and personal to you its important to know exactly what your getting.

It is a legal requirement that all skin care products must be labelled with the ingredients in descending order of their quantity in the product.  A good rule of thumb is to divide the ingredients list into thirds: the top third usually contains 90-95% of the product, the middle third usually contains 5-8% and the bottom third, 1-3%.

Here are our 10 majors to avoid.....

Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl also known as hydroxy methyl benzoates)
These are synthetic preservatives widely used in food and cosmetics. They are used as an inhibitors of microbial growth (to stop the product going off) and to extend shelf life.  They are toxic they cause allergic reactions and skin rashes and have been linked to asthma and eczema. They get absorbed into the blood stream and disrupt the hormonal system. They may also be associated with breast cancer. Parabens are EDC's - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals see EDC's in our glossary. Autopsies done on cancerous tumours have shown residues of methyl, ethyl and propyl parabens, and the only way these could have been introduced is through the external use of skincare and cosmetics.

PEG/ PPG (followed by a number)
Acronym for Polyethylene Glycol and Polypropylene Glycol which can be synthetic or part synthetic, It can be derived from a vegetable and mixed with grain alcohol (it would usually say on the label if so). Usually it’s a synthetic petrochemical mix and has been known to causes skin irritations, dermatitis, eczema and hives. Infact we go as far as avoiding anything with a number in the listing apart from pro-vitamin B5.

Sodium Lauryl / Laureth Sulphate - SLS and SLES
A thickener and foaming agent. It is a very common, cheap detergent found in thousands of cosmetic products and a strong degreaser.  It can cause irritation to the skin and hair, cracking of the epidermis and eye damage.

Tests show foetuses subjected to these substances do not develop functioning eyes, and they are implicated in the formation of cataracts in adults. In America, many toothpastes carry a warning label by law because they contain sodium laurel sulphate: 'warning keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. In case of accidental ingestion seek professional assistance or contact a poison control centre immediately’.

Mineral Oil and Petrolatum
The main lubricant in most creams are liquid paraffin, propylene or mineral oil.  It doesn’t nourish the skin and can disrupt the body’s own moisturising system resulting in dryness.  These are by products from petrol refinery that are 'dumped' in huge quantities in the cosmetic industry. They are cheap and stable and so don't go off easily. They can clog pores and prevent the skin from 'breathing' and contribute to acne. Your skin gets addicted to it and literally peels if you stop using it. Often when changing from a mineral oil based skin care to a natural one the skin does a mini de-tox.  See our FAQ’s section for more info on this.

More than 5000 chemicals are used in making fragrances, 95 per cent of which are mostly or entirely synthetic, usually derived from petroleum or coal tar. When you see the word Fragrance on a bottle it could have up to 200 ingredients so there is no way of knowing exactly what is in it.  Nearly a third of the chemical additives used in perfumes and other scented products are known to be toxic, and have been known to cause such problems as headaches, rashes, vomiting, allergic reactions and even birth defects, and central nervous system disorders.

Deithanolamine and Triethanolamine (don’t worry about trying to remember them they are usually shortened to DEA or TEA on the label), they are often used in cosmetics as foaming agents or emulsifiers in products such as eye gels, skin lotions and moisturising creams.  They are nitrosamine precursors which means they interact with other chemicals in the product to form nitrosamines which are carcinogens (cause cancer). Can causes facial dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dryness and eye irritations.

Synthetic Colours/Coal Tar dyes
Colours D & C Red 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 17, 19, & 33, Green 5, Orange 17, RD & C Blue 1, 2 & 4, Green 3, Red 4 & 40, Yellow 5 & 6 are direct carcinogens (cause cancer). They are also a frequent source of allergic reactions, particularly skin rashes and hives.  Just looking at some bottles you can tell by the colour of the substance (some almost glow!) whether it would appear frequently or naturally in nature or not.

Phthalates (pronounced thalates)
In Dec 2002 researchers found high levels of chemicals called phthalates in some well-known perfumes and toiletries, which also imitate toxic forms of estrogen, are not listed on labels.  Specifically dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

These chemicals, already known to contribute to male infertility and to cause genital abnormalities in mice and rats, were found in 34 products. Genital abnormalities such as undescended testicles, malformations of the urinary tract and hypospadias now occur in 4 per cent of baby boys. Prostate damage, and reduced sperm numbers and motility are on the rise among adult men.

Formaldehyde is highly toxic, neurotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic. Formaldehyde precursors react with other chemicals in the product to release formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies) - 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-,2-diol, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM-Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Metheneamine, Quaternium-15, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. These are widely used preservatives.  They directly cause cancer.

No-one knows exactly how aluminium compounds reduce underarm wetness. They may prevent sweating by clogging sweat ducts. But clogging leads to pressure from the sweat build-up inside the ducts, and it's thought that this may cause the sweat glands to stop secreting. A look at the incidence of breast cancer among 400 US women suggests it may be a combination of underarm shaving and deodorant use that allows chemicals to seep into breast tissue.  We sell some totally natural deodorants, you can view them under personal hygiene in the body section.

Please see our glossary page for sources of information.

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