A colorless, volatile, flammable liquid produced by the fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates. Alcohol is used frequently as
a solvent and is also found in beverages and medicine. As an ingredient in ingestible products, alcohol may cause body tissues
to be more vulnerable to carcinogens. Mouthwashes with an alcohol content of 25% or more have been implicated in mouth,
tongue and throat cancers.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
An organic acid produced by anaerobic respiration. Skin care products containing AHA exfoliate not only damage skin cells,
but the skin's protective barrier as well. Long term skin damage may result from its use.
Used as a thickener and stabilizer in creams, toothpaste, eye makeup and bathing products. It is a known allergen that has a
high acidic PH in 1% water solution. Synthetic emulsifier that can cause eye irritations and should be avoided.
DEA compounds (diethanolamine), Imidazolidinyl Urea, Formaldehyde, Hydrolysed Animal Protein Lauryl Sarcosine, MEA
compounds (momoethanolamine), TEA compounds (triethanolamine), 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol · Cocoyl Sarcosine
· · Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc.
Often appears on labels as Cocamide DEA and are commonly found in cleansers, shampoos and body washes as an emulsifier
and foaming agent. According to a 1998 research study by the National Toxicology Program, these chemicals affect hormone
function and are known to produce cancer causing nitrates and nitrosamines in laboratory animals. The FDA is currently
evaluating the link between DEA and cancer in humans. There are wide and repeated concerns in the USA and Europe about
the contamination of cosmetics products with nitrosamines.
Dimethicone, Dimethicone Copolyol, Cyclomethicone
Silicone emollients are occlusive -that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to
breathe (much like plastic wrap would do.) Recent studies have indicated that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by
occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumour promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph
nodes. They are also non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.
Elastin of high molecular weight
A protein similar to collagen that is the main component of elastic fibres. Elastin is also derived from animal sources. Its
effect on the skin is similar to collagen.
FD&C Color Pigments, Synthetic colors:
Often made from coal tar, dyes are generally labeled as FD&C or D&C followed by a number. These artificial colorings can
cause skin sensitivity and may be carcinogenic.
Usually petroleum-based. Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many
toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the USA FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration,
violent coughing, vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system,
causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.
Preservatives that have the loosening effect of formaldehyde. Renowned for causing eczema. After parabens, these are some
of the most used preservatives. They are well established as a main cause of contact dermatitis (the American Academy of
Dermatology). There are three commercial names for these chemical products: Germall II, Germal 115 and Germall Plus. None
of them has a good antimycotic action and it must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde
at a little more than 10°C. These chemical products are toxic.
A syrupy liquid that is chemically produced by combining water and fat. Glycerin is used as a solvent and plasticizer. Unless
the humidity of air is over 65%, glycerin draws moisture from the lower layers of the skin and holds it on the surface, which
dries the skin from the inside out.
Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin
The most commonly used preservatives after parabens. It is the second most identified cosmetic preservative causing contact
dermatitis according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These preservatives also release formaldehyde, a chemical
that can cause skin irritations as well as health problems such as migraines, joint pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, allergies and
A petroleum-derived solvent found in hair rinses, hand lotions and shaving products.
A fatty substance extracted from wool, which is frequently found in cosmetics and lotions. Lanolin is a common skin
sensitizer that can cause allergic reactions, such as skin rashes.
A derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Mineral oil forms an oily
film over the skin to lock in moisture, toxins and wastes, but hinders normal skin respiration by keeping oxygen out. Baby oil is
100% mineral oil.
Oleth 3 (DEA)
These chemicals and related ingredients are emulsifiers and foaming agents, widely used in a variety of cosmetic products,
particularly bubble bath, bodywash, shampoo, soap and facial cleansers. Ethanolamines are eye and skin irritants, causing
contact dermatitis. DEA is easily absorbed through the skin, and accumulates in body organs, even the brain. “Animal tests
show it causes damage to the liver, kidney, brain, spinal cord, bone marrow, and skin. Contact with the eyes can cause impaired
vision“ (Dangerous Beauty Cosmetics and Personal Care, P. Dingle and T. Brown, 1999). In 1998, the National Toxicology
Program (NTP) did a research study showing an association between cancer in laboratory animals and diethanolamine (DEA)
and certain DEA-related ingredients, when applied topically (Diethanolamine and Cosmetic Products, FDA Office of Cosmetics
Fact Sheet, Dec. 9, 1999).
These preservatives were developed in the 1930's to stabilize creams. Synthetic Methyl, Ethyl and Propyl Parabens were
developed from benzoic acid and were considered effective and economical since they were inexpensive to use as both a
cosmetic and food grade preservative. However, recently this preservative system has come into question as these substances
have been found in cancerous tissues, especially breast tissue. A study by the Journal of Pharmaceutical Science revealed
that six infants, after receiving multiple doses of a gentamicin formula containing paraben preservatives, found traces of the
parabens in urine samples of up to 82.6%. Several studies at Heildburg and Brunel Universities are exploring the role parabens
play once inside the body. The greatest concern regarding parabens focuses on their oestrogen mimicking factor in
laboratory animals (i.e. their ability to mimic estrogen in the body). More research needs to be done to see if similar exposure
on humans produces like findings. Also significant was a study performed by the British Industrial Biological Research
Association that recorded the effects of parabens in decreasing testosterone levels and sperm count on the male
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Used to break down oil or help thicken products. It is an ethoxylated wetting agent for detergents, foaming agents,
emulsifiers and solvents and may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potential carcinogen permeable to the skin. Dioxane can
easily be removed from the raw material but it is not mandatory to do so leaving the consumer guessing.
Propylene Glycol (PG)
An alcohol that can be manufactured synthetically, usually from petroleum or naturally, from corn. Synthetically derived, it is
used as a surfactant or wetting agent and is an active ingredient in industrial antifreeze. Material Safety Data Sheets
(MSDS) on propylene glycol warn users to avoid skin contact as it is systemic and can cause kidney and liver abnormalities.
Propylene glycol may damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage to the skin.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
Harsh detergents and wetting agents used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and auto cleaning products. SLS is well-
known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant. It is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and
liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. SLS could retard healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent
children's eyes from developing properly.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
SLES is the alcohol form (ethoxylated) of SLS. It is slightly less irritating than SLS, but may cause more drying. Both SLS
and SLES may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by
reacting with other ingredients. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing.
Sorbitan Oleate, Sorbitan Laurate
Water dispersants. Skin and eye irritant.
Richard Klecka is a practicing massage therapist of 15 years and co-owner of Healing Earth Resources, a multi-disciplinary
healing center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is the Vice President and C.O.O. of AHA! INC., the parent company of Klecka
Naturals aromatherapy products. He can be reached for comment at 919-918-1080 and by email: Richard@KleckaNaturals.com