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ScArY Ingredients

Posted by Anne Du Bois on

Educating our customers about the ingredients in their body products is an important part of our business philosophy. Read labels and educate yourself as to what is safe and what is harmful. Read Lori's Blog "Finding Your Inner Erin Brockovitch"

Some chemical additives may be suspected to be harmful and not scientifically proven to be so. However at Savon Du Bois it is our belief that it is best to play it safe and avoid any ingredient which may be dangerous to our bodies or the environment now or in the future.

There are many good sources of information on the additives below, but the following are a good place to start:

EWG Cosmetics Database
The National Center for Biotechnology Information

One of our favourite books at Savon Du Bois is There’s Lead in Your Lipstick;Toxins in our everyday body care and how to avoid them, by Gillian Deacon.  A must read for everyone.


BHA and BHT:  Endocrine system-disrupting preservatives linked to cancer.

BPA: Read Lori's Blog!

Coal tar (FD&C, D&C colour plus a number, e.g. FD&C Red No. 6 or D&C Green No. 5):  A chemical derivative of coal, it is used in dry skin and anti-redness skin treatments, bath soaks, anti-lice and anti-dandruff shampoos.  It is also used as a colorant in hair dyes. Coal tar has been banned in the  European Union since 2004, and is a known carcinogen.*

DEA/MEA/TEA (diethanolamine, cocamide DEA, lauramide DEA, oleamide diethanolamine):  Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in products such as shampoos, face and body washes, and makeup. It is a suspected carcinogen which is readily absorbed by the skin and other organs. It can create carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Formaldehyde (formalin, formic aldehyde, methanal, methyl aldehyde, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and Bronopol, a. k. a. 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol):  Classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable carcinogenic immune system toxin and skin irritant, it is found as either an additive or a contaminant in some nail products, such as hardeners, polishes and cuticle treatments; hair coloring, false eyelash adhesives;  shampoos, and many other beauty products.  It is banned for use in beauty products by the European Union.*

Mineral oil:  A by-product of petroleum processing, mineral oil is the main ingredient in baby oil and is used in a range of moisturizers, lip glosses, lipsticks, foundations and styling gels.  It is a petrochemical and inhibits the skin’s ability to release toxins.*

Palm oil (or anything with “palm” or “palmate” in its name, like sodium palmate): Avoid this rainforest-destroying crop unless it’s fair trade/organic  OURS IS!

Parabens:  A preservative used in a wide range of beauty products, including shampoos, moisturizers, shaving cream, cleansing gels, and toothpaste.  Parabens are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation/dermatitis. They are also linked to breast cancer as several studies have found them to mimic estrogen.* Read Lori's Blog!

Parfum/fragrance:  The Environmental Working Group and Greenpeace have found high levels of phthalates in products they tested which contain artificial fragrance.  Phthalates are hormone disrupters and sensitizers.  Artificial fragrances are linked to headaches, dizziness, asthma, allergies, and can affect the central nervous system.  Read Lori's Blog!

PEGs (polyethylene glycol compounds, and anything with “-eth” in its name): A penetration enhancer found in many cosmetic and body care products which is easily absorbed into the skin and may be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.

Phthalates: Hormone-disrupting family of chemicals often listed as fragrance or perfumes, they are most commonly found in deodorants and lotions. Linked to endocrine (hormone) disruption, liver, kidney and lung damage, and cancer, these plasticizers are banned in California and the European Union for use in children’s toys.*

Sulfates (sodium or ammonium lauryl/laureth/myreth (esther) sulphate (SLS, SLES): It is used as a foaming agent in soaps and shampoos. These chemicals are easily absorbed by the body and a known skin irritant.  They can be found in body wash, foaming face wash, soap, bubble bath, shampoo, and toothpaste and are often contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.

Talc:  Talc is found in some baby powders and as a moisture-absorbing ingredient in eyeshadow, blush, and deodorant.  It is similar to asbestos in its chemical composition.  It is linked to ovarian cancer and is also a probable respiratory toxin.  Read Lori's great blog! about the dangers of using talc.

Triclosan/triclocarban: Found in many beauty products, including anti-bacterial products, soap, hand sanitizers, face cleansers and deodorants, triclosan has been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption in some laboratory studies. It is also very harmful to the environment.  It is under review by the U.S. FDA and Health Canada which advises consumers to avoid antibacterial products. Currently 1200 cosmetics registered by Health Canada contain triclosan.  It is also a thyroid disruptor and may contribute to antibacterial resistance.* Read Lori's Blog!

*There’s Lead in Your Lipstick;  Toxins in our everyday body care and how to avoid them, by Gillian Deacon. 2011

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