Green Beauty: A Safe Cosmetics Portal
PEG Compounds in Cosmetics
Avoid polyethylene glycol in beauty products
Polyethylene Glycol is abbreviated as PEG, which is a petroleum based compound and found in many products including personal care products for hygiene and beautification. Let's discuss PEGs in more detail.
PEG compounds are found in moisturizers, toothpastes, and facial masks (or peel off masques), as well as a host of other beauty products. Many of these cosmetics containing PEGs contain ethylene oxide and more importantly 1,4-dioxane (not to be confused with 1,4-dioxin). Even products labeled natural or organic have the PEGs.
The U.S. Organic Consumers Association sponsored testing in 2008 and dioxane was found in almost half of the organics personal care products tested. Specifically 1,4-Dioxane is still an unregulated substance used in cosmetics in China and the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) has conducted tests since 1979 and although encourages the removal of 1,4-Dioxane from products, it is NOT mandatory, and should be.
The chemical Ethylene Oxide is a known human carcinogen, and other PEGs are harmful on injured, broken or damaged skin. Many PEGS can just as easily harm healthy skin due to the enhancer properties of those compounds, because PEG compounds increase the permeability of the skin to allow greater absorption of the product and contaminants of 1,4-Dioxane.
Some PEGs are better than others and some cosmetic companies use the vacuum stripping process to remove dioxane, but how would one know since products do not specifiy vacuum processing and even IF they did, no one checks behind them to see if they actual did it. That being the case, you could just as easily smear oil on your face and take your chances, so I would say stay away from cosmetics with PEG compounds.
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Related reading PEG compounds and their contaminates by David Suzuki, and environmentalist and science broadcaster that studied genetics and zoology
Cosmetics and Aluminum
Avoid Aluminum Starch ingredients in cosmetics
Beauty and Cosmetics Safety is not regulated in most countries or not regulated well, but you can check the safety of your beauty products and the ingredients in them yourself, and I'll show you how.
Most people look at the labels (like this one here at the right) and determine that it is probably a good product because it has shea butter and bee pollen, but they overlook other dangers. Their eyes immediately zoom in and get fixed on those ingredients, but miss the words OR do not understand the words "Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate".
This aluminum starch is but only one of a myriad of other dangerous ingredients in cosmetics today. This bottle of hand lotion is mine, or it WAS mine, until I researched the ingredients and found the damage that aluminum starch does, which then prompted me to check all the beauty products I use. I ended up doing a major clean-out and have since discarded this lotion and other products. Photo credit: own work
This aluminum toxin is not just a mild toxin as evidenced by the next picture showing a high mark of 9 out of a possible 10 surrounded by the RED dot. I took this picture myself after I did a search to check ingredients and what really surprised me was that 466 products on the market use this aluminum toxin. I was blown away.
Strangely enough, the U.S. Government did a study on this aluminum starch in 2002, but only assessed it for food safety and yet the cosmetic use of this starch, which acts like an anticaking agent was not addressed. The website states and I quote "No information was available on the presence of impurities in the cosmetic-grade ingredient." They went on further to say that cosmetics have had concentrations as high as 30%. Well now, didn't they just say no information was available? Either it's not available or they do know something. Then they add another tidbit stating that established limitations imposed on heavy metal concentrations are not to be exceeded in such products. Well that is as clear as mud ! They still aren't saying WHAT the established limitations are and they aren't going to because there is NO regulation.
The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate cosmetics, but instead the cosmetics industry police themselves. There is more information available on the non-regulation of cosmetics companies by the FDA located in the links section below (a video).
Below you will see info on another danger in cosmetics, which is nanotechnology, then I'll cover Retinol and lastly I'll introduce some green beauty products that are safer and a way that you too can check your own cosmetics "green-ness".
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Video on Unsafe Cosmetics
Is nanotechnology in cosmetics safe?
The BIG word in cosmetics today is nanotechnology, as IF a big word will do big things. Nanotechnology or nanotech is the use of nanoparticles, nano-clusters, or buckyballs. But are they safe for beauty products?
While some claim nanotechnology can be good for materials and for building machines to make them lighter and stronger, they are however NOT considered good for cosmetics at this time. There is a lot of debate over this and all the results are not in. Here is an article on beauty news about a story that aired on NPR (radio) about nano-cosmetics. In February 2007, another article ran about nanotechnology in cosmetics and even named some of the beauty companies engaged in this process. Nanowerk's article from 2007 can be seen here. Scientific American ran an article that was viewed by 2.3 million people titled "Study says carbon nanotubes as dangerous as asbestos." Photo Credit: Own work
Even IF the process of nanotechnology for cosmetics was considered safe that still would not automatically make them herbal, organic, or hypoallergenic, so one could still say with confidence that these are not green cosmetics.
There are no labeling laws that exist for nano ingredients used in personal care products in the USA, but the European Union may be close to making this a reality for their countries. The EU's Scientific Committee on Consumer Products feels that the current approach to understanding and assessing the risks of nano particles in cosmetics is inadequate and that a review of the safety of nanomaterials and the process is needed.
Article is my own work, Copyright retained
See below for some healthier choices in cosmetics and some to avoid.
Is Retinol Good or Bad
Is Retinol A for anti-aging worth it?
Retinol, is one of the animal forms of Vitamin A and Vitamin A in general when converted to certain forms can be good for the eyes, skin, and immune systems, but the retinol form in cosmetics is another whole different ball game.
Retinol in cosmetics is often called Retinal A, but also depending on the process it can also be referred to as:
* * Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A palmitate)
* * Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A acetate)
* * Retinyl Propionate
* * and Retinyl Linoleate
Most of the cosmetic companies using some form of Retinol were rated by EWG (Environmental Working Group) and the ratings were extremely poorly due to several health concerns. There is a low to medium concern for cancer, and a moderate concern for organ system toxicity (non-reproductive organs), and that's not the worst of it. The developmental and reproductive toxicity is high as well as the biochemical or cellular level changes.
There is a company who makes these retinol products with a formula containing a polymer, and on the surface seem to be a better alternative, because they rate better at least on the issue of Vitamin A Retinol, but they fall short on other parts of their manufacturing process. Another company making a retinol product seemed worth checking out, but they suggested mixing 2 of their products together (inconvenient) and the second product you add to the 1st has issues. Seriously, you would be better with Vitamin A supplements taken orally, but be careful since too much can be toxic.
Company 415 Labs used to make Bella Pelle Renewal A-X, which supposedly fought anti-aging, but the product is no longer made. They were the only one considered fairly decent enough for EWG to rate them pretty well, and now there are no Retinol A products EWG rates well. (Just food for thought.)
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Photo Credit: Public Domain
Natural Antioxidant Cosmetics
Natural cosmetics with fruit and vegetable antioxidants
"100% Pure" cosmetic company does not use synthetic dyes, but instead is naturally colored by nature using fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. They also don't believe in refining their butters, salts and sugars, which causes the loss of nutrients and minerals, so instead those ingredients remain unrefined. Most of the products they carry are gluten free, and although Vitamin E often contains gluten, 100% Pure makes sure that their vitamin E is derived from cold pressing rice bran.
They have a questions and answers section that discloses what most companies would want to be kept private and that is impressive. Honesty and transparency gets high marks. One of their collections includes a skin care line of lightening products, but instead of using the unhealthy hydroquinone as its active ingredient, they use kojic acid, sake, bearberry, fruit acids, licorice, lemon juice, strawberries and Vitamin C.
They also have a product line with the key active ingredient made from the compound found in wine and grape skins called Resveratrol, used in anti-aging.
100% Pure Product characteristics:
Uses Natural products
Uses some organic
No artificial fragrance or perfumes
No artificial colors or dyes
No thickeners or emulsifiers
No synthetic chemicals
BPA free bottle and recyclable
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Clean and brighten with the purity line of 100% Pure
After cleansing, use this toner for a fresh, clean feel
Cosmetics Organic Farming
Sustainable agriculture for beauty products
Organic farming and substainable agriculture are rarely found in cosmetics, however Tata Harper strives to do just that. Tata Harper cultivates its own herbs and flowers on their farm without chemicals for natural, non-toxic results.
The company says, we "believe in farming and gardening without the use of chemicals to respect the health of the land and our bodies." They don't use synthetic ingredients in their products or chemicals in the growing process at their 1200 acre farm. Tata's Natural Alchemy LLC owns the research, production and manufacturing processes themselves so they really are hands on at every stage. By being their own manufacturers, they don't have to outsource and therefore can have control of the eco process and ingredients are more fresh as well. The Harper farm buys recycled paper and packaging material, and uses recycleable glass bottles for their products. They even buy renewable energy from the state of Vermont (USA) to run their facilities, and they keep all activity in one place to cut down on the carbon footprint.
Tata Harper's Champlain Valley farm, "Julius Kingdom" has several accolades:
* Certified Organic by the North American Farmer's Association
* Products are certified 100% vegetarian
* Certified as a Natural Cosmetics company by the globally recognized EcoCert
* Member of the Leaping Bunny Association, for cruelty-free and non-animal tested
* A signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics (info on this below)
Tata Harper includes skin care, lip care and now manicure and pedicure products. I will warn you though, the products contain a pretty hefty pricetag, but I've listed some of their lesser expensive items below.
Tata Harper Organics - Tata Harper on Amazon
Moisturize, hydrate and protect with this antioxidant sheer lip treatment
6 items in this set includes cleanser, moisturizer, repair serum and more.
Cosmetics ratings for safety
Here is a sample list I put together of safer cosmetics, and the ones not so safe per EWG, an organization that has tested over 65,000 products, and HOW YOU TOO can find out about the products in your medicine cabinet or makeup bag.
The beauty rating chart compares both the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group (EWG), with EWG rating 0 for best and 10 being the worst.
Safer Cosmetics in chart form is below.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics vs. EWG: their differences
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who organized the "compact" is entirely a separate entity from EWG, and one does not need to have signed the compact agreement in order to be tested by EWG. Another important note is that a company could have ratings that are not favorable by EWG, (in some categories, while others are fine) and still have signed the alliance and is listed with the Compact for Safer Cosmetics, and that's a flaw in my opinion. Other times I have seen companies who are signers of the compact, but are listed as non-compliant, which can be for a number of reasons, including not active in the last year. The Environmental Working Group or EWG is a better source I think, but both have something of value to add.
However it is not possible for any cosmetic company to rate the best with zeros on EWG's scale for ALL products they make and sell. I would suggest picking some things from some brands, and some products from other brands or manufacturers. I will provide info at the bottom so you can check your cosmetics at home against the list. There are some that were really bad and I will alert you to those companies below.
Cosmetic Companies NOT so Safe (as of 2012)
"Estee Lauder" is NOT on the list with the Compact for Safe Cosmetics AND many products also rated poorly with EWG as well - often reaching high with 7's, 8's and 9's and a 10.Dr. Hauschka products used by some Hollywood stars is NOT on the "compact" list and also did not rate favorably with EWG either. EWG rates Hauschka's products near the end of the mid-range concern, with numbers as high as "6"."Meaningful Beauty" whose spokesperson is model Cindy Crawford is not on the "compact" safe list, and EWG rated their products at "6". On the infomercials, Dr. Sebaugh calls this a "youth molecule", but what they don't tell you is how poorly they rated. What really shocked me was that they don't make hundreds of products, and the few they do, they got it wrong.
Safer Cosmetics alternate list - list 2
To check the safety rating of your favorite cosmetics for free, I'm providing a link, Don't forget to check out the other links section for more great info.
Beauty Links to Protect You
- The 12 worst chemicals in cosmetics today - the "Dirty Dozen"
The two links at the top do not work, but otherwise good info here.
- Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies - Report from Cosmetic Meeting
Committee - Woodrow Wilson International Center - of 212 nano products tested 31 are cosmetics
Stacy Malkan spent years gathering information and researching the dangerous side of the cosmetics industry, before writing this book.
© 2011 GetFactsnotHype