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Breast Cancer Awareness Month - What Lurks In Your Skincare?

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The use of skincare is a very important part of every woman’s life. The skin is an organ, like our brain or heart; it is the largest organ in our body that protects us against disease and infection. By taking care of our skin not only do we reduce some of life’s less wanted events such as acne and wrinkles, but also reducing the risk of developing various types of skin cancer, such as melanoma.

Since our skin absorbs approximately 67% of what is applied, please consider the following list of the top 15 ingredients to avoid at all cost. (This list came from the Marin Cancer Project. ) Some of these ingredients are found in most commercial skincare/cosmetic lines in the United States, and since there are no regulations as it pertains to skincare/cosmetics, we the consumer are powerless against the false advertising and multi-million dollar marketing budgets of the larger corporations.

In my next blog I will discuss the standards in natural and organic skincare; how the words natural and organic are defined; and what, if any, regulations there are when using those terms in marketing. I will also touch upon the difference between NATURAL ingredients and a NATURAL product; and what that means to us as consumers.

For now, take a look at the following ingredients and check your bathroom cabinets to see if any of these potentially cancer causing agents are found in your products.

Let me know what you find lurking there…

1) Chemical: Butyl Acetate

Solvent in polishes and treatments; prevents chipping.
Present in: Nail polish and nail treatments like strengtheners, hardeners,
Top/base coats.
Health Concerns: Repeated exposure causes skin dryness and cracking; vapors may induce drowsiness or dizziness.

2) Chemical: Butylated Hydroxytoluene

Anti-oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color.
Present in: Lip Makeup, Moisturizer, Eye Makeup, Anti-Aging Treatment,
Foundation, Fragrance, Bar Soap, Shaving Products, Antiperspirant/
Deodorant, Concealer, Sunscreen, Facial Cleanser, Body Wash, Blush,
Shampoo, Conditioner, Acne Treatment, Body Lotion/Oil, Powder, Makeup
Remover, Depilatory Cream, Toothpaste, Styling Product, Exfoliator, Nail treatments.
Health Concerns: Eye and skin irritant.

3) Chemical: Coal Tar

Controls itching and eczema, softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin, also used in hair dyes.
Present in: Shampoos and hair dyes.
Health Concerns: International agency government research on cancer says there is sufficient evidence that coal tars are carcinogenic in humans. EU banned coal tar from cosmetics in 2004.

4) Chemical: Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA

Used as foaming agents in shampoos and bath products, and
as emulsifying agents in cosmetics; foaming and cleansing agent for
“mouth feel”.
Present in: Shampoo, Body Wash/Cleansers, Bath Oils, Facial Cleanser,
Liquid Hand Soap, Bar Soap,Acne Treatment, Baby Wash, Shaving Products,
Body Scrubs, Foot Odor/Cream/Treatment, Deodorant,Moisturizer, Hair
Health Concerns: May be contaminated with impurities linked to cancer or
other signi"cant health problems.May form carcinogenic compounds called
nitrosamines on the skin or in the body after absorption. Insu!cient toxicity
data to determine safety in products that will be inhaled, where chemicals
become airborne and can be inhaled.

5) Chemical: Diazolidinyl Urea

Formaldehyde-releasing, anti-microbial preservative.
Present in: Moisturizer, Styling Products, Shampoo/Conditioner, Hair
Spray/Dyes,Anti-Aging Treatment, Facial Cleanser, Sunscreen, Facial
Moisturizer, Foundation, Eye Makeup,Acne Treatment,Mascara, Body
Wash/Cleansers, Deodorant, Concealer, Exfoliator, Powder, Body Scrubs,
Bath Oils/Salts, Eye/Contact Care, Lip Makeup, Shaving Products,After Sun
Product, Douche/Personal Cleanser,Makeup Remover, Depilatory
Cream/Hair Remover, Liquid Hand Soap, Nail Treatments, Pain Relief
Rub/Ointment, Fragrance.
Health Concerns: May be contaminated with impurities linked to cancer or
other signi"cant health problems.

From the Organic Authority Files

6) Chemical: Ethyl Acetate

Present in: Nail polish products,mascara, tooth whitening, perfume.
Health Concerns: Eye and skin irritant.

7) Chemical: Formaldehyde

Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, preservative.
Present in: Deodorants, nail polish, soap, shampoo, shaving cream.
Health Concerns: Suspected human carcinogen,may trigger asthma, irritant
to the eyes, upper respiratory tract, can damage DNA, banned by the EU.

8) Chemical: Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl)

Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in
cosmetics to inhibit bacteria, yeast and mold growth and are antibacterial
agents in antibacterial toothpaste.
Present in: Moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, hair styling gels, nail
creams, foundations, facial masks, skin creams, and deodorants, baby lotions,
chemicals in our daily use products that should be avoided
and other personal care products for children.
Health Concerns: May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risks for
certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a
fetus or young child.May cause skin irritation, rash or allergic skin reactions;
studies have found parabens in breast tumors.

9) Chemical: Petrolatum

Petrochemical that forms a barrier on skin;makes lipsticks shine
and creams smoother; helps to soften skin in the same way as other products
but less expensive.
Present in: One of every personal care products; creams, lotions, wax depilatories,
eyebrow pencils, eye shadows, liquid powders, lipsticks.
Health Concerns: May be contaminated with impurities, linked to cancer or
other signi"cant health problems; causes allergic reactions. Banned by the EU.

10) Chemical: Phthalates

Industrial chemicals that are used as solvents and plasitcizers in
Present in: Nail polish, deodorant, fragrance, hair spray, hair gel/mousse,
Health Concerns: Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and in particular
the developing male reproductive tract; permanent birth defects in the
male reproductive system.

11) Chemical: Propylene Glycol

Penetration enhancer; keeps products from melting in high heat or
freezing when it is cold.
Present in: Shampoo/conditioner, bar soap, body wash, face cleanser, liquid
hand soap, acne treatment, hair dye, shaving products,moisturizer,makeup
remover, toothpaste, sunscreen, perfume, cologne, deodorant, toner/astringent,
foundation, bronzer powder, nail polish, lip products, eye shadow/pencil,
Health Concerns:Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate
deep into the skin increasing the amount of other chemicals that reach the
bloodstream; skin irritant, causes allergic reactions.

12) Chemical: Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate

Penetration enhancer.
Present in: Shampoo/conditioner, bar soap, body wash, face cleanser, liquid
hand soap, acne treatment, hair dye,mascara, shaving products,moisturizer,
toothpaste, sunscreen,makeup remover, perfume, cologne.
Health Concerns: Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate
deep into the skin increasing the amount of other chemicals that reach the

13) Chemical: Talc

Absorbs moisture.
Present in: Primary ingredient in blush and powder eye shadow, perfumed
powder, baby powder, deodorant, soap.
Health Concerns: Cosmetic-grade talc is a proven carcinogen, link between
use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, talc particles are similar to asbestos
particles and data suggests that it can cause tumors in the lungs, found to
cause tumors in lab animals.

14) Chemical: Toluene

Solvent to improve adhesion and gloss.
Present in: Mainly nail polish and hair dye.
Health Concerns: Potentially cancer causing, pregnancy concern, liver damage,
irritating to the skin and respiratory tract; harmful by inhalation.

15) Chemical: Triethanolamine

A coating ingredient for fresh fruits and widely used as a dispersing
ingredient in hand and body lotions, shaving cream, soaps, shampoos and bath
Present in: Hand and body lotions, shaving creams, soaps, shampoos and bath
Health Concerns: May form carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines
(compounds formed when chemicals containing nitrites react with amine,
natural chemicals found in food and the body) on the skin or in the body—
among the most potent cancer-causing agents found.Thought to possibly
cause cancer in humans, based on limited data.

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