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Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

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Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is found in most shampoos and toothpaste. It is a known skin irritant and is absorbed through the skin and retained in the heart, liver and brain for long periods of time. It can cause damage to the eyes, even when absorbed through the skin. Exposure can lead to coughing, headaches, nausea and vomiting. It is an ingredient of great concern for scientists, especially when children are exposed to it. Oddly, Skin Deep only rates this ingredient a 3.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate(SLES) is a milder version of SLS with an added ether chain and is regularly found in cleansers and shampoos. It is added to thicken and give a richer consistency. It can cause skin irritation, and should be kept away from children.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate(ALS) is also commonly used in shampoos and cleansers. It can irritate eyes, skin and lungs but is much milder and safer than SLS. Lavera uses ALS in the Basis line Shampoos. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database rates this ingredient 1-2.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphoacetate(SLSA) sounds very similar to Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, and its very easy for one to draw the conclusion that its equally bad for the body. In fact that is not the case - the two are very different. Sodium Lauryl Sulphoacetate is a very mild foaming agent and has a Hazard Ranking of 1 (low hazard) in the Skin Deep database. It is derived from coconut and palm oils and creates a rich lather that can easily be rinsed away. Its molecular size is considerably larger than SLS - it is too large to penetrate the skin, unlike the much smaller SLS molecular that does penetrate the skin and lead to skin irritations and other problems.

All of the above are anionic surfactants (or wetting agents) which are used to lower the surface tension of water.

Lavera, True Natural and Benecos products NEVER contain any parabens.

Mineral Oil & Petroleum Jelly (Petrolatum)

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Mineral oils listed as petrolatum (petroleum jelly) or C-18 derivatives are frequently used in personal care products such as lipsticks, lubricants, baby lotions and oils. They commonly contain contaminants that studies have linked to cancer. UCLA studies links "high levels of exposure to mineral oils to increased mortality and incidence of lung cancer, ... melanoma" Source: PubMed.com

Mineral oils are also known to clog pores, forming a barrier preventing skin from eliminating toxins. Repeated use can even set off skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis.

Petroleum Jelly, or Petrolatum, is a semisolid compound derived from hydrocarbon. It can block the skin’s ability to moisturize itself, leading to chapped and dry skin, which are often conditions it is sold to alleviate. While Petrolatum on its own is not too harmful, it is often cheaply produced and the impurities/contaminants often found in Petrolatum are the concern. Frequently, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAH) are found, which have been linked in studies to breast cancer.

Petrolatum has been banned by the EU from use in cosmetics unless the source can be proven and the product shown to be pure. It is listed as a possible human carcinogen.

Lavera only uses plant oils, never petroleum based oils.


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NEWS UPDATE: FDA's own tests now confirm lead in all 20 lipsticks it tested!

Apply, lick off, and repeat. That’s what we as women do many times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Sure, it comes off on a glass, a friend’s cheek, a lover’s lips. But over the course of a lifetime, we swallow a fair amount of lipstick. Four pounds according to Glamour Magazine, six pounds according to urban lore, and nine pounds according to the Environment Working Group, a consumer advocacy group. Whomever you believe, it’s enough consumed lipstick that should make any woman ask: What’s in the lipsticks I’m wearing?

According to a study released by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a division of EWG, more than 60% of the 33 famous brands studied contained lead, with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million. All the regular names you’ve known and used. Lead is a known neurotoxin that has been linked to brain damage and miscarriages, among other things. No lipstick ingredient labels list lead.

The Food and Drug Administration does not limit lead in cosmetics, like it does in candy. In fact, one third of the lipstick brands exceed the FDA limit for lead in candy: 0.1 parts per million. The levels ranged from 0.03 - 0.65 ppm. Very small amounts mind you, but lead levels build up in the body over time.

But its not just lead - parabens, synthetic colors derived from coal-tar, synthetic fragrances, phthalates and BHA are questionable ingredients in many lipsticks, with side-effects that range from skin irritations to being suspected carcinogens.

No, you don’t have to swear off lipsticks forever - just pay attention to what you buy. Just as with food, look at the ingredient labels and stick with products that use certified organic ingredients and are certified natural.

Lavera lipsticks are certified all natural by the BDIH, one of the strictest certifying bodies in world. Lavera lipsticks consist of all natural ingredients such as organic essential oils, candelilla wax, jojoba oil, and natural minerals such as titanium, zinc and iron oxides. Lavera lipsticks come in a vivid range of colors and prove that you can look out for your health and beauty at the same time, without compromise!

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)

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Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is becoming increasingly popular as a preservative to replace parabens. Even some products claiming to be certified organic use this preservative, as certain percentages of non-organic material is allowed by the USDA.

In lab studies, the bacteria-killing agent was shown to restrict the growth of immature rat nerve cells. Studies on live animals are still needed to confirm the findings. Researchers say the early test tube evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to MIT, or exposure to the chemical at high concentrations, could damage the nervous system.

“The biggest potential concern, says lead researcher Elias Aizenman, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is for the fetuses of pregnant women exposed to high doses of MIT.”

Read more about MIT in the CBS article Shampoo Preservative Concerns.

Synthetic Fragrances

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Synthetic fragrances are commonly used in personal care products and are complex formulations containing as many as 200 ingredients. They are used because they are more affordable than pure natural essential oils.

Most adverse reactions to cosmetics and toiletries are caused by fragrance chemicals, which are known irritants and allergens. Many of us have encountered synthetic fragrances that cause us to sneeze or give us headaches, dizziness, violent coughing or even rashes and other skin irritations.

Most hypoallergenic products are fragrance free.

On an ingredient label, fragrances, whether synthetic or natural, are simply listed as “fragrance”, “perfume” or “parfum”, preventing us from identifying the chemical makeup and whether these chemicals may be dangerous to our long-term health.

Lavera, True Natural and Benecos products DO NOT CONTAIN synthetic fragrances - all fragrances are from natural sources such as pure essential oils.

Synthetic Colors

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Synthetic color or FD&C colors are mostly derived from coal tar. Many have been banned from food by the FDA for various reasons: carcinogenicity, allergy inducing, general toxicity, etc. A number caused illnesses in children. They have been shown in clinical studies to cause various types of cancer.

A few of these colors have now been banned from cosmetic use. For instance, the FDA has already banned the new use of Red No.3, a carcinogen that may interfere with nerve transmission in the brain and cause genetic damage.

Long term studies have shown that regular lipstick wearers ingest approximately 2 ½ pounds of lipstick over 20 years. Any synthetic colors are ingested along with the lipstick.

Synthetic colors, if listed on a product, will appear as FD&C or D&C followed by a number, ie. FD&C Red No. 6. Given the various health risks associated with many synthetic colors, if a personal care product uses it, don't use it.

Lavera products use only 100% natural colors and are completely free of FD&C colors.


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Ethoxylation is a chemical process in which ethylene oxide is added to fatty acids to make them more soluble in water. An example of this process is the ethoxylation of sodium dodecyl sulfate to form sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) , often used in shampoos and toothpastes as a foaming agent. The problem with Ethoxylation is its use of a petrochemical called Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product "known to the State of California to cause cancer". Additionally, it is suspected by the Californian EPA to be a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others.

1,4-Dioxane is commonly found in many conventional shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care and household cleaning products but a recent study commission by the Organic Consumers Association found this substance in many popular "natural" and "organic" brands. This same study found products certified by the USDA National Organic Program and the European BDIH foundation to be FREE of 1,4-Dioxane.

A copy of the Organic Consumer Association Consumer Alert on 1,4-Dioxane can be found here.

In a study conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 32 out of 48 children’s skin care products tested positive for 1,4 Dioxane at levels of 0.27 to 35 ppm.



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Phthalates is an ingredient found in many beauty and personal care products, most notably as a carrier for fragrance ingredients. Under current FDA labelling regulations, this ingredient can often be labelled just as "Fragrance", although it is major component in the composition of the product. In other products, it is listed, but as an acronym which makes it harder to identify.

For the latest update on Phthalates, click here: Cosmetic Ingredient Linked to Health Problems, ADHD.

Below is a list of common names for the phthalates found in personal care products:

Phthlate NameCommon Usage
BzBP or
benzylbutyl phthalate
vinyl flooring, car-care products, and personal care products
DBP or
di-n-butyl phthalate
in nail polish and other personal care products
or diethyl phthalate
personal care products, such as deodorants, perfume, cologne, aftershave lotion, shampoo, hair gel, hand lotion

Animal-based studies of phthalates have found that the synthetic chemicals can harm reproductive system development, and studies in humans have found that prenatal exposure or exposure through breast milk can alter hormone concentrations.

A recent study was carried out by researchers on 163 babies and toddlers in the Pacific Northwest at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute, and was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study's lead author, Sheela Sathyanarayana, an acting assistant professor of pediatrics, said, "We found that infant exposure to phthalates is widespread, and that exposure to personal care products applied onto the skin may be an important source.”

"This is troubling, because phthalate exposure in early childhood has been associated with altered hormone concentrations as well as increased allergies, runny nose, and eczema. Babies may be more at risk than children or adults because their reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems are still developing."

The study recommended that parents, who want to decrease their baby's exposure to phthalates, should limit the amount of baby care products used on the infant, and apply lotions or powders only if medically indicated.

Babies recently treated with infant personal care products such as lotion, shampoo, and powder, were more likely to have phthalates in their urine than other babies.

Researchers found that the use of baby powder, lotion, and shampoo were each strongly associated with higher phthalate levels in the urine. Babies, who were 8 months old or younger, had stronger associations between product use and phthalate concentrations, as did babies whose mothers used more infant personal care products.

Europeans, taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, have banned phthalates from personal care products. This is not the case with US made products. Lavera, True Natural and Benecos products are phthalate free.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

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Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is commonly used in cosmetics as cleansing agents, emulsifiers, skin conditioners, surfactants.

According to a report in the International Journal of Toxicology by the cosmetic industry's own Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee, impurities found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide; 1,4-dioxane; polycyclic aromatic compounds; and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, and arsenic. Many of these impurities are linked to cancer. Despite this, the CIR concludes that many PEG compounds “are safe for use” in cosmetics but adds that PEG compounds should “not be used on damaged skin.”

PEG compounds have been found to open the pores of the skin, enabling environmental toxins to more easily enter the body. Examples of these environmental toxins are DDT and DDE, both of which have the ability to influence the endocrine and reproductive systems.

PEG is also known to cause allergic reactions on skin with sun exposure, otherwise known as “Mallorca Acne”.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the following percentages
of common toiletries contain PEG compounds and other impurities that are
linked to breast cancer:

Mousse 90.3%
Hair Dye 79.5%
Baby Bath Wash 73.8%
Douche/Personal Cleanser 58.3%
Menopause Cream 54.5%
Depilatory Cream/Hair Remover 48.2%
Baby Lotion/Oil 46.4%
Anti-Itch/Rash Cream 46.3%
After Sun Products 45.5%
Lip Balm/Treatment 43.6%
Moisturizer 43.1%
Deodorant 42.7%
Facial Moisturizer/Treatment 42.0%
Shaving Products 41.3%
Anti-Aging Treatment 41.0%
Styling Product 39.6%
Eye Treatment 38.8%
Concealer 37.9%
Foot Odor/Cream/Treatment 37.3%
Conditioner 35.2%


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Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives commonly used in cosmetics. They are commonly found at the bottom of the ingredient listing, if one is available.

Common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.

Parabens and other synthetic preservatives are known to cause irritations to sensitive skin. Parabens were also found to cause heart tissue problems over an extended time period. They are suspected to influence breast cancer and are known endocrine disruptors that influence the hormonal system and can affect fetal development.

Lavera, True Natural and Benecos products are 100% free from all parabens and still offer 2 or more years of shelf life after production.

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