The US has seen reports from The Environmental Working Group (EWG) on which ingredients to avoid in cosmetics. Many Canadians are also concerned with the safety of their cosmetic and personal care products and are working to do something about it.
The David Suzuki Foundation — an advocacy group of scientific and policy experts working with government, businesses, and individuals to protect our environment and promote social change — conducted an online survey inviting Canadians to take a closer look at commonly used personal care products. Commonly used products encompass shampoo, soaps, cosmetics and other personal care products that we use on a daily basis. The survey included 6,243 participants and 12,550 products, 80 percent of which contained at least one ingredient from the Dirty Dozen list, and 57 percent containing more than one. Only 20 percent of products used by the participants contained none of the ingredients on the Dirty Dozen. Eight percent of the products reviewed in the survey carried no ingredient listing at all.
Of the toxic ingredients in the products surveyed the most common was fragrance / perfume, showing up in over half of these commonly used products. These synthetic scent ingredient compositions have been linked to such health issues as allergies, asthma, neurotoxicity, and cancer. And what makes them even more dangerous is the fact that manufacturers do not have to disclose the individual scent ingredients on product labels. Many cosmetics manufacturers want to keep their trademark scent "recipes" secret for competitive reasons. This trade secret loophole allows manufacturers using synthetic fragrance to hide hazardous ingredients under the term "fragrance".
Fragrance is just one area where the foundation would like to see governmental regulations applied. They would also like other ingredients from the Dirty Dozen replaced with safer alternatives, prohibition of anti-bacterial household products (tricosan), restrict use of terms "natural" and "organic" in products that contain harmful ingredients, and extend ingredient disclosure to household cleaners, toys, and furnishings (items which often contain no ingredient listings).
The bright side? This is one area where consumers actually do have some control. Become familiar with the Dirty Dozen and follow brands that prohibit use of these ingredients.
As for fragrance in natural products? Yes, you will see the term "Fragrance (Parfum)" on our product labels. Most natural product manufacturers will still use confidential blends of natural essential oils to create the unique scent of their products. The listing Fragrance appears with an footnote stating that only natural essential oils are used. A Natural Certification like the BDIH or NPA confirms that natural ingredients are used in these products.
At loveTrueNatural, we carry everything from shampoo and body wash, to makeup and anti-aging skin care. All safe, gentle, and free from harmful synthetic ingredients. Looking to restock your bathroom shelves? Check out our affordable natural products today!
By stocking up on safe cosmetic and personal care products for your family you are using your consumer dollars to voice your opinion on the ingredients you would like to use. And those you don’t.
The Dirty Dozen
- BHA/BHT; Used as a preservative in moisturizers and makeup. Suspected endocrine disruptors, may cause cancer (BHA), harmful to fish and wildlife.
- Coal tar dyes; Used in hair dyes and other products containing artificial colorants. May cause cancer, possible contamination of heavy metals toxic to the brain. Look for "CI", "FD&C Blue No. 1", or "Blue 1" on labels.
- DEA; Used in creamy and foaming products (i.e. moisturizers, shampoos). May for nitrosamines which could cause cancer, harmful to fish and wildlife. Look for "DEA", "MEA", and "TEA" on labels.
- Dibutyl Phthalate; (DBP) Used as a plasticizer in some nail products. Suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant, harmful to fish and wildlife.
- Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives; Slowly release small amounts of fomaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 on labels.
- Paraben, methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben; Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
- Parfum/Perfume/Fragrance; Used in a wide variety of products. May trigger allergic reaction, asthma, has been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity, harmful to fish and wildlife.
- PEGs; Used in many cream-based products. May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look for "propylene glycol", and ingredients with "eth" (e.g., polyethylene glycol) on labels.
- Petrolatum; Used as a moisturizing ingredient and moisture barrier. May be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
- Siloxanes; Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane), harmful to fish and other wildlife. Look for ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone" on labels.
- Sodium laureth sulfate; Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. May be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look for sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters "eth" (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate) on labels.
- Triclosan; Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and deodorants. Suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, harmful to fish and other wildlife.