So anything long or scientific sounding on that jar that you and I can’t pronounce is just a clever way that formulators fog our brains, slipping carcinogens and toxic nasties into our personal care products by hiding behind undecipherable names. They’re bad for us and for our planet.

Let’s do an audit of what’s sitting on our bathroom shelf and the ingredients that go into them. Here’s a rundown of twelve of the top culprits that you really don’t want anywhere on your skin or hair.

And it goes without saying that you won’t find any of these in Purearth’s organic, natural range. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!


What exactly are they? Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products. They are esters of phydroxybenzoic acid and the most common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.

Why are they ‘dirty’? Women with family medical histories of breast cancer beware! Parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue, are major endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.

Where are they found? Used in thousands of cosmetics, including cleansers, moisturizers, body washes and makeup.


What exactly are they? FD&C Color Pigments: synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins into the skin, Artificial coloring agents. Also known as FD&C Color Pigments, these are synthetic colors made from coal tar. p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as "CI" followed by a five digit number.

In addition to coal tar dyes, natural and inorganic pigments used in cosmetics are also assigned colour index numbers (in the 75000 and 77000 series). Look for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes, and colours listed as "CI" followed by five digits. Also called "FD&C Blue No. 1" or "Blue 1".

Why are they ‘dirty’? Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic, skin irritants and contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain. Yikes!

Where are they found? These dangerous chemicals are mainly found in shampoos and scalp treatments, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions.


What exactly are they? Foaming agents, detergents and emulsifiers used in thousands of personal care and cleaning products.

Why are they ‘dirty’? They are able to enter the blood stream and damage DNA in cells. This is serious! SLSs and SLESs penetrate eyes and tissue, causing rashes, allergies and hair loss. The big problem, though, is that they are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a toxic by-product that may cause cancer!

Where is it found? You’ve probably heard of these bad boys as they’re used in nearly all products that foam, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath so please don’t use it on kids! Look for products sans sulphates, often labeled with an ‘SLS Free’ badge.

4. DEA

What exactly is it? DEA is a short form for diethanolamine. Both DEA and its compounds are used to make cosmetics creamy or sudsy. They also act as a pH adjusters, counteracting the acidity of other ingredients.

Why is it ‘dirty’? Can react to form nitrosamines, which cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Where is it found? Used in creamy and foaming products, moisturizers, shampoos suchlike. Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA.


What exactly are they? Phthalates or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers. Phthalates are manufactured by reacting phthalic anhydride with alcohol(s) that range from methanol and ethanol (C1/C2) up to tridecyl alcohol (C13).

Why are they ‘dirty’? Phthalates is a huge class of chemicals and is linked to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues. These are few of the threatening effects they can have on our lives!

Where are they found? Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products and hair sprays. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.


What exactly is it? It is a colorless, flammable gas often used in cosmetics. Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15.

Why is it ‘dirty’? It is a known carcinogen and some of its other harmul effects are irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Where is it found? Used in a variety of cosmetics such as nail polishes, nail hardeners, eyelash glues, hair gels, soaps, makeup, shampoos, lotions, and deodorants, among other products.


What exactly is it? BHA is primarily used as an antioxidant and preservative in food and cosmetics. Dermal exposure to BHA occurs from its use as an antioxidant in commercial products, especially lipstick and eye shadow. BHT is a toluene-base ingredient that is used as a preservative in both food and personal care products.

Why is it dirty? Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Where is it found? Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives.


What exactly is it? Any mix of synthetic fragrance ingredients, some are even marketed as "unscented"!

Why is it ‘dirty’? They can trigger allergies and asthma. Some are linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Where is it found? They are mainly found in perfumes, deodrants and colognes.


What exactly are they? PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers.

Why are they ‘dirty’? PEGs are mostly contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. Ethylene oxide can also harm the nervous system.

Where are they found? Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Look out for chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters "eth" (e.g. polyethylene glycol).


What exactly is it? It is a combination of many hydrocarbons.

Why is it ‘dirty’? Contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, it is a carcinogen, my friend. We already know how much harm it causes to our ocean diaspora!

Where is it found? Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers.  


What exactly are they? Siloxanes are a group of chemicals that are based on silicon. It is mainly used in products that make your hair or skin shiny without weighing it down.

Why are they ‘dirty’? Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Where are they found? What about ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone." Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten.


What exactly is it? A synthetic ‘antibacterial’ ingredient (with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange!!)

Why is it ‘dirty’? Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Where is it found? In antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants.

Though chemical-based cosmetics still dominate the international market, the demand for natural cosmetics is growing. People, especially women, are becoming more aware of how detrimental these chemicals are to our health. If you are concerned about parabens and other cosmetic chemicals, don’t just rely on the label "organic" to ensure its safety. Look at ingredient lists that include descriptions of the cosmetic formulation ingredients.

It is never too late to start taking care of yourself. Choose purer ingredients which will make you feel as beautiful as ever!

There’s hope still!

President Obama signed into law a bill phasing out the manufacture of products containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017 and their sale  by July 1, 2018. Microbeads may be tiny, but their detrimental impact is massive! These micro bits of plastic used in personal care products go down the drain and into our lakes, rivers, and oceans — by the billions every day. They absorb toxins in the water, are eaten by marine life, and can make their way up the food chain all the way to our dinner plates.

This action taken by President Obama due to an uproar by the public is a heartening example of how our governments are taking action to make our lives better and safer!

Another great example of regulating chemicals in skin care products is the EU Cosmetics Directive which was adopted in January 2003 and most recently revised in 2013. The EU law bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects.  EU law also requires pre-market safety assessments of cosmetics, mandatory registration of cosmetic products, government authorization for the use of nanomaterials and prohibits animal testing for cosmetic purposes. We are positive that other governments will follow suit!

Because almost 60% of what we put onto our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, we need to know what goes into our skin and hair care products. These toxic chemicals will NEVER appear on the ingredient list of a Purearth formulation. Look after the health of both you and our precious planet by detoxing your bathroom cupboard and making the switch to organic, natural and environmentally sound products. They may cost a bit more, but you’re worth the investment! ☺

If you’re hungry for information and want to learn more about toxic chemicals used in the cosmetics industry, we recommend this fabulous book - ‘No More Dirty Looks’ by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt.

The Purearth Promise.

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