FAQS

What are some of the dangers associated with synthetic chemicals?

Beyond an increased chance of dryness and irritation, studies have shown that certain ingredients found in soaps can be potentially harmful. Again, the long-term effects of synthetic chemicals on the body are still unknown. However, many are linked to cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, obesity, and more. One of the potentially harmful ingredients found in many soaps and other beauty products is parabens. Parabens are synthetic compounds commonly used to stop the growth of bacteria, fungus, and other potentially harmful organisms. However, research has shown they disrupt hormone production, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems. Another study has shown that nearly every single woman with breast cancer has one or more paraben chemicals in her breast tissue, suggesting a possible link. In the particular study, it was found that 99 percent of the breast tissue samples contained at least one type of paraben, while 60 percent contained at least five. Endocrine disruptors are also thought to be particularly harmful to male reproductive systems, and can potentially cause testicular cancer, infertility, deformation of genitals, and undescended testicles. There is also evidence linking endocrine-disrupting chemicals to neurobehavioral problems and obesity. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and other surfactants are used in soaps as an inexpensive, yet effective way to increase lather. SLS tends to dry out the skin, and can cause skin and eye irritation, rashes, and other allergic reactions. Some products containing SLS also have traces of a carcinogen known as 1,4-dioxane, which is formed during the production process. Petrolatum is often listed on labels as petroleum jelly or mineral oil. It is derived from petroleum, and can lead to chapping and dry skin despite its purpose of preventing those very symptoms. Like parabens, petrolatum as been found in breast tumors, and is thought to contribute to premature aging, acne, and increased sun damage. Petrolatum also tends to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are classified as probable or possible carcinogens. Synthetic fragrances, which are often listed simply as fragrances or perfume, are another example of a potentially harmful ingredient. While they can be made in many different ways from more than 3,000 possible substances, nearly all of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from crude oil and include substances linked to birth defects, central nervous system disorders, hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and cancer. Synthetic Ingredients to Look Out for in Personal Hygiene Products:

Chemical Ingredient Use/ Purpose Potential Harm / Problems
Parabens Synthetic compounds commonly used to stop the growth of bacteria, fungus, and other potentially harmful organisms. Disrupt hormone production, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems, as well as neurobehavioral problems and obesity. Endocrine disruptors are also thought to be particularly harmful to male reproductive systems, and can potentially cause testicular cancer, infertility, deformation of genitals, and undescended testicles.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) Inexpensive, yet effective way to increase lather. Dries out the skin, and can cause skin and eye irritation, rashes, and other allergic reactions. Some products containing SLS also have traces of a carcinogen known as 1,4-dioxane.
Petrolatum (petroleum jelly or mineral oil) Moisturizer Derived from petroleum, and can lead to chapping and dry skin. Has been found in breast tumors, and is thought to contribute to premature aging, acne, and increased sun damage. Tends to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are classified as probable or possible carcinogens.
Synthetic Fragrances / Perfumes Adds a scent to the product. Nearly all of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from crude oil and include substances linked to birth defects, central nervous system disorders, hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and cancer.
Phthalates Group of industrial chemicals that soften plastic, making it more flexible. Endocrine disruptors that can potentially lead to testicular cancer, infertility, genital deformation, obesity, and birth defects.
Triclosan Antiseptic ingredient once used in antibacterial soaps. Still used in toothpastes and other household products. Potentially alter hormone regulation, interfere with fetal development, and increase the risk of cancer.
Artificial Colors An inexpensive way to keep a consistent, uniform color in soaps and other products. Linked to hyperactivity in children, nervous system disorders, allergic reactions, rashes, respiratory distress, headaches and migraines, nausea and vomiting, memory problems, and dizziness.
Formaldehyde (Bromopol, Doazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin (often mis-typed as DHDH hydantoin), Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-7, -15, -31, -61, and Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate) Preservatives. Can cause an immune response that may include burning, itching, blistering, or scaling of skin. Possible carcinogen.
Isothiazolinone (Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone Preservatives. Skin irritants that can potentially cause significant allergic reactions. Potential neurotoxin.
Cocamide-MEA, Cocamide-TEA (Triethanolamine) Surfactant that increases lather. High contamination rates from nitrosamines, a class of chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic, and thought to possibly cause reproductive harm, developmental harm, and organ system harm.
SD Alcohol 40 (isopropyl, SD-40) Cleans and sterilizes. Dries out skin and hair. Enhances skin absorption making it easier for other toxic ingredients to enter through the skin.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) Humectant that helps skin retain moisture. Skin irritant and penetration enhancer that carries other chemicals into the bloodstream. Possibly contaminated with dioxane and ethylene oxide.
PEG-40 Lanolin Imitation of lanolin made from polyethylene glycol meant to moisturize the skin. Possibly contaminated with dioxane and ethylene oxide. Small amount of evidence of a link to organ toxicity.
Propylene glycol Skin conditioner, solvent, and humectant. Penetration enhancer and possible immune system toxin, neurotoxin, reproductive toxin, and skin toxin.