A colourless, volatile, flammable liquid produced by the fermentation
of yeast and carbohydrates. Alcohol is used frequently as a solvent
and is also found in beverages and medicine. As an ingredient
in ingestible products, alcohol may cause body tissues to be more
vulnerable to carcinogens. Mouthwashes with an alcohol content
of 25% or more have been implicated in mouth, tongue and throat
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
An organic acid produced by anaerobic respiration. Skin care
products containing AHA exfoliate not only damage skin cells,
but the skin's protective barrier as well. Long term skin damage
may result from its use.
A metallic element used extensively in the manufacture of
aircraft components, prosthetic devises and as an ingredient in
antiperspirants, antacids and antiseptics. Aluminium has been
linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Animal Fat (Tallow)
A type of animal tissue made up of oily solids or semisolids
that are water-insoluble esters of glycerol with fatty acids.
Animal fats and lye are the chief ingredients in a bar of soap;
a cleaning and emulsifying product that may act as a breeding
ground for bacteria.
A porous clay that expands to many times its dry volume as
it absorbs water. Bentonite, commonly found in many cosmetic foundations,
may clog pores and suffocate the skin.
Aerosol propellant. Flammable and in high doses may be narcotic
or cause asphyxiation.
An insoluble fibrous protein that is too large to penetrate
the skin. The collagen found in most skin care products is derived
from animal skins and ground up chicken feet. This ingredient
forms a layer of film that may suffocate the skin.
DEA, MEA, TEA.
Cause allergic reactions, irritate the eyes and dry the hair
and skin. Can be carcinogenic, especially to kidney and liver.
A potentially carcinogenic by-product that results from the
process used to bleach paper at paper mills. Dioxin treated containers
sometimes transfer dioxins to the product itself.
Elastin of High -molecular weight
A protein similar to collagen that is the main component of
elastic fibres. Elastin is also derived from animal sources. Its
effect on the skin is similar to collagen.
A colourless, non-flammable gas or liquid that can produce
mild upper respiratory tract irritation. Fluorocarbons are commonly
used as a propellant in hairsprays.
A toxic, colourless gas that is an irritant and a carcinogen.
When combined with water, formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant,
fixative or preservative. Formaldehyde is found in many cosmetic
products and conventional nail care systems.
Usually petroleum-based. Can cause headaches, dizziness, rashes,
respiratory problems, vomiting, skin irritation and multiple chemical
A syrupy liquid that is chemically produced by combining water
and fat. Glycerin is used as a solvent and plasticiser. Unless
the humidity of air is over 65%, glycerin draws moisture from
the lower layers of the skin and holds it on the surface, which
dries the skin from the inside out.
Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin
These formaldehyde-forming preservatives can cause joint pain,
allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, chronic fatigue,
dizziness, insomnia and asthma. Can also weaken the immune system
and can even cause cancer. Found in skin, body and hair products,
antiperspirants and nail polish.
A fine white clay used in making porcelain. Like bentonite,
kaolin smothers and weakens the skin.
A fatty substance extracted from wool, which is frequently
found in cosmetics and lotions. Lanolin is a common skin sensitiser
that can cause allergic reactions, such as skin rashes.
A highly concentrated watery solution of sodium hydroxide
or potassium hydroxide. Lye is combined with animal fats to make
bars of soap, which may corrode and dry out the skin.
Methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl paraben
Are used to extend a product's shelf life and inhibit microbial
growth. Highly toxic. Can cause rashes and other allergic reactions.
A derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially
as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Mineral oil forms an oily
film over the skin to lock in moisture, toxins and wastes, but
hinders normal skin respiration by keeping oxygen out.
Also known as octyl dimethyl, PABA is found mostly in sunscreens.
Like DEA, a nitrosamine-forming agent. Theres concern that the
energy absorbed by this sunscreen is then turned into free radicals,
which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer.
A petroleum based grease that is used industrially as a grease
component. Petrolatum exhibits many of the same potentially harmful
properties as mineral oil.
Aerosol propellant. Is flammable and in high doses may be
A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and
hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In skin and hair products,
propylene glycol works as a humecent, which is a substance that
retains the moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing
the escape of moisture or water. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
warn users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this
strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney
A petroleum-based ingredient used in hairsprays.
Very drying, irritating and corrosive.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Harsh detergents and wetting agents used in garage floor cleaners,
engine degreasers and auto cleaning products. SLS is well-known
in the scientific community as a common skin irritant. It is rapidly
absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and liver, which
may result in harmful long-term effects. SLS could retard healing,
cause cataracts in adults, and prevent children's eyes from developing
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
SLES is the alcohol form (ethoxylated) of SLS. It is slightly
less irritating than SLS, but may cause more drying. Both SLS
and SLES may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates
and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with
other ingredients. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood
system from just one shampooing.
Coal-tar dyes are generally labelled as FD&C or D&C
followed by a number. Carcinogenic.
A soft grey-green mineral used in some personal hygiene and
cosmetic products. Inhaling talc may be harmful as this substance
is recognised as a potential carcinogen.