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Hidden Exposure

by Natalie Elliott |

Many of the products we use on our bodies every day are filled with harmful chemicals and toxins. This realisation was a life-changing moment for me.

I began logging the number of products I was using within my own daily routine. From waking to walking out of the door, I had used 35 different products.

Picking out one product, I wanted to delve further into the science of what was in the bottle: Revlon Professional, Uniq One All in One Coconut Hair Treatment.

20 ingredients:

Aqua (Water Eau), Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Panthenol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Quaternium-80, Propylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Silk Amino Acids, Sodium Chloride, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Parfum (Fragrance), Benzyl Salicylate, Coumarin, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben.

Of these 20 ingredients, I have identified 12 as potentially harmful... 

Cetearyl Alcohol 
May be natural or synthetic. Used as an emulsifier.

Behentrimonium Chloride
A quarternary ammonium compound, used as a preservative in many cosmetics, self-care products and first aid creams or lotions. All compounds in this group can be toxic. Concentrated solutions can irritate the skin and cause necrosis of the mucous membranes. Ingestion can be fatal.

Cyclopentasiloxane 
Emolient and solvent activity. May cause mild skin and eye irritation.

Isopropyl Alcohol 
An antibacterial. Also used in anti-freeze. Prepared from propylene, which is obtained from the cracking of petroleum. Inhalation of large quantities of the vapour may cause flushing, headache, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anaesthesia, and coma. The fatal ingested dose is about 1 fluid ounce.

Propylene Glycol 
Moisture carrying vehicle. The FDA has proposed a ban (1992) on propylene glycol in louse killing products due to the uncertainty around its safety.

Disodium EDTA 
Otherwise referred to as Ethylendiamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA). Used primarily as a sequestering ingredient. May be irritating to skin and lungs, causing asthmatic reactions. Can also cause kidney damage. Full understanding of toxicity unknown.

Sodium Chloride
Common table salt. Can produce irritation as water dries from skin.

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate 
Used to protect skin from UV damage. However, according to the Cosmetics Database, there are concerns regarding this ingredient including: biochemical changes that cause mutation and cell death upon exposure to sunlight , as well as immunotoxicity and photoallergic effects; reproductive toxicity that leads to estrogenic effects; organ system toxicity, especially in the liver; and enhanced skin absorption. It should be used with caution by pregnant women and children.

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane 
Used to protect skin from UV damage. However, also is known to mimic hormones and disrupt the hormone system. European studies have found traces within mother’s breast milk. Indicating that the development of newborns and foetus can be affected.

Benzyl Salicylate
Used as a fixative. Can cause rashes and swelling when exposed to sunlight. 

Coumarin 
Although a plant derivative, coumarin can be made synthetically as well. Widely used as a fragrance, may produce allergic contact dermatitis, photosensitivity, anti-blood clotting effect. Coumarin is prohibited in foods because it is toxic by ingestion and carcinogenic. 

Benzyl Alcohol
A solvent. Irritant and corrosive to skin and mucous membranes. 

Methylparaben
Used as a preservative. Has been linked to cancers, although the FDA has not confirmed this. Several studies do state that Methyparaben may cause cancerous skin damage. 

Ethylparaben 
Used as a preservative. Some links with the formation of breast cancer. 

I’m fearful that many of the chemicals found in our products have all been linked to cancer (carcinogens), as well as other problems like learning difficulties (neurotoxins), asthma and male infertility (reproductive toxins). 

For me at this point, confusion ensued. Surely this wouldn’t be allowed. There must be strict regulation on the beauty and personal care industry? And if there is regulation, why are these chemicals permitted if they are so potentially dangerous? 

 

With deeper research I have found that there are many conflicting reports available on the internet. Some casually shrug off any perceived danger, whilst others are incredibly convincing in their argument that this is a real issue. One thing is for certain; scientists, regulating bodies and cosmetic manufacturers don’t have a full understanding of just how damaging these chemicals and toxins are to our bodies. I have now made it my mission to expose these hidden dangers.