Dirty Dozen in My Personal Care Products

After my research yesterday, I thought I had a relatively good handle on the Dirty Dozen, or the 12 cosmetic ingredients consumers should avoid according to the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF). However, I ran into a problem with the chemical names that were similar but not exact matches. For all of us who took high school chemistry, we know that a tiny change in name suggests a whole different substance. No need to despair! I discovered Chemicals in Cosmetics, a UK database where more of these little beasts are listed.

I took the first three bottles I found in our bathroom. The first one is Colgate/Palmolive Softsoap, a liquid hand soap that we all use. Here is the list of ingredients that figure among the DSF's Dirty Dozen:

Number 11- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: This is what makes the foamy suds, and it may contain 1,4 dioxane, a possible carcinogen that does not biodegrade.
Number 7- Parfum: Some types have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity and may trigger asthma and allergies.
Number 5- DMDM hydantoin: This is a formaldehyde releasing preservative. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.
Number 8- PEG-120 and PEG-7: Both are petroleum-based compounds that may be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.
Number 12- Triclosan: The anti-bacterial agent found in a wide range of consumer products. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor, does not biodegrade and may react to create dioxins, which are highly toxic. There is also some concern that extensive use could result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Therefore, there were six Dirty Dozen ingredients in our hand soap alone. Not very reassuring, as it's the product we use several times a day. Then there were the names that were not perfect matches, as in the following:


Cocamidopropyl Betaine: According to the Chemicals in Cosmetics database, this substance may cause skin and eye irritation.
Polyquaternium-7. As you may recall from the list yesterday, Polyquaternium-15 is named. According to the UK database, Polyquaternium 7, 15, 31, 60 etc. are all formaldehyde releasing substances. I'm adding this entire family to Dirty Dozen Number #5.


The second item was Klorane shampoo with camomile, which I assumed to be a gentle shampoo for my daughter. The ingredients are as follows:

Number 11- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Think foamy suds, and it may contain 1,4 dioxane, a possible carcinogen that does not biodegrade.
Number 7- PEG-7: A petroleum-based compound that may be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a possible carcinogen.
Number 7- Parfum: Some types have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity and may trigger asthma and allergic reactions.
Number 5- Polyquaternium-7: A formaldehyde releasing substance. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.

Therefore, in my daughter's gentle shampoo, there are four Dirty Dozen ingredients.

The final product and also the one with the longest list of ingredients was Le Petit Marseillais shower cream. Here are the Dirty Dozen ingredients I discovered:

Number 11- Sodium Laureth Sulfate: I think I can do without the suds now.
Number 3- Cocamide MEA: On the list, you might recall that the name was Cocamide DEA, but because DEA, MEA and TEA are all under the same heading, I'll opt to be better safe than sorry. DEA, MEA and TEA can combine with other chemicals to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Number 11: Sodium Lauryl Sufate: This is a known eye, skin and respiratory tract irritant.
Number 5- Polyquaternium-7: A formaldehyde releasing substance. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.
Number 7- Parfum: Some types have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity and may trigger asthma and allergic reactions.

It also names the following as its fourth ingredient:


Cocamidopropyl Betaine: According to the Chemicals in Cosmetics database, this substance may cause skin and eye irritation.

Now that we're all sufficiently depressed, I'll start to look into some possible solutions for my next post. If you have or know of any home remedies or commercial brands without any Dirty Dozen ingredients for shampoos, soaps or moisturizers, please drop me a line and share them with us.

Related posts:
Cosmetics: the Dirty Dozen
Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber
Airing our Dirty Laundry
The Mile End Buzz around Beekeeping











5 comments:

Angie Jenkins | November 4, 2010 at 9:17 PM

Dear Sandra,

Thanks for this article! A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients is also a great resource. After having worked in the health food store industry for many years, I became discouraged with many of the ingredients even in supposed natural products. I have since developed my own line, Sister Lotus. If you have a moment, please have a look: www.sisterlotus.com.

AKAmamma | November 4, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Thanks so much for answering my request on Facebook. Those are exactly the types of resources I was looking for. I have checked out sisterlotus, and you have some wonderful products. I also like that all the ingredients are given. Thanks for connecting. H

Ida's Idioms | November 5, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Just read your Dad's entry. Got me thinking I should look up organic food & my young cousin who farms there with his wife & young family.

http://waratahdowns.blogspot.com/

albina N muro | June 22, 2014 at 9:30 AM

The first one is Colgate/Palmolive Softsoap, a liquid hand soap that we all use. Here is the list of ingredients that figure among the DSF's Dirty Dozen: online health store

Anonymous | November 21, 2016 at 11:14 AM

The polyquarterniums are very confusing... what about #37? Are they ALL formaldehyde derivatives?

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