What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
by Claudia Keith, Founder
When we truly understand how incredible our bodies really are, we take
better care of them. Believe it or not, it takes a lot to keep someone
as complex as you running properly! Take your nose, for instance.
. . . did you know it can detect 10,000 distinct chemical odors? How
about your circulatory system? Your blood vessels are 60,000 miles long
if laid end to end, and 100 trillion cells make up your body. Your bone
marrow makes 140,000 blood cells each minute. Your eye's retina has 100
million light receptor cells, and can distinguish 7,290,000 shades of
color, unless you're my colorblind (but wonderful) husband.
Covering all of this is the largest organ, your skin. Again, the numbers
are staggering: you have 2.5 million sweat glands on your body, . . .
one square inch of skin has 650 sweat glands, 65 hair follicles, 234
feet of nerves, 57 feet of capillaries, 19,000 sensory cells, 94 sebaceous
(oil) glands, 1250 pain receptors, 13 cold and 78 heat receptors, plus
Langerhans (immune) cells. Our skin has adapted to protect us from Mother
Nature's onslaught, but it is also designed to let things in as well.
Back before the industrial age came along, the types of chemicals that
touched our skin were pretty much those that the Earth made on her own.
Today it's a different story. What you are putting on your skin day after
day, year after year, may be doing much more harm than good. Have you
ever stopped to think how many hours a day your face spends under a layer
of makeup, and what ingredients are penetrating your skin?
One of the arguments I hear from skincare manufacturers and ingredient
suppliers is that a little Propylene Glycol or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
in a cream or shampoo won't hurt. Fine -- but we're not talking about
a single exposure, here -- more like ten or twenty thousand, several
times a day! Over the years, using these products every day can affect
the body. And when shampoo runs into your eyes, the potential harm an
ingredient like SLS can do is downright frightening.
A note to my salon-owning friends: If you have formulated your own line
through a private label company, BEWARE! You may be saving money, but
the majority of these companies use the dangerous ingredients I list
below!! Do not expose your customers (who are your lifeline) or
yourself to these ingredients. Your customers will appreciate it, I promise.
Remember -- your skin absorbs chemicals into your bloodstream
and tissue. It is not a barrier to them!
A Few Qualifiers for Suis Skin Care's
Here's a partial list of ingredients found in many skin care items.
For a thorough list, please refer to Beauty to Die For, by Judi
Vance (available through Amazon.com), or A Consumer's Dictionary of
Cosmetic Ingredients, by Ruth Winter.
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine),
As if the long names are not frightening enough . . . these three are
hormone-disrupting chemicals and form cancer-causing agents. They are
commonly found in bubble baths (in which we relax and soak for long periods),
shampoos, soaps and facial cleansers. They are easily absorbed by the
skin, and research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer.
There is also evidence that carcinogens form when Cocamide DEA (a cleanser,
thickener and foam booster) is applied to the skin.
FD&C Color Pigments
You see these at the end of every ingredient list, but not because they
are inconsequential. Many cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even
oxygen depletion in the blood. Most are made from coal tar and studies
show that almost all of them are carcinogenic (cancer causing). For example,
FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a
known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder. It is considered
a carcinogen but is still used in non-food products.
The term "fragrance" appearing on a product label indicates
the presence of any number of up to 4,000 different ingredients. The
majority of these are synthetic and are either cancer-causing or otherwise
toxic. Exposure to fragrances has been shown to affect the central nervous
system. Fragrance is found in most deodorants (and the underarm is too
close to the breast area), shampoos, sunscreens, skincare and bodycare
products. Essential oils are the healthful alternative.
Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin
These are two of many preservatives that are formaldehyde donors. While
other less dangerous preservatives exist and are necessary, formaldehyde-based
chemicals are best left to morticians, as they can cause joint pain,
allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, ear infections, chronic
fatigue, dizziness, loss of sleep, or even function as asthma triggers.
Serious side effects include the weakening of the immune system, and,
as usual, cancer. These chemicals are commonly found in skincare, bodycare
and haircare products, antiperspirants and nail polish.
Quarternium-15 is also used as a preservative in cosmetics and toiletry
items, as well as skin moisturizers and hair care products. It commonly
causes allergic reactions and dermatitis, and breaks down into formaldehyde
Isopropyl Alcohol is petroleum derived, and is used in antifreeze and
shellac. Side effects are headache, dizziness, mental depression, nausea,
vomiting, and coma. It is commonly found in hair color rinses, body rubs,
hand lotion and aftershave lotions. It penetrates the skin easily and
is thought to destroy intestinal flora, leaving your body's major organs
open to parasites, and thus to cancers. The sad fact is that isopropyl
alcohol simply isn't needed, but the petroleum industry makes a killing
off of this industrial byproduct (read: industrial waste).
Mineral oil sounds nice, doesn't it? It isn't. It is a petroleum derivative
that coats the skin like plastic wrap, which stands in the way of the
skin's natural function of releasing toxins from the body. It slows the
skin's natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely.
Baby oil is 100% mineral oil!!!
Healthful alternatives are moisture magnets such as saccharide isomerate
from beets, ceramides, jojoba and other vegetable oils.
PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
PEG's are used to dissolve oil and grease, and to thicken products.
They strip the skin of its natural moisture factor, leaving the skin
and hence the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially cancer
causing. They are used in spray-on oven cleaners and, not surprisingly,
in many haircare and skincare products.
Propylene Glycol is a very beneficial product -- for your car's radiator.
It is, after all, the active ingredient in antifreeze. Used as a surfactant
(or wetting agent), it also breaks down protein and cellular structure,
yet it is still found in bodycare products, including toothpaste, makeup
and deodorants. The EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing
and goggles when working with it. Direct contact can cause brain, liver
and kidney abnormalities. Stick deodorants are higher in concentration
of PG than is allowed for most industrial use! Also beware of Butylene
Glycol, a petroleum plastic like PG.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Both are used as detergents and surfactants in car wash soaps, garage
floor cleaners, and engine degreasers. Yet these two are most widely
used in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair conditioner, shampoo and other foaming
products. Exposure causes eye damage, depression, diarrhea and many other
ailments. This is perhaps the MOST DANGEROUS of all ingredients, and
when used in combination with other chemicals, can form nitrosamines,
a potent class of carcinogen.We use a gentle, safe alternative: Sodium
Cocoyl Methyl Taurate, which may not be easier to pronounce, but it certainly
is easier on your body.
Triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial ingredient with a chemical structure
similar to that of Agent Orange. And it behaves the same way: The Environmental
Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living
organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol, a chemical class suspected
of causing cancer in humans. It is a hormone disrupter, which means it
affects sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Its
manufacturing process produces Dioxin (need we say more?), a powerful
hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects in quantities as small
as parts per trillion (that's one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools).
Triclosan stores away in body fat and can accumulate to toxic levels
in the liver, kidneys and lungs. It can cause paralysis, suppression
of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely
used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste (not ours!), and household
A study reported by the Associated Press on 9/9/2000 reports that nearly
half of all hand and bar soaps contain anti-bacterial ingredients, which
some experts say could be killing harmless germs and contributing
to the spread of hard-to-kill germs: "With more commercial
soaps containing anti-bacterials, bacteria may become resistant to these
soaps, and the speed with which the resistance develops is likely related
to the amount used by the public. . . . Anti-bacterial soaps and lotions
should be reserved for the sick patients, not the healthy household." Synthetic
antibacterials such as Triclosan have been banned in Europe, but Anti-Bacterial is
still available in the United States. Finally, why are we, in the United
States, so fanatic about destroying bacteria. Most is harmless.
Talc has been around for a long time, which isn't reason enough to use
it. It is widely used in makeup, baby and adult powders and foundation.
It conveniently provides slip and covering, with the inconvenience of
being strongly linked to ovarian and testicular cancer.
A topical form of Vitamin A derivative. It is listed on the Health Canada
Product Safety Bureau's Hit List as: TOXIC.
Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens:
Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. It prevents the skin from taking
in oxygen or respiring waste. It is used in hand and skincare products
to form an occlusive barrier on the skin (again, preventing the skin
from doing what it is meant to do, detoxify).
Two final warnings: Please be careful when using deodorant. Most odor
can be eliminated by implementing a healthy diet and getting exercise.
Sweating allows the body to detoxify. And if you must powder under the
arms, use corn starch. It simply isn't worth compromising your health.
Hair color is another issue I need to address. Because chemical absorption
is greater through the hair because of the hair follicles, you are far
more at risk. Hair color has been linked to lymphoma, a form of blood
So Now What?!!
Well, you made it. After reading this, you may think death is at the
doorstep, but take heart -- your body is a dynamic system. By avoiding
these ingredients, your body will begin immediately recovering from the
onslaught our chemical-happy society has unleashed. You will look and
feel better before you know it. Just read a few of our testimonials and
you'll see what I mean.