What’s In My Personal Care Products?!!! part 2

Would you put a moisturizer on your face or body if you knew it was made with toxic ingredients? Of course not. Yet our cosmetics and personal care products are so under-regulated most of us do it unwittingly every day.

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I recently read that the Environmental Working Group “has found Teflon and other similar chemicals in nearly 200 personal care products, ranging from shampoo to shaving cream to sunscreen.” This is the second in a series that lists some of the most common and toxic chemicals found in your personal care products.

Polyethylene Glycol = PEG

Polyethylene plastic beads are used in facial scrubs, exfoliating washes, makeup and toothpaste. The Cosmetic Database considers polyethylene to be a moderate hazard for skin irritation.  It should never be used on broken skin.  Polyethylene is frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane that the U.S. government considers to be a probable human carcinogen and one that readily penetrates the skin.

Polyethylene is different from Propylene glycol which is an organic alcohol commonly used for skin-conditioning.  This compound is a skin irritant and is known for causing hives.  Propylene glycol is used in shampoo, conditioners, hair sprays, moisturizers, sunscreen and a variety of makeup products.


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group research found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name-brand fragrance products, none of which were listed on the label. Some of them are hormone disruptors which are among the top 5 allergens in the world.

Sunscreen chemicals

These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and may cause cellular damage and cancer.  They absorb ultruaviolet light. They include PABA, benzophenone, avobenzone, ethoxycinnmate and homosalate.

Synthetic colors

FD&C or D&C (followed by a number) on a label means artificial colors are present.  The European Union has banned their use because they appear to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and linked to ADHD in children.


Formaldehyde and similar preservatives prevent bacterial growth and is considered a carcinogen, a compound that may be harmful to the immune system, and is known to cause allergic skin reactions.  Formaldehyde is found in nail polish and nail polish treatments, shampoos, conditioners, body washes and eye shadows.


Derived from petroleum or coal tar sources, Toluene may be listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, or methylbenzene.  It is a very potent solvent that can dissolve paint and paint thinner.  It affects the respiratory system, may irritate the skin, and can cause nausea, and seems to be toxic to the immune system.  Pregnant women should avoid it as it can damage the fetus.  Toluene is found in nail polish, nail treatments, hair color and hair bleaching products.

There are many more chemicals.  Read the label!  If it sounds like a mix of chemicals made in a laboratory, it probably is.  Carry a list of these chemicals with you when you go shopping.  Protect yourself by being proactive to avoid something that might be toxic for you.


Environmental Working Group

10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients


Posted in Allergies, chemicals, Environment, Harmful Cosmetics, Toxicity | Tagged , , ,

What’s In My Personal Care Products?!!!

Would you put a moisturizer on your face or body if you knew it was made with toxic ingredients? Of course not. Yet our cosmetics and personal care products are so under-regulated most of us do it unwittingly every day.

I decided to inform my readers about these toxins when I recently read that the Environmental Working Group “has found Teflon and other similar chemicals in nearly 200 personal care products, ranging from shampoo to shaving cream to sunscreen.” This is the first in a series that lists some of the most common and toxic chemicals found in your personal care products.

Per- and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAs)
The Teflon family includes virtually indestructible chemicals including PFAs. Chemical PFAs are connected with increased risk of cancer, endocrine disruption, infertility and birth defects. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs. While some PFAs have been removed from the formulations, Teflon and its cousins are still used. In addition, new research suggests that the replacement chemicals might not be any safer. These chemicals are found in cosmetics like foundation, mascara, and sunscreen.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
This chemical is added to make the products lather or foam. That is why it commonly is found in mouthwash, toothpaste, and face and body wash.  Unfortunately, this chemical has been shown to irritate the skin, lung and eyes. Additionally, it can contribute to canker sores and disrupt the natural balance of oils. SLS is associated with acne (cystic acne) around the mouth and chin.

Coal Tar
Coal tar is on the list of the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen.  Coal tar often does not go by that name. Rather, the same substance is called aminophenol or diaminobenzene or phenylenediamine.  These are commonly found in hair dye and shampoo.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
BHA is probably a carcinogen according to the National Toxicology Program. Animal studies associate it with some stomach cancers and with interference with thyroid levels and also with normal reproductive system development.  It is also considered unsafe in fragrance.

Triclosan and Triclocarban
The FDA finds there is no health benefit to people who use products with these substances, and they are linked to “hormonal disruption, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies.”  Triclosan is found in liquid products like toothpaste and triclocarban is found in bar soaps to make them antibacterial.  Both are also found in deodorant.  For a less toxic support, try tea tree oil.

These chemicals are used to prevent the growth of organisms (i.e. bacteria, mold) in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products.  However, they are associated with the increased risk of breast cancer. Topical application is no help as they are absorbed through the skin.

Check your personal care products for these substances. I recommend not using those products and looking for cleaner ones.

Next month I will present more of these toxins.  In the meantime, check out Environmental Working Group.







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Spring: Enhance your health with a tune-up

Spring is a good time to do a self-evaluation and to take steps to improve your health.  Here are 6 steps for that.

healthy senior

  1. Sleep: When we sleep our body heals. I think of it as recharging our batteries. Just as we see the plants blooming, so can we. What does this have to do with sleep?  The better our sleep, the more energy and better mood we have.
  2. Get out in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes per day. Ancient medical traditions are being validated by modern experience. Exposure to the sun improves our well being. The globalepidemic of low vitamin D can be attributed to our staying inside away from full spectrum light.  Low vitamin D levels have been associated with increased risk of mortal illness.
  3. Exercise: Get your juices flowing. Exercise is the medium our body uses to clean out our “plumbing” including our lymphatics as well as our blood vessels. This is especially important as our environment becomes increasingly toxic with chemicals and organisms that seem to be more virulent than in past decades.
  4. Food: Learn to eat more vegetables of many varieties. Include green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, asparagus, artichoke, avocado, cabbageveggies and fruit, beets and beet greens, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, capers, carrots, celery, celery root (a different form of celery), chard, cilantro, cucumber, daikon (white radish), dandelion, eggplant, garlic, a range of chili peppers, jicima, kale, varieties of lettuce, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, mushrooms, mustard greens, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas (English, snap), potato, sweet potato/yam, rutabaga, shallots, spinach, squash (winter, summer) tomato, turnip and waterchestnut. Add spices for more variety.
  5. Supplements: Ideally, whole food derived supplements are better in terms of providing more of what we need. I suggest a multiple vitamin and mineral, vitamin C and essential fatty acids (like fish oil). There are many more for different conditions.
  6. See your health care practitioner for support this spring.


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For Flu Prevention and Treatment

I am bringing my previous post back because it is flu season once again.

Even in Los Angeles, the evenings are relatively cooler.  ‘Tis the season for colds, coughs, sniffles and flu.  Three people in the last 10 days have mentioned to me that they have had a cough that would not go away.  They all had a fever and malaise for the first few days and recovered from those symptoms yet the cough continued. (Two had already taken the flu shot.)  What is a person to do?

Here are my recommendations:   Sneezer in his pjs

Wash your hands every time after touching door handles or shaking hands.

Caution: as tempting as all the sugary foods are this time of year, don’t fall into that trap. Rather, reduce your sugar intake.

Similarly, as tempting as it is to stay up late, get a full night’s sleep regularly.  Remember, sleep is when we heal.

Vitamin C: to bowel tolerance.  In other words, just under the amount that causes diarrhea.  This varies to each individual, so you need to test where your level is.  Also, we need even more vitamin C when we are “fighting” something.

Probiotics: At least once per day, every day.  The gastrointestinal tract is lined with lymph nodes which are there to protect us from outside infections.

Take Vitamin D daily: 1000 to 5000 iu’s dosage

Vitamin A: At least 10,000 iu’s per day.  At the first sign of illness, increase this to 100,000 iu’s for 3 days.  Then back to the usual dose.

Zinc: 25 to 50 mg per day.  Double this for 3 days at the first sign of illness.  Then back to the usual dose.

Elderberry in some form.  4 times per day as per the bottle at the beginning of a viral illness.

Nano silver as Argentyn 23 or Sovereign Silver as needed. Follow the recommendations on the bottle.

Oscillococcinum: 1/3 of a tube 3 times per week (let it dissolve under your tongue).

For those who tolerate it: Garlic.  One woman told me she never gets sick when she eats several cloves of roasted garlic every day through the winter

A high quality echinacea also supports the immune system when taken daily.

Many people find using a wellness formula (most health food stores carry this) very helpful.

These are a good start.

PS:   People who think they have a prolonged cold or cough might actually be suffering from allergies.  The high vitamin C dose can begin to alleviate this problem.

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To Eat or Not to Eat: No Question

Here are two article headlines from THE WEEK magazine that say a mouthful.  The first is “Eat produce, live longer” in the March 17, 2017 issue and the second is “Sugar, America’s favorite drug.”

The first report is taken from a study from Imperial College London.  Researchers analyzed 95 studies on diet and well-being and concluded that daily intake of 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, or 28 ounces of fresh produce is “associated with a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, a 13 percent drop in cancer risk, and a 31 percent lower risk for premature death.”  This type of diet reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure while improving circulatory health and strengthening the immune system.  No prescription drug is as effective as the fresh produce.

The sugar article describes how sugar came to be so popular: “Big Sugar” mounted an aggressive advertising campaign in the 1970’s and combined this with “scientific” misinformation about the benefits of sugar.

Too much refined sugar affects the liver and results in the body having difficulties managing that sugar. This ultimately leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes from “insulin resistance.”  Insulin resistance means the body produces more and more insulin to handle all the sugar but the insulin becomes less and less effective.   This requires the body to produce more and more insulin.  The problem with this is that the excess insulin is very inflammatory and associated with the increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer.

Where do we find all of this sugar?  We find it in the processed foods we purchase.  Eighty percent of supermarket foods contain it.  “The average American adult downs 22 teaspoons of the stuff a day, the average child 32.”  Sugar is an addicting drug as noted in animal studies and as experienced by those of us who want to stop eating it.

Bottom line: I cannot caution you enough about eating sugar.  Seriously curtail your intake.  You want to munch?  Eat fresh veggies.  You want sweet?  Eat some fruit.


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“An Epidemic of Contact Dermatitis”

There are a number of reports about a preservative and synthetic biocide used in thousands of personal care products that is very irritating to skin. I am summarizing the valuable information in one of them.  The name of the chemical is Methylisothiazolinone, MI or MIT for short.  Here is a list of some of the products in which it is used: baby wipes, wall paints, bandaids, dish soap, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soaps, markers, room sprays (Febreeze), carpet cleaners, paper towels, toilet paper and more.  Companies are using this to avoid parabens.  

Because of some studies suggesting it is also neurotoxic, some doctors have expressed concern about exposure in pregnant women and for the fetus.  One study found that in children with eczema almost 50% had at least one positive reaction in the patch test. The most common allergens in this group were nickel sulfate, MIT and fragrance mix. MIT is part of the fragrance mix.

One committee in Europe who recommends prevention standards noted that once sensitized, even airborn exposure could potentially cause a severe contact dermatitis on the exposed skin.

How to avoid this chemical?  Besides the name and the acronym, it is also used in fragrance as MCI.  Methylisothiazolinone Free  is a website providing information about the MIT and products free of the chemical.  It also lists other names for the MIT.

Let your legislators know that Europe and Canada have set limits on the use of these chemicals and you want the United States to do so as well.


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Fresh Air, Really?

Air fresheners are so prevalent.  We even utilize “green” ones which we assume are safe. However, as the article, Ten Questions Concerning Air Fresheners and Indoor Built Environments reveals, they are not as safe and innocuous as we might think.  The article is well-documented.  Here are the summary statements. I recommend you peruse the whole article for a fuller description.

  • Air fresheners are used throughout society.
  • Air fresheners, even ones called green and organic, can emit potentially hazardous  chemicals.
  • Fewer than 10% of air freshener ingredients are typically disclosed to the public.
  • Over 20% of the general US population report adverse health effects from air fresheners.
  • Fragrance-free indoor environments receive a majority of support.


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