Hidden Dangers Lurking in your Products by Klaus Ferlow

    Were you aware that the cosmetics industry in North America is big business with over $35-40 billion is sales each year? Their products are sold mostly with "brainwashing" type of advertising in the multimedia, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, etc. Lots of claims are made how good the products are at rejuvenating the skin by reducing wrinkles, lines, etc. But do you really know what the ingredients are in these products? Even if listed on the product label…do you understand for example what sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, mineral oil mean?
    The "flowery" and often misleading language of cosmetics advertising tells you very little about the actual effectiveness. In Canada there is no labeling law (as of Jul1,2006 there will be a labelling law in place)so manufacturers can deceive the consumer. In the U.S. the law provides for mandatory labeling of ingredients, but only chemists understand their purpose and dermatologists their problems. It seems that a large percentage of the population is suffering adverse consequences when using cosmetic products containing many harmful chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
    The purpose of this article is to offer alternative methods of caring for your hair and skin. We are actively involved in the manufacture of truly natural herbal creams, lotions, shampoo and spray with premium quality botanical herbal extracts which are certified organic, organic, or wild-crafted without synthetics, artificial colour, scents or preservatives. Available only through professional Health & Wellness practitioners.
    We would like to inform you of the various chemicals by name, where they come from, and what they can do for your skin and hair. Be aware that there are over 1000 chemicals available for use in cosmetics that have toxic substances and are dangerous to your health and well-being. Source: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
    Large corporations in the personal-care industry are interested in the promotion and profit potential of their products, not your health. They are selling an image, not necessarily a safe and effective product. You have to ask yourself what "New & Improved" means on the label. Aren't you overwhelmed by all the claims made promoting their "natural" skincare products? Many of the so-called new and improved products are old formulas in flashy new packaging designed to appeal to today's consumer. All this does is up the price, not the quality.  
    Companies selling personal care products hide controversial or dangerous ingredients under the label of "trade secrets". Because of intense competition in the industry, if a company believes it uses an ingredient that is relatively new to the industry or makes their product unique, it can petition the FDA (in Canada the HPB - Health Protection Branch) to prevent disclosure of that ingredient by granting trade secret status. This spells delight for the company and disaster for you!
    Many people are very health and beauty conscious and are willing to spend large amounts of money on cosmetics promising firming of sagging skin, removing wrinkles, nourishing the starving skin and/or removing blemishes. Brand name cosmetics companies have developed a large profitable industry selling products that imply these, and other non-existing and impossible virtues and cures! Every cosmetic product on the market is formulated for a shelf life of over three years, therefore it contains a large amount (usually four synthetic parabens) of preservatives to prevent spoilage. These preservatives are cellular toxins, otherwise they could not kill microbes. They do penetrate the skin to a certain extent and many of them have been shown to cause allergic reactions and dermatitis! Over 90% of all ingredients in commercially available cosmetic products are of synthetic origin with all the associated health risks. On the other hand there is a wealth of information and practical knowledge available about NATURAL products because they have been used for thousands of years starting with aboriginal and native peoples.
    In North America literally thousands of people are suffering from adverse effects when using cosmetic products and most people don't associate burning, reddening of the skin or pimples, rashes with a cosmetic product they are using. People simply discontinue to use the product but seldom report it to the FDA or HPB. Many chemicals used in cosmetics never cause signs of toxicity on the skin, but contain potent systemic toxins.
    Finally a list of cosmetic chemicals that have caused adverse effects was first published for the general public in the book "Health Risks in Today's Cosmetics". The book contains the surprising results of a recently conducted sample survey of the estimated 20,000 different off-the-shelf cosmetic products for sale in the U.S. and over 80% of the products surveyed contained one or more ingredients that have caused documented adverse reactions in humans and animals in the past! Best advice: carefully read the ingredient label of all products, comparing them against a list of reportedly harmful ingredients or contaminants. Only if enough consumers do just that, will products that contain harmful substances eventually disappear from the marketplace.
    How often have you seen the words "Natural" or "Hypo-allergenic" on the front of a skincare product? Cosmetic companies use slick advertising to convince you that you are buying a safe product. There are no industry-wide standards for what the word "Natural" refers to. Every week companies introduce new products (what about the "old" ones?) which are supposed to be better, more effective, healthier but are they really? A quote from the Boston Globe, September 6, 1997:
    "The General Accounting Office, the investigative branch of Congress, has identified more than 125 cosmetic ingredients suspected of causing cancer - and others that may cause birth defects"!
    What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Read labels and learn to decipher some of the chemical jargon. An explanation of many chemicals that are hazardous to your skin and health follows this article. Understanding the long-term effects of these dangerous chemicals and which products contain them is the first step in avoiding disastrous results for you and your loved ones. If nothing else, this information will make you a more informed consumer, one aware of potential health risks. Most importantly it could save your life.

    Many toothpaste and soap companies include this warning on their labels, "Not for use by children under 6". What you may not realize is the dangers in your home are just as likely to harm your children as anything outside. Products that your children use every day may contain ingredients that studies have linked to cancer, blindness, and even death. One of the most widespread of these chemicals is SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS). Manufacturers primarily use it because it is inexpensive and readily available. Some products that can contain SLS are: shampoo, soap, toothpaste and lotions. You are probably aware that your children's toothpaste contains fluoride because that's what dentists have recommended for years to prevent cavities. However, most toothpaste contains enough fluoride in four ounces to kill a small child! In 1990 a study stated that fluoride has been shown to NOT reduce cavities and now scientists are linking fluoride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions and about 10,000 unnecessary deaths each year from cancer. Fluoride can corrode the tooth enamel and research indicates that it can lead to Crohn's disease when swallowing toothpaste.
    In the same category is mouthwash. Did you know that some mouthwash contains even higher concentrations of alcohol than beer, wine and liquor. Containing more than 25% alcohol, can be dangerous to young children - one ounce can cause seizures and brain damage and five ounces can kill! According to the National Cancer Institute, mouthwash with over 25% alcohol concentration increases the risk of oral and throat cancer by 60% for men and 90% for women than those who do not use mouthwash.
    Another dangerous product is propylene glycol, an ingredient that is commonly used as a humectant (additive to keep products moist). It is an inexpensive glycerine substitute. Propylene glycol is bad enough for you skin but has also been seen in commercially made baked goods such as muffins to keep them moist for a long time. Consumers beware.
    Some women experience rashes, eczema, and/or acne from using cosmetics loaded with synthetic ingredients. Occasionally they use the same irritating product to try to alleviate the problem but are actually making it worse! When young women start using makeup - some really overdo it and the synthetics in the products are absorbed into their skin. This dries the skin and changes the pH level (pH refers to the acid or alkaline level of a product which is determined by the amount of hydrogen in various ingredients). Normal hair and skin have a pH between 4.0 and 6.0, or slightly acidic. Synthetic cosmetic products will change the pH allowing secondary infections to occur. Acne is a widespread problem and results from an increased production of sebum (oils of the skin) which blocks pores. Those suffering from acne need to keep their skin clean and use only natural products with certified organic/organic or wild-crafted herbal extracts. Of course some of us are more prone to acne from previous generations. Open, unclogged pores and a balanced diet help considerably. Certain preservatives, artificial fragrances, colours and mineral oils can cause itchy rashes, skin damage, and asthma-like symptoms. The origin of a significant portion of dermatological complaints can be traced back to a chemical or non-natural substance applied to the skin.

    Everyone uses hair shampoo on a anywhere from a weekly to daily basis. Complaints about irritation from shampoo are among the most frequent made to the FDA/HPB and to manufacturers. People often complain about various brands of shampoo that have caused various conditions such as scalp irritation, hair loss, eye irritation, and severe hair damage. The vast majority of commercially available shampoos are loaded with chemicals that are hazardous to your skin and health! Have you ever wondered why we have a higher percentage of brain tumors among the population in North America than elsewhere in the world. Scientific studies have proven that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) found in most shampoos damages protein formation in the eyes. After damage has been done, SLS even retards the healing process. Kenneth Gree, PH.D., D.Sc. of the Medical College of Georgia warns that eyes affected by SLS take five times as long to heal. SLS can lead to cataract formation and eventually blindness. Not only from direct eye contact but through skin absorption over the long-term. Many varieties of shampoo are designed to treat dandruff and flaky scalp conditions but these contain coal tar. You won't find it on the label, however. It is listed as FD&C or D&C colour. Our youngest son Harald, works in a hair salon. Without the use of rubber gloves he would suffer serious skin problems from washing and dying client's hair.
    Shampoo sales are 2 - 3 billion dollars in North America each year. There are many manufacturers offering an incredible assortment of products. Recently I checked some of the large chain and drug stores and was amazed that approximately 60-70% of the shampoos and conditioners had no ingredients listing (in the U.S. the law mandates an accurate ingredient listing). It seems that most of the products on Canadian store shelves (without proper labeling) are from the U.S.  The remaining products which did have ingredient shown listed many synthetics and chemicals. The consumer really has no alternative in these stores.
    There are alternatives available! Consumers can purchase toxin free natural herbal products.

 Klaus Ferlow, life-long herbalist, innovator, lecturer, researcher and writer, is the founder and co-owner of FERLOW BOTANICALS in Vancouver Canada, a Canadian owned and operated family business manufacturing and distributing toxin free natural medicinal herbal and personal care products since 1993.


Beauty To Die For, Judi Vance ISBN 1-57901-035-0

What is in your cosmetics?, Aubrey Hampton ISBN 0-939157-10-4

Creating Your Own Cosmeceuticals - Naturally, Niklaus J. Smeh ISBN 0-9637755-3-7

Don't Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me, Paula Begoun 4th Edition, ISBN 1-877988-23-5

Your Natural Health Makeover, Dr. Lauri Aesoph, ND, ISBN 0-13-628652-6

HEALTH NEWS Newspaper, Triple R Publishing Inc., Oregon, USA.

Health Naturally Magazine, Feb/March 1997 page 2021 Zoltan Rona, MD MSc.

The Safe Shoppers Bible, David Steinman, Dr. S. Epstein, ISBN 0-02-082085-2

The Consumer Directory of Cosmetic Ingredients, Ruth Winter, ISBN 0-609-80367-0

Drop – Dead Gorgeous, Kim Erickson, ISBN 0-658-01793-4

Dying To Look Good, Christine Hoza Farlow, D.C., ISBN 0-9635635-3-X

100.000.000 Guinea Pigs - Dangers in Everyday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, Arthur Kallet, F.J. Schlink, ISBN 040-5080255





Glossary Of Chemicals & Synthetics To Avoid In Personal Care Products

These are only 44 of the over 1000 toxic ingredients in personal care products.

1.        AHA (alpha hydroxy acid): skin is exfoliated chemically instead of mechanically via abrasion, dries and increases skin aging. Supposed to be anti-wrinkle, found in many skin and hair care products. Used as a solvent originally in cleaning compounds and for tanning leather. A smooth finish is developed by stripping the outer layer of the skin, irritated skin can puff up.

2.        Acetamide MEA: Used in lipsticks and cream blusher to retain moisture, causes adverse reactions, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic.

3.        Alkyl-phenol-ethoxylades: Mimics estrogen. Used in shampoo, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic. Causes adverse reactions. Reduces sperm count.

4.        Ammonium laureth sulphate: Found in hair and bubble bath products. Laureth contains ether that is listed as carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

5.        Aluminum: Used as colour additive in cosmetics, especially eyeshadow. Listed as carcinogenic, toxic and mutagenic.

6.        Alcohol: Acts as carrying and antifoaming agent. Fast drying, water and oil solvent. If synthetically produced is carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, adverse reactions.

7.        Bentonite: Used in facial mask, makeup, face powder. Supposed to draw out toxins and claimed to be non-toxic, but rats died when injected with it.

8.        Benzene: Found combined with other chemicals in many personal care products and is a known bone-marrow poison. Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

9.        Coal Tar: Many kinds of shampoo designed to treat dandruff & flaky scalp contain it. Disguised with names FD, FDC or FD&C colour. Coal tar causes potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, cancer.

10.     Cocamide DEA: Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds. When DEA is applied to skin known carinogens can form.

11.     Cocomide DEA: Mostly found in shampoo. Contains nitrosamines that are known carcinogens causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis.

12.     Cocomidopropyl Betaine: Used in shampoo in combination with other surfactants. Synthetic. Causes eyelid dermatitis.

13.     Carbomer 934, 940, 941, 960, 961 C: As thickener, stabilizer in creams, toothpaste, eye makeup, bathing products. May cause eye irritation.

14.     DEA (diethanolamine): A synthetic solvent, detergent and humectant widely used in brake fluid, industrial degreasers and antifreeze. Mostly used in liquid soap, shampoo & conditioner. Can be harmful for the liver, kidneys and pancreas. May cause cancer in various organs.Irritates skin, eyes, mucous membranes. Found also in hair dye, lotions, cream, bubble bath, liquid dishwashing detergent & laundry soap. Health risk especially to infants and young children. Forms nitrosamines known to be carcinogens. Causes allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. Hazardous & toxic.

15.     Dioform: Many toothpastes and other tooth whiteners contain it. Damages your teeth enamel weakening their protective shell.

16.     Disodium EDTA: May contain dangerous levles of ethylene oxide and/or dixane, both potent toxins. A manufacturing byproduct. Also used as chelating agent. Carcinogenic.

17.     Hydantoin DMDM: Causes dermatitis. Acts as a preservative and may release formaldehyde and is a suspected carcinogen. Rats develop cancer when injected with this chemical.

18.     Elastin: Supposed to improve the elasticity of the skin when applied externally, however, there is no proof.

19.     FDC-n (FD&C): Various different colours. Some are simply irritants while others are strong carcinogens.

20.     Fluoride: Hazardous chemical. Researchers linked it to cancer years ago. No one is listening. Fluoridated toothpaste is especially dangerous to young children who tend to swallow it after brushing their teeth. Supposed to stop tooth decay. Scientists are now linking flouride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions, can lead to Crohn's disease. A manufacturing toxic by-product.

21.     Formaldehyde: Due to it's bad name it is sometimes hidden under the name DMDM hydantoin or MDM hydantion. Tradename is Formalin. Realeased by diazolidinyl urea. Causes dermatitis, adverse effects, is very toxic when swallowed or inhaled, skin irritant, very toxic, a suspected carcinogen and linked to cancer.

22.     Glycols (group): Causes delay contact allergy. Used as humectant (emulsifier/moisturizer). In most cases as a cheap glycerine substitute. Propylene glycol did cause liver abnormalitites and kidney damage in laboratory animals. Diethylene glycol and carbitol are considered toxic. Ethylene glycol is a suspected bladder carcinogen. Glycols are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and cause adverse reactions.

23.     Imidazolidinyl Urea: Causes dermatitis. If heated to higher temperatures it produces formaldehyde.

24.     Lauramide DEA: Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds and nitrosamines are known carcinogens.

25.     Methyl Chloroisothiazolinine: Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

26.     Paba (p-aminobenzoic acid): Causes photo sensitivity and contact dermatitis. A common sunscreen agent.

27.     Parabens: trademark for butyl, ethyl, germa, methyl, propyl paraben. Causes dermatitis. Used as a preservative in a variety of personal care products especially cream & lotion. Allergic reactions. Petroleum based.

28.     PEG (4-200): abbreviation for polyethylene glycol, polyoxethylene, polygocol, polyether glycol. A manufacturing by-product. Dangerous levels of the toxin dioxane has been found in this product.

29.     Phosphoric acid: as an inorganic phosphate acid it is very disruptive to the skin if used in high concentrations.

30.     Phenoxyethanol: Causes allergic reactions.

31.     Polysorbate-n (20-85): causes contact sensitivity and irritation.

32.     Polyquaternium: Followed by any number they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and cause adverse reactions. Induced contact dermatitis, causes fatal drug allergy (anaphylactic shock), may cause increased sensitivity to muscle relaxants.

33.     Propylene Glycol: Found in most shampoo and conditioners. Derived from petroleum products. Also used in anti-freeze, de-icer, latex, paint, and laundry detergent. Can cause irritation of nasal and respiratory passages and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Research also shows it is mutagenic, causes cardiac arrest. Japanese studies show it damages cell DNA (genetic code). Strongly degreases and dries skin.

34.     Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Causes skin irritation and dermatitis. Used mainly in shampoo and conditioners. Has ether added and is toxic.

35.     Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: An ingredient in 90% of commercially available shampoo and conditioner. Corrodes hair follicle and impedes hair growth. Is found in car wash soap, engine degreaser, toothpaste, cream, lotion, and garage floor cleaners. Penetrates your eyes, brain, liver and remains there for long-term. Degenerates cell membranes and can change the genetic information (mutagenic) in cells and damage the immune system. May cause blindness and lead to cataracts. Eyes can not heal properly. Retards the healing process.

36.     Sodium Cyanide: Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

37.     Sodium Oleth Sulfate: May contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and/or dioxane, both potent toxins.

38.     Sodium PCA (NAPCA): Conditioner for skin and hair, synthetic version can seriously dry the skin can cause allergic reactions.

39.     Styrene Monomer: Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic and causes adverse reactions.

40.     Dimethylamine: Secondary amines cause allergic dermatitis. Carcinogenc properties.

41.     Stearamidopropyl Tetrasodium EDTA: Nitrosamines can form in all cosmetic ingredients containing amines and amino derivatives with nitrogen compounds. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens.

42.     Talc: Hazardous. Toxic by inhalation. Some talc found to contain amphibole particle distribution typical to asbestos (which is cancer causing).

43.     Toluene: Used as a solvent in cosmetics, especially nail polish and dyes. Also in pharmaceuticals and gasoline as a blending agent.

44.     Triethanolamine (TEA): Causes severe facial dermatitis, irritation and sensitivity. Used as ph adjuster. Reacts with stearic acid to form oil in water emulsions (typically lotions). May contain nitrosamines, known carcinogens.

Desctiptive Words

Carcinogen (Carcinogenic): Known to be cancer causing.

Humectant: a product that helps the skin retain moisture. Vegetable glycerine is a humectant.

Mutagenic: Changes the genetic code which are the building blocks of cells.

Toxic: Poisonous, either short-term or long-term.

Note: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific health claims for any products. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.

Date: Mon, 24. Nov 14



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