Aluminium salts such as Aluminium hydroxychloride, Aluminium chlorohydrate Aluminium sulphate, etc. They block pores and are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium salt is used in most antiperspirants nowadays. It acts as a sweat inhibitor, closing off the skin’s sweat pores so that the sweat is unable to come out. Closing off the body’s most important secretory organ day after day (sweating from the armpits included) and with a substance than can be irritating to the skin and is easily absorbed by damaged skin, is not necessarily the best solution for our sweat problems.
Aqueous cream is paraffin and water in suspension and should be avoided as it is based on mineral oils from the petrochemical industry. (See ‘mineral oil’ further down.)
BHT is Butylated hydroxytoluene is a synthetic phenol. It is an antioxidant which prevents fats and oils from going rancid and essential oils from oxidising. BHT is a controversial substance – some research indicates that it is carcinogenic while other research indicates that it acts as a protective agent against the effects of carcinogenic substances. It is possible that BHT is absorbed by the skin because it mixes easily with fats and oils. In our view, this substance does not belong in natural cosmetics.
Borax is Sodium borate, a strong irritant which may be carcinogenic. It is used as an emulsifier
Capric/Caprylic triglycerides are refined, very stable fatty acids produced from coconut oil. (Research uncertain at the moment.)
Collagen is often taken from young animals or aborted fetuses. Do you really want to have this injected into your lips?
Isopropyl myristate Iso-propylmyristate. This is a very commonly used substance in the cosmetics industry. It is obtained from isopropyl alcohol and myristic acid (a vegetable based fatty acid). At room temperature it is a watery-clear, odourless, oily liquid. Isopropyl myristate can be used in cosmetic preparations as a substitute for vegetable oils. It makes the skin feel soft but without the fatty feel which the vegetable oils give it. However it can react chemically with triethanolamines creating other compounds which are absorbed by the skin and can create health problems.
Kathon Methyl chloroisothiazolinone (and) Methyl isothiazolinone
Kathon CG is used as a preservative against bacteria and fungi in cosmetics. It is also used in anti-freeze for cars and as a preservative for wood in pressure treated timber. It is registered as a class 2 fungicide. Kathon is used in 10-20% of cosmetics on the market. Kathon is suspected to be one of the most common causes of allergic reactions to cosmetics. Symptoms include redness, blisters, itchiness, boils, rashes, peeling and swelling of the skin. There are no less than 30-40 different names for Kathon.
Lanolin made from wool can be contaminated with pesticides from sheep dip e.g. DDT.
Linseed oil Linum usitatissiorum. A vegetable oil extracted from linseed which contains 30-40% oil. Extraction occurs through the crushing and pressing of the seeds. Linseed oil contains a high level of linolenic acid (50%) and is the most familiar of those oils known as ‘dry’ oils. Linseed oil goes rancid on exposure to oxygen and turns into a solid mass. The oil is used in putty (for windows) and in the making of paints. For the latter a particular kind of linseed oil is used – cooked linseed oil – which is treated with lead oxide. Cooked linseed oil should never be either taken internally or used topically.
Linseed oil has no history of use in skin care but is very readily absorbed by the skin. However, this may be because it does not keep at all well and goes rancid very quickly.
Mineral oil is petroleum based, blocks pores, acts as a barrier, and suppresses normal skin functions.
Paraffin/Petroleum products is used mostly in lubrication oil in sewing machines and floor wax. Prevents absorption of vitamins, clogs pores and may be carcinogenic.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate. A detergent which is very aggressive on the skin.
Spermataceti cetaceum is obtained from the head of the sperm whale.
Silk Amino Acid is derived from dead silk worms.
Tallow is a fat derived from sheep and slaughtered animals. It is then refined through a process of melting and filtering. Tallow is a solid fat which melts at 45-50ºC and has a white or off-white colour. It contains 50-55% oleic acid and 45-50% stearic and palmitic acid. Tallow comes in different grades. In food making it is used in margarine, which in turn is used in e.g. bread and cakes. Industrial tallow is used in the making of soaps (shaving foams and soaps), candle grease, emulsifiers, lipsticks, detergents and thickening agents for detergents. Because of the high content of heavy metals and pesticides in the fat, it is not recommended for use in skin care products or food.
Triethanolamine is petroleum-based, very irritating and can be carcinogenic. Used as emulsifiers by many High Street brands.
Vaseline® is petroleum-based, blocks pores, destroys vitamins, and may be carcinogenic.
Wheatgerm Oil goes rancid within just 1-2 weeks of production. This is due to the high content of linolenic acid in the oil and is the cause of the bad smell associated with Wheatgerm products. Unfortunately many English aromatherapy books have written favourably about wheatgerm as an antioxidant or preservative. Many people now realise that this is totally wrong. If you want your products to spoil quickly, just add wheatgerm oil!
2-broma-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol is a solvent used in nail varnish, amongst other things. Also used as a preservative even though it is a dubious substance to use in cosmetics at all. Can form nitrosamines when combined with triethanolamines. People working with chemicals who inhale this substance can lose their appetite and experience diarrhoea and headaches.