Glossary - Just Beautiful

Click on a word below to find out more about some of the terms used throughout the site.




1,4-Dioxane

What is it?

1,4-dioxane is a respiratory tract irritant and probable carcinogen found in trace amounts in cosmetics and personal care and cleaning products. It is a contaminant created during the manufacturing process. People are can be exposed to 1,4-dioxane through skin absorption.

What is it in?

It can be found in products that lather such as toothpaste, shampoo and body wash.

How to identify and avoid?

Because it’s a contaminant, 1,4-dioxane normally doesn’t appear on product labels. Watch the label for Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – a petroleum based ingredient that acts as a foaming agent. SLES can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Additionally, look for PEG compounds, and chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth on product labels.

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)

What is it?
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are similar synthetic antioxidants that are used as preservatives in personal care products and cosmetics. There have been rising concerns with the use of these ingredients due to animal and human health studies indicating carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, development toxicity and allergies.
 
What is it in?
BHA and BHT can be found in personal care products such as lipstick, eye shadow, concealer and moisturizers. In body care products and cosmetics, the primary area of exposure to BHA and BHT is dermal absorption.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
Check ingredient list for butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene. An easy way to avoid these chemicals is to look for natural or mineral makeup options. Make sure lipstick is coloured with mineral or plant-based dyes. There are also natural options for lotion or you could even use natural oil.

Coal tar-derived colours

What is it?
Coal tar-derived colours include P-phenylenediamine and colours labeled “C.I.”. P-phenylenediamine is a probable carcinogen and neurotoxin. Furthermore, there is evidence of connections between personal hair dye use and certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia, and bladder cancer. There have also been links made between exposure to p-phenylenediamine and allergic contact sensitization and dermatitis, acute dermatitis, and severe facial oedema. There have also been concerns expressed around negative health effects from long-term exposure. Some common short-term reactions are itching, burning, scalping, hives and blistering of the skin.
 
What is it in?
Coal tar-derived colours, including P-phenylenediamine, are often used in permanent hair dyes with higher concentration in darker shades (vs. lighter shades). It’s also used in hair bleach, henna dyes and coloured shampoos.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • To check if a product has coal tar-derived colours and P-phenylenediamine, look for “C.I.” followed by a 5-digit number.
  • However, there are difficulties in distinguishing between naturally occurring colouring (derived from minerals) and synthetic colouring as ingredients in personal care products, as both are labeled “C.I.” followed by a 5-digit number.
  • To avoid these chemicals, choose a natural hair dye that uses plant-based dyes.
  • Also look for names like paraphenylene, PPD, p-diaminobenzene, p-phenylenediamine, p-aminoaniline and 1,4-benzenediamine.

Dibutyl Phthalate

What is it?
Dibutyl Phthalate, or DBP, is a known carcinogen that is also linked to genital abnormalities in infants and testicular cancer. Additionally the vapor irritates the eyes and mucous membranes.
 
What is it in?
DBP is mainly found in nail polish but is also sometimes in shampoo.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • Some large, brand name nail polish companies have responded to pressure and removed DBP from their products but as always it’s best to find a natural nail polish product.
  • If you want to avoid chemicals completely, henna paste can stain your nails.
  • If you can’t find a natural solution, you should dab some olive or almond oil on the nail bed. This can help reduce the amount of chemicals that soak into your system.
  • Do some research online to see if your favourite nail polish company has gone DBP free.

 

Formaldehyde Releasing Agents

What is it?
There are a number of personal care product ingredients that release formaldehyde. These chemicals continue to slowly release formaldehyde during their life. The off-gasses from these chemicals are inhaled by the user of the product. There are many health concerns about formaldehyde as it is an immune system toxicant, skin irritant and probable carcinogen.
 
What is it in?
Chemicals that release formaldehyde are found in hair care products, hair colouring, moisturizers, eye shadow, mascara, foundation, blush and nail products.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
When checking product ingredients for formaldehyde releasing agents look for: DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quaternium-15 and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. There are many natural options for cosmetics and personal care products that won’t include these harmful chemicals.

 

Fragrance

What is it?
The inclusion of fragrance on ingredient lists usually suggests a variety of hidden chemicals which do not have to be disclosed because they are considered trade secrets. Hidden within these trade secrets are often high levels of phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting and have been linked to breast cancer and birth defects. Fragrance is also linked to allergies, immune system toxicity, headaches and dizziness.
 
What is it in?
Many different types of personal care products contain fragrance; make sure to check the ingredients of any strongly scented product.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
Look on the label for fragrance, perfume and parfum. Search out products that are scented with essential oils instead of the unknown chemical concoction of “fragrance”.

Parabens

Parabens are the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetics and are often used as unlisted fragrance ingredients. Water is the only ingredient used more frequently in cosmetics. Exposure to parabens from personal care products occurs through the skin. When parabens enter the body this way they are not metabolized as they would be when coming from food products. As the parabens are absorbed through the skin they go straight into the blood stream and organs. Parabens have been found to mimic estrogen which can lead to increased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, parabens can affect male reproductive functions. Parabens are also immune system and organ toxicants, an allergen linked to dermatitis and have been shown to cause cancer in animals.
 
What is it in?
Parabens are found in a number of personal care products including shampoo, moisturizer, shaving cream, cleansing gels, personal lubricant, deodorant and toothpaste.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • Some companies are taking the initiative to remove parabens from their products and even note that their products are formulated without parabens so this is great place to start looking.
  • If the packaging doesn’t state it is paraben-free, look for ingredients with “paraben” as a suffix.
  • Some possible ingredients are: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.
  • Other chemicals to watch out for are: 4-hydroxyebzoic acid, propyl ester, propyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, benzoic acid and 4-hydroxybutyl ester.
  • Additionally, parabens are often used in fragrances but are not noted because fragrance is classified as a trade secret. The best bet is to also avoid products that list fragrance, perfume or parfum as an ingredient.

Petrolatum

What is it?
Petrolatum, commonly known as Petroleum Jelly, is a virtually odourless and tasteless gel that helps to smooth and soften skin. Because it is a petroleum product, it could be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies have indicated that exposure to PAHs is associated with cancer. Additionally, PAHs can cause skin irritations and allergies.
 
What is it in?
Petrolatum can be found in skin creams, wax depilatories, eyebrow pencils, eye shadows, lipsticks, conditioner and blush.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • It is always best to check the label. Petrolatum may be listed on ingredient lists as petroleum jelly, mineral jelly or mineral grease.

Silicone Chemicals

What are they?
Siloxanes (cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, and cyclohexasiloxane) are a group of chemical compounds that are used in products to make hair and skin appear smooth. Siloxanes are primarily generating concern due to their detrimental effects on the environment though there are reasons to be apprehensive of effects on human health as well. Siloxanes are absorbed by dermal exposure through personal care product use. Siloxanes can contribute to irritation and acne when on the skin. Furthermore, there have been several animal studies linking siloxane exposure to carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption. Siloxanes are also possible human reproductive or development toxins.
 
What is it in?
Siloxanes are very versatile within the personal care products industry; they are often used in hair conditioner to increase softness, and lessen frizz, and in colour-correcting hair products to increase shine and glossiness. Additionally, siloxanes are used in eye and face makeup, manicuring preparations, skin creams and oils, foot powders and sprays, among others.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • Read label to check for cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), cyclopentasiloxane (D5) and cyclohexasiloxane (D6), or any ingredients with the suffix “siloxane”.
  • Be particularly careful when buying hair products that promise smoothness or less frizz and skin care products that claim to give you smooth skin.

Siloxanes

What is it?
Siloxanes are a group of chemical compounds that are used in products to make hair and skin appear smooth. Siloxanes are primarily generating concern due to their detrimental effects on the environment though there are reasons to be apprehensive of effects on human health as well. Siloxanes are absorbed by dermal exposure through personal care product use. Siloxanes can contribute to irritation and acne when on the skin. Furthermore, there have been several animal studies linking siloxane exposure to carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption. Siloxanes are also possible human reproductive or development toxins.
What is it in?
Siloxanes are very versatile within the personal care products industry; they are often used in hair conditioner to increase combability and softness, and lessen frizz; and in colour-correcting hair products to increase shine and glossiness. Additionally, siloxanes are used in eye and face makeup, manicuring preparations, skin creams and oils, foot powders and sprays, among others.
How to Identify and Avoid
  • Read label to check for cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), cyclopentasiloxane (D5) and cyclohexasiloxane (D6), or any ingredients with the suffix “siloxane”.
  • Be particularly careful when buying hair products that promise smoothness or less frizz and skin care products that claim to give you smooth skin.
  • As always, it is a good idea to try and find naturally derived products that you enjoy.

 

Triclosan

[trī-ˈklō-ˌsan]
What is it?
Triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial/antifungal agent which has been connected to endocrine disruption. It penetrates human skin and has been found in the breast milk of mothers. It also has potential links to the development of allergies and dermatitis, but more importantly it is known to affect the production of the thyroid hormone which may have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.
 
What is it in?
Triclosan is used in a wide variety of personal care products including shaving creams, hair conditioners, deodorants, liquid soaps, hand soaps, facial cleansers and disinfectants. It is the active ingredient in most antibacterial products, but it is also used in some products that don’t claim to be antibacterial, like toothpaste.
 
How to Identify and Avoid
  • An easy way to avoid triclosan is to steer clear of products labeled as “antibacterial”.
  • Check ingredient list for either triclosan, or Microban which is a brand name (often indicated on the front of the package).
  • Studies show that anti-bacterial products are no more effective than regular handwashing with soap, so just wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Some great options for soap are those that are vegetable glycerine based, and those that are unscented or scented with essential oils.