Toxic Ingredients: Alcohol Denat. through Acrylamide

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Last updated on November 6th, 2013

This post includes toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products under letter A: Denatured Alcohol, Aluminum,  Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Aminomethyl Propanol, and Acrylamide. They are dangerous to our health.  They may cause a variety of health issues, from skin irritation to possibly cancer, if applied regularly over the course of many years.  My primary source is Environmental Working Group (EWG).  If you’d like more details, click on the chemical name, and it will take you to the Skin Deep Database created by EWG. These are the chemicals under letter A.  Stay tuned for the rest of alphabet.

ALCOHOL DENAT. (DENATURED ALCOHOL)

  • a mixture of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) with a denaturing agent (often methanol)
  • making it poisonous to drink
  • carcinogenic, toxic, birth defects, mainly when consumed internally
  • rated 4 out 10 for negative health impact by EWG

ALUMINUM POWDER

  • a metallic substance composed of finely ground particles of aluminum
  • used as a colorant
  •  a known human nervous system and respiratory toxicant, an allergen
  • rated 4 to 9 out 10 for negative health impact by EWG
  • FDA restricts its usage only on the lips

 AMMONIUM LAURETH SULFATE

  • cleansing, foaming agent
  • skin, eye, lung irritation
  • may be contaminated with toxic impurities:
    • 1,4-DIOXANE
    • ETHYLENE OXIDE

AMINOMETHYL PROPANOL

  • skin, eye, lung irritation
  • may be contaminated with nitrosamines (see NITROSAMINES)

ACRYLAMIDE

  • classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by Int’l Agency for Research on Cancer
  • classified “reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens” by US Toxicology Program
  • skin, eye, lung irritation
  • an impurity of
    • POLYACRYLAMIDE
    • POLYQUATERNIUM-7
    • POLYACRYLIC ACID

 

6 Responses

  1. Galina

    I like the way you lay out your information. I am sure this is what people need right now – to become aware of what they buy and consume. I started to be more careful in my choice since I had problems with my skin. My skin has become extremely sensitive and responds very easily to different harmful ingredients. I first started just buying the lotions and ointments in the “green and natural and organic” departments having a belief that it was safe by definition. My skin still responded with rashes and irritations. I wondered why? Now I am beginning to understand.
    I have a question for you:
    You list aluminum powder as a harmful ingredient. Is it the same ingredient that goes into our antiperspirants? If yes, are there any safe alternatives without this harmful ingredient?
    Thank you very much!

    • The Blog Owner

      Galina, thank you for your very good comment and question. The aluminum powder I was describing in the post is used as a colorant. You are right that aluminum is used in antiperspirants. However, they are different aluminum compounds. The most frequent aluminum compounds used in antiperspirants are aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, and aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly. EWG has given them better ratings than to aluminum powder, from 2 to 4. The worst ones out of these four are aluminum chloride and aluminum chlorohydrate. The aluminum compounds are controversial and there were even studies linking them with breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. What seems to be more certain is that some people have allergy to aluminum compounds and seek out better alternatives. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make an antiperspirant without some type of aluminum as the aluminum is what reduces sweat gland’s function. The only antiperspirant on the market that is claimed to work without aluminum is HyperDri Aluminum-Free Antiperspirant. I do not recommend it though because it does not seem to be effective according to customer reviews, contains PEGs (may be potentially contaminated with carcinogenic ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane) and lactic acid (skin irritant), and it is very expensive. Instead of an antiperspirant, I recommend using a deodorant that is safe and effective.

  2. Galina

    Thank you very much for the information. It’s very very helpful. I was wondering myself if there was any connection between the use of antiperspirants and breast cancer. I wish more research could be done on that. Speaking of our women’s health do you know if there are any hidden harmful ingredients (materials) in feminine hygiene products? I don’t remember ever seeing the lists of “ingredients’ on this type of products at all. Yet I know there are some “green”brands making these products which makes me wonder what the difference is and how safe these products are in general. Thanks a lot!

    • The Blog Owner

      Thank you for another good question, Galina. You are right that the ingredients of feminine hygiene products are not readily available and that feminine hygiene products do contain chemicals that are harmful for women’s health and the environment. The US government does not require companies to disclose the ingredients of household products as opposed to personal care products (do not ask me why feminine sanitary pads are considered household products). I think feminine hygiene products require a separate post. Stay tuned. Thank you for your question again.

  3. Nihsani

    Hi, I am on the 7th month of my pregnancy. Without prior knowledge, I used a deodorant upto 6 months, which includes ingredients – alcohol denat, aluminium, chlorohydrate, parfume. I continuously polished my nails too. I am still using COnstance Carrol powder compact, lipstick and glosses.
    Now I am mostly scared about that deodorant, whether it will affect the baby inside. Two weeks ago, I stopped using the deodorant.
    could u pls reply me. many thanks

    • Irina Webb

      Hi Nihsani: I can totally relate to how you feel. I have also done my share of panic when I realized that I used potentially harmful products. I recommend you stop stressing out (stress is a huge toxin in itself) and instead redirecting your energy to changes you can do today. Have you put together a baby registry with safe and non-toxic products for your baby? Make sure you are signed up for a series of free emails on how to do that, here. I hope to hear from you again. ~Irina

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