Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ingredient Alert! Should You Be Worried?

Digging Under Rocks

In a past article on Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, I shared a comparison where many seem to enjoy making claims about SLS being used for industrial purposes, like cleaning garage floors, or that silicone is a mechanical lubricant or propylene glycol is used in anti-freeze.

So I guess this is the basis of an argument, as to why are these in cosmetics or personal care products? And in many cases this is the premise which EWG and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, along with many scientifically challenged bloggers or all natural companies (for monetary purposes) continue to place these in the forefront of their scare tactics by placing concern, where none need be.

Below is a perfect analogy represented by my guest, Dene Godfrey, of an ingredient which is typically overlooked, yet based on its' uses and the potential to cause harm, why IS this one continuously overlooked? I mean there is plenty of ridiculous hyperbole disseminated about other ingredients....shouldn't this one be included? You make the call......

Ingredient Alert

Many observers and commentators from outside the cosmetics industry often highlight the fact that propylene glycol is also used in antifreeze and industrial cleaning products and, therefore, they claim it is unsuitable for use in cosmetics (either overtly, or by implication). These commentators are, however, missing a much more frequently used cosmetic ingredient, with an even more insidious “resume”.

This ingredient is used in:
  • Antifreeze
  • Industrial cleaning products
  • Bleach preparations
  • Car battery acid (!!!!)
  • Industrial cooling towers
  • Industrial cutting fluids
And many other industrial applications.

Furthermore, this ingredient is present in ALL cancer cells, is a major component in human and animal excreta (ugh – and we put THIS in cosmetics!) and also has the following toxicological properties:
  • Causes death by inhalation
  • Can cause death by ingestion
  • The gaseous form can cause skin burns
  • Prolonged exposure to the skin has unpleasant effects on skin appearance
So propylene glycol seems mild in comparison. It is clear to me that the industry has a huge responsibility to invoke the Precautionary Principle and take immediate steps to remove this dangerous ingredient from ALL cosmetics as soon as possible. After all, who needs water anyway?

Water is also present (in fairly low concentrations) in bovine faeces. Need I say more?


Additional note by author in reference to a private message received:

The point of this article is to illustrate the nonsensical use of genuine facts taken completely out of context to demonstrate a point. In this instance, I am showing that there is no logic in suggesting that, because propylene glycol is also used in other, non-cosmetic applications, this is a reason to claim that it should not be used in cosmetics. There is no law that states that any particular substance may only be used in one specific industry, and the fact that propylene glycol happens to be highly useful in antifreeze has no bearing whatsoever on its suitability, or otherwise, in cosmetics. If you take the facts about water, as I have presented them, out of the comfortable context of thinking you know that it is totally safe, then it can sound scary. This is why I deliberately did not actually name the mystery ingredient as being water until right at the end, because it would have detracted from my point. I hope that, after reading this article, people will understand that to claim that ANY ingredient should not be used in cosmetics just because it has other uses is nonsense. Should we not sprinkle salt on our food – after all, it is used on roads to prevent ice from forming!

More about the author: Dene Godfrey has been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles and has a degree in chemistry.

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