Common preservatives to avoid

Consumer products for extarnak use such as schampoo, soap, make up and skin creams etc usually contain a cocktail of chemicals. Some of the are used as preservatives. However, not all of the are necessarily good for your health. Here is short list of some of the worst offenders:

This is an abstract of this green guide article.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
It is reasonbly to consider it carcinogenic.
It also can cause contact dermatitis.

"Formaldehyde" Preservatives
diazolidinyl urea
DMDM hydantoin
imidazolidinyl urea
bronopol = 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
All can either contain, release or break down into formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen and neurotoxin as well as skin irritant.

Bronopol, when combined with triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA) or the sunscreen chemical PABA, can contribute to the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE):
Although natural 7 of 9 GSE preservatives contain either benzethonium chloride, a suspected hormone disruptor, or benzalkonium chloride, a skin and eye irritant.

Kathon CG
= methylchloroisothiazolinone
Highly irritating to skin.

Mercury (thimerosal)
Highly neuro-toxic and readily adsorbs through skin.
Mainly found in eye makeup

Parabens (methyl-, propyl-, butyl- and isobutyl)
Suspected hormone disruptors.
Cause chronic dermatitis and are irritating to the eyes.

Safer alternatives

Sorbic acid/Potassium Sorbate:
Could be irritating in the eye.
No other detrimental health effects have been found.

Tocopherols (vitamin E):
Have very little potential to irritate skin.
Pose no additional health threats.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) compounds
L-Ascorbic Acid
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Sodium Ascorbate
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Little risk of skin sensitization and no toxic effects.
Altough I would avoid phosphate since they are fertiliser.

Essential oils:
Some essential oils have inherent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, such as lavender, rosemary, rose, thyme and tea tree oils.

Tea tree and lavender oils, and both have been linked to enlarged breasts in young boys. Parents should avoid these ingredients in children's personal care products.
I have seen articles about strong allergic reactions to tea tree oil. Could be due to contaminants in the products.

Of course avoid oils from plants that you are allergic to.

What You Can

Throw out old products:
Foundations and lipsticks = one year
Mascaras and eye makeup = three to four months
Powders = two years

Contact manufacturer of products that contain any of the bad preservatives.
Also, send them the list of safer alternatives.


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