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Cosmetics To Die For


This article was authored by Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist), innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder Ferlow Botanical Enterprises Ltd, Vancouver, B.C. manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners in Canada and parts of USA since 1993.

Cosmetics To Die For

In the book "100.000.000 GUINEA PIGS" it says "Dangers in everyday foods, drugs, and cosmetics, first published January 12, 1933 and the first paragraph reads: "THE GREAT AMERICAN GUINEA PIG", a hundred million Americans act as unwitting test animals in a gigantic experiment with poisons, conducted by the food, drug, and cosmetic manufacturers!

This was over 73 years ago and has something changed in the meantime? Yes, we are bombarded with even more chemicals. Toxins poison our air, our water, our food, our households and our bodies. According to the EPA (Environment Protection Agency), approx. 70.000 chemicals are used commercially in North America, approx. 65.000 of which are potentially dangerous, hazardous to our health! The Environmental Defense Council reports that more than four billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the environment each year, including 72 million pounds of known carcinogens.

Since toxins poisons seemed to be everywhere, let's examine in this article personal care products. Is the consumer not protected by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration & Health Canada)? NOT AT ALL!! They have absolute NO mandate to inforce manufacturers of personal care products to use safe, chemically free ingredients and only if thousands of consumers complain to them, they eventually will investigate. Be aware that there are over 1000 chemicals available for use in cosmetics hat have toxic substances and are dangerous and hazardous to your health and well-being. Source: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

The cosmetic industry is very poorly regulated. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD & C) Act does NOT require cosmetics or their ingredients to be approved before they are marketed and sold to consumers. The FDA can make suggestions or recommendations to manufacturers about cosmetic products or their ingredients, but the manufacturers do not have to comply. The FDA (Health Canada operates similar) must first prove in a court of law that a product is harmful, improperly labelled, or violates the law if it wants to remove a cosmetic product from the market.

Large Corporations in the personal care industry are interested in the promotion and profit potential of their products, not YOUR health! They are hiding controversial or dangerous ingredients under the label of "trade secrets". Because of intense competition, cosmetics is big business in North America with over 35 -- 40 billion in sales each year, it can petition the FDA or Health Protection Branch to prevent disclosure by granting trade secret status. This spells delight for the companies and disaster for you!

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA) International Buyers Guide 1999 lists 25.854 cosmetic chemicals from which manufacturers can choose for the cosmetics they produce. Most of the chemicals have not been tested for short-term or long-term toxic effects or for systemic effects. Many are contaminated with toxic by-products from manufacturing, many are toxic themselves.

Cosmetic manufacturers are not required to prove the claims they make about their products or to test their products for safety. However, if the product's safety has not been established, the product requires the label to state: "WARNING": The safety of this product has not been determined.

What about hair coloring?

Hair coloring products are among the most poorly regulated consumer products. There is no requirement to place a warning on the label of hair coloring products to inform consumers that these products cause for example cancer. Using hair dye increases your risk for multiple myeloma, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and possibly breast cancer. There is strong evidence that as much as 20% of cases of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in U.S. women may be the result of hair dyes.

A quote from the Boston Globe, September 6, 1997: "The General Accounting Office, the investigative branch of Congress, has identified more than 125 cosmetic ingredients suspected of causing cancer and others that may cause birth defects". Cancer fatalities account for approx. 12% of all deaths worldwide each year. Across the Globe, 10.9 million people are diagnosed with cancer annually and 6.7 million die because of it and one out of every 2.18 people will develop cancer in the U.S. As many as 25% of Americans are estimated to suffer form some degree of heavy metal poisoning, particularly from mercury (amalgam in teeth), lead, cadmium and arsenic. Our immune systems are further compromised by poor nutrition (book "America -- Fast Food Nation), and unhealthy lifestyles, and most of us suffer from excessively acidic pH level, breading ground for most diseases (daily intake should be 80% Alkaline, 20% Acid to stay healthy), which creates an internal environment in which cancer, as well as viral, bacterial, and fungal infections can thrive.

Many herbal creams, lotions, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants, soaps contain one or more hazardous chemicals and some of the major ones I will list at the end of the article and what they do to your skin and to your body.

Your skin, your body's largest organ, absorbs fragrance chemicals (95% of the chemicals in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum) by direct application, by contact with fragranced items, and by exposure to air containing fragrances. Fragrance chemicals in fabric softeners, laundry detergents, perfumes, air fresheners, personal care products and many other products contribute to health problems and environmental damage.

Beware of products claiming to be:

  • Natural - this suggests that the ingredients are derived from natural sources than being produced synthetically and there are no standards for what "Natural" means.

  • Hypoallergenic - this means that the manufacturer believes the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions, but there are no standards again classifying a product "Hypoallergenic". The manufacturer is not required to prove his claim. Also, the terms " dermatologist tested", "sensitivity tested", "allergy tested", or"nonirritating" do not guarantee they won't cause allergic reactions.

  • fragrance free - this means that the product has no detectable odor and fragrance ingredients may still be added to mask offensive odors from the materials used to make the product

  • Alcohol Free - this generally means the product does not contain ethyl or grain alcohol, may contain fatty alcohol like cetyl, cetearyl, stearyl, or lanolin.

  • Shelf Life (Expiration Date) - this gives the length of the time a cosmetic product is good if handled and stored properly.

Safety Tips:

  • if you cannot pronounce the name of the ingredient (s), don't buy it

  • stop using a product if you have had an allergic reaction

  • throw away products in which there has been a change in color or odor

  • never share make up or lipsticks, many of them are "loaded" with chemicals, for example with lead etc.

  • be wary of testers at cosmetic counters, they may be contaminated

  • do not use eye makeup if you have an eye infection

  • close up containers tightly when not in use

  • keep containers of creams, lotions refrigerated without chemical preservatives

  • do not use aerosol flammable products near hear or while smoking

  • do not inhale hairsprays and powders, they may cause lung damage

What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Learn to decipher some of the chemical jargons. Understanding the long-term effects of these dangerous, hazardous chemicals and knowing which products contain them is the first step in protecting your health.

Chemicals to avoid in personal care products: (over 1000 toxic ingredients are used in personal care products)

1. AHA (alpha hydroxy acid): skin is exfoliated chemically instead of mechanically via abrasion, dries and increases skin aging. Supposed to be anti-wrinkle, found in many skin and hair products. Used as solvent originally in cleaning compounds and for tanning leather. A smooth finish is developed by stripping the outer layer of the skin, irritated skin puffs up, fine lines and wrinkles disappear.

2. Ammonia: corrosive, toxic if inhaled, eye and mucous membrane irritant, can burn eyes and skin, can cause permanent damage, classified as hazardous by OSHA, best to avoid all cosmetics containing ammonia or ammonium salts.

3. Fluoride: skin, eye, nose, throat irritant, poison, causes premature aging, weakening of the immune system, mottling of the teeth, anemia, joint stiffness, calcified ligaments, genetic damage.

4. Formaldehyde: carcinogen, mutagen, neurotoxin, sensitizer, eye and skin irritant, poison if swallowed, not safe in aerosol products, banned in Japan and Sweden.

5. MSG (monosodium glutamate): may be hidden in cosmetics, hair conditioners, shampoos, soaps in many other products inclusive in fast foods and drinks and may cause headaches, itching, nausea, brain, nervous system, reproductive disorders, high blood pressure, allergic reactions.

6. PABA: (p-aminobenzoic acid): may cause photo sensitivity and contact dermatitis

7. PARABENS: petroleum derivative, trademark for benzyl, butyl, ethyl, germa, methyl and propyl parabens used as preservative to prevent moulding. Skin irritant, found in tissues of breast cancer women, strong allergen, potential mutagen, toxic.

8. Perfumes: may cause skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, coughing, vomiting, hyper pigmentation

9. Phthalates: can be found in many leading beauty care products, including hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, perfume, fragrances, toys, flooring, adhesives, and many other products. They are carcinogenic, mutagenic, may adversely affect sperm, see also http://www.noharm.org, http://www.make-up-usa.co, http://www.fpinva.org, http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org, http://www.ourstolenfuture.org

10. Proplene Glycol: petrochemical, best avoided, absorbs quickly through skin, strong irritant, may cause delayed allergic reaction, acne, contact dermatitis, used in anti-freeze, de-icer, latex paint and laundry detergent. May cause irritation of nasal and respiratory passages and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, strong allergen. Is also used in cakes and muffins.

11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: found in many personal care products, acts as foaming agent, also found in car wash soaps, engine degreaser, and garage floor cleaners. Skin and eye irritant, eczema, mutagen, penetrates eyes, brain, liver and remains there for long-term. Degenerates cell membranes and can change genetic information (mutagenic) in cells and damage immune system, may cause blindness and can lead to cataracts.

This information is offered for its educational value and should not be used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease.

More information on the hazardous, dangerous chemicals can be obtained by checking the website: http://www.ferlowbotanicals


100.000.000 Guinea Pigs, Dangers in Everday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, Artuhr Kallet & J.J. Schlink, first published January 12, 1933!!

The CancerSmart Consumer Guide, Labour Environmental Alliance Society, Vancouver, B.C., http://www.leas.ca/

Beauty to Die For, Judi Vance, ISBN 1-57901-035-0

Drop Dead Gorgeous, Kim Erickson, ISBN O-658-01793-4

Dying To Look Good, Christine Hoza, D.C., ISBN 0-9635635-3-X

Chemical Exposure and Human Health, Cynthia Wilson

Chemical Sensitivity, William Rea

Toxic Deception, Dan Fagin, Marianne Lavelle,

Healing The Planet, Jozef J. Krop, MD, FAAEM

Children of a Toxic Harvest, Eve Hillary, ND, ISBN 0-9577-2840-9

This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.

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  4. Neem Toothpaste - The Healthy Solution For Your Teeth & Gums
  5. Hawthorn Combo Tincture
  6. Essential Versus Fragrance Oils. Part 2: The Hazards of Scents

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