What are you putting on your skin and scalp?!

Hello! Its been quite a while since my last post. Today I would like to share something I believe everyone should be watchful for. This is important to you and everyone that you know so ensure to share it after reading.

In the cause to buy hair product (conditioner for my hair), I began checking reviews on a product I was willing to try. After going through many reviews and sites, I visited the company’s own site and decided to check the ingredient list to ensure they are no silicones in the conditioner. Funny enough, I founf myself reading painstakingly, every ingredient on the product bottle and also googling to know their use and ensure they are safe.

The thing is, you use hair products very often and if there are bad ingredients in it, they are huge chances of build up in your body. Scary right? Before I even got to the 5th ingredient (started from the bottom), I came across ‘polysorbate 20’. I looked into it and one of the first things I saw on it is that it could be carcinogenic! Thing is, though polysorbate on its own is made from a natural ingredient, polysorbate, when treated with 20 parts of ethylene oxide (ethoxylation) becomes polysorbate 20. Polysorbate 20 is then utilised as an emulsifier in your everyday cosmetic products to mix ingredients such as oil and water, which normally do not mix.

All this sounds fine until you learn that the process of ethoxylation can actually create small amounts of 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin [1]. Scarily enough, the amount of 1,4-dioxane present in cosmetic products and other personal care products used have been found to be over 1000 times higher than that actually found to cause cancer in the animal studies [2].

When is it harmful?

Following an evaluation by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, after reviewing scientific data, it was concluded that polysorbates 20 and other chemicals in question were safe as cosmetic ingredients when formulated to be nonirritating. High doses were however seen to cause harm [3].

I know what you are possibly thinking; “since it’s used minimally in my favourite conditioner, I’m sure it’s no deal“. Well, according to the Organic Consumers Association, “When laboratory animals were tested with 1,4-Dioxane at the lowest parts per billion level—over the animal’s lifetime—they developed cancer”[4]. Information also obtained from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System shows that exposure to 1,4 dioxane may lead to a higher risk of cancer, along with other health risks [5]. The EPA has also classified 1,4 dioxane as a Group B2 probable human carcinogen [6].

Finally, it’s always better to air on the side of caution and find a product without polysorbate 20 on the ingredient list. Though one-time use may be harmless, using such a product daily may have its consequences. Endeavour also to read up on other ingredients in products you are currently using and those you want to buy.

Moral of the story

  1. Do not just buy a product! Do your research and know what you are putting on your skin and into your body (due to skin or scalp penetration). 
  2. Many of these products are created designed for profit. Put yourself first since other’s aren’t.
  3. Beware of products with ingredients you can hardly read or pronounce.
  4. It may be nice for your hair or body but dangerous to your health.

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