TOXIC INGREDIENTS WE DON'T USE, AND WHY...
The topical application of cosmetics has been linked to numerous health issues, including eczema, cancer, reproductive disorders, respiratory ailments, and congenital malformations, among many others. We knew we wanted ROSAFA to be a clean skincare brand from the start. This means no toxic ingredients. Even though the EU Cosmetics Directive bans 1,300+ ingredients from cosmetics, we feel that more efforts should be devoted to bringing awareness about the dangers of toxic chemicals used in their production.
As part of our educational campaign, we at ROSAFA have created this thorough —yet simplified— guide that will empower consumers to make informed choices when purchasing cosmetics.
Exposure to acrylates has been linked to skin, eye, and throat reactions as well as more serious health consequences such as cancer, development issues, reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity.(aka: Ethyl acrylate, Methyl methacrylate, Methyl methacrylate, Styrene acrylates copolymer)
Anionic surfactants are very common on the market due to low cost and effort of production. Unfortunately, studies have shown that this surfactant can interact with skin proteins and cause irritation. On top of that, they are absorbed into the skin, which for us is a big no-no when the ingredient is not natural.(aka: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate)
Butylene glycol may irritate the skin, eyes, and or nasal passages. Also, there are reports of this ingredient clogging pores or irritating skin and actually making acne worse.
BHA and BHT are antioxidants and are often referred to as such. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. BHA and BHT have been linked to quite a few health concerns. They can also contribute to changes in fatigue, headaches, hives, and rashes.*Butylated hydroxyanisole is different from beta hydroxy acid, an exfoliant also called BHA that’s used in some skincare products.
Applying carbon to our skin on a regular basis is almost as bad as smoking cigarettes. One of the main issues that carbon black has been linked to is the formation of cancer in humans as it’s considered a known carcinogen.
The main ingredients of modern life detergents are surfactants, long-term use causes skin irritation and leads to some degree of damage. The toxicity of cationic surfactants is the biggest, and the toxicity of anionic surfactants is between that of nonionic surfactants and cationic surfactants.(aka: Stearalkonium Chloride, benzalkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, cetalkonium chloride)
Also known as carcinogen, Coal Tar is created by burning coal. Studies have shown it can cause neurological damage, skin tumours and cancer. Coal tar can make the skin more sensitive to UV light. This ingredient is banned in EU Cosmetics.(aka: Coal, Tar, Tar Solution)
Ethylenediamine- tetraacetic acid
One reason we recommend NOT to use products containing EDTA, is because it is a ‘penetration enhancer’. Although it doesn’t absorb particularly well into the skin, it disrupts the surface of skin cells so that other chemicals can get in more easily – i.e. other chemicals in your product, and chemicals in your shower water, etc.(aka: Disodium EDTA, Trisodium EDTA)
MEA - A surfactant and emulsifier. Inhalation may cause asthma attacks or damage the respiratory tract or lungs, a potential neurotoxin. Repeated exposure can damage the liver and kidneys DEA - Not harmful on its own, but over time reacts with other ingredients in cosmetic formulations and forms nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a powerful carcinogen that is absorbed through the skin. Banned in the UK. TEA - An endocrine disruptor may trigger asthma, cause allergic reaction including eye irritation, immune system toxicant. Possible carcinogen, forms carcinogenic nitrosamines when mixed with nitrosating agents.
Ethoxylated chemicals may cause irritation and contact dermatitis. Ethoxylated chemicals may be identified by the prefix PEG, PPG or the endings eth , oxynol or sorbate . Note that some brands attempt to mask the presence of ethoxylated ingredients, for example by omitting the PEG prefix.(aka: PEG laurate, PEG-60 almond glycerides, sodium laureth sulphate, ceteth-5. steareth-21, PEG-20 stearate, oleth-10 phosphate, octoxynol-9, polysorbate 20 (& 40, 60, 80 etc), emulsifying wax, PEG-8 stearate, Glycereth-26, PEG-40 Castor Oil)
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
The most common side effect is skin irritation, scalp burns and hair loss. Formaldehyde is also classified as a known human carcinogen.(aka: DMDM Hydantoin, quarterium-15, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxomethylene urea, glyoxal, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol (bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol)
Exposure to metals has been linked to health concerns including reproductive, immune and nervous system toxicity. Some metals become toxic when they oxidise, changing their structure enough to be harmful (such as chromium) which is an essential trace element, but chromium is a carcinogen.(aka: lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium and iron)
It may cause a temporary uptick in redness or dryness at first. Hydroquinone is a topical skin treatment for melasma, freckles, age and sun spots, and even acne scars. It's banned in the UK, Europe, Japan, and Australia because of the potential carcinogenic effects. It’s a skin irritant and is associated with altered immune function.(aka: tocopheryl acetate)
In high concentrations, Isothiazolinones can cause chemical burns and it’s a skin and membrane irritant. As an ingredient in cosmetics, it has been associated with allergic reactions. Because of this, many countries — including the United States — have restricted the concentration levels of MCI/MI in products.(aka: Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone)
Cheap alternative to other nourishing or softening ingredients, and is far less bioidentical. Mineral oil is incredibly harmful because it interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Creams that combine mineral oil and paraffin can actually damage the skin barrier and increase water loss. It's derived from petroleum and does not absorb into the skin—its molecular size is simply too big. As a result, mineral oil remains on the surface of skin, making it a reflector of the sun, which can lead to more sun damage and discoloration. Your moisturizer should always absorb into the skin, not just sit on the surface. We strongly avoid use of all petroleum-based ingredients, choosing instead natural extracts and oils that are similar to the skin's own sebum.(aka: Liquid paraffin, paraffin oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum)
Studies have shown silver nanoparticles can bind to different tissues and can cause a number of toxic effects that gradually lead to cell death. They also make the skin unusually sensitive to light, leaving cells vulnerable to the effects of UV light exposure.(aka: Fullerenes, micronized zinc oxide, nano zinc oxide, micronized titanium dioxide, micronized quartz silica)
Chemicals that fall into the category of amines can combine with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which cause cancer. Diethanolamine (DEA) is a common wetting agent used in skin care and cosmetics to produce a nice consistency. Combined with other ingredients, DEA can produce nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), which is a carcinogenic compound easily absorbed through the skin.(aka: Cocamide MEA, Cocamide DEA, TEA, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate and amino methyl propanol)
Not always labeled, used as preservatives, and may contribute to hormone imbalance. Usually found almost everywhere including skincare products such as moisturizers and deodorants. In the 1990s, parabens were deemed xenoestrogens – agents that mimic estrogen in the body – and in some studies linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.(aka: Butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben)
Widespread testing has found many impurities present in various PEG compounds that are linked to serious illnesses. PEGs are often followed by numbers, which indicate molecular weight. But PEG’s of all sizes may penetrate through sensitive skin with a compromised barrier function and lead to irritation. PPGs are more hydrophobic than PEGs and this is the reason why they are partly used as replacements of mineral oils. We choose to avoid both.(aka: Polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene)
Recently classified as endocrine disruptors. DEP is the only phthalate typically used in cosmetic formulations today. It is prepared by reacting phthalic acid with methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol and butyl alcohol, respectively, which sounds quite scary. Phthalates are used in products for flexibility and strength of plastics but fortunately, we do not need them in our products.(aka: Diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP))
Polyacrylamide is a synthetic polymer, commonly found in skin cleansers, lotions and creams, self tanning products, makeup, moisturizers, hair care and nail care products. Used as a thickening and suspending agent, this ingredient dries to form a thin coating over the skin which aids in moisture absorption and retaining tan-care. This ingredient is deemed a possible carcinogen and has been known to affect the respiratory system and cause skin irritation. It is environmentally toxic to the air, soil and water. The Cosmetic Database has found polyacrylamide to be a moderate hazard ingredient and has noted multiple concerns, including neuro-toxicity and organ system toxicity. However, what causes most concern is the fact that polyacrylamide is contaminated with acrylamide, a known toxin (high hazard ingredient at Level 10 – the highest level possible). Acrylamide has been strongly linked with the following: cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergic reactions, organ system toxicity, neuro-toxicity, irritation of the skin and eyes, and endocrine disruption, and biohazardous effects. Scary stuff!(aka: Polyacrylamide, polyquarterium acrylate, acrylamide, polyacrylate)
Yep, the stuff used to make nonstick pans. Teflon is one of thousands of PFASs ― some of which have been linked to serious health effects including cancer, thyroid disease and reduced effectiveness of childhood vaccines.(aka: PTFE, Teflon)
Propylene glycol (PG)
At Rosafa we don’t use Propylene glycol - synthetic humectant - in our skin care or hair care. Instead we use natural, plant-based humectants which are safe and gentle on sensitive skin. In the long run - PG is drying your skin because it attracts and draws moisture from the lower layers into the top layer, helping your skin appear smooth and soft. This makes the skin dryer, thus requires more moisture.
Japan and Canada feel us. They have banned resorcinol for use in cosmetics. EWG gives it an 8 out of 10 on the danger scale, for its potential as a thyroid function-disrupting, respiratory distress-causing, central nervous system-damaging, allergic reaction-causing risk to your health.(aka: Resorcinol, resorcin, 1,3-benzenediol)
The more retinol you put on, the poorer the barrier function becomes. Retinols render the skin more sensitive to environmental aggressors like pollution and cigarette smoke that cause the kind of oxidative damage that speeds up ageing. While also smoothing skin, retinol products are also known to cause irritation, redness, flaking and peeling.(aka: Retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, isotretinoin, tretinoin, vitamin A)
Synthetic dyes (derived from petroleum)
Up to 25 synthetic additives are needed to create one artificial dye. The most common synthetic colours used in cosmetics are called FD&C colours and they are derived from coal tar, which in turn is a by-product of petroleum. They are labelled FD&C followed by a colour and a number. The toxins these colours leave on your skin greatly increase your risk of sensitivity and irritation and allow these chemicals to be absorbed into your body where they can cause even greater damage. Look for things like “colourant”, or specifically FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue FCF) (E133), FD&C Blue No. 2 (Indigo tine) (E131), FD&C Green No. 3 (Fast Green FCF), FD&C Red No. 3 (Erythrosine) (E127), FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) (E102), FD&C Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow) (E110), FD&C Copper complexes of chlorophyll (Green) (E141) and FD&C Green S(Green) (E142).
Synthetic fragrances are mixtures of various chemicals which come from petroleum or crude oil that produce a desired scent. Often the ingredients for Artificial Fragrances are not listed in the ingredients list of products yet include harsh toxins like benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene and phthalates. These can cause cancer, asthma, kidney damage, birth defects, nervous system disorders, allergic reactions, and so much more.(aka: Butylphenyl methylpropional (lilial), synthetic musks)
Some talc may contain the known carcinogen asbestos, therefore it should be avoided in powders and other personal care products, unless it is known to be asbestos-free. Even asbestos-free talc should be avoided in the pelvic areas.
When used repeatedly, these alcohols can also weaken your skin’s natural barrier, making it harder for your skin to retain moisture and elasticity, making your skin more vulnerable to environmental stressors like UV radiation. Repeated use of these alcohols can even cause cell death, which will significantly increase symptoms of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of elasticity, promoting brown spots and premature aging of skin.(aka: SD alcohols, isopropyl alcohols)
One of the most toxic ingredients on the market. Research shows that an expectant mother's exposure to toluene vapors may cause developmental damage to the fetus. In other studies, toluene has been associated with immune system toxicity and possibly linked to blood cancer such as malignant lymphoma.
Toxic chemical UV filters
Products that use chemical filters usually contain a combination of two or more of these ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene and oxybenzone. EWG warns consumers to avoid these ingredients because they can permeate the skin and potentially cause allergic reactions and disturb hormones.(aka: Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), sulisobenzone (benzophenone-4), PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), avobenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene)
There is no health benefit to using products containing triclocarban. In fact, triclocarban is endocrine-disrupting chemicals that cause bacterial resistance, increased allergies, and more.
High-concern ingredient because several studies have proven that it causes endocrine disruption in low amounts. Triclosan can also create drug-resistant germs in the home, leaving individuals more imperiled by infectious disease than they would otherwise be.