I was cleaning out the bathroom this weekend and right at the back of the cupboard I found a tube of L’Occitane Ultra Moisturizing Cream with Sunscreen.
I had forgot I had it as I haven’t used any chemical based cosmetics for more than 5 years, since I found out how detrimental many chemicals included in skin care products are.
So, lets’ take a closer look at the ingredients of the L’Occitane Ultra Moisturizing Cream with Sunscreen:
The packaging advertises the product contains 8% Shea butter. Great!
But what of the remaining 92% of ingredients? …
Along with the Shea butter the first 4 ingredients, making between 90% and 95% of the entire product are:
Sunflower seed oil … both completely harmless but not extraordinary ingredients.
Ehylhexl Methoxycinnamate; this ingredient can cause allergic skin rashes. An ingredient with ‘oxy’ in the name has been ethoxylated and can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potent carcinogen, during the manufacture process. You won’t find it listed on a label, as it is a contaminant, not an intended ingredient. There strong evidence it is a human endocrine disruptor and concerns it interferes with cellular signaling, cause mutations and lead to cell death. (1)*
The remaining list consists of:
Isopropyl Myristate: A widely used fatty compound, which causes blackheads and is not included in many newer formulations. This chemical can react with others in the formulation during manufacture and storage to create nitrosamines (NDELA) the most powerful of all contaminants. Scientists have found nitrosamines cause cancer in all species tested including primates, our closest relatives in the animal world. (2)
Propylene Glycol: A petroleum derivative, it penetrates the skin and can weaken the protein and cellular structure. It is cheap and has been linked to sensitivity reactions. Its use has been reduced in favor of “safer” glycols. (If there is such a thing!)
Dimethicone: A silicone emollient, it coats like plastic wrap preventing the skin from breathing and eliminating toxins. Some synthetic emollients are known tumor promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable causing negative environmental impact.
Corn oil: Inexpensive oil that may cause skin reactions in the allergic.
Titanium Dioxide; used in sunscreen, limited safety data and studies have shown it causes DNA damage when exposed to light. Some researchers fear absorption into the blood stream particularly if the chemical is in nanoparticles form. (3)
PEG 100: derived from castor oil, Polyethylene glycol compounds are potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredients that can alter and reduce the skins’ natural moisture factor. This could increase the appearance of ageing and leave you more vulnerable to bacteria. (6)
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): As part of good industrial and personal hygiene and safety procedure, avoid all unnecessary exposure to the chemical substance and ensure prompt removal from skin, eyes and clothing. (5)
Glyceryl Sterate; widely used synthetic emulsifier and skin conditioner that may cause allergies. Glycerin is a cheap humectant that will draw moisture from the atmosphere to the skin in humidity above 65%. In humidity below that, it actually draws moisture from the deeper layers of the skin to be held on the surface by a barrier (Dimethicone) the skin is dehydrated by this function.
Butylene Glycol: causes adverse reproductive and developmental effects if ingested. It can penetrate the skin and weaken protein and cellular structure. There are safety data gaps of around 78% but it is considered low hazard by the cosmetic database even though it is recognized as an irritant. (4)
Laureth 7: Again, as with the ‘oxy’ in the word, ‘eth’ means the ingredient has been ethoxylated. See above*
Methyl Paraben: there has been a lot in the press about this preservative ingredient as it is widely used even though it is known to be toxic. Beware of any ingredient with methyl, propyl, butyl or ethyl in the word, as these are paraben preservatives. They can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Retinyl Palmitate: Although the CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review board – an industry regulated board) maintains this chemical is safe at low concentrations, it is on the Canadian Hotlist. This means the Canadian Product Safety Bureau considers it to have potentially adverse effects, or it could have been restricted or banned.
Benzyl Alcohol: A solvent in perfumes can be irritating and corrosive to the skin and Mucous membranes.
Hydroxyisohexeyl: A fragrance ingredient known as an alderhyde, most alderhydes are irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract.
Limonene: This preservative is from the petrochemical industry and is a skin irritant and sensitizer. It has the potential to be a carcinogen.
I have not covered the complete ingredients list, nor have I referenced all my findings, but I think you may see where this is going.
It is a shame such as wonderfully nourishing substance like the Shea butter is completely over-shadowed by the chemicals in this product.
What is a worry is the nitrosamine-promoting ingredient, Isopropyl Myristate, which has the ability of increasing the contamination the longer the product has been open. Researchers have found products with this class of contaminant have increased 4 fold over a 17-month period.
There are safer alternatives to your moisturising choice. Look for products with less (or no) chemicals and enjoy the benefits of healthy skin care without the risks.