Elegantly Eco

Eco-Friendly Beauty, Fashion, Reviews, and Info


Leave a comment

What is phenoxyethanol and why you should avoid it

Examples of products that contain phenoxyethanol. Image 1: Source, Image 2: Source, Image 3: Source

What it is:

Phenoxyethanol is a glycol ether that can be derived from natural sources such as green tea. However, most products that currently use phenoxyethanol do not use the natural derivative but one that is synthetically made. It is a preservative and anti-bacterial that is widely used in products like skin creams and sunscreens. You’ll also find phenoxyethanol in perfumes, insect repellant, topical antiseptics, some dyes and inks. Phenoxyethanol was developed as an alternative to standard, potentially harmful formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. It is approved for use in Japan and the EU as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed 1%.

Why you should avoid it:

In terms of preservatives, phenoxyethanol isn’t the worst thing out there. I personally decide to stay away from anything that contains this preservative because I’d rather keep my toxic burden as light as possible. There is some conflicting data about phenoxyethanol so I would advise people to make their own conclusions on using products that contain this preservative. If you already have health issues or are overexposed to toxic ingredients (through work for example, or if you live near a chemical lab, etc) then you may decide to eliminate all ingredients that are harmful to your health. That being said, you won’t immediately get sick or die if you use some products that contain phenoxyethanol. My question would be how many products do you use that contain this ingredient, and how often do you use those products?

Further reading:

No More Dirty Looks on phenoxyethanol

Marie Veronique on phenoxyethanol and on The Human Skin Microbiome and Antimicrobials

David Suzuki Foundation on clean sunscreens


2 Comments

What is polyethylene glycol (PEG) and why you should avoid it

Examples of products that contain polyethylene glycol. Image 1: Source, Image 2: Source, Image 3: Source
Note: Everyman Jack is actually labelled as a “natural” product on this website, but if you look at the ingredients list it’s got some pretty bad ingredients in there mixed in with some good ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to read the ingredients list of the products you use.

What it is:

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a petroleum based compound widely used in cosmetics as a thickener, moisturizer, and base. It is also used in pharmaceutical applications as a laxative. You’ll often find PEG’s in skin creams, laxatives, personal lubricants, toothpaste, printer ink, paintball fills and as an anti-foaming agent in foods.

Why you should avoid it:

Some people will say that articles like these promote “scare mongering”. But I would rather know what is in the products I use and if they have negative side effects. As I’ve written in previous instances of this series, if your family medical history includes a risk of cancer (for example) then you may want to avoid all products that contain possible carcinogens. That way you reduce the amount of chemicals your body has to detoxify itself from. That sounds like common sense to me!

Further reading:

PEG Compounds and their Contaminants – David Suzuki Foundation

Beyond Parabens: 7 Common Cosmetics Ingredients You Need to Avoid – Treehugger.com

What is it – PEGs – Truth in Aging

Dangers of PEG Compounds in Cosmetics – Women at Increased Breast Cancer Risk? – Phend Pharmaceuticals


Leave a comment

What are phthalates and why you should avoid them

Examples of products that can contain phthalates. Image 1: Source, Image 2: Source, Image 3: Source

What they are:

Phthalates are used as plasticizers. Plasticizers are used to increase the plasticity or fluidity of a material. Phthalates are found in the coatings of pills, children’s toys, modelling clay, waxes, paints, printing inks, shower curtains, vinyl upholstery, adhesives, pesticides, floor tiles, food containers and wrappers, and cleaning materials. Cosmetics that commonly containing phthalates are: perfume, eye shadow, moisturizer, nail polish, liquid soap, and hair spray. As if that wasn’t enough, phthalates can also be found in modern electronics and medical devices like catheters and blood transfusion machines.

Why you should avoid them:

The most common phthalates found in cosmetic use are: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di 2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), diisodecyl phthalate (DiDP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP), di-n-octylphthalate (DnOP), Bisphenol A (BPA)

The European Union has restricted the use of phthalates in children’s toys since 1999. In the USA, Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) became public law and states that it is against the law to “manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any children’s toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of” DEHPDBP, or BBP.” The Canadian Cancer Society includes phthalates under its list of harmful substances and environmental risks.

Further reading:

Phthalates fact sheet – Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

Phthalates Regulations – Health Canada Fact Sheet

Chemicals in your cosmetics – David Suzuki Foundation

Phthalates – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Case study: Phthalates – Chemical Body Burden.org

Report Finds Toxic Levels of Phthalates Lurking in Popular Back-to-School Items – Forbes


2 Comments

What are Siloxanes and why you should avoid them

Examples of products that contain siloxanes. Image 1: Source, Image 2: Source, Image 3: Source

What they are:

Siloxanes are a silicone based polymer that is often used in cosmetics to smooth, soften or moisten. It can make skin soft and hair appear shiny. Siloxanes also prevent water loss by forming a barrier on the skin, similar to petroleum jelly. Siloxanes are used in products from contact lenses, to shampoo, in food as an antifoaming agent, caulking, lubricants and heat resistant tiles. The most common siloxanes found in cosmetic use are: Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Polydimethylsiloxane, Methicone, Phenyl trimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Dimethiconol, Dimethicone copolyol, and cyclotetrasiloxane. Also any ingredients ending in methicone or siloxane.

Why you should avoid them:

  • It’s toxic to wild life and other aquatic animals.
  • The European Union has classified a form of siloxane as an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine distruptors can lead to: cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.
  • It’s not biodegradable. This means that once it gets into the environment it will never break down and be absorbed.

The FDA, The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) and even the EWG has given siloxanes a low hazard rating. That is for human use. But what about how siloxanes affect the environment? Whatever we use on our bodies eventually gets washed off in the shower. As well, what gets washed off in the shower eventually makes its way to natural water sources. Environment Canada has noted that siloxanes are “are toxic, persistent, and have the potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic organisms.” Also since it is not biodegradable how will we be able to clean the world’s oceans and other waterways of this chemical? Just some food for thought. It’s my hope that when people use their personal products they are not only thinking: Is this toxic to me? But also thinking: Is this toxic to the environment?

Further reading:

Siloxanes – David Suzuki Foundation

Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable materials – WWF

Ann Marie Gianni – Ingredient Watch List – Dimethicone

 


Leave a comment

Canada Water Week – Three Reasons Why Water is Important

cww-en_1

I’ve been reading tweets & blog posts about Canada Water Week so I thought I would add my two cents by posting my thoughts & spreading the news out there for others who haven’t heard of Water Week. There are many more reasons why water is important but I thought I’d keep things succinct.

Three Reasons Why Water is Important

grblake-nwt
Great Bear Lake, NWT, Image Source

1.  Water is beautiful. I don’t know about you. But there is something soothing about being by the ocean, a lake or a pond. I’m not sure if it’s the sound of the waves, or the way sunlight reflects off the water. A lot of people love the water & the animals living in it. Isn’t it a wondrous sight to see wild dolphin pods playing in the ocean? If you’ve ever seen orcas hunting it looks like synchronized swimming or water ballet. On a more personal note, wouldn’t it be horrible if you went to your favourite local body of water only to find it a weird colour due to pollution & full of garbage some careless person threw there?

dolphins-jump-out-of-water
Image Source

2. Water is amazing. Did you know that most of the universe’s water comes from star formation? It also has so many uses: for drinking, washing, hydrating plants, transportation, putting out fires, recreation, cooking, industrial uses, etc. The list goes on. Water is one versatile material.

ttpark
Tommy Thompson Park, Ontario. Image Source

3. We take it for granted. Most of us don’t think about how we use water. While there isn’t a water shortage there is a shortage of clean drinking water. Everything we use on our bodies gets into the waterways when we wash our hands, take a shower, or a bath. So please take a close look at the ingredients label of products you use. Ask yourself is this toxic to me? Chances are if it is, it’s also toxic to anything living in the water.

johnston canyon
Johnston Canyon, Alberta.
Photo by Elegantly Eco, 2013.

Further Information:
Six Reasons to Celebrate Canada Water Week – Environtmental Defence

Do people care about water? – Fresh Water Alliance

Canada Water Week, Official Website

Watershed Assessments – How clean are your local bodies of water? 

Toxins to Avoid in Cosmetic Products – David Suzuki Foundation

Swimming with Killer Whales & the health of our Oceans – TVO


Leave a comment

Canada Water Week – Three Reasons Why Water is Important

cww-en_1

I’ve been reading tweets & blog posts about Canada Water Week so I thought I would add my two cents by posting my thoughts & spreading the news out there for others who haven’t heard of Water Week. There are many more reasons why water is important but I thought I’d keep things succinct.

Three Reasons Why Water is Important

grblake-nwt
Great Bear Lake, NWT, Image Source

1.  Water is beautiful. I don’t know about you. But there is something soothing about being by the ocean, a lake or a pond. I’m not sure if it’s the sound of the waves, or the way sunlight reflects off the water. A lot of people love the water & the animals living in it. Isn’t it a wondrous sight to see wild dolphin pods playing in the ocean? If you’ve ever seen orcas hunting it looks like synchronized swimming or water ballet. On a more personal note, wouldn’t it be horrible if you went to your favourite local body of water only to find it a weird colour due to pollution & full of garbage some careless person threw there?

dolphins-jump-out-of-water
Image Source

2. Water is amazing. Did you know that most of the universe’s water comes from star formation? It also has so many uses: for drinking, washing, hydrating plants, transportation, putting out fires, recreation, cooking, industrial uses, etc. The list goes on. Water is one versatile material.

ttpark
Tommy Thompson Park, Ontario. Image Source

3. We take it for granted. Most of us don’t think about how we use water. While there isn’t a water shortage there is a shortage of clean drinking water. Everything we use on our bodies gets into the waterways when we wash our hands, take a shower, or a bath. So please take a close look at the ingredients label of products you use. Ask yourself is this toxic to me? Chances are if it is, it’s also toxic to anything living in the water.

johnston canyon
Johnston Canyon, Alberta.
Photo by Elegantly Eco, 2013.

Further Information:
Six Reasons to Celebrate Canada Water Week – Environtmental Defence

Do people care about water? – Fresh Water Alliance

Canada Water Week, Official Website

Watershed Assessments – How clean are your local bodies of water? 

Toxins to Avoid in Cosmetic Products – David Suzuki Foundation

Swimming with Killer Whales & the health of our Oceans – TVO


Leave a comment

Product Review: @soapwalla Deodorant

 

Soapwalla

So I finally found a website in my province that sells Soapwalla deodorant. I’m an eco-friendly fanatic & I’d heard great reviews about this product. It doesn’t have any aluminum or potassium alum in it. Those are two of many ingredients in your average deodorant that are not good for your health. For more into on toxic ingredients to avoid, see David Suzuki’s website for the dirty dozen list. Anyway, the deodorant works for me, but the problem is the longer I’ve been using it, the more allergic my skin has become to it. I’ve developed a rash. Not good! So my search for an eco-friendly deodorant continues. I’ve tried a lot by now. Mr. Mist, Crystal Deodorant, Tom’s, diy recipes, etc. While most of them work, I find the longer I use it the less it seems to keep the odour away. So I’ll just have to see what else is out there.

Rating: 1/5
Cost: $15.00 CAD, 2 oz
Available at: Fresh Faced, Eco Beauty Diva