Tag Archives: skincare

Review: Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Soap

Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Soap

This product was purchased by Nature’s Pulchritude. All opinions are that of Nature’s Pulchritude and have not be influenced in any way, shape, or form.

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I picked this product up in the natural product section of a local grocery store. I had been thinking about switching from castile soap to a true (saponified fat) bar soap and stumbled upon Nubian Heritage soaps. This product didn’t catch my eye when I was looking at their line online, but I figured I should try their soaps before I went making a big order.

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Product

This is a very high quality product. This soap fully cleanses my skin, but does not leave it feeling stripped. It leaves it feeling quite moisturized. The soap lasted through about 6 weeks of regular, exclusive use.

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Scent

I cannot pin point exactly what this smells like. It doesn’t quite give me coconut and likely leans more papaya. I’m not quite sure. The smell is moderate in the shower and does not linger on the skin afterwards, which can be a positive or negative depending on the person. It did not bother me much.

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Lather

This soap lathers really well! 2 rubs on a wet wash cloth and it was enough later for a full body cleanse. I often find that surfactant based soaps and my old castile soap need a bit more effort to lather well, and must be relathered at least 3 times. That was a big reason I decided to stop purchasing castile soap.

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EnviroFactor

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This product is a true soap, where fats (in this case organic coconut oil, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, and palm oil) react with an alkali, typically Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) or Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). The alkali no longer remains after the reaction. No questionable ingredients, it is cruelty free, ethically sourced, and all ingredients are naturally derived. This is a winner!

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4/4 Globes

Nature’s Pulchritude MVP!

Have you tried this product? What did you think?

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How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XLV

The first Label Poise of 2016!  Continue to expect Label Poise every other Thursday in 2016! Have a product you want insight on?  Let me know in the comments!

I picked up this lip balm on my hunt for a quality, all natural, non irritating, moisturizing lip balm. My long time readers remember my unfortunate experience with a lip balm from a very well known brand. My ingredients to avoid are linalool and beeswax (as the first ingredient). My last lip balm selection turned out well. Will my streak continue This is Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.  For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

The Label

KMF16

The Ingredients

Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*: Safe!  This ingredient is used as an emollient, moisturizer, and skin conditioning agent. The type of Castor Oil in this product is unlike Castor Oil you will find in a drug store, as the castor seeds are roasted and the oil is typically extracted by hand. This ingredient is not known to be toxic or carcinogenic, though it is a suspected penetration enhancer.

Cera Alba (Beeswax)*: Safe!   This ingredient is derived from worker honeybees within a bee hive.  It is used as a thickener and skin barrier.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*: Safe!  Coconut oil is used for is skin conditioning and moisturizing properties. It is high in vitamins E and K.

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*: Safe!  Sunflower Oil is comprised of triglycerides (esters of glycerol and fatty acids) and has a high Vitamin E content.  It primarily acts as an emollient and assists the skin in retaining moisture.

Flavor*: Safe!/Beware! Without knowing what flavors were used and assessment of toxicological information and benefits cannot be determined. The ingredient is certified organic, though that does not mean it may not have drawbacks.

Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil*: Safe! Raspberry Seed Oil contains high concentrations omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids of linolenic, alpha linolenic, and oleic, which act as antioxidants for the skin. This ingredient is also high in alpha and gamma tocopherols (vitamin E, antioxidants) and carotenoides (vitamin A); it is believe to have anti-inflammatory properties. (MSDS; MSDS)

Rosa Rubiginosa (Rosehips) Seed Oil*: Safe!/Beware! This oil is extracted from the seeds of the ‘sweet briar’ rose native to Europe and western Asia. Rose hip seed oil is an emollient that is high in vitamins A and C. There is limited toxicity information available on oil extracted from this species of Rose, though it is unlikely to be of concern.

Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Extract*: Safe! The ingredient is used for its soothing and rejuvenating properties. It is believed to be a humectant and emollient.

*Organic

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  My strategy worked again!  This product is certified organic and has 8 ingredients. The combination of Castor and Coconut Oils and beeswax work really well. Coconut and castor oil penetrate the skin well and contribute to healthy lips. The two ingredients of mild concern are aloe vera leaf extract and rose hip seed oil due to limited information. Interested in learning more about this product? Check back TOMORROW for the second ever Label Poise-Pulchritude Critique REVEAL!

Microbeads have been banned in the United States

This is great to see.  The microbead ban started at the state level and made its way to a Federal law in the United States.  The ban will official come into effect in 2017.  Hopefully, over the next several years a solution will be found to get rid of the microbeads already in aquatic systems and impacting wildlife.

Microbead ban signed by President Obama

(By Jareen Imam-12/30/2015) Say goodbye to your exfoliating shower gel.

Those tiny plastic microbeads you have been rubbing on your face are now outlawed in the United States.

President Obama signed a bipartisan bill that prohibits selling and distributing products containing microbeads. The bill is intended to protect the nation’s waterways.

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A microbead is any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters and is used for the purpose of exfoliating or cleansing, according to the bill.

These tiny plastic beads have become ubiquitous in hundreds of products ranging from body scrubs to toothpastes. They provide an exfoliating sensation for users and are designed to wash down drains.

But because they are made of plastic, microbeads do not dissolve and may pose a threat to the environment.

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In September, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology reported that more than 8 trillion microbeads were entering the country’s aquatic habitats daily. The volume was enough to coat the surface of 300 tennis courts every day.

Microbeads have contributed to a greater increase in microplastic polluting the planet’s oceans and lakes, researchers say.

Not only are they hard to clean up because they are about the size of a pinhead, researchers say they are also posing a threat to aquatic life.

Some marine life mistake small plastic as food particles. Scientists are researching whether microplastics affect the health of marine life once ingested and if chemicals transfer to humans who eat those species later, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(via CNN Health)

 

Year In Review: 2015

2015 has been a great year! Nature’s Pulchritude wasn’t as active as I would have liked but that will improve in 2016. Nature’s Pulchritude has grown significantly in 2015 and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow in 2016! There were a lot of things I did not get a chance to show this year, mainly recipes and product reviews, but stay tuned for exciting content in 2016.

Top Posts

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1) How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXXX. Are “naturally derived” products as good as they claim? This one in particular checked out to be okay!

2) SheaMoisture & Bain Capital Partnership Controversy. This controversy was and still is a touchy subject for many SheaMoisture fans. I can see the positives and negatives of this partnership, but the old waiting game applies here and we will see how it turns out.

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3) Swatches: Exclusive Zoya Mini Trio. The mini trio featured exclusive colors from NYFW.

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4) How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXXXII. This Label Poise covered a fairly widely available natural hair product that touts being paraben and mineral oil free though it has a host of unfavorable ingredients.

5) Triphenyl phosphate, found in ‘eco-friendly’ nail polish, spurs worries. This was another semi-controversial subject for many nail polish fans. The ingredient in question is most harmful through skin contact not through inhalation, which means with the right precautions you can avoid harm if it is in any of your polishes!

 

My Favorite Products

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Dr. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar.  Remedy in a Bottle! Internally, Externally. Hair, Skin. Cooking Purposes. This product is all natural (really) and is certified organic! Amazing-ness!

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InstaNatural Peppermint & Lemon Essential Oils.  Ahhh the scent of fresh lemon and peppermint! These are great for aromatherapy and I even use them in a foot soak and a homemade “shampoo!”

Winterize: Skin

If you live in the northern hemisphere, it is officially winter. Despite mild temperatures thus far in much of the United States, winter typically brings cold sometimes frigid temperatures and dry air which more often than not disturbs the skin’s moisture balance. Those with skin conditions, such as eczema, often experience flare ups during the winter due to the increased dryness of their skin. To keep your skin soft and supple, and prevent skin ailments, everyone should “winterize” their skin regimen. The same way many women have 2 foundation shades–one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter–you should have at least 2 skin regimens that reflect the changes in the environment! Given such, your regimen will be based on your location. Those in warmer states/countries may not need as much of an adjustment, where as those in northern latitudes will have very clear differences in their regimens.

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MOISTURE

Say it with me: “Moisture is key.” In areas where the temperature is below 40 degrees for most of the winter, there is typically little available moisture in the air. As a result, the air will try to pull moisture for your skin or hair, resulting in dryness. The relative humidity (humidity and dew point) on a weather forecast is a great indicator of when moisture levels in the air are low. This is also why many ladies with natural hair avoid products with the humectant glycerin during colder months. Using a heavier butter-based (shea, cocoa, etc) moisturizer can help keep moisture in your skin. For example, though coconut oil is my go to during the summer, I switch to a much heavier homemade shea butter mix to moisturize. Less substantial moisturizers (i.e. mineral oil/petroleum based) are unlikely to keep your skin soft and truly moisturized for 24 hours, especially once the cold air reaches your skin (Author’s Note: Petroleum based products are great for keeping moisture in and forming a protective barrier after you’ve used a moisturizer, user Beware!. Using a moisturizing soap (note: not surfactant based “soaps”) is also beneficial. A true soap is a saponified (alkali reaction, typically KOH) vegetable oil.

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Exfoliate

Don’t forget to exfoliate. Dry skin can accumulate particularly faster during winter. Exfoliating not only removes dry, dead skin but also helps your skin better absorb moisturizers. Monthly or biweekly should be a good starting point, adjust based on your specific skin needs. Be sure NOT to over exfoliate! Never be rough with your skin when exfoliating! If you notice your skin becoming rough/dry/patchy/inflammed after exfoliating: stop exfoliating and apply coconut oil to over-exfoliated skin at least 2x a day until the skin softens. Try a sugar/oil scrub with a few drops of your favorite essential oils, avoid exfoliants with polyethylene beads.

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Diet

Incorporating more foods with high omega-3 fatty acid content can do wonders for your skin. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: flaxseed oil, walnuts, sardines, salmon, beef, and soybeans (opt for organic). Also be sure to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein.

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Protect Your Skin

This is a given, but always wear appropriate clothing in cold weather. This includes a proper warm coat, gloves, scarf, hat, etc. In addition, you should continue to wear a sunscreen during the winter. This is especially true if you do any winter sports or outdoor winter activities!

Suggested Winter Skin Routine:
  • Wash with true soap
  • Exfoliate
  • Moisturize with a heavy butter or heavy oil
  • Apply SPF face moisturizer in the morning
  • Incorporate Omega-3’s in at least 1 meal

 

What are your winter skin care tips?

How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XI

Who doesn’t like a nice body oil after bathing to moisturize the skin?  You are in the store and stumble upon a nice after bath oil.  Your skin has been a little dry lately and this would be a nice remedy.  Distracted by other things you temporarily forget your Label Poise and buy the product.  Once you settle down you remember to check the ingredients.  Did you make a selection that meets your Label Poise?  Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.

Here are the tips I gave you in my first ten posts on how to read cosmetic ingredient labels:

  1. Ingredients are listed by quantity in the formula, from greatest to least, based on standards by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  2. Ingredients are listed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), therefore they are listed using scientific nomenclature, or    binomial nomenclature (latin; taxonomy) for ingredients derived from plants.
  3. How ingredients are derived is seldom listed on the label (the same chemical can be derived synthetically or naturally).
  4. Fragrances are generically listed because they are considered trade secrets; typically naturally derived fragrances do not use “Fragrance (Parfum)” but a specific naming system.
  5. If it looks like a “chemical” it probably is, if you don’t want chemicals don’t buy it!  **Everything is a chemical, I’m referring to ‘bad’ chemicals here

Quick Tip:  Aside from avoiding synthetic chemicals as much as possible, have an idea of what ingredients do not work as well for you.  Pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use.  If you notice every time you use a product with [insert ingredient here] you get an allergic reaction or your hair/skin responds negatively, make a note and steer clear!

The Label

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The Ingredients

Isopropyl Myristate:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ester of isopropyl alcohol and myristic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid that can be sourced from plant or animal sources. Isopropyl Myristate is used as a thickener, emollient, and penetration enhancer. It has a sheer feel that decreases the oily feeling of using a natural oil. There is mixed information suggesting it is comedogenic, and should be avoided by those with acne prone or oily skin. It can be an eye irritant, and slight skin and lung irritant in pure form. A patch test found 3 of 244 tested people developed contact dermatitis from this ingredient. It is not known to be toxic, and is not believed to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or developmentally toxic (data “not available”).  (MSDS)

Sesame (Sesamum Indicum) Seed Oil:  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from sesame seeds and is used for its moisturizing properties. It contain large amounts of vitamins A and E.   Avoid! if you are allergic to sesame seeds.

PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate:  Beware!  This ingredient is an ester of polyethylene glycol and sorbitol fatty acids and is used as an emulsifying agent and surfactant. PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate is considered safe up to concentrations of 25%, though it may be contaminated with carcinogen 1,4-dioxane from the ethoxylation process. It is lowly toxic and is not believed to be a carcinogen.  No MSDS found.

Propylparaben:  Beware!  Propylparaben is used as an anti-fungal preservative, typically in concentrations less than 1%. It is commonly synthetically produced though it is produced naturally in fruits as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  It is readily absorbed into the skin and metabolized, and has been found in urine in limited tests.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.

BHT:  Avoid!  Also known as butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT is a lipophilic (likely to bind to fat) organic compound derived from phenol (-OH group attached to a benzene ring). It is typically used as an antioxidant to prevent foods or cosmetics with oils from spoiling. Various studies have deemed it carcinogenic whereas some claim it may have cancer fighting properties.  It is a skin, eye, and lung irritant in pure form. It is not listed as a carcinogen in humans by the IAR and ACGIH, can be mutagenic for mammalian somatic (reproductive) cells, may be toxic to the blood, liver, and central nervous system, and can damage target organs over prolonged exposure.  Despite being in a low (<10%) concentration in this product I would not recommend its use. (MSDS)

Fragrance:  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in this body oil, there is still a small chance of having an allergic reaction as its specific components are not disclosed.

 

Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  I would not purchase this product.  As a general rule, when you are looking to buy any type of “oil” and oil is not the first ingredient, do not buy it.  Chances are you can buy the oil yourself for cheaper than what they are selling without any penetration enhancers, parabens, polyethylene glycol derivatives, fragrance, or BHT.  The way this product is formulated is likely to help the sesame oil absorb into the skin and decrease the oily, ‘greasy’ feel of oil.  Looking at the label my curiosity was to peaked to learn what exactly ‘BHT’ was, chances are it was made into an acronym for a reason.  Of course BHT is the abbreviation for butylated hydroxytoluene, whose carcinogenicity has been debated for decades, but is known to be toxic.  Why not just skip the added ingredients and apply a natural oil to your skin?

 

Would you buy this product?

Tiny particles may pose big risk

This article is yet another example of technology taking precedence over toxicology studies.  Nanoparticles have been a source of controversy over the last few years for the reasons outlined in this article.  Despite the fact that nanoparticles are used in various consumer products, toxicology studies are in  just beginning to be published.

Christine Daniloff/MIT

Some nanoparticles commonly added to consumer products can significantly damage DNA.

By Anne Trafton–Thousands of consumer products — including cosmetics, sunscreens, and clothing — contain nanoparticles added by manufacturers to improve texture, kill microbes, or enhance shelf life, among other purposes.  However, several studies have shown that some of these engineered nanoparticles can be toxic to cells.

A new study from MIT and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests that certain nanoparticles can also harm DNA. This research was led by Bevin Engelward, a professor of biological engineering at MIT, and associate professor Philip Demokritou, director of HSPH’s Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology.

The researchers found that zinc oxide nanoparticles, often used in sunscreen to block ultraviolet rays, significantly damage DNA. Nanoscale silver, which has been added to toys, toothpaste, clothing, and other products for its antimicrobial properties, also produces substantial DNA damage, they found.

The findings, published in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano, relied on a high-speed screening technology to analyze DNA damage. This approach makes it possible to study nanoparticles’ potential hazards at a much faster rate and larger scale than previously possible.

The Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to test nanoscale additives for a given material if the bulk material has already been shown to be safe.  However, there is evidence that the nanoparticle form of some of these materials may be unsafe: Due to their immensely small size, these materials may exhibit different physical, chemical, and biological properties, and penetrate cells more easily.

“The problem is that if a nanoparticle is made out of something that’s deemed a safe material, it’s typically considered safe. There are people out there who are concerned, but it’s a tough battle because once these things go into production, it’s very hard to undo,” Engelward says.

The researchers focused on five types of engineered nanoparticles — silver, zinc oxide, iron oxide, cerium oxide, and silicon dioxide (also known as amorphous silica) — that are used industrially.  Some of these nanomaterials can produce free radicals called reactive oxygen species, which can alter DNA.  Once these particles get into the body, they may accumulate in tissues, causing more damage.

“It’s essential to monitor and evaluate the toxicity or the hazards that these materials may possess. There are so many variations of these materials, in different sizes and shapes, and they’re being incorporated into so many products,” says Christa Watson, a postdoc at HSPH and the paper’s lead author.  “This toxicological screening platform gives us a standardized method to assess the engineered nanomaterials that are being developed and used at present.”

The researchers hope that this screening technology could also be used to help design safer forms of nanoparticles; they are already working with partners in industry to engineer safer UV-blocking nanoparticles.  Demokritou’s lab recently showed that coating zinc oxide particles with a nanothin layer of amorphous silica can reduce the particles’ ability to damage DNA.

Rapid analysis

Until now, most studies of nanoparticle toxicity have focused on cell survival after exposure. Very few have examined genotoxicity, or the ability to damage DNA — a phenomenon that may not necessarily kill a cell, but one that can lead to cancerous mutations if the damage is not repaired.

A common way to study DNA damage in cells is the so-called “comet assay,” named for the comet-shaped smear that damaged DNA forms during the test. The procedure is based on gel electrophoresis, a test in which an electric field is applied to DNA placed in a matrix, forcing the DNA to move across the gel.  During electrophoresis, damaged DNA travels farther than undamaged DNA, producing a comet-tail shape.

Measuring how far the DNA can travel reveals how much DNA damage has occurred. This procedure is very sensitive, but also very tedious.

In 2010, Engelward and MIT professor Sangeeta Bhatia developed a much more rapid version of the comet assay, known as the CometChip. Using microfabrication technology, single cells can be trapped in tiny microwells within the matrix. This approach makes it possible to process as many as 1,000 samples in the time that it used to take to process just 30 samples — allowing researchers to test dozens of experimental conditions at a time, which can be analyzed using imaging software.

Wolfgang Kreyling, an epidemiologist at the German Research Center for Environmental Health who was not involved in the study, says this technology should help toxicologists catch up to the rapid rate of deployment of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs).

“High-throughput screening platforms are desperately needed,” Kreyling says. “The proposed approach will be not only an important tool for nanotoxicologists developing high-throughput screening strategies for the assessment of possible adverse health effects associated with ENPs, but also of great importance for material scientists working on the development of novel ENPs and safer-by-design approaches.”

Using the CometChip, the MIT and HSPH researchers tested the nanoparticles’ effects on two types of cells that are commonly used for toxicity studies: a type of human blood cells called lymphoblastoids, and an immortalized line of Chinese hamster ovary cells.

Zinc oxide and silver produced the greatest DNA damage in both cell lines.  At a concentration of 10 micrograms per milliliter — a dose not high enough to kill all of the cells — these generated a large number of single-stranded DNA breaks.

Silicon dioxide, which is commonly added during food and drug production, generated very low levels of DNA damage. Iron oxide and cerium oxide also showed low genotoxicity.

How much is too much?

More studies are needed to determine how much exposure to metal oxide nanoparticles could be unsafe for humans, the researchers say.

“The biggest challenge we have as people concerned with exposure biology is deciding when is something dangerous and when is it not, based on the dose level. At low levels, probably these things are fine,” Engelward says. “The question is: At what level does it become problematic, and how long will it take for us to notice?”

One of the areas of greatest concern is occupational exposure to nanoparticles, the researchers say.  Children and fetuses are also potentially at greater risk because their cells divide more often, making them more vulnerable to DNA damage.

The most common routes that engineered nanoparticles follow into the body are through the skin, lungs, and stomach, so the researchers are now investigating nanoparticle genotoxicity on those cell types. They are also studying the effects of other engineered nanoparticles, including metal oxides used in printer and photocopier toner, which can become airborne and enter the lungs.

The research was funded by MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Other authors of the study are MIT graduate student Jing Ge, Harvard graduate student Joel Cohen, and Harvard postdoc Georgios Pyrgiotakis.

via MIT News Office

 

Preservatives in Natural Products: Phenoxyethanol

The primary focus of Nature’s Pulchritude is to educate. This post is the fourth in a series of in depth posts that will educate you about the various preservatives in hair and skin products, as well as their potential toxicity.

PURPOSE

Preservatives are added to cosmetics, personal care products, and food to maintain a products integrity and stability by inhibiting or reducing the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus (FDA).  Most products sold via retail sit for extended periods of time during shipping, in a warehouse, and on store shelfs that allow enough time for a product to spoil or cause microbial growth which render the product unfit for use.  This is particularly true for products that contain water, such as many conditioners and moisturizers, and other active ingredients (antioxidants and emulsifiers) that would otherwise lose their effectiveness and stability over time.

Preservatives are chosen in cosmetics based on a variety of factors which include ability to inhibit growth over a broad spectrum and method of derivation (natural vs. synthetic).  Preservatives tend to be in concentrations less than 2% of the weight of the formula, however, widespread use of potentially harmful preservatives, such as parabens, has been a great cause of concern for some scientists and consumers.  The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not grant the Food & Drug Administration the authority to regulate the use of preservatives unless it is known to be “poisonous or deleterious” (FDA).

PHENOXYETHANOL

This ingredient first came to my attention as I was researching companies to feature in The Globes. This ingredient was literally used in over 90 percent of the brands I had been researching, whether under ‘phenoxyethanol’ or as OptiphenTM which is a mixture of phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl Glycol. All of the products I was researching were of course marketed as using natural ingredients, though not certified organic. The first questions I had were “what is it?” and “is it safe?” This ingredient became the inspiration for these series of posts. An ingredient that appears to be so widely used in a niche market should be further investigated.

Chemical Structure of 2-Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is a glycol ether made from alkyl ethers of ethylene glycol, though it can be derived from natural sources. Also known as Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether, it is a bactericide (kills bacteria) that is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines. Phenoxyethanol (C8H10O2) has increased in usage over that past 5 years because it is a much safer alternative to formaldehyde releasing preservatives and does not have the same negative connotation as parabens. However, phenoxyethanol is not without its own concerns. It use is limited to 1% in Japan and the EU, and it is not suggested for use in baby products as per a warning issued by the FDA.

Hazards
Phenoxyethanol was present in 39% of 204 tested cosmetics products (92 shampoos, 61 conditioners, 34 liquid soaps, and 17 wet tissues), making it the second most abundant preservative detected (of 30), behind methylparaben (Yazar et al. 2010).  Though its use is limited in the EU and Japan to 1%, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the US found that phenoxyethanol “can depress the central nervous system” and “may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydrating in infants” based on research conducted on a nipple cream for nursing mothers in 2008.  This should be of some concern to mothers who are using products containing phenoxyethanol.  Though the primary pathway is via ingestion, it is always best to exercise caution.

On the contrary, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review declared that phenoxyethanol is “practically non-toxic” to humans when administered orally or through the skin (Lee et al. 2007).  Phenoxyethanol maybe more toxic to infants than adults, though this has not be substantiated based on available literature.  Based on a series of patch tests, Lee et al. found that phenoxyethanol, as well as parabens, can cause sensory irritation of the skin, which typically results in “stinging, burning, and itching that occur[s] without visual signs of skin inflammation” (2007).  Phenoxyethanol was also found to induce urticaria and eczema, a rash of red welts accompanied by itching, in patch tests at 1% after 3 individuals experienced skin irritation after using a product with the preservative (Bohn and Bircher 2008).  However, these reactions (hypersensitivity) from cosmetics is considered very rare.  Phenoxyethanol in the presence of other preservatives can increase risk of allergic reaction (Lee et al. 2007).

CONCLUSIONS

Phenoxyethanol is considered safer than many available preservatives.  It is not known to be toxic in humans, though it can be a skin irritant in some individuals.  This ingredient was previously allowed in products certified organic in the UK by ECOCERT, however, this is no longer a common practice.  While this product itself is not natural, it does serve its purpose as a preservative.  As with the other preservatives covered, it is not without its flaws, however, it appears much safer than other preservatives and is not suspected to be carcinogenic in humans.  Consumers with children should be the most cautious of this ingredient and should do their best to ensure that their child does not consume a product containing this ingredient and limit exposure overall.

References:

Bohn, S. and A. Bircher.  2008.  “Phenoxyethanol-induced urticaria.”  European Journal of Allergy and Clinincal Immunology.  56(9): 922-923.

Lee, E., An, S., Choi, D.,  Moon, S., and I. Chang.  2007.  “Comparison of objective and sensory skin irritations of several cosmetic preservatives.”  Contact Dermatitis.  56: 131-136.

Yazar, K., Johnsson, S., Lind, M., Boman, A., and C. Liden.   2010. “Preservatives and fragrance in selected consumer-available cosmetics and detergents.”  Contact Dermatitis.  64: 265-272.