Since ages ago mankind has been chasing beauty and unfading youth. Until the middle of the last century, all efforts were limited mainly to attempts to conceal and disguise the marks which inexorable time reserves on the human’s face and body. In the 1950s situation it has changed dramatically: aid to the “beauty activists” put a new spin in the cosmetic industry – skin care products and medicinal cosmetics.
Chemists began to discover more and more new benefits of precious "blood of the Earth" and in the course of studying oil properties received dozens of compounds, previously unknown in organic nature, and industrialists immediately took these inventions on board. The result is thousands of different cosmetic products, from mascara to anti-aging creams, and in each pack the vast majority is occupied by petroleum products.
Let's perform a small experiment: every lady and every man, families and singles, have in the very least one bottle of any cosmetic product in the bathroom, whether this be perfume, shampoo or shaving foam. Take a good look at the label. Not the one that is pasted on the front side, with an attractive design and the manufacturer's logo but on the back side of the package - and you'll see a long list of fine print of absolutely incomprehensible words, and, most likely written in Latin characters. Not everyone have a university degree and background in the chemical industry, so for the normal human being the true meaning of these names remains under wraps. We want to help you to hunt down a question and this article begins a number of postings devoted to the most common chemical ingredients in modern cosmetics (and not only) industry, and try to tell a simple and accessible language what they are and what danger they can hide.
We begin our story with the whole group of substances, united under the name "glycols". Chemically all glycols is a group of organic compounds belonging to dihydric alcohols. Propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, butylene glycol and polyethylene glycols have the greatest practical importance in industry. Range of application in daily life is enormous: cosmetics, food, building and construction materials, medicines, in the automotive industry ... the list is almost endless.
However, in the beauty industry this list is none the worse.
- The use of glycols in cosmetics:
- - skin care (creams, moisturizers, cleansers, lotions, sunscreens);
- - deodorants and antiperspirants (roll, sticks and gel);
- - hair care products (shampoos, conditioners, hair curling, styling gels and coloring agents);
- - shaving (creams, foams, gels and lotions);
- - bath and shower;
- - perfumery (perfumes, cologne);
- - baby cosmetics (wipes);
- - cleaning and disinfectant hand gels;
- - makeup (blush, eyeliner, lipstick, eye shadow);
- - oral cavity care (mouthwashes, toothpastes).
Let us start with the main group of these substances, the names of which can be found in different variations on the cosmetic labels:
Propylene glycol (Rropylene Glycol, PG, PEG) is a humectant, in other words, has a property to absorb and retain moisture both in the composition and on the skin after application. Also it’s emulsifier, solvent (including in the medicines and injections production), odor conductor, it makes cosmetic emulsions resistant to freezing and reduces their viscosity, and enables penetration of active substances through the skin surface.
It would seem that there are so many nice things that help make life easier for the modern human! But not everything is so serene. This substance, by definition of the Office of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is "generally safe" (the status of GRAS, Generally Regarded as Safe). However, there were found thousands of cases of intoxication and contact dermatitis from the use of care products and household products containing propylene glycol, mainly in patients with damaged or sensitive skin - burns, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. According to some researchers, poisoning of the body with propylene glycol can cause damage to the kidneys and liver.
In addition, children are at risk groupe because their skin is very delicate: in 1991, the American Academy of Dermatology has published a clinical review, proving that propylene glycol even in low concentrations may cause a variety of negative reactions and irritations in children. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), concentrated propylene glycol is dangerous not only when applied externally, causing irritation to the eyes and skin, but also in contact with the gastrointestinal tract, which may lead to disturbances of the digestive system, nausea, headache, vomiting and depression. Excellent absorbing properties of this compound conduce the rapid penetration to the blood of all the substances dissolved in it. It may result in severe poisoning with toxins from poorly treated feedstock. Impurities found in various PEG, include ethylene oxide, 1,4-dioxane, polycyclic aromatics and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium and arsenic. In 2001, propylene glycol has been banned for use in the manufacturing of dog and cat food.
Ethylene Glycol (Ethylene Glycol) can be found in creams, hand soap, liquid makeup, as well as in shampoos and detergents for children: it is believed that they less irritate baby skin and better take care of it. What else is made of ethylene glycol? Antifreezing agents, brake fluid, ink and printing ink, photographic developing fluids, polyurethanes and cellophane. Do you need further comments on the "security" of this matter? When swallowed may damage central nervous system, kidneys and liver, and sniffing ethylene glycol leads to serious diseases of the mucous membranes, eyes and upper respiratory tract. Sweet taste of this deadly poisonous liquid may be interested in babies and pets, and in fact the lethal dose is only 100 grams.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is another popular ingredient of cosmetic products, used as a surfactant in shampoos, hair dyes and facial creams. Also commonly used as a food preservative, a part of laxatives and other medications in syrup condition. This substance causes irritation, skin diseases and allergies, nervous system disorders, miscarriages and mutation in the embryo, and lowers immunity. It contains dangerous level of dioxin, one of the most toxic anthropogenic substances with strong mutagenic, immunosuppressive, carcinogenic and embryotoxic action.
Butylene (Butylene Glycol) is used as a solvent, as a thickener for liquid creams and gels and conditioning agent. It is part of hair care products, moisturizers, foundation for makeup, mascara, sunscreens, eye creams, and many others. Also it is used as a food additive to impart sweet or bitter taste, in the production of polyester plasticizers, structural material for boats etc.
Butylene glycol is considered to be the least harmful substances in the group of glycols. When applied to the skin, it is getting absorbed by the body tissues, and is converted into gamma-hydroxybutyrate, natural compound related to the human body. However, as we mentioned above in this article, all glycols are alcohols, they have a high dermatological rigidity, that is, people with sensitive skin is not recommended using products containing butylene glycol. In addition, refined petroleum products, even if it is not marked with "red" level of danger, have nothing to do with natural ingredients and can not bring any benefit to the human body.
In support of glycols we can say only that in the natural environment they are completely biodegradable, do not settle in the water and do not accumulate in the soil. Doctors also say that all these substances are removed from the body and do not remain in tissues and internal organs.
Dozens of international organizations such as the US FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), the US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) and the CTFA (Cosmetic Ingredient Review of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association) do conduct research and draw conclusions (we like to hope that the impartiality) of the severity of different chemicals. However, in most cases, this assessment identifies only the LEAST harm to the human body. Imagine if document that defines the daily rate of rat poison for more or less tolerable living out before retirement age was released. As regards the compounds recognized supposedly completely safe... Let's look at the facts. These studies became widespread in the second half of the twentieth century, when the world population sharply increased several times and environmental resources has been sorely lacking.
But oil production, by contrast, has acquired an unprecedented scale, and its cost was very low... The governments of the Earth faced a dilemma - how to feed people and wash them, and what give them to wear, when the nature couldn’t longer cope with the task. Scientists involved in the synthesis of oil and gas, came to the rescue. And today none of “official channels” representatives will not tell us straight to the face - "Guys, do not eat oil, do not spread it on bread or on your own body, this is poison for you and for your children". In addition, not all manufacturers (this applies especially to corporations owning "the world famous brands") are honest and follow the recommendations of independent experts. The human race now is not in a position, unfortunately - the world is ruled by economic benefit. Besides our own common sense, we have no help in matters of choosing lifestyle, food and personal care products. Be healthy and wise!