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    The Body


Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton

The Chemical Maze

By Bill Statham

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Adapted from Organic Natural Living by Narelle Chenery

Toxic chemicals are everywhere as this article by Narelle Chenery points out. Every day we are exposed to risk without even thinking about it. Narelle is the founding director of the project producing the Certified Organic, totally natural and non-toxic, personal care and skin care products recommended on this site. She says:-

"Education is the key to empowering consumers to see through the “green-wash” of slick marketing to recognise the products for what they really are. Misleading labels and clever advertising relating to organic content often mask the use of potentially toxic ingredients, which seriously undermines the integrity of the organic claim".

What are the Natural alternatives to chemicals?

All skin care products, both synthetic and natural, contain items from the following categories in some combination or other:





Natural Skin Care ... What does "natural" mean?

As the number of people who are concerned about toxins in our environment grows, more and more skin care companies are jumping on the
"natural" and "organic" anti-aging skin care product bandwagon.

But what does "natural" and "organic" mean when we see them on a mainstream manufacturers skin care product label?

Natural skin care - is it really any better for us?

Our skin is the largest eliminatory organ in the body. It is a two-way membrane. Toxins are eliminated through the skin via perspiration and absorbed through the skin into the body’s circulation system, through hair follicles and sebaceous glands, but not through the sweat glands. One square inch of skin contains approximately 65 hairs, 100 sebaceous glands and 650 sweat glands. Every square inch of your skin is like a thousand open mouths, absorbing into the body most of what is put on it.

What skin care products are truly natural and proactive?

Skin care manufacturers are not supposed to claim that their products penetrate the skin. If they did, the products would then be labelled as
“drugs” and would be governed by much stricter regulations. However, it is now recognised that the skin does absorb many ingredients in skin care preparations. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means our skin can be nourished from the outside with some wonderful ingredients. Bad, because some skin care manufacturers can use harmful chemical ingredients that would never be allowed to be taken orally, but are still absorbed into our system, through our skin.


Nowhere does the idea of “natural” or “organic” take a more gratuitous bruising than in the skin care industry. If we first take the word "natural" and look it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary we would find this description of natural thus; “existing in, or caused by nature; not artificial; uncultivated; wild existing in natural state; not disguised or altered”.

It seems pretty clear what "natural" actually means to me! Does it to you? However when vested interests in the skin care industry get hold of the word natural - they put a whole new slant on it. It may seem pretty clear to you and me exactly what we mean by natural but for the marketing men they obviously haven't read the dictionary and start bending the interpretation of natural to suit themselves.

Many labels have long lists of chemical names, some followed by the phrase “derived from …” (some natural substance). This is grossly misleading for consumers who are looking for genuine safe skin care products. Synthetic Chemicals are anything but natural!

When chemicals such as Cocamide DEA or Sodium Hydroxysultaine are followed by the words “derived from coconut oil” the consumer is led to believe that these synthetic chemicals must somehow be "natural". While this may be true in some cases where a natural oil or extract is actually used, it is ultimately irrelevant because what you end up with after the chemical solvent extraction and processing is usually anything but natural or pure. It is just another chemical concoction with some rather awful sounding long names to describe the process the original "natural" substance went through.

Now what about "organic"?

Again if we look in the dictionary for the word organic it is pretty obvious to us what we expect to find as far as safe natural products in general are concerned. Would you say in the context you are expecting to use or find the term organic that this would be a fair description;

"produced and involving production without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals."

To me it seems rather elementary that when describing a product as organic that the above is exactly what the customer would expect. However to the marketing men this is not what they mean by organic. Lets delve a little deeper into this play on words.

To create Cocamide DEA, a foaming agent found in some shampoos, requires the addition of a synthetic chemical and known carcinogen, Diethanolamine – DEA, to the coconut oil. It is therefore no longer natural, or safe! If we look at the term “organic” on a label, we usually think it means “grown and cultivated without the use of chemicals” as stated above. That is the conclusion most skin care companies would like us to come to when they use the rather loose term organic.

Unscrupulous skin care companies are cynically using the chemistry definition of “organic” – which is also defined in the dictionary as "a compound that contains a carbon atom" to confuse consumers. This is known in the trade as confusion advertising so the real picture becomes blurred.

Carbon is found in everything that has ever lived. Vested interests - by using this definition of organic, they are saying that a toxic petrochemical preservative called Methyl Paraben is “organic” because it was formed from natural leaves that rotted over thousands of years to become crude oil, which was then used to make this toxic totally un-natural preservative.

How absurd is this when consumers are looking for natural skin care products?

The play on the word organic gets even worse. An increasing number of companies are now claiming to use “organic” herbs in their products.

But, what about the rest of the ingredients? Are they safe? Are they "natural" or from an "organic" source? Surely there must be an authority that governs the use of the term “organic” on labels?

The simple answer is NO.

What skin care products are truly natural?

The term
“Certified Organic” IS governed by a number of internationally recognised bodies. In Australia the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) is the largest. Searching for products with the logo of a certifying body on the label is the only way you can guarantee the organic authenticity and integrity of every ingredient in the product. This can then truly be called a natural skin care product. Without the "Certified Organic" label, the organic claim means nothing, as it cannot be verified and most likely it is a complete hoax perpetrated by the marketing men and their hype.


Fortunately, there is a very simple way to differentiate between the hype and truth in skin care and that is to read the ingredient list on the label. It is a legal requirement that all skin care products must be labelled with the ingredients in descending order of their quantity in the product. A good rule of thumb is to divide the ingredient list into thirds: the top third usually contains 90-95% of the product, the middle third usually contains 5-8% and the bottom third, 1-3%.

Here is the ingredient list of a so-called “natural” and “organic” skin moisturizer from a well known “natural” skin care company.

                                             APRICOT CREAM

Natural or Organic ingredients include:

1 Water (deionised)
2 Isopropyl Palmitate (Palm Oil Derivative)
3 Apricot Kernel Oil
4 Bis-Digyceryl Caprylate/Caprate/Isosterate/Stearate/ Hydroxysterate Adipate (vegetable Triglyceride)
5 Glyceryl Stearate SE (vegetable derived)
6 Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (glycerin-derived emollient)
7 Ceteareth - 12 (Organic Emulsifier)
8 Tocopherol Oil (vitamin E)
9 Chamomile Extract
10 Sage Extract
11 Linden Extract (Lime Blossom Extract)
12 Balm Mint Extract
13 Shea Butter (From Karite)
14 Wheat Germ Oil
15 Carrot Oil
16 Cetyl Alcohol (organic Co-emulsifier)
17 Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster)
18 Sorbic Acid (Organic Compound)
19 Tocopherol Acetate (vitamin E Derivative)
20 Methyl Paraben
21 Propyl Paraben
22 Imidazolidinyl Urea (Organic Compound)
23 Fragrance
24 FD & C Yellow No 5, D7C Red No. 33. Content: Apricot oil (2.5%)

Take note of the last point that says "Content: Apricot Oil (2.5%). Notice Apricot Oil is
No 3 on the list.

Because skin care manufacturers are required to list the ingredients in descending order this means everything AFTER Apricot Oil makes up less than 2.5% of the volume. This effectively means that about 90% of the product is water and Isopropyl Palmitate. Isopropyl Palmitate is derived from Isopropyl Alcohol, synthetic alcohol and Palmatic Acid, a fatty acid from palm oil. It is known to cause skin irritations and dermatitis and has been shown to have comedogenic (acne promoting) properties!

Nos 5 and 6 are all produced by chemical reactions between various fatty acids and glycerol (synthetic glycerine). They are largely synthetic and have been shown to cause allergies and dermatitis! Far from natural!

No 7 is a synthetic emulsifier that may contain dangerous levels of ethylene oxide and dioxane - both are known carcinogens. Again far removed from natural!

Nos. 8 to 15 are natural ingredients used in tiny amounts merely to make the product look good. They may have been grown using toxic organo-phosphates, other pesticides and chemical herbicides and extracted with the use of chemical solvents. Again anything but natural!

No. 16 May be natural or synthetic and has been shown to cause contact dermatitis and eczema.

No. 17 Is otherwise known as caustic soda or lye - a powerful drain cleaner extremely alkaline and corrosive. A known sensitizer for many people with sensitive skin.

No. 18 Sorbic acid was once isolated from the Mountain Ash berry, but is now chemically synthesised and is a toxic preservative. No longer natural!

No. 19 is synthetic Vitamin E.

Nos. 20-22 are toxic and allergenic preservatives which have been linked to increasing oestrogen levels in women and is implicated in the rising incidence of breast cancer

No. 23. Probably synthetic, may contain phthalates that have been linked to birth defects. Phthalates are toxic gender bending chemicals found in virtually everyone tested for them. It is certainly not natural to have phthalates in your body or on your skin I can assure you.

No. 24. Synthetic colours that could be potentially carcinogenic.

Now let’s look at an ingredient list of a Certified Organic natural body moisturiser.
This ingredient list says


1 Proprietary blend of organic native Australian distilled herbal NATURAL extracts,
2 Organic Safflower oil
3 Purified Water
4 Organic Avocado oil
5 Organic Cocoa butter
6 Non-GMO Lecithin
7 Organic Sugar-Cane Ethanol
8 Organic Unrefined Beeswax
9 Lime
10 D-Panthenol (pro-vit b5)
11 Olive extract
12 Grapefruit extract
13 Sclerotium gum
14 Organic orange
15 Vanilla extract

1. Is a proprietary blend of organic natural native Australian distilled herbal extracts.
2. Is cold-pressed from organic safflower seeds.
3. Purified Water.
4. Is cold-pressed from natural organic avocado fruit.
5. Is from organic cocoa beans. Natural!
6. Is from non-genetically modified soybean oil. Natural!
7. Is from organic sugar. Natural
8. Is from organic beehives! Natural
9. Is cold pressed from the skin of organic natural limes.
10. Is a precursor to vitamin B5.Natural!
11. Is from natural olive leaves.
12. Is from grapefruit seeds. Natural!
13. Is a natural gum.
14. Is cold-pressed from organic natural orange peel.
15. Is from natural vanilla beans.

Acne Advice


Well you make your own mind up! There are some people who really do think that there are "safe" synthetic chemicals which can be applied to the skin and eaten in food without doing any harm.

However didn't the cigarette manufacturers maintain for over thirty years that the chemicals in smoke never caused cancer too? Is it natural to breath deadly toxic fumes into your lungs everyday? Is it natural to care for your skin by plastering it in totally un-natural chemicals - the vast majority which have never been tested for long term toxicity?

 It is easy to bury your head in the sand and ignore these dangers as we listen to the hollow platitudes of vested interests who are making billions from a gullible public.

If we look at chemicals from a historic point of view we see a pattern of wonderful chemical and drug breakthroughs which are going to change life for the better. They are sold to us on a platform of hype and false promises as the answer to all sorts of problems. Subsequent disastrous side effects and countless deaths have been caused by some of these new wonder chemicals and drugs before they were pulled off the market and banned long after the damage had already been done.

Remember the miracle of DDT?

How this was going to revolutionise farming in the world and destroy all the natural insect pests. Now every single living creature on earth today, humans included, carry a burden of DDT stored in their fat cells with who knows what consequences for generations to come.

What about thalidomide?

Remember the miracle drug to ease women through the "sickness" of bearing a child.

How many tens of thousands of children were born with defects from this incredible chemical folly? How would you feel if by your uninformed use of toxic chemicals it caused ongoing severe medical problems for your loved ones in the future?

The search for newer, better and safer synthetic chemicals goes on and on - with new chemicals being released at a staggering rate onto the market and the unsuspecting public. When you really think about it, the entire process is so futile and foolish and is only being pursued in the name of corporate profit.

Mother Nature has always had the answers for us yet man seems hell-bent on ignoring the most basic rule of all and that is to live in harmony with nature not try to control it. Ultimately nature reduces us back to the earth. For many of us, sadly well before our time is due, we will be struck down by deadly cancer. The rate is already 1 in 3 in the US and is running very close behind in the UK and other developed countries.

We should all avoid toxic synthetic chemicals from all sources. We can do this largely by sourcing organic produce as much as we possibly can and using only certified organic completely natural personal care products and cosmetics.

You may be amazed at the huge difference these simple measures will make to your health.
Anti Aging Skin Care provides useful information about skin care, anti aging skin care, facial skin care, acne skin care and other useful information about various skin disease.

Natural Skin Care