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    The Body


Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton

The Chemical Maze

By Bill Statham

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Toxic Ingredients Commonly Found In Your Over
The Counter Products

1,4-dioxane A carcinogenic contaminant of cosmetic products. Almost 50% of cosmetics containing ethoxylated surfactants were found to contain dioxane. (See Ethoxylated surfactants )

1,4-Dioxane may exert its effects through inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion. 1,4-Dioxane is listed as a carcinogen. An eye and mucous membrane irritant, primary skin irritant, central nervous system depressant, nephrotoxin and hepatotoxin. Acute exposure causes irritation,headache, dizziness and narcosis. Chronic inhalation exposure can produce damage to the liver and kidneys and blood disorders.

2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (Bronopol) Toxic. Causes allergic contact dermatitis.

(See Nitrosating agents)

Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40) A very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin's natural acid mantle, making us more vulnerable to bacteria, moulds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative. It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin.

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES) (See Anionic Surfactants),
(See Sodium Laureth Sulfate), (See Nitrosating Agents)

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) (See Anionic Surfactants),
(See Sodium Laureth Sulfate ),(See Nitrosating Agents )

Anionic Surfactants Anionic refers to the negative charge these surfactants have. They may be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Surfactants can pose serious health threats. They are used in car washes, as garage floor cleaners and engine de greasers - and in 90% of personal-care products that foam.

· Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
· Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
· Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)
· Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
· Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
· Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
· Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
· Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen
· TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate
· TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate
· Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine
· Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate
· Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
· Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate etc

Benzalkonium Chloride Highly toxic, primary skin irritant. (See Cationic surfactants) Material is highly toxic via oral route. Mists can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat and mucous membranes. Avoid direct contact. Can cause muscular paralysis, low blood pressure, CNS depression and weakness.

Butylated Hudroxyanisole (BHA) Causes allergic contact dermatitis.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) Causes allergic contact dermatitis. Contains toluene. (See Toluene)

Cationic surfactants These chemicals have a positive electrical charge. They contain a quaternary ammonium group and are often called "quats". These are used in hair conditioners, but originated from the paper and fabric industries as softeners and anti-static agents. In the long run they cause the hair to become dry and brittle. They are synthetic, irritating, allergenic and toxic. Oral intake of them can be lethal.

· Stearalkonium chloride
· Benzalkonium chloride
· Cetrimonium chloride
· Cetalkonium chloride
· Lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen

Cetalkonium chloride (See Cationic surfactants)

Cetrimonium chloride (See Cationic surfactants)

Chloromethylisothiazolinone Causes contact dermatitis
Isothiazolinone causes allergic contact dermatitis. Corrosive to the eyes with possible permanent damage. Corrosive to the skin, possibly resulting in third degree burns. Can be harmful if absorbed. INGESTION can be FATAL!
Can be corrosive to the mucous membranes and lungs.

Cocoamidopropyl Betaine Can cause eye and skin irritation

Cocoyl Sarcosine (See Nitrosating agents)

Cyclomethicone (See Silicone derived emollients)

DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine) Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer. (See Nitrosating agents ) Health Hazard Acute And Chronic: Product is severely irritating to body tissues and possibly corrosive to the eyes.(Explanation Carcinogenicity: Amines react with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic).

Diazolidinyl urea Established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Contains formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical, is toxic by inhalation, a strong irritant, and causes contact dermatitis. (See Formaldehyde )Causes severe eye irritation.
If misted will cause irritation of mucous membranes - nose, eyes and throat resulting in coughing and difficulty in breathing. Skin contact will cause smarting and burning sensations, inflammation, burns, painful blisters, profound damage to tissue. Will cause painful burning or stinging of eyes and lids, watering of eyes and inflammation of conjuntiva.

Dimethicone (See Silicone derived emollients)

Dimethicone Copolyol (See Silicone derived emollients)

Disodium Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate (See Anionic surfactants)

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate (See Anionic surfactants),(See Ethoxylated surfactants)

Disodium Oleamide Sulfosuccinate (See Anionic Surfactants)

DMDM Hydantoin Contains formaldehyde. (See Formaldehyde)

Ethoxylated surfactants Ethoxylated surfactants are widely used in cosmetics as foaming agents, emulsifiers and humectants. As part of the manufacturing process the toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane, a potent carcinogen, is generated.

On the label, they are identified by the Prefix "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol-". (See 1,4-Dioxane)

FD&C Colour Pigments Synthetic colours made from coal tar. Contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.

Formaldehyde Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). Causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes). (See Nitrosating agents)

Fragrance Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the USA FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.

Hydrolysed Animal Protein (See Nitrosating agents)

Imidazolidinyl urea The trade name for this chemical is Germall 115. Releases formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical, into cosmetics at over 10C. Toxic. See Formaldehyde (See Nitrosating agents)

Lanolin Any chemicals used on sheep will contaminate the lanolin obtained from the wool. The majority of lanolin used in cosmetics is highly contaminated with chlorinated organo pesticides like DDT.

Lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen (See Cationic surfactants)

Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine (See Anionic Surfactants)

Lauryl Sarcosine (See Nitrosating agents)

Liquidum Paraffinum Liquidum Paraffinum is an exotic sounding way to say mineral oil. (See Mineral Oil)

MEA compounds (See Nitrosating agents)

Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone Both cause cosmetic allergies

Mineral Oil Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin's ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!) Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.

· Mineral oil
· Liquidum paraffinum (also known as posh mineral oil!)
· Paraffin oil
· Paraffin wax
· Petrolatum

Nitrosating Agents The following chemicals can cause nitrosamine contamination, which have been determined to form cancer in laboratory animals. There are wide and repeated concerns in the USA and Europe about the contamination of cosmetics products with nitrosamines.

· 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
· Cocoyl Sarcosine
· DEA compounds
· Imidazolidinyl Urea
· Formaldehyde
· Hydrolysed Animal Protein
· Lauryl Sarcosine
· MEA compounds
· Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc
· Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
· Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
· Sodium Laureth Sulfate
· Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
· Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
· TEA compounds

Paraben preservatives (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl) Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Highly toxic. Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract .May cause allergic skin reactions. Symptoms include redness, itching and pain. Causes irritation, redness and pain to eyes.

Paraffin wax/oil Paraffin Wax is mineral oil wax. See Mineral Oil

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) compounds Potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin's natural moisture factor. This could increase the appearance of aging and leave you more vulnerable to bacteria. Used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease. It adjusts the melting point and thickens products. Also used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners. . (See Ethoxylated Surfactants)

Potassium Coco Hydrolysed Collagen (See Anionic Surfactants)

Propylene/Butylene Glycol Propylene glycol (PG) is a petroleum derivative. It penetrates the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles and to dispose of any PG solutions by burying them in the ground. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent consequences such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. But there isn't even a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than in most industrial applications.
Health Hazard Acute And Chronic. May cause respiratory and throat irritation, central nervous system depression, blood and kidney disorders. May cause nystagmus,lymphocytosis. Irritation and dermatitis to skin. Irritation and conjunctivitis to eyes. If ingested Pulmonary oedema, brain damage, hypoglycaemia, intravascular hemolysis and death may occur.

PVP/VA Copolymer A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, wavesets and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons.

Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60, etc Toxic, causes skin rashes and allergic reactions (See Nitrosating agents). Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause skin irritation. May cause more severe response if skin is damp. May be a weak skin sensitizer in susceptible individuals at greater than 1% aqueous solution.

Rancid Natural Emollients Natural oils used in cosmetics should be cold pressed. The refined vegetable oils found on supermarket shelves and many health food stores which lack colour, odour and taste are devoid of nutrients, essential fatty acids, vitamins and unsaponifiables - all valuable skin conditioning agents! They also contain poisonous "trans" fatty acids as a result of the refining process.

Another important factor to consider with creams made from plant oil is the use-by date. The most beneficial plant oils (like rosehip, borage and evening primrose oils) are polyunsaturated, which means they oxidise and go rancid fairly quickly (about 6 months). Most off-the-shelf cosmetics have a shelf life of three years. Rancid oils are harmful, they form free-radicals, which damage and age your skin.

Silicone derived emollients Silicone emollients are occlusive - that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to breathe (much like plastic wrap would do.) Recent studies have indicated that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumour promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.

· Dimethicone
· Dimethicone Copolyol
· Cyclomethicone

Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate (See Anionic Surfactants)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES) When combined with other chemicals, SLES and ALES can create nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation "comes from coconut".
. (See Anionic Surfactants) (See Ethoxylated Surfactants) (See Nitrosating agents) WARNING! Causes skin and eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes,skin and clothing. The material was classified as a moderate to severe eye irritant.

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (See Anionic Surfactants)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers - and in 90% of products that foam. (Look at your shampoo!) Animals exposed to SLS and ALS experience eye damage, central nervous system depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS and ALS because proteins are dissolved. SLS and ALS may also damage the skin's immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation "comes from coconut". (See Nitrosating agents) (See Anionic Surfactants)

EYE CONTACT: Instillation of a 29% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate solution into the eyes of six albino rabbits produced severe irritation. The material was classified as a severe skin irritant.

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate (See Nitrosating agents) (See Anionic Surfactants)

Stearalkonium Chloride A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which do help hair health. Toxic. . (See Cationic Surfactants)

Talc Scientific studies have shown that routine application of talcum powder in the genital area is associated with a three-to-fourfold increase in the development of ovarian cancer.

TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate Synthetic emulsifier. Highly acidic. Over 40% of cosmetics containing Triethanolamine (TEA), have been found to be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens.

Special Hazard Precautions: Product is severely irritating to body tissues and possibly corrosive to the eyes. Handle with care. Avoid eye and skin contact. Avoid breathing vapours. If generated and there is a danger of eye contact wear a face shield. (Explanation - Carcinogenicity: Amines react with itrosating agents to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic.) (See Anionic Surfactants) (See Nitrosating agents)

TEA compounds (See Nitrosating agents)


Harmful. Flammable liquid and vapour. May affect liver, kidneys, blood system or central nervous system. Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Inhalation may cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of overexposure may include fatigue, confusion, headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.

Peculiar skin sensations (e.g. Pins and needles) or numbness may be reproduced. Very high concentrations may cause unconsciousness and death. Swallowing may cause abdominal spasms and other symptoms that parallel over exposure from inhallation.

Aspiration of material into the lungs can cause chemical pneumonitis which may be fatal. May be absorbed through the skin.

Causes severe eye irritation with redness and pain. Reports of chronic poisoning describe anaemia, decreased blood cell count and bone marrow hypoplasia. Liver and kidney damage may occur. Repeated or prolonged contact has a defatting action causing drying, redness and dermatitis.