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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

What the heck is sodium hydroxymethylglycinate and why is all over me?

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Methenamine
  • Quaternium-15 
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

You do not want these on a label in your bathroom! Used as preservatives in soaps, shampoos, hair products, deodorants, lotions, make-up, mouthwashes  and nail products (Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, 1984; Reuss et al., 2003), these ingredients are just some of the culprits that gift you with continuous ``off-gassing`` of formaldehyde.  

Basically formaldehyde is all around us in our homes and workplace: it is used to make resins, adhesives, embalming fluid and toilet bowl cleaner to name a few. It can cause many allergic reactions – prolonged exposure can cause respiratory irritation (remember the overpowering fumes from that new carpet in your office/home ?), skin reactions, asthma complications, and is a probable human carcinogen*. And of course, the vulnerable are most at risk.

Oddly enough, formaldehyde is restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada, but the ingredients culpable of releasing formaldehyde are not!

So what does that mean for consumers? It would be a herculean task to eliminate all sources of formaldehyde, but  given the health risks it only makes sense to reduce exposure as much as we can. We don`t have to become chemists to read the label and understand what is in our products (although you may want to leave the kids at home when on a label-reading shopping trip!), and use as many natural products as possible (see previous blog for the pitfalls of `natural` products). Be in the know!

Thank you for visiting my blog!

*``Animal studies have shown increased nasal cancers in rats and mice who inhaled high levels of formaldehyde for a long time. Because of this, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen...`` (Illinois Department of Public Health)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Just how 'natural' is it?

Like many of my friends, I am making a conscious effort to choose natural products over potentially harmful chemical concoctions.  So I was happily rolling along buying my ‘natural’ and ‘all natural’ products for my family, willingly paying a premium for these much better, safer ‘natural’ products, and perhaps even a little smug in my ‘doing the right thing’ attitude, but it comes...the WAKE UP CALL!

My wakeup call came in the form of a CBC Marketplace report sent by a friend. It follows author Adria Vasil (Ecoholic Home) on a hunt for misleading advertising of so-called natural products. Imagine my surprise, or should I say horror, when Ms Vasil reveals that there are no terms set in law or standards governing the use of 'natural' on a consumer label!

I suppose I should have been more diligent: it was only recently (in 2000) that Health Canada began looking at herbal products and even then, they came up with ‘suggested’ practices for manufacturers to improve product safety, rather than standards. (more on that topic another day!)

So what exactly are we getting when we pay up to 40% more for a so-called natural product? Well, in most cases Adria Vasil found virtually no difference. In the case of some baby products, the natural version offered oatmeal or aloe vera to tempt consumers, but some of the other ingredients can be found on Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hot List of potentially dangerous chemicals,  and/or  David Suziki’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ cosmetic chemicals to avoid. These nasty ingredients include carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and environmental pollutants (which in turn contaminate the soil and ground water and end up right back inside us) to name a few!

The International Standards Organization is working on standards for natural products, however it will be still up to the discretion of the manufacturer as to whether or not to implement the suggestions. Currently, it is up to the advertising teams whether or not to label a product 'natural'. 

So what does this mean for consumer? Well, read the label! Just because it says `natural`` - buyer beware! You may get more than bargained for!

If you would like to view the report, here it is:

Have a wonderful week! 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Welcome to my first blog ever!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am very excited! This is a new tool for me, and hope to be up to speed quickly so I can keep the posts interesting and informative!

What posts, you may ask...well, the intent of this blogspot is to explore skin care and health & wellness issues.

One of my favourite topics right now is ANTI-AGING, particularly because I refuse aging and will do just about anything to keep that youthful glow!

I am a firm believer that youth comes from inside - a positive attitude is a must - and then let the chemists and our plant world look after the rest!

So welcome aboard! I look forward to making discoveries with you!