Sunday, 25 July 2010

I'm on the Case

Since I am laid up at home recovering from surgery I have decided to conduct a forensic investigation of all of the beauty products in my bathroom. I feel like that policeman in The Daughter of TimeThere are rather a lot of them so I’m starting with those that I use on a daily basis.

I bought this cleanser in Australia. Since I’ve been home its place has been usurped by my favourite Nude Facial Oil. But I keep the Sukin as a back-up for travel.

Sukin bills itself as ‘Organic Australian Skincare’, ‘SLS and Paraben Free.’ Sounds good. The ingredients (see below) read like the contents of a physic garden, until, that is, I notice Phenoxyethanol and Benzyl Alcohol. These ingredients are not heinous but the Cosmetics Safety Database rates both of them as ‘moderate hazard’ with concerns in the areas of cancer and neurotoxicty.

Why not just leave them out?

Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Glycerin, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil (Rose Hip), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Equisetum Arvense Extract (Horsetail), Arctium Lappa Extract (Burdock), Urtica Dioica Extract (Nettle), Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Vanilla Planifolia Extract, Linalool,* Limonene.* 
* Natural component of essential oils.

‘Flouride-free formula. This product does not contain saccharin; artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours, or flavours; or animal ingredients. Tom’s of Maine is against animal testing.’

I love the taste of this toothpaste and have used it for years. So I am very disappointed to learn that it contains Sodium Lauryl Sufate.

Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, aqua, glycerin, xylitol, Chondrus crispus, sodium lauryl sulfate, natural flavour (aroma), d-Limonene, Commiphora myrrha, Propolis cera.

Ingredients: Aqua, Dicaprylyl Malete, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Butyl Methoxydibenzolmethane, Benzophenone-3, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide, Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat., Phenoxyethanol, C18-36 Acid Glycol Ester, Parfum, Triethanolemine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Acrylates/Vinyl Isodecanoate Crosspolymer, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Camellia Sinensis, Sodium Hydroxide, Theobroma Cacao, BHT, Methyldibromo Glutaronotirile, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben.

Bin, immediately.

Product: Sisley Eye Contour Mask

This incredibly expensive eye cream really does "reduce fine lines and puffiness" so I would be sorry to see the it go. However, I can find no indication of what is in it, either on the tube or on the Sisley website

Dear Sir or Madam, Would you be so kind as to send me a list of the ingredients contained in your Sisley Eye Contour Mask? With best regards, Cannalily.


Unknown said...

My great grandmother (who hardly used anything on her lovely skin) used to say to me as a small girl "Little bit of powder and a little bit of paint, makes a gal look exactly what she ain't!"

paolability said...

It might be worth getting a second opinion by looking these up on Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia page for SLS - just a soap - includes a link to an article that says that it is not carcinogenic.

However, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is different.

Benzyl alcohol is an organic compound produced in fruits and teas as well as some essential oils. It's used as a solvent and "as a bacteriostatic preservative at low concentration in intravenous medications."

Phenoxyethanol is an organic chemical compound used as a preservative. Like, Benzyl alcohol, it is a bactericide (it kills bacteria).

It is possible that the cosmetic database refers to side-effects from very high doses.

You can buy soap bases free from SLS and SLES. You can either cut bars from the block to use as is or melt, add colour + smells and set in moulds. I get my soap supplies from JustaSoap. Their SLS/SLES-free soap base costs just £4.20 a kilo.


canalily said...

According to the Cosmetic Safety Database there are concerns about SLS in the areas of: cancer; organ toxicity; neurotoxicity; endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity. Of course there are studies that say it is perfectly safe and that we could all benefit from starting our days by sprinkling a spoonful of SLS on our porridge. And it may be argued that the doses in cosmetics are low - but then on the other hand that must be balanced against the fact hat we tend to use them every day. How much is too much? Does the substance accumulate in the body?

These arguments are not likely to be resolved any time soon.

My aim is to reduce as many unnecessary risk factors as possible in my daily life. So my logic is this: if there is doubt about it and I can live without it, why not give it a miss? I am not, however, prepared to exist in sackcloth and ashes, depriving myself of all pleasantness and convenience. Part of my mission here is to find alternative products that are just as lovely to use and possibly safer in the long run.

canalily said...

p.s. how do you add links to your comments? i can't figure it out.

paolability said...

I use mark-up (HTML) to add links.

There is a tutorial at

canalily said...

Oh terrific, thank you. So, here is the link to SLS on the Cosmetics safety database.