Since time immemorial, humanity has been chasing beauty and perpetual youth. Until the middle of the last century, all efforts were limited mainly to concealment and disguised the marks that inexorable time reserves on the human’s face and body. In the 1950s, it has changed dramatically: aid to the “beauty activists” put a new spin on the cosmetic industry – skincare products and medicinal cosmetics.
Chemists began to discover more and more new benefits of precious "blood of the Earth". In 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, family, and singles, have in the very least one bottle of any cosmetic product in the bathroom, whether this is perfume, shampoo, or shaving foam. Take a good look at the label. Not the one pasted on the front side, with an attractive design and the manufacturer's logo but on the backside of the package - and you'll see a long list of the fine print of absolutely incomprehensible words, and, most likely written in Latin characters. Not everyone has a university degree and background in the chemical industry, so the true meaning of these names remains under wraps for the average human being. We want to help you hunt down a question. This article begins several postings devoted to the most common chemical ingredients in the modern cosmetics (and not only) industry and tries to tell a simple and accessible language and what danger they can hide.
We will begin our story with a whole group of substances, united under the name "glycols". From the point of view of chemistry, all glycols are organic compounds related to dihydric alcohols. In industry, propylene glycols, ethylene glycols, butylene glycols, and polyethylene glycols are of the most significant practical importance. The scope of application in everyday life is truly 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 no less.
- The use of glycols in cosmetics:
- - skincare (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, toothpaste).
Let us start with the leading group of these substances, the names of which can be found in different variations on the cosmetic labels:
Propylene glycol (Propylene Glycol, PG, PEG) is a humectant; in other words, it has the property to absorb and retain moisture both in the composition and on the skin after application. Also, it’s an 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, 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 the body with propylene glycol can cause damage to the kidneys and liver.
In addition, children are in the risk group because their skin is very delicate. In 1991, the American Academy of Dermatology had published a clinical review, proving that propylene glycol, even in low concentrations, may cause various adverse reactions and irritations in children. According to the International Material Safety, concentrated Propylene Glycol is hazardous when applied topically, causing eye and skin irritation, and if it enters the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to digestive upset, nausea, headache, vomiting, and depression Data Sheet (MSDS). This compound's excellent absorbing properties conduce the rapid penetration to the blood of all the substances dissolved in it. It may result in severe poisoning with toxins from the 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 was banned for use in the manufacturing of dog and cat food.
Ethylene Glycol (Ethylene Glycol) can be found in creams, hand soap, liquid makeup, and shampoos and detergents for children: it is believed that they less irritate baby skin better take care of it. What else is made of ethylene glycol? Antifreezing agents, brake fluid, ink, printing ink, developing photographic fluids, polyurethanes, and cellophane. Do you need further comments on the "security" of this matter? When swallowed may damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver, and sniffing ethylene glycol leads to severe diseases of the mucous membranes, eyes, and upper respiratory tract. The 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 and also commonly used as a food preservative, a part of laxatives, and other medications in syrup conditions. This substance causes irritation, skin diseases, allergies, nervous system disorders, miscarriages, a mutation in the embryo, and lowers immunity. It contains a dangerous level of dioxins, one of the most toxic technogenic substances with powerful mutagenic, immunosuppressive, carcinogenic, and embryotoxic effects.
Butylene (Butylene Glycol) is used as a solvent, as a thickener for liquid creams, gels, and conditioning agents. It is part of hair care products, moisturizers, makeup, mascara, sunscreens, eye creams, and many others. Also, it is used as a food additive to impart a sweet or bitter taste in the production of polyester plasticizers, structural material for boats, etc.
Butylene glycol is considered to be the least harmful substance in the group of glycols. When applied to the skin, it is getting absorbed by the body tissues and is converted into gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a natural compound related to the human body. However, as we mentioned above in this article, all glycols are alcohols. They have high dermatological rigidity. That is, people with sensitive skin are not recommended to use products containing butylene glycol. In addition, refined petroleum products, even if not marked with "red" level of danger, have nothing to do with natural ingredients and can not benefit the human body.
In support of glycol, we can say only that in the natural environment, they are entirely biodegradable, do not settle in the water, and do not accumulate in the soil. Doctors claim that all these substances are excreted from the body and do not remain in tissues and internal organs.
Dozens of international organizations such as the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the CTFA (Cosmetic Ingredient Review of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association) do conduct research and conclude (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 a document 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 wholly 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 have been sorely lacking.
But oil production, by contrast, has acquired an unprecedented scale, and its cost was meager. The governments of the Earth faced a dilemma - how to feed people and wash them, and what gives them to wear when 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 the "official channels" representatives will tell us straight to the face - "Guys, do not eat oil, do not spread it on bread or your own body, this is poison for you and 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 common sense, we have no help choosing a lifestyle, food, and personal care products. Be healthy and wise!