Did you know the largest chemical contaminant in our personal care supply is not even listed on labels? Yes, you read that correctly. A contaminant so powerful that it has made the list of probable carcinogenic for the US environmental protective agency, a confirmed animal carcinogenic in the National Toxicology Program, listed in CA Prop 65 chemicals that could cause cancer, and banned in Canada… And yet it is not required to be listed on the label of our beauty products!
Say hello to 1,4-dioxane. It is a contaminant that occurs when a company decides to use a harsh chemical ingredient and tries to make it “less harsh” via a process called ethoxylation. Within ethoxylation, a chemical named ethylene oxide is used, this said chemical is also linked to breast cancer. So basically companies take a potent ingredient and make it even worse by using a carcinogenic to dilute the ingredients, which in turn creates a disruptive contaminant. Makes sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me either.
Best part of this madness is that the FDA doesn’t require this process or the contamination to be listed in the label of ingredients. Making it entirely difficult to know if 1,4 -dioxane is in our products or not. But boy is it present. Environmental Workers Group have reported finding the contaminant in 46% of personal care products. Almost half the products we use has 1,4-dioxane.
How can we make sure we are not purchasing products that do not contain this contaminant? Here are are few tips:
- It is most commonly found in products that produce foam or lather (so be most mindful of these products)
- Look for and avoid products with the ingredient Sodium Laureth Sulfate. The -eth in Laureth indicates the process ethoxylation has been performed.
- Similarly, avoid products with PEG compounds or ingredients with -xynol, -ceteareth, and -oleth
- Certified USDA organic products do not allow the process of ethoxylation, and are the safest way of avoiding 1,4 dioxane
- When in doubt check the product in the Skin Deep Database or Think Dirty App listed in the tools page.
“1,4-dioxane – Safe Cosmetics.” Safe Cosmetics. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2015. <http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/14-dioxane/>.
“1,4-DIOXANE.” || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2015. <http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/726331/1%2C4-DIOXANE/#>.