Sunday, July 8, 2012

I put what in my hair??? (Introducing Research Sundays!)

Recently I picked up a bottle of heat protectant and began to scan through the ingredients... Unsurprisingly I was unable to pronounce 99% of them. Then I got to thinking, "I wonder what harmful effects these could have on me?"....
So tonight I decided to find that out, and share the results with you guys! 
Each Sunday I will choose a product and look further into the ingredients. You never know what you could be missing!

Warning... This is going to be a looong post!

First victim... TRESemme's Thermal creations straightening gel.

Ingredients: Polypropylene Glycol, Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Domethiconol, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, DMDM Hydantoin, Laureth-7, Iodopropynl Butylcarbamate, Hexyl Cinnimal, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Cetrimonium Chloride, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Polysorbate 20, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Ascorbic acid, Niacinamide, Biotin.

What they do:

Polypropylene Glycol: 

Purpose:  propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water

Health concerns: strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.


Purpose: Emollient

Health concerns: None known

Domethiconol: skin/hair conditioner, anti-foaming agent and emollient.

Health concerns: None known


*"Polyacrylamide is a polymer that is formed from units of acrylamide, a known neurotoxin. However, Polyacrylamide itself is not considered to be toxic, but is a controversial ingredient because of its potential ability to secrete Acrylamide"


"Polyacrylamide is an ingredient in a variety of cosmetic and beauty products, including skin cleansers, moisturizers, lotions and creams, self tanning products, makeup, and hair care and nail care products. It dries to form a thin coating on the skin, hair, or nails; in hair care products, it helps hair hold its style by inhibiting the hair’s ability to absorb moisture; in makeup, it holds together the ingredients of a compressed tablet or cake; in sunscreen products, it aids in retaining sunscreen on the skin after immersion in water."

Health concerns:  

The Cosmetic Database finds Polyacrylamide to be a moderate hazard ingredient and notes multiple concerns, including neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity and data gaps. The biggest warning regarding the use of Polyacrylamide is the contamination concern and the presence of Acrylamide, a known toxin.
Acrylamide is rated by the EWG as a high hazard ingredient, at a 10, the highest level possible, due to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergic reactions, organ system toxicity, neurotoxicity, irritation of the skin and eyes, and endocrine disruption, as well as biohazardous effects. Polyacrylamide is FDA and CIR approved, but to safeguard consumers, the CIR Expert Panel limits the potential Acrylamide levels that can be present in any product and established an upper limit of 5 ppm Acrylamide residues in cosmetics and personal care products, according to

C13-14 Isoparaffin:

Purpose: Emollient 

Health concerns: However, petroleum can be contaminated with carcinogens and is blacklisted as an ingredient by the European Union. According to Marta's post about Aquaphor and Petroleum Safety, "certain impurities may be in the petrolatum and they can cause allergies and even be a carcinogen. Cosmetics should use highly refined petroleum that has been cleaned of these impurities."
Nonetheless, the Cosmetics Database rates C13-14 Isoparaffin as a low hazard ingredient, noting the only concerns as organ system toxicity based on animal studies that showed effects at moderate doses. The EWG does cite that C13-14 Isoparaffin is considered a pesticide inert by the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that it could be potentially toxic. No other studies were found that listed any negative side effects or health hazards regarding the use of topically applied C13-14 Isoparaffin.

DMDM Hydantoin:

Purpose: Preservative

Health concerns: DMDM Hydantoin is sometimes considered dangerous because of its toxic formaldehyde component, although the percentage is so small that it has been approved safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. It can cause irritation or an allergic reaction on sensitive skin.


Purpose: Surfactant and emulsifier

Health concerns: The CIR expert panel has conducted research on two (Laureth-4 and Laureth-23) of the many Laureths and made an inclusive approval of all Laureths, including Laureth-7, for the use in cosmetics. However, small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of ethoxylation, may be found in the Laureth ingredients, and the potential presence of it can be controlled through purification steps to remove it before blending Laureth-7 into cosmetic formulations

Iodopropynl Butylcarbamate:

Purpose: Diazolidinyl Urea, when combined in synergy with Iodopropoynyl Butylcarbamate, simply increase the effectiveness of Diazolidinyl Urea on its own as a skin moisturizer. Diazolidinyl Urea is a white powder that releases formaldehyde in the skin, allowing for greater natural moisture. Idopropynyl Butylcarbamage (IPBC) is a white crystalline powder that contains iodine (SourceSource). According to a Study, the small percentage of these two chemicals in skin moisturizers is not dangerous and is used to increase moisture in skin.

Health concerns: There are mixed reports of this combination has been reported as a carcinogenic. However, although Diazolidinyl Urea releases formaldehyde, which is a probably carcinogenic, only formaldehyde gas is linked to cancer, not the compound found in skin care lotions (Source). It has been reviewed and researched by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board and is considered safe. The usual side effects of topical creams, such as redness burning or stinging sensations are reported, but occur in less than .5% of users and do not lead to any lasting negative effects.

Hexyl Cinnimal:

Purpose: Hexyl Cinnamal is a natural ingredient used in perfumes and other beauty products as a fragrance additive. It is derived from chamomile oil and is used as a masking ingredient in many foundations and skin creams 

Health concerns: Hexyl Cinnamal is FDA approved and is approved by the Cosmetics Working Group for topical use. However, the DIMDI (German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information) rates it as a Class B allergen when used in high concentrations (Wikipedia). Skin care products and cosmetics use Hexyl Cinnamal in low concentrations, and it is therefore considered a safe ingredient.


Purpose: used in chemical synthesis as a precursor to carvone and as a renewably based solvent in cleaning products.

Health concerns: Limonene and its oxidation products are skin and respiratory irritants, and limonene-1,2-oxide (formed by aerial oxidation) is a known skin sensitizer. Most reported cases of irritation have involved long-term industrial exposure to the pure compound, e.g. during degreasing or the preparation of paints. However, a study of patients presenting dermatitisshowed that 3% were sensitized to limonene.
Although high doses have been shown to cause Renal Cancer in male rats, limonene is considered by some researchers to be a potential Chemopreventive  agent  with value as a dietary anti-cancer tool in humans. There is no evidence for Carcinogenicity or Genotoxity   in humans. The IARC classifies D-limonene as a Group 3 carcinogennot classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans 

Benzyl Benzoate:

Purpose: Mainly used as a fragrance ingredient and solvent (helps other ingredients dissolve into a solution). It also functions as an insecticide that kills lice, mites and other insects responsible for causing the skin condition Scabies. A wide variety of personal care products contain this ingredient, including aftershave lotion, shampoo/conditioner, cleanser, perfume, moisturizer, suntan lotion and nail polish.

Health concerns: This ingredient has been shown to irritate the skin with some individuals, and should be avoided by those with a perfume allergy. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has restricted the use Benzyl Benzoate in fragrances because of the potential dermal sensitization. In Europe, it is listed as an "allergenic" substance and the European Cosmetics Directiverequires OTC leave-on products to indicate its presence, even at concentrations of .001%.

Butylphenyl Methylpropional:

Purpose: Fragrance

Health concerns: The topical application of this ingredient has been shown to cause irritation and allergic reactions in many individuals. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has restricted its use in fragrances because of the potential dermal sensitization. The European Cosmetics Directive lists this ingredient as an "allergenic" substance, requires all cosmetic products containing it to indicate the presence of Butylphenyl Methylpropional.

Cetrimonium Chloride:

Purpose: Mainly used to prevent static and build-up in the hair. It can also cleanse the skin/hair and eliminate odor by preventing the growth of microorganisms, and by enabling water to mix with dirt and rinse it away. In addition, by reducing the surface tension of other ingredients and working to distribute and suspend insoluble solids in liquid, it helps form emulsions. This ingredient is mainly used in hair products such as hair dye, shampoo/conditioner, styling gel, mousse, detangler, dandruff treatment and relaxer.

Health concerns: The AFH library classifies this ingredient, and all other cationic surfactants, as irritating, allergenic, toxic and lethal if orally ingested. However, it provides very little evidence to support these claims. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel also observed evidence of dermal irritation with this ingredient. However, repeated patch tests of concentrations up to .25% did not demonstrate sensitization or allergic reaction, save for some minor irritation during induction. Furthermore, dermal exposure to 2% cetrimonium chloride produced no evidence of toxicity.  As a result, the CIR Expert Panel has assessed this ingredient as safe to use in cosmetics at concentrations up to .25%. The EU Cosmetics Directive allows it to be used at a maximum concentrations of .1%.


Purpose: Fragrance

Health concerns: Linalool gradually breaks down when in contact with oxygen, forming an oxidized by-product that may cause allergic reactions such as eczema in susceptible individuals. Between 5–7% of patients undergoing patch testing in Sweden were found to be allergic to the oxidized form of linalool.[1] Ways to minimize exposure include not buying large bottles of perfumed hygiene products, and replacing the lid after each use.

Citronellol and Geraniol:

Purpose: Citral and Geraniol are two main components of Hydroxycitronellal. Citral is used as a raw material in the synthesis ionone, a perfumery and flavoring component used in the production of retinol. Geraniol is a pheromone of certain species of bees, secreted by the scent glands of worker bees to signal the location of nectar-bearing flowers and the entrances to their hives. Geraniol is often used in insect repellent products.

Health concerns: A study showed that in aftershave, Hydroxycitronellal has caused facial psoriasis and it is a documented irritant, but only above 5% concentration; cosmetics are only approved for use under 1% concentration. There are some studies that show organ toxicity resulting from Hydroxycitronellal, according to Cosmetic Database, but the occurrence was low and only in rats.

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone:

Purpose: Fragrance

Health concerns: It’s been known to irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions for some people. After evaluating the potential side effects of Alpha-isomethyl Ionone, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) banned the ingredient from being mixed into fragrance products (i.e. perfume, cologne). But you can still find this ingredient in a variety of other cosmetics that are not categorized as a “fragrance.”

Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde:

Purpose: Fragrance

Health concerns: Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde has been used without restrictions in cosmetic products, until recently. According to a studypublished in Contact Dermatitis, in 16 of 18 cases (89%) of people with pre-existing eczema, an allergic reaction resulted from application of Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde. Of the 18 patients, 11 reacted to the low and 5 to the high concentration. Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde is identified as the cause of contact allergic reactions in 2-3% of eczema patients undergoing patch testing.

Polysorbate 20:

Purpose: Polysorbate 20 is used in cosmetics and skin care products as a surfactant, emulsifier, and fragrance ingredient. It is derived from Lauric Acid and is also a chemical mixture of sorbitol ethylene oxide, according to Wikipedia. It is sometimes derived from fruits and berries as well, leading to its fragrant properties. Polysorbate 20 can serve as a dispersing agent and mix oil and water, work as a fragrance solubilizer and stabilizer, act as a lubricator, and have a soothing effect on the skin (

Health concerns: The Cosmetics Database rates Polysorbate 20 as a low hazard ingredient, noting developmental and reproductive toxicity as concerns, but finding these results only in animals after high doses were administered. Lesser concerns regarding this ingredient are endocrine disruption, organ toxicity, and irritation, and one or more animal studies show skin irritation at moderate doses.

Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride:

Purpose: Anti static

Health concerns: It is not on any of GoodGuide’s lists of toxic chemicals which cause suspected or recognized health effects.
It has not been detected in human tissue or urine.
It is not a high production volume chemical that lacks safety data.

Tocopheryl Acetate: 

Purpose: Antioxidant and skin conditioning agent

Health concerns: Tocopheryl Acetate is considered a moderate hazard by the Cosmetics Database, which notes concerns regarding cancer, contamination ofhydroquinone (an FDA-restricted whitening compound), and organ system toxicity. The CIR finds that there is strong evidence that it is a human skin toxicant, and in vitro tests on mammalian cells showed positive mutation results, linking it to cancer.
It has also been determined that Tocopheryl Acetate is a skin sensitizer that can instigate immune system responses that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin, according to The Natural Skincare Authority. A study published in Contact Dermatitis found that four cases of contact dermatitis were caused by cosmetic creams that contained Tocopheryl Acetate.


Panthenol is the provitamin of B5 because and is used in cosmetics and beauty products primarily as a lubricant, emollient and moisturizer because of its ability to bind to the hair and penetrate the skin, providing both with lubrication and hydration (Wikipedia).
As an ingredient in shampoos and conditioners, Panthenol's binding properties allow it to coat and seal the hair follicles, lubricating the shaft and making the hair appear shiny. As an ingredient in skin products, Panthenol has been seen to improve hydration, reduce itching and inflammation of the skin and accelerate and improve healing of epidermal wounds; it is also often used in sunburn treatment products. According toresearch, when Panthenol is applied topically, it penetrates into lower skin layers, is absorbed into skin cells and processed into Pantothenic Acid (commonly known as Vitamin B5). Because it is absorbed deeply into the skin, it adds essential moisture.
Panthenol is also considered a potential acne treatment because of its absorption properties that can counteract bacteria and its anti-inflammatory properties (Source).

Health concerns: Pantenol is approved by the FDA and the CIR for use in cosmetics, and theCosmetics Database finds it to be a rating of 1, due to lack of data. It has been shown to be a skin irritant in some studies, but only at high levels of exposure, unlike the concentrations common in beauty products or cosmetics.

Niacinimide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and protects the skin from further UV damage. Too much melanin (which is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is responsible for both its color the skin’s absorption of UV rays) can result in age spots, freckles, and hyper-pigmentation. According to a study done by Proctor and Gamble, data revealed that 5% Niacinamide applied to the face for 12 weeks resulted in reductions of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). In addition, elasticity (as measured via cutometry) was improved.
"Topical application of Niacinamide has been shown to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in skin, prevent skin from losing water content, and stimulate microcirculation in the dermis" according to the British Journal of Dermatology in 2000.
Niacinamide serves as a precursor of NADH and NADPH, which are co-enzymes essential for numerous metabolic pathways and play a key role in metabolism of glucose, cellular energy production, and synthesis of lipids. The levels of these co-enzymes decrease with age, and topical Niacinamide appears to reverse the decline. Niacinamide is also shown to have some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Niacinamide is also used to treat acne, and in an 8 week study in which patients were treated with a 4% concentration Niacinamide gel, 82% of patients treated with Niacinamide were considered improved. There were no side effects. The research suggested that anti-inflammatory activity of Niacinamide may have contributed to its effect on acne ( In a similar rosacea study, 24 out of 36 patients showed improvement.

Health concerns: The EWG finds Niacinamide to be only 66% safe for use in cosmetics and beauty products, although it is CIR and FDA approved for use. Russian and Japanese studies, primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s on mice found it to be carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and caused genetic mutations.
Mainly used for its moisturizing and smoothing properties. It's believed to improve the texture in creams, and also add shine, manageability and body to the hair. BecauseBiotin is a necessary component to the growth and formation of cells, fatty acids and fats, a deficiency of the vitamin often leads to heart problems, skin rash and hair loss. For this reason, many believe that is has the ability to encourage hair growth. In actuality, not one scientific study has yet to prove this particular function, and topical application of Biotin is most likely ineffective considering the fact that it cannot penetrate the skin. Thus far, studies have mostly demonstrated its ability to make the hair more pliable and easy to comb. If looking to treat hair loss, a much better alternative to topical application would be a oral supplement (although even the benefits to biotin supplements remain unclear). Despite the fact that no current research supports the efficacy of this ingredient with regards to skin and hair care, you can still find it in a variety of products such as hair grooming gel, conditioner, shampoo and moisturizer.

*This post contains content from and

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