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What else is in your cosmetics?

We use soaps, shampoo, bodywash, detergents on a regular basis and what’s all-too-common in all these products is a toxic chemical called 1,4-dioxane. This is not an intentional ingredient, but an accidental by-product of the ethoxylation process (which makes products more water soluble) in the manufacture of cosmetics and personal care items.

Why the concern about 1,4-dioxane? The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states this chemical can possibly cause cancer in humans. For its part, Health Canada is saying that there is no cause for concern when people are exposed to this chemical through the use of cosmetics and other consumer products.

The public is generally not aware of the presence of 1,4-dioxane in the products they use because, as a contaminant, it does not have to be listed on the product label. Though it is usually present in very small amounts, there is the possibility that it may be present in higher concentrations in some products.

How do we know if this chemical is in our cosmetics and other consumer products? Look for the following ingredients on the product label: PEG, polyethylene, polyoxyethylene, polyethoxyethylene, polyoxynolethylene,polyethylene glycol”

The presence of sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), an ingredient used for foaming properties, may also indicate that there is 1,4-dioxane in your product. Other warnings alerting consumers to contamination with 1,4 dioxane may include:

  • keep out of the reach of children
  • requiring adult supervision

Some products on the market now indicate that they are free of 1,4-dioxane – keep an eye out for these.

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