nasty thing #1

Natural beauty, meet your public enemy no.1.

Name: 1,4 Dioxane.

Appearance: invisible (cannot be found on ingredients labels).

Last seen: in any product containing the word “eth.”


I learned about 1,4-Dioxane (which although it sounds vaguely like the name of a metal band, definitely isn’t) from reading “The Green Beauty Guide,” by Julie Gabriel.

1,4 Dioxane is a cancer-causing petrochemical (according to the EPA) present as a contaminant in tons of baby and adult products. It’s even on California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act list of chemicals suspected to cause cancer and birth defects. WHAAAAAA???? Worse- when animals (poor things) were tested with 1,4 Dioxane at the lowest parts per billion level over their lifetimes, they developed cancer. True, we are much bigger than animals. But still…is this something we want anywhere NEAR our bodies, ladies?

But here’s the thing. Just like formaldehyde (sneaked into your favorite cleanser by way of formaldehyde releasers) 1,4 Dioxane isn’t going to show up on your ingredients label. Why? It’s simply a byproduct of a process called ethoxylation, which (ironically) is used to make harsh products milder.

The FDA is measuring 1,4 Dioxane levels, but ultimately has no power to recall products containing it, or to force the cosmetic industry to ban this process.

So how can you tell if your beauty products contain this nasty? If it has “eth” in the name, it is likely to test positive for 1,4 Dioxane.

Unfortunately, nearly all products, even ones claiming to be ‘organic’ and ‘natural,’ are likely to contain some kind of “eth.” So I do my best to pick only products that are all-natural by checking the ingredients list. I have a few products that contain “eth” chemicals, because, let’s face it…it’s pretty hard to cut out ALL synthetic ingredients…especially in just two weeks, which is for as long as I’ve been trying.

The moral of the story, again, is to basically avoid buying products which contain names you can’t pronounce. Easier said than done, but…hey, that’s what you’ve got this blog for!

And although public enemy no. 1 is still out there, let’s end on a positive note: an article of mine on eco-beauty recently got published at elephant journal! Check it out!

I’d appreciate it!


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