Zero tolerance

Toxicology is tough to grasp. It’s full of jargon like No-Adverse-Effect-Levels, Uncertainty Factors, and Acceptable Daily Intake. But, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has a simple solution – “Let’s not debate how much lead should be allowed in lipstick – just get the toxic chemicals out of our products!”

Yay! Go for it! – prohibit all the chemicals that have been “linked to” adverse effects such as cancer, neurotoxicity or birth defects. Don’t allow them to be used in any amount! Cool! I’m up to here in poison already!  Anyway, why DO cosmetics companies put lead in lipstick? Could it be because lead is naturally present in the iron oxide pigments that are used in almost all red lipsticks? Could it be that it’s only there in low parts per million? I guess I could try green lipstick…


[a]pyrene is not a cosmetic ingredient as such either, and actually I have no idea how much might be found in a typical cosmetic. What I do know is that it’s one of the most notorious carcinogens known. It’s one of many found in cigarette smoke. It’s totally bad, evil, nasty, and will give you cancer.

It’s also in everything you eat. Yes, everything, including vegetable oils. So, the zero-tolerance approach means no more vegetable oils in cosmetics. Or any other foody ingredients. No more coffee scrubs, no more chocolate body butter. The fact that the benzo[a]pyrene is only there at 1 or 2 parts per billion is irrelevant, right? We don’t want carcinogens in our cosmetics!!

Mmm…what else…Ah yes, fruits and fruit extracts. They all have acetaldehyde in them, in low parts per billion or parts per trillion. Acetaldehyde is another carcinogen. And fruits have benzo[a]pyrene too! I want NO MORE PRODUCTS with fruit extracts!! Antioxidants be damned!

And have you heard about phthalates!? I know, they are so…bad! And they are in everything, especially plastics, like the plastic tubing used in extracting citrus oils, which then leach out one part per million of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate into the essential oil. Even the certified organic ones. Who knew? So long citrus oils…

According to the CFSC, we should be watching out for linalool, because, as it says on the Skin Deep database, linalool is a “possible human immune system toxicant”. OK, so only 13 people out of 25,164 patch tested had an allergic reaction, but that’s not zero, and I want zero risk! I deserve it! Who knew that an allergic reaction counted as “immune system toxicity”, but I guess you could call it that if you really want to scare the shit out of people, and anyway skin allergy is an adverse reaction, and who needs that? Not me.

So, please, NO MORE ESSENTIAL OILS! OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, after all, linalool is only found in about 90% of essential oils, so some oils would still be OK. Unless they contain limonene, because that’s another “immune system toxicant.” OK, but that still only prohibits about 99% of essential oils. Maybe patchouli oil would still be OK…

Wow, this is difficult. I wonder if, instead of lay people and attorneys writing cosmetics legislation, it should be written by people who DO understand toxicology? Even better, people who understand toxicology AND natural products? I’m just saying…

By |2018-04-24T20:26:13+00:00August 21st, 2010|Rants|Comments Off on Zero tolerance

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  1. Diane Campbell August 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Heck yeah! I’m doing an intro to aromatherapy workshop tomorrow and I hope you don’t mind if I print this off and hand it around – I have such a soft spot for sarcasm (I suppose I ought to add that the spot is reserved for things I agree with). The main point I will try to make is that standardization and its diaspora are not always to be desired – a good essential oil requires competence at the source and not later quasi-protection – thank you for this post and now I will go back and try to get my mind around the toxic baby….

  2. Kayla Fioravanti August 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I’m for it…just think of all the things we could ban…maybe in the end we would be allowed to shower in distilled water — more of a rinse than an actually cleansing ritual. Of course everything in our homes and lives would be banned too.

  3. Kathy Parham August 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I LOVED it, but then I’m a chemistry person and know that terms like “all natural” includes things like uranium and feces…. and imply nothing with regard to safety or purity. Kinda reminds me of the big carbon debate….. evil carbon…… do you KNOW how most of it gets into the atmosphere? autos? NO….. factories? NO…. the ocean? YES!!!! because it is poluted? NO, the ocean has been a part of the natural carbon cycle for as long as there has been life in the ocean. But now the term carbon has been demonized…. everything can’t just be brought down to some simple term, folks need to use a little common sense!

  4. Donna Maria Coles Johnson August 23, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Interesting post, Robert. My guest on today’s podcast spoke of this issue, sort of like lawmakers and consumer groups are posturing for us to all live in a bubble with, well, nothing. It’s so ludicrous. As people starve the world over with literally nothing, they are worried about ppb of this or that in essential oils, which are some of the most amazing things nature has ever produced. I do hope the nonsense stops, and I’m doing all I can toward that end with people like you and others who stand for truth and sensibility.

  5. Chaeya August 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Ha ha, Robert! So when people come to my booth, I’ll just tell to “pick their poison.”

  6. Cindy Jones August 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    There ought to be a law that nobody can write a law involving banning substances unless they have some kind of basic understanding of the substances they want banned. It’s just obvious that the CFSC has no idea what they are talking about. They ought to be banned; they have done alot to increase my stress level and I know stress is linked to cancer as well as heart disease. Who’s with me on banning CFSC?

  7. Irena Marchu October 20, 2010 at 12:12 am

    The problem I see is that the average John or Jane don’t have enough knowledge on the subject, so they get it off the net. The article they see might be written in such a way that on the surface it might be beliavable. So John & Jane read it and decide that since this article is on the net, that it must be true. The article has no substantiated data to truly prove whether some things are really bad for you or are beneficial to our bodies. There are no research data posted, no small scale trials, just the words of some person that wants to get across only his view, elbeit not correct. I’ve worked with Aromatherapy for a very long time and I know that I will never know everything there is to know about this subject.I will talk about the things that I do know; from experience,reading well known books wriiten by well respected authors and taking more seminars or classes from people who are respected and knowledgable in this field and have knowledge to share. I love to learn more. There is always more to learn. It never ends. Robert, I wish you the best in your house in Ojaj. It’s a lovely area, that I used to visit often when in Santa Barbara.

  8. Virginia May 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This was a hoot! I agree that the all or nothing approach to chemicals is complete non-sense. There are things worth putting energy into, such as getting aspertame banned as a food additive, but that gets the green light. God forbid, we’ve got to drink something that won’t make us fat while we comb the internet for danger lurking in our handcream.

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