They SAY It's Good For Your Skin! (Part 3)

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by Christine Wolfe
updated 12 months ago

Published on: October 19, 2003
article reprinted from

#14. Methylparaben is also known as methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate; Nipagin M; Tegosept M; Methyl Chemosept and Methyl Parasept. "Parabens are derived from benzoic acid, which is commonly found in plants such as the gum benzoin tree [(Styrax benzoin)] ...cherry [genus Prunus] bark, raspberries [genus Rubus], tea [(Camellia sinensis)], anise [(Pimpinella anisum)], and cassia [(Cassia fistula)] bark...". Some sources state that it is a derivative of PABA (Para-AminoBenzoic Acid).

Methylparaben is used by the cosmetic industry as a anti-fungal and/or anti-microbial preservative.

It has no hazard rating; however, if you are allergic to PABA, you might well be allergic to methylparaben, since they are chemical relatives. doesn't list it as a poison.

#15. Ethylparaben is a synthetic compound which is also known as ethyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, p-ethylhydroxybenzoate; 4-hydroxybenzoic acid ethyl ester; Nipagin A; Solbrol A; ethyl parasept and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid ethyl ester.

It is used by the cosmetic industry as an anti-fungal preservative.

In its pure form, ethylparaben...

is neither a carcinogen nor a teratogen.

is flammable.

is incompatible with strong oxidizing agents and strong bases.


It's unknown if it is toxic or not. However, one rat out of two died when fed 3 grams of ethylparaben. The same amount killed one out of two mice, whereas it took 5 grams to kill one of two rabbits. It sure looks like ethylparaben has been tested on lab animals, so any product saying that it hasn't been tested on animals which contains ethylparaben is being less than honest.

It can be a respiratory irritant.

You must avoid getting it in your eyes.

You must avoid getting it on your skin!

It's getting sort of boring, isn't it?

#16. Propylparaben "is the ester of n-propyl alcohol and p-hydroxybenzoic acid." It is also known as n-Propil-p-hidroxi-benzo�t, pHB propil�szter (Magyar); pHB n-propylester (UK); p-hydroxybenzoate de propyle, ester propylique de l'acide p-hydroxybenzoique (French)

In appearance, it is an off-white powder.

Its use in the cosmetic industry is that of a preservative.

In its pure form, propylparaben...

is flammable.

is explosive if in the form of concentrated dust.

may re-act with strong oxidizing agents.

may irritate your respiratory system as a dust if you breathe it in (you must go outside; you may need oxygen or artificial respiration; you will need medical help).

may be a poison (you must check with a doctor if you swallow it). However, seems to think it is safe to use in food.

may irritate your eyes (you must flush them with water for 15 minutes if you get the pure form in them; if irritation does develop, you will need medical help). RITA Corporation's safety sheet indicates the need for an eye wash station if you are propylparaben!

may be bad for your skin! Cosmetic-industry chemists must wear protective gloves. If contact does occur, you must wash with soap and water; if that doesn't work, you must seek the help of a doctor. RITA Corporation's safety sheet also indicates the need for a safety shower in the work area.

It seems almost as though the manufacturer of this product went out of its way to include chemicals which, in their pure form at least, are not to be put on anyone's skin!

#17. Diazolidinyl urea is a formaldehyde-releasing anti-microbial preservative used in cosmetics which may or may not be derived from animals. It is also known as:

N,N'-Bis (hydroxy-methyl) urea N-(1,3-Bis(hydroxymethyl)-2,5-dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl)- diazolidinylurea Urea, N-(1,3-bis(hydroxymethyl)-2,5-dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl-N,N'-bis (hydroxymethyl)- 1-(1,3-Bis (hydroxymethyl-2,5-dioxoimidazolidin-4-iyl)-1,3-bis(hydroxymethyl)urea

One conclusion I have drawn from all these names is that chemical names suffer from the same diversity of spelling as archaic forms of English!

Just why is formaldehyde so dangerous? Let me count the ways!

1. It is extremely flammable!

2. Gas/air mixtures of it are explosive!

3. If you breathe it, formaldehyde can produce a burning sensation, coughing, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, wheezing, and other kinds of irritation of your nose, throat and respiratory system!

4. If you breathe it in, you may develop nasal cancer: It is considered to be a potential occupational carcinogen!

5. If you get it in your eyes, you may experience tearing (lacrimation), redness, pain and blurred vision!

6. Any Aspertame you eat may cause formaldehyde to be released within you!

That's six reasons to have nothing to do with either formaldehyde or anything which produces it!

#18. BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a phenolic man-made compound used by the cosmetic industry to prevent fats from going rancid and as an anti-discoloring (anti-oxidant) agent. You may find the related BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) "in butter, meats, cereals, chewing gum, baked goods, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes and beer. It is also found in animal feeds, food packaging, rubber and petroleum products."

It is also known as:

2,6-Di-t-butyl-p-cresol 2,6-di-tert-butyl p-cresol 2,6-bis(1,1-dimethyl)-4-methylphenol and methyl di-tert-butyl phenol

The Australian NHSC states:

"[BHT and BHA] can provoke an allergic reaction in some people, may trigger hyperactivity and other intolerance and serious concerns over carcinogenicity and estrogenic effects exist. In large doses caused tumors in lab animals. Official committees of experts recommended this it be banned in the UK."

In its pure form, BH

re-acts unfavorably with acid chlorides, acid anhydrides, brass, copper, other copper alloys, steel, bases and oxidizing agents;

is flammable;

is a possible carcinogen;

may cause reproductive defects;

can be teratogenic if you eat food-grade BHT; its addition to food is restricted but not banned; and

shouldn't touch your skin!

Surprise! Surprise!

#19. Fragrance This is very hard to research since the fragrance industry doesn't make it easy to find out much about them. You might look at it in the same way as glycerin: Since some components may be derived from plants you are allergic to, you may have an unfavorable re-action to fragrance components. It's impossible to know.

My experience with fragrances has been good, so far. If I use talc containing talcum and fragrance, I get no little, red, itchy spots. This means that the fragrance used in talc is safe for me.


I'm making my own moisturizer from now on!

Christine Wolfe, Contributing Editor,

Article originally printed at

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