READ THE LABEL!!!
In the chaotic world that we live in today, the phrase ‘read the label’ is suppose to help one know what is good for us or bad for us. This is most common in the purchase of food products, hair, skin, nail products, lotions, etc. The list goes on and on, to even include the labels in the clothes you buy.
If you have any health issues and are restricted in what you can or cannot eat, reading the label becomes a necessity. The only foods you do not have to ‘read the label’ on are organic whole foods. If you consume a lot of canned, boxed, or packaged food items it is a good idea to ‘read the label.’ What exactly is on the label? On food are the ingredients, to include the base food, veggie, or meat that is recognizable – but what about the ingredients you do not recognize.
I want to make this an ongoing blog to help you learn ‘label’ terminology, one blog at a time for different product labeling.
Today, I will start with a HAND CREAM. The front of the container I have tells me it is a Therapeutic Hand Cream. It is good for pain relief in minutes, smells ‘Great’, and has a ‘Sweet Pea’ fragrance. The back of the container lists the Drug Facts, Active Ingredients, the Purpose, and the Inactive Ingredients. Like many containers, you can barely read the information because of the small print. This being the case now, I am using a magnifying glass. The information is as follows:
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Trolamine Salicylate 10.0%….to be used as a Topical Analgesic – which means something that is only to be put on the skin, not ingested. What is Trolamine Salicylate? We know it is not something we recognize. My research tells me ‘trolamine salicylate (Aspercreme, Aspergel) is an organic compound which is the salt formed between triethanolamine and salicylic acid. (to my knowledge salicylic acid is used to remove moles, warts and I don’t know what else). This ingredient is used widely in sunscreens, analgesic creams, and other cosmetics. What the label doesn’t tell you is that is has side effects or what they are. In general, ‘trolamine salicylate topical has been safe to use, but salicylate type side effects a person could encounter include: tinnitus, nausea, and/or vomiting, and a rash irritation.
The label goes on to state the ALLERGY ALERT; Give DIRECTIONS as to what to do and how to use it; WARNS you to see a doctor if you have a reaction to the product; states the PREGNANCY/BREAST-FEEDING warning, and the KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN warning.
Last, but not least, the label lists what the manufacturer calls the INACTIVE INGREDIENTS. Lets see what they are and if you recognize them:
ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF – this is the most familiar and recognized of the Aloe plant – which is also called Aloe Vera. This is one of hundreds of species of this plant. This species is most known as a medicinal plant that provides a gel that is beneficial for burns and other skin ailments.
ARNICA MONTANA FLOWER EXTRACT – is an herb, known naturally to reduce/relieve pain. I use it and it does relieve pain.
BUTYLENE GLYCOL – what is this? It is a chemical compound known as 1,3-butanediol – a colorless organic alcohol used as a solvent (helps other products dissolve in water), as a viscosity-decreasing agent (to thin creams and gels so they are easier to use), and as a conditioning agent. You also need to know that it is derived from petroleum. However, the FDA has deemed it safe to use.
BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (Shea Butter) – Shea Butter is a fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. From what most of you probably already know, this is a safe ingredient. It is all natural.
C13-14 ISOPARAFFIN – this is a paraffin hydrocarbon of branched-chain structure which comes from crude oil (a motor oil product). I don’t think I want this on my hands, face or body.
CAPRYLYL GLYCOL – this, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “the radical C7H15CO of caprylic acid – called also octanoyl.” Caprylic acid is an eight carbon saturated fatty acid found in the milk of some mammals, as well as palm and coconut oils. “It is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. It is classified as a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) with potent antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties,” according to Healthline. However, Caprylyl Glycol can also be synthetically produced.The label doesn’t tell you whether it is produced by natural means or synthetically.
CARBOMER – Scientifically, this is a man made chemical compound made from acrylic acid. The Carbomers are white, fluffy powders, but are frequently used as gels in cosmetic products. Carbomers are added to products to help distribute or suspend an insoluble solid in a liquid. As well, they are used to keep emulsions from separating into their oil and liquid components.
CETEARYL ALCOHOL – helps prevent creams from separating into oil and liquid. It is commonly known as an emulsifier. It is an alcohol ingredient that can cause the product it is in to have side effects to include burning, stinging, redness, etc. However, in this form it is claimed by the FDA and scientific studies to be the least dangerous of the alcohols. Products that say ‘Alcohol Free’ may still have a little of this alcohol in it (but will not be listed among the ingredients.)
CETYL ALCOHOL – this is one you see a lot. Again, it helps prevent creams from separating into oil and liquid. It may also increase the product’s ability to foam. However, it is an alcohol and has been known to lead to cases of contact dermatitis. You will also see it as an ingredient in lubricants, insecticides and detergents.
EMU OIL – is an oil derived from adipose tissue harvested from certain subspecies of the emo, a flightless bird indigenous to Australia. It is an unadulterated oil, can vary in color and viscosity from an off-white creamy texture to a thin yellow liquid, depending on the diet of the emu and the refining method of the oil. Sounds to me like it is a safe oil.
FRAGRANCE – has nothing on the label. However, on the front of the container it says ‘Sweet Pea Fragrance’.
LAURETH-7 – is a synthetic compound obtained by the extensive chemical modification of Lauric Acid, a natural fatty acid, and Oxirane. It is used as an emulsifier and surfactant in the formulation of a variety of bath, eye, facial, hair, cleansing and sunscreen products, as well as cuticle softeners, deodorants and moisturizing products. There are many Laureth’s. The CIR expert panel has conducted research on only 2 other of the many, but made an inclusive approval of all Laureths, including this one, for use in cosmetics. (When only 3 have been researched – my question is how can that vouch for all the rest.) Note: a by-product of ethoxylation, may be found in the Laureth ingredients. It can cause side effects. Supposedly this potential is controlled through purification steps to remove it before blending.
METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE ((MSM) – According to Wikipedia, “MSM is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO2. It is also known by several other names including methyl sulfone and dimethyl sulfone. This colorless solid features the sulfonyl functional group and it considered relatively inert chemically. It occurs naturally in some primitive plants, is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages, and is marketed as a dietary supplement. It is sometimes used as a cutting agent for illicitly manufactured methamphetamine.” I am concerned about this ingredient.
OLEA EUROPAEA – Olive Fruit Oil. This is an oil from the Olive Tree. A no brainer here. Olive oil has many beneficial uses.
PHENOXYETHANOL – is a germicidal and germistatic glycol ether, phenol ether, and aromatic alcohol often used together with quaternary ammonium compounds. It is used as a preservative, but note that it has side effects to include affecting the central nervous system – causing respiratory depression, vomiting and diarrhea.
POLYACRYLAMIDE – Polyacrylamide is used as a stabilizer and binder in lotions and other products. Though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen and has been linked to mammary tumors. (Britannica)
PURIFIED WATER – speaks for itself.
SALIX ALBA (WILLOW BARK) EXTRACT – The bark of Salix alba is used for pain. Other Salix species may have a higher salicylate content, but S. alba is the most well-studied of the genus and of the salicylate-containing herbs in general which can reduce or alleviate pain.
TOCOPHERYL ACETATE – (it was misspelled on the label) Tocopheryl acetate is a form of vitamin E, a natural skin-conditioning agent and antioxidant. It is the ester of acetic acid and tocopherol and is often used as an alternative to pure tocopherol (or undiluted vitamin E) because it is considered more stable and less acidic. Tocopheryl acetate is often found in skin care products and dietary supplements.
Warning: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that vitamin E acetate is a very strong culprit of concern in the 2019 outbreak of vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI), but there is not yet sufficient evidence to rule out contributions from other chemicals. This is one you need to do your own research on.
TRIETHANOLAMINE – Triethanolamine: is an organic compound that is comprised of ethylene oxide and ammonia. This chemical compound is commonly found in a number of cosmetic products and is also used in several different medical applications. Triethanolamine is an amine considered highly toxic when combined with ammonia (another known toxin). It is used as a buffering agent, masking and fragrance ingredient, and surfactant, in addition to its primary use as a pH adjuster. Triethanolamine is used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products, including eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blushers, make-up bases and foundations, as well as in fragrances, hair care products, hair dyes, wave sets, shaving products, sunscreen and etc. WOW! I don’t want this on my body anywhere.
That’s it folks. I guess they save the worst for last thinking you won’t read that far down.
The saying goes….if you can’t pronounce it don’t use it. After doing all this research, what is left in this container of “Therapeutic Hand Cream ” is going in the garbage. Note: It never did say where the SWEET PEA FRAGRANCE came from.
There will always be the good with the bad. You have to decide for yourself how a product might not, or will affect you. READ THE LABEL.