Skin Care: No Carcinogens, Please
by Marie-Andrée Guimont
published May 07, 2012
rating: (20 Ratings)
Why Attitude is revisiting its ingredients list
Studies keep on revealing harmful chemicals and ingredients found in our everyday products, but there are so many, we can barely keep up! Dioxane, oxide, ethylene... where to begin, and how does one break down this science? We recently discovered a new range of skin care products free of carcinogens, including 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. Curious, we spoke with Hans Drouin, Vice President of research and development at Bio Spectra, maker of Attitude products.
The use of 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide in body care products is prohibited in Canada, being described as potentially carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. That said, according to Attitude, these compounds can actually be formed during the manufacturing of certain formulas, so they don’t necessarily appear on the list of ingredients.
The answers to our questions
How have you come to make sure that your new skin care products are free of these carcinogens?
"We first do an extensive study of our ingredients, which are all plant-based. We watch how they react, and we make sure that it is impossible that 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide will be synthesized. We also require certifications that confirm this from our suppliers, and we then send our final products to be tested in an external laboratory. We became aware of this when developing our personal care products, and are now in process of reviewing the ingredients of our household products, as well."
People often lump eco-friendly, organic and carcinogen-free products in the same category. In your opinion, why is it important to be aware of the impact everyday products have on our health?
"What surprised and shocked us was a study conducted by the Organic Consumer Association, which examined the composition of organic products and discovered traces of 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. Consumers are supposed to have faith in these products, so we decided to push our research efforts to ensure that these [carcinogens] won’t be found in our products. "
What other compounds and carcinogenic by-products should consumers be wary of?
"There’s 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, but also ingredients starting with PEG. There are also polysorbates, which are contaminated through their synthesis. There are petrochemical derivatives, nitrogen-contaminated products… but it just gets complicated for the consumer. As a reference, I recommend the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website. You simply type in an ingredient in the search bar, easily obtaining its health risks."
Among the new range of body care products, which are you most proud?
"The shampoos, since they have a performance comparable to—or even better—than regular products, with quality ingredients. The body lotion also received excellent feedback. We thus demonstrated to consumers that our products are good and effective, and that they represent an excellent alternative."