What's In It Wednesday: Reader Request

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



I was at Starbucks having coffee and conversation with my friend, Christine, a couple weeks ago. She told me about a sample of a Lancome cream she had been given and asked me to take a look at it for What's in It Wednesday. I sampled a jar thanks to my local Lancome counter beauty advisor and wanted to check out the hype. It does feel nice on the skin (tested only on my hand), but is it healthy and effective? Christine, here you go!


The product comes in a luxurious jar with golden cap. For only $145, Lancome Absolue Night Premium Fix can be yours!

What is in this miracle product?



Let's Look:

Water

Cyclopentasiloxane--Conditioning Agent; Questionable. There is some concern, as lab studies have shown this ingredient to cause uterine tumors in female lab rats, as well as changes in the liver

Petrolatum--Petrolatum was banned in the EU in 2004, as it then became classified officially as a carcinogen. This is part of the UNECE 2004-EU's Dangerous Substances Directive (which is viewable on the official EU site and list of regulatory links). In September 2004 the ban went through and the sale of products containing petrolatum is prohibited unless the manufacturer can provide the completely refining history, that it is free of any contaminants, and that it does not come from a carcinogen. It may be sold only if "...the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen." (Source: UNECE 2004).




You see, the Food and Drug Administration does limit the amount of petrolatum when it comes to using it in food or medication. However, there is no regulation at all in terms of how much can be used in cosmetics and toiletries. That's how Vaseline is still sold in the US. You may also remember when it came to light in early 2007 that several dozen popular baby products on US shelves from brands like Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, and L'Oreal were contaminated with a known carcinogen called 1,4 Dioxane. PAHs fall into the same league as 1,4 Dioxane. You don't want to be applying this toxin on your face--or anywhere.


Glyceryl Stearate--emulsifier

PEG-100 Stearate--Avoid PEG ingredients at all costs. They are known to be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, one of the most toxic ingredients ever, according to published statements by the FDA. Known carcinogen.

PEG-120--See above.

Polyacrylamide-- a binder which in itself is OK, but there is a strong link between this and contamination from Acrylamide, a very harmful toxin. Avoid it.

Cetearyl Glucoside-- a harmless surfactant

Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol--skin conditioner

Phenoxyethanol--paraben-free preservative

Paraffin-- derived from crude oil, this petrochemical is a possible carcinogen

Glycerin--humectant

C13-14 Isoparaffin-- also derived from crude oil

Propylene Glycol--is used in conjunction with other chemical ingredients as a preservative. It is also found in products to make it easier for other added ingredients to penetrate the skin. This ingredient has been shown in studies to aggravate skin conditions such as eczema. This derivitave of mineral oil is considered a petrochemical. There are many different grades of PG: industrial grade is found in anti-freeze. Some will tell you that skin care products with propylene glycol just like anti-freeze. This isn't true--the kind in cosmetics is cosmetics grade. That being said, can cause contact dermatitis, especially in such a very high concentration.

Methylparaben-- This particular paraben is used in water-containing products as a preservative. A study 5 years ago in the Journal of Applied Toxicology linked parabens to breast cancer as they may be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth. While the jury is still out on paraben safety, I personally find the links too strong and have been paraben free for almost 3 years now.


Dimethiconol--harmless emollient


Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethanesulfonic Acid-- this is a scary-sounding, but harmless buffering agent


Fragrance-- While we all like things to smell nice. In skin care, though, artificial fragrance accounts for nearly all adverse reactions to the products.


Potassium Cetyl Phosphate--emulsifier and surfactant


Dimethyl Isosorbide--solvent


Ceteareth-25-- a harmful surfactant which is linked to 1,4 Dioxane contamination. Avoid all
"-eth" ingredients, as they may be contaminated with this deadly toxin.


Octyldodecanol-- fragrance component

Butyrospernum Parkii-- Shea Butter

Dioscorea Villosa-- Wild Yam Root Extract

Hexyldecanol-- the ingredient (skin conditioning) in and of itself is harmless, however it is considered an exotoxin and harmful to the earth


Tetrasodium EDTA--in very, very small concentrations, this is harmless. You don't want it anywhere near the top of this list, though. More research should be done on this one.


Laureth-7--a harmful surfactant which is linked to 1,4 Dioxane contamination. Avoid all "-eth" suffixes in your skin care for this reason.


Triethanolamine-- emulsifier and pH adjuster; can beespecially hazardous when combined with Diazolidinyl Urea. Studies have shown that a large number of cosmetics with TEA (short for Triethanolamine) are contaminated with Nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. Also avoid labels which say TEA Lauryl Sulfate, as it's the same thing. TEA is also very acidic.



Ethylparaben--used to preserve the product and protect it from yeasts and molds, this is unsafe. It is a potential toxin and carcinogen linked to cancers and endocrine system toxicity.


Tocopherol-- Vitamin E


Hydrolyzed Lupine Protein--UV absorber and skin conditioner


Capryloyl Salicylic Acid--skin conditioner; don't confuse it with beta hydroxy acid as in the ingredient "salicylic acid"


Padina Pavonica Extract--a skin conditioner AKA "Peacock's Tail Extract"


Cetearyl Alcohol--a fatty conditioner


Adenosine--a fairly irritating skin conditioner


Hydrolyed Soy Protein--a wonderful skin condtioner


Malt Extract--harmless skin conditioner


FD & C Yellow #6--Like most FD & C colors, this is very questionable. It is restricted in many countries. It is deemed unsafe for use near the eye area as well. Concern about links between FD & C colorants and cancer have been present for years. I would avoid.

FD & C Yellow #5-- Contains Tartrazine, which is deemed unsafe for use in cosmetics. Concern about links between FD & C colorants and cancer have been present for years. I would avoid. This is extremely sensitizing and cause hives quite easily in people with mildly sensitive skin.

FD & C Red #4--this additive is actually not approved by the FDA for use around the eyes or in cosmetics, yet it has found its way into the product. Not good.

Alcohol Denat.--is denatured alcohol. The dictionary defines denatured alcohol as "Ethyl alcohol to which a poisonous substance, such as acetone or methanol, has been added to make it unfit for consumption." This is the very first ingredient in this product. This is not a benign fatty alcohol to soften skin. This is harsh alcohol and I have no idea why Lancome added it to a "luxury" product.

Hydrogenated Polyisobutene--skin conditioner, not as bad as the name makes it sound

Carnauba Wax-- Although OK on the skin, this is derived from Carnauba Palm. It's from Brazil where the threat to orangutans isn't as strong. That being said, I no longer use it because I cannot be certain it is sustainable ("sustainable") still a regulated cosmetics and skin care term and there isn't any oversight in the industry.


Silica--this is absorbent and anti-caking. When used in small concentrations, it is perfectly harmless. Inhaling a large amount would be of great concern. While I have assessed the safety, I still take precautions when I work with it (using a mask). That being said, I have seen this used my a major cosmetics company in their face powder at a rate of 100%! Their powder is pure silica and that is unsafe. In this cream and in small amounts when blended with other ingredients, it is nothing to worry about.

Cyclohexasiloxane-- skin conditioner, emollient



The Bottom Line:

Lancome is following in the footsteps of La Mer, offering consumers a cream well over $100 and full of crude oil derivatives, toxins, and artificial fragrance and colors. I would not recommend this product. If you must have this product, keep in mind that L'Oreal owns Lancome and offers products with very similar ingredients. The closest equivalent to this by L'Oreal is the Age Perfect Pro Calcium Night Cream. It contains the same petrochemicals and parabens, in addition to the wild yam and soy. Truth be told, the L'Oreal looks like the much better alternative. It also contains squalane as the #2 ingredient and nourishing honey. It costs under $20.
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