Ingredients we would never use

What They Are and Why We Do Not Use Them

At Unica we use only organic & 100% natural ingredients and we would never use many of the ingredients found in most skincare products even in some of those marketed as natural or organic.
By now most of us are aware that a large part of what we massage into our skin ends up in the bloodstream. Here below we have listed some of the ingredients that you will never find in our products. Bear in mind that this is only a partial list of the thousands of chemicals commonly used. Let’s have a look at them:

Silicone derived emollients
Silicone emollients are occlusive - that is they coat the skin, trapping anything beneath it, and do not allow the skin to breathe (much like plastic wrap would do.)
Recent studies have indicated that prolonged exposure of the skin to sweat, by occlusion, causes skin irritation. Some synthetic emollients are known tumor promoters and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. They are also non-biodegradable, causing negative environmental impact.
Also known as:
Dimethicone, Dimethicone Copolyol, Cyclomethicone .

Sodium lauryl sulfate SLS
Sodium lauryl sulfate SLS is an anionic surfactant used in many cleaning and hygiene products, like toothpastes, shampoos, and shaving foams. It is a widely used foaming agent in bath product formulations.
Animals exposed to SLS and ALS experience eye damage, central nervous system depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS and ALS because proteins are dissolved. SLS and ALS may also damage the skin's immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. It is frequently disguised in semi-natural cosmetics with the explanation "comes from coconut".The irritating factor in SLS can be attributed to its degreasing ability, which not only removes dirt but also the protective fat on the skin and mucous membranes. A clinical study found SLS toothpaste caused a higher frequency of aphthous ulcers than both cocoamidopropyl betaine or a detergent-free paste, on 30 patients with frequent occurrences of such ulcers.
Also known as:
sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium dodecyl sulphate . SLS can also be disguised with names like anionic or anion-active surfactants.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
Detergents and surfactants widely used in personal care products such as shampoos and foaming bath products. Although reported to be milder than Sodium Lauryl sulfate, when combined with other chemicals, SLES and ALES can create nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. They are Ethoxylated surfactants.

Ethoxylated compounds
Are widely used in cosmetics as foaming agents, emulsifiers and humectants. As part of the manufacturing process the toxic chemical 1,4-dioxane, a potent carcinogen, is generated. On the label, they are identified by the prefix "PEG", "polyethylene", "polyethylene glycol", "polyoxyethylene", "-eth-", or "-oxynol-". Therefore also Phenoxyethanol and Phenoxyglycerin (containing 90% phenoxyethanol and 10% Ethylhexylglycerinl) are ethoxylated compounds.

DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), & TEA (triethanolamine)
They are ethanolamines and are produced by ethylene oxide and ammonia.
They are often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and they occur together with treated fatty acids as emulsifiers and foam stabilizers in cleansers. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated skin applications . . . of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.
Although DEA itself may be used in few products, DEA-related ingredients such as oleamide DEA, lauramide DEA and cocamide DEA are widely used as emulsifiers or foaming ingredients and generally used at levels of 1 to 5 percent. Today, Cocamide DEA has largely been replaced by cocamidpropyl betaine, a surfactant widely used in children´s bath products to mitigate the impact of the more irritating surfactants. Cocamidpropyl betaine can also cause allergic reactions, which is believed to be due to contamination by amines.
From Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS):
Health Hazard Acute And Chronic: Product is severely irritating to body tissues and possibly corrosive to the eyes.
Explanation Carcinogenicity: Amines react with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.

Paraben preservatives (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl)
Parabens are still the most common preservative in personal care products, even if many consumers are now avoiding products containing parabens because of alarming reports in the early 2000s.
Parabens have been found to cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis and Rosacea in susceptible individuals, but the main concern is its estrogenic and potentially carcinogenic effects.
British researchers found preservatives in samples of breast tumors. Twenty breast tumors were analized and in 18 samples high concentrations of para-hydroxy-benzoic acid (parabens) were found.
Parabens have also displayed the ability to mimic estrogen, a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.

Phenoxyethanol is a clear and colorless oily liquid with a mild floral scent produced by the reaction of phenol (a toxic white crystalline powder that’s created from benzene) and the known carcinogen ethylene oxide.
Phenoxyethanol has high penetration ability and is often used as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. Because of its antibacterial effect it is widly used in detergents.
Phenoxyethanol has become the popular alternative for manufacturers who wish to remove parabens and is used by many so called natural and organic skin care brands. According to Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, phenoxyethanol affected brain and nervous system in animals at moderate doses. In 1990 Journal of the American College of Toxicology reported that phenoxyethanol also acts as an endocrine disruptor that also caused damage to bladder and acute pulmonary edema in animals. Early 1980s studies also suggest that phenoxyethanol can cause DNA mutations in animals.
Phenoxyethanol is a scientifically proven irritant to human skin and eyes.
In the US, the FDA warned about an ointment containing Phenoxyethanol, marketed to nursing mothers with sore nipples, that can cause respiratory diseases, diarrhea and vomiting in children.
Surprisingly, the Soil Association, the organic certification body in the UK permits the use of phenoxyethanol in products that it certifies organic..
Phenoxyglycerin is a ”new” preservative on the market based on 90% Phenoxyethanol and 10% Ethylhexylglycerin.
From Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS):
Phenoxyethanol is a strong eye and skin irritant and is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
It is toxic to the kidneys, nervous system and liver, and repeated or prolonged exposure may cause damage to these organs. Repeated or prolonged inhalation of vapours can cause chronic irritation of the respiratory system.
Phenoxyethanol may cause reproductive defects.
Ingestion of Phenoxyethanol can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, convulsions, collapse and coma.
Also known as:
2-phenoxyethanol; phenoxyethanol; phenoxyethyl alcohol; 1-hydroxy-2-phenoxyethane; phenoxytol; phenoxytolarosol; ethylene glycol monophenyl ether; beta-hydroxyethyl phenyl ether; rose ether.

Sodium benzoate (E 211)
Sodium benzoate is a preservative and is the sodium salt of benzoic acid (benzoate).
In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate form benzene, a known carcinogen. Heat, light and shelf life can affect the rate at which benzene is formed. This combination is found in soft drinks, jams and marmalade as well as in some liquid food supplements and skin care products, including those marketed as organic and health promoting (especially in products contining aloe vera extract).
Professor Peter W Piper of the University of Sheffield claims that sodium benzoate by itself can damage and inactivate vital parts of DNA in a cell's mitochondria. There are many illnesses now tied to DNA damage, including Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but above all, the aging process in general.[10][11]
Research published in 2007 for the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that certain artificial colours, when paired with sodium benzoate (E211) may be linked to hyperactive behaviour. Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, and author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children. (Wikepedia)
Sodium benzoate in foods may also cause hayfever and hives and there are suspicions that benzoic acid and benzoates may be linked to the rising prevalence of asthma in children.
Sodium benzoate is sometimes disguised with expressions such as mild preservation or preserved with an approved food additive.
Preservatives related to Sodium Benzoate are: benzoic acid (E 210), potassium benzoate (E 212) and calcium benzoate (E 213).
Also known as:
benzoic acid sodium salt, sodium salt benzoic acid

Formaldehyde is a coluorless gas with a characteristic pungent odour.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Causes allergic, irritant and contact dermatitis, headaches and chronic fatigue. The vapour is extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat (mucous membranes).
There are many preservatives that release formaldehyde, for example Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea and Sodium hyrdoxymethylglycinate.
These substances can be found in various preservatives under trades like Germaben II, Germaben II-E, Germall 115, Germall II, Germall Plus, Glydant Plus, Glydant Plus Liquid, Liquid Germall Plus, Elestab 305, Euxyl K 500, Maguard H55, Microcare DMP, Microcare IMP, Neo-Dragocide, Liquid, Nipaguard PDU, Paragon, Paragon G2, Paragon IB-PG, Paragon II, Paragon III and Phenagon PDI, Sutticide A.
Formaldehyde used in preservatives that release formaldehyde in a quantity lower than 0.2% (permitted level of formaldehyde in cosmetics), does not need to be declared because it is a byproduct and not an added ingredient.

Mineral oil
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores and interfering with the skin's ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in so many baby products -baby oil is 100% mineral oil! Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is so cheap.
Petrolatum or petroleum jelly, best known as Vaseline, is listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union's Dangerous Substances Directive (UNECE 2004), and its use in cosmetics was banned in September 2004 with the following caveat: “The classification as a carcinogen need not apply if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.”
Also known as:
Mineral oil; white mineral oil; medical white oil; paraffin oil; liquid paraffin; petrolatum; petroleum jelly; Vaseline; E 905.

Vegetable emulsifying wax
Vegetable emulsifying wax is used in a lot of products, from lotions to conditioners--even makeup--to make oil and water combine in to a lotion form. It's the emulsifier of choice for home crafters and larger companies alike because it gives good results and it's cheap. Vegetable emulsifying wax does sound natural but the different substances it is made of tell a different story:

Cetearyl alcohol
is a mixture of fatty alcohols, consisting predominantly of cetyl and stearyl alcohols and is classified as a fatty alcohol.
Cetearyl alcohol has no emulsifying properties itself and it is used as an emulsion stabilizer, together with an emulsifier such as Steareth-20 and Ceteareth-20.
May cause hypersensitivity reactions as hives and eczema in susceptible people, but it is far less disturbing than the other substances used in emulsifying wax.
Also known as:
cetearyl alcohol; cetyl stearyl alcohol; cetostearyl alcohol; C16-18 alcohols.

Polysorbate 60
Polysorbate 60 (E 435), jlike other polysorbates is a type of emulsifier used in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Polysorbates are produced by the reaction of sorbitol, ethylene oxide and fatty acids and what’s worrying is that remnants of the highly carcinogenic substance ethylene oxide may remain in the finished product.
Also known as:
Polysorbate 60; polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate; polyethylene glycol sorbitan monostearate; Tween 60.

PEG-150 Stearate
PEG is short for polyethylene glycol. Polyethylene glycol is an ethoxylated compound, meaning that it's been processed with ethylene oxide, a known human carcinogen. Traces of this compound can be left in the product, along with byproducts such as 1,4-dioxane, also a known carcinogen.
In addition to this, PEG compounds oxidize easily in contact with air and can then form formaldehyde and other aldehydes, which can cause contact allergy.

Steareth-20 is an ethoxylated compound, and can also contain traces of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. It's created by taking stearyl alcohol (a naturally-occurring fatty alcohol) and combining it with ethylene oxide. The number following the "steareth" is how many units of ethylene oxide reacted with the stearyl alcohol. So, steareth-20 has been reacted with 20 units of ethylene oxide. There are a lot of steareths that range from 2 on up. Steareth-20 is the highest, meaning it's been processed with the highest amount of ethylene oxide.

Metallic element used in antiperspirants and antiseptics. Some scientists have established links between aluminum and breast cancer. It is used in antiperspirants to block the pores of the skin preventing toxins from being excreted. The toxins then go to the closest fat reserve: the breasts. Some suspicions have also been raised about its implication in Alzheimer.

Imidazolidinyl urea and DM hydantoine (Germall Plus, Germall II and Germal 115)
Two preservatives that have the loosening effect of formaldehyde. After parabens, these are the most used preservatives. They are renowned for causing eczema and they are well established as a main cause of contact dermatitis (the American Academy of Dermatology). There are three commercial names for these chemical products: Germall II, Germal 115 and Germall Plus. None of the Germall chemicals contains a good antifungal agent, and they must be combined with other preservatives. Germall 115 releases formaldehyde at a little more than 10°C.

Propylene Glycol
Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. However, usually it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. Propylene Glycol has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware becouse these are related synthetics. Although exposure to high levels of Propylene Glycol is known to cause serious and potentially irreversible health conditions, the chemical industry tell us that "small" quantities or low level exposure of Propylene Glycol is "safe" to use on the skin and in food. According to the safety data sheets of industrial chemical manufacturers, chemicals such as Ethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol will cause serious health conditions, including liver and heart damage and damage to the central nervous system if sufficient amount is absorbed by the body.

Isopropanol/Isopropyl Alcohol
A skin irritant that causes flushing, pulse rate fluctuations, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Stearalkonium Chloride
A quaternary ammonium compound used in hair conditioners and creams. Developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softner, it is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which are beneficial to the hair. It causes allergic reaction. Toxic.

A Quick Reference

The list below will help to make your own informed judgement when buying cosmetics. Remember, it is always down to you to check the list of ingredients of the product you wish to buy.

Chemicals that directly cause cancer (direct carcinogens)
Benzil Acetate
Butyl Benzyphthalate
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
“Coal Tar Dyes” (and lakes) D & C Red 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 17, 19 & 33, Green 5, Orange 17, FD & C Blue 1, 2 & 4, Green 3, Red 4 & 40, Yellow 5 & 6
Crystalline Silica
Diethanolamine (DEA)
Doictyl Adipate
Disperse Blue 1, Disperse Yellow 3 (clourants)
Methylene Chloride
Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone
p-Phenylenediamine (following oxidation)

These are hidden carcinogens, such as dioxane, a highly potent carcinogen which contaminate other chemicals.

In Ethoxylated Alcohols, including PEGs, Oleths, Polysorbates, Nonoxynol.

Arsenic and Lead.
In Coal Tar Dyes, Polyvinyl Acetate, PEGs (polyethylene glycols).

DDT and related Pesticides.
In Lanolin, Quarterniums.

Diethanolamine (DEA).
In DEA Cocamide/ Lauramide condensates, Quaterniums.

Ethylene Oxide.
In Ethoxylated Alcohols, including PEGs, Oleths, Polysorbates, Nonoxynol.

In Polyoxymethylene Urea.

Formaldehyde Precursors
Formaldehyde precursors react with other chemicals in the product and release formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies). Formaldehyde is highly carcinogenic, toxic, neurotoxic and genotoxic.

Diazolidonyl Urea
Imidazolidinyl Urea
Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate 

Nitrosamine Precursors
Nitrosamine precursors form highly carcinogenic nitrosamines by interacting with other chemicals in the product.

Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA-Cocamide, Lauramide and Oleamide condensates
DEA-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Pyroglumatic Acid
Triethanolamine (TEA)
TEA-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Endocrine (Hormonal) Disruptors
Several studies have shown that parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl also known as hydroxy methyl benzoates) get absorbed into the blood-stream and disrupt the hormonal system. Parabens have displayed the ability to mimic estrogen, a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.

Butyl Benzyl Phthalate
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane (B-MDM)
Dibutyl Phthalate
Diethyl Phthalate
Homosalate (HMS)
Methyl-benzylidene Camphor (4-MDC)
Octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA)
Octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)