livingfamilytravelmediahome decor

Ecoholic Body: What Chemicals Are in My Makeup?

I’ve been making my way through Adria Vasil‘s book Ecoholic Body. In it, she quickly identifies what she refers to as ‘Ecoholic’s Mean 15: Top Body Care Ingredients to Shelve for Good.”

This is fine and dandy as a list, but as I noted in my post last week, I simply don’t want to have to spend the time reading all the ingredients and cross-checking them against Ecoholic’s Mean 15. That’s why a store like Terra20 is very appealing to me.

You might think I exaggerate when I say I just don’t want/have the time to do this kind of ingredient cross-checking. So in the interests of research (and plain old curiosity), I thought I’d take a look at the makeup that I put on my face daily. I do the basics: Lotion, Foundation on t-zone, and Mascara. Without these, I look like hell. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t actually stop me for going around all weekend without makeup on. But every weekday morning, I do this makeup routine without fail. I have never, ever, gone to work without makeup on. I just can’t do it.

So, first things first. The Lotion. I’ve been using Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer.

You would think it would be easy to take the list and cross-check against ingredients. But not so much. What happens is that a grouping of particular chemicals are listed as one category in Vasil’s list. So, for example, her #13 is “Siloxanes.”

“Siloxanes: Pass on cyclo-ingredients that end in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Cyclotertrasiloxane (D4) and cyclopentasiloxane (D5) are siloxanes (silocone-based polymers) that have been recognized as toxic to fish and aquatic life and stay in the environment for way too long. Cyclomethicone is a mixture of D4, D5 and D6 siloxanes. Environment Canada is in the process of restricting them, but it could take years, so do your own screening.”

So, it’s not just that I’m lazy (although there is an argument that could be made there), it’s that I now need to screen through the ingredient list of anything chemical-sounding and cross-check it against the D4, D5, and D6 siloxanes. And have you noticed how small the font is on the back of a makeup bottle? This could induce migraines, people!

But here goes … here is the list of all things that I cannot recognize and sound like they could be suspect:

Pentylene Glycol
Tocopheryl Acetate
Polysorbate 60
PEG 4 Laurate
PEG 4 Dilaurate
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Stearic Acid
Cetearyl Glucoside
Hydroxyethyl Acrylate (Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolyme)
Disodium EDTA
PEG 100 Stearate

Out of this list (which is far easier to scan once they are in a list form like this actually), none seem to have the “-siloxane” but I do see one with the “-methicone” ending: Dimethicone.

Now, what is Dimethicone and will it cause direct harm to me? It would seem there’s a good chance of that, at least according to David Suzuki Foundation (bold font is my own emphasis):

Also, the European Union classifies D4 as a endocrine disruptor, based on evidence that it interferes with human hormone function, and a possible reproductive toxicant that may impair human fertility. In laboratory experiments, exposure to high doses of D5 has been shown to cause uterine tumours and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. D5 can also influence neurotransmitters in the nervous system. (source: The “Dirty Dozen” Ingredients Investigated in the David Suzuki Foundation Survey of Chemicals in Cosmetics, 2010, page 12)

Great. That sounds like the perfect thing to be smearing all over my skin every morning, doesn’t it? And that is just ONE of the ingredients from the list of ingredients!

So I went through the list and cross-checked them against Vasil’s “Mean 15.” The end result was that my facial moisturizer included at least 5 of the 15. It was easy for me to notice the Parabens since there were three ingredients ending in “-paraben.” These, according to Vasil and other sources, are an estrogen-mimicking family of preservatives that preliminary studies have found in breast cancer tissues. The other ingredient that was easy to notice was the number of “PEG” ingredients — 4 in total. PEGs are often contaminated with a substance that is classified as a human carcinogen.

All in all, checking the ingredients on my moisturizer — which is just one of the things I use each morning — has been quite discouraging. I’d like to believe that folks like Vasil and Suzuki are just alarmists. But logic tells me that the cumulative use of these kinds of ingredients must have an effect on our bodies and our environment.

I was going to do this process for all three products: the lotion, foundation, and mascara. But now I’m tired, and I can see this is going to take me a while. Just a quick glance, however, at their ingredient lists reveals all I need to know … same story, same type of ingredients.

I know what I need to do. I need to take this step (even though it’s just one step, and a small one at that) and change my makeup products. I have always taken the time to carefully screen body care products for my children — from their diaper creams to their shampoos — and yet, I have continued to turn a blind eye on my own body care products. Typical Mom, eh?


  1. Jules — yes, I hazard to think of the stuff that’s in the various things I smear on myself to cure various skin ailments. However, I have found a great moisturizer that does the job of the fancy creams. Azulene oil. You can buy it at Use only a tiny amount. One small spray bottle lasts me more than a year. And my skin feels silky when I’m done. Okay, now I have to look up azulene oil to make sure it’s not toxic! Well, if it is, at least it’s only one ingredient! 

  2. Damn! Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Guaiazulene, Tocopherol, Menthol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben.

  3. I wouldn’t worry so much about the dimethicone. It’s actually ingestible in a similar format as an anti-gas/anti-bloat medication. It’s not ingestible into the bloodstream – here’s an article on it that should ease your mind You’ll note that it is the exact same chemical name as dimethicone (poly(dimethylsiloxane).
    I think there’s a big business in people telling us to ditch all of (insert product here) for a new product. The beauty industry is so enormous and bloated as it is; now we have a side industry telling us that everything we already have (at X price) is going to suddenly kill us all (which I find odd considering our very long life spans), so we should junk it all for something else. It’s not like you’re using a vat of mascara, even in your lifetime.
    What I’m saying is, the eye strain caused by looking up those ingredients might cause more harm than the ingredients. Yanno, in case you really don’t want to look them up.

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      Oh, there is no doubt about it — “greening” products is big business as well as being a “greening” expert. I completely agree with you there. So a healthy skepticism is always a girl’s best friend.
      In this case, I did do a search elsewhere while writing the article last night. And, WebMD, as example (which my family doc tells me is a reputable internet source) notes that one should not breastfeed when using dimethicone. That gave me pause.
      Also, it’s not so much our life spans that concerns me but a life with cancer and polluted natural environments. So I feel like I’d rather just not take the chance … or risk … or whatever … even if it’s a small one, when I can get a (somewhat) comparably priced product that doesn’t have these kinds of ingredients. Because even if I’m not going to use a vat of mascara, the amount of women all using this product and then throwing the remains in the garbage will have a cumulative effect on the environment we all live in. 

  4. You might be interested in this blog post by Victoria:
    It also references an interesting article and book.

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @GiuliaDoyle Thank you for sharing that blog post! I loved it! I hadn’t heard of most of those products, but I sure what to try them now! I will have to tag the article and the book for future reading, although I did skim through the article and it notes the notion of “bio accumulation,” which is my primary concern I think. 

  5. I did this exact analysis on Strawberry Flavoured Twizzlers. It was around Valentine’s day or Halloween, one of those give-kids-candy days, and Ben was only 3 or so. And I could not believe that strawberry flavoured Twizzlers had so much crap in it. Tar? I mean…huh? So this is interesting, to look at makeup or lotion, and recognizing how much of all the stuff we have around us truly is just so very bad for us…
    Here’s the link for the twizzler thing.

    And thanks for this post!

  6. SolidFooting says:

    Julie if you find some good makeup and skin care product lines in your quest to go more ‘eco’ please share on your blog. (Oil of Olay is in my makeup cupboard too!)

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @SolidFooting Will do! I know where I can buy some “eco” products … but the question is, will they work and feel nice? I’ll keep you posted! Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know. 

  7. Check out the website called Skin Deep ( You can enter your product and it flags all the harmful stuff, and gives it an overall rating.

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      Oh, yes! Thank you for reminding me … I really should have mentioned the EWG. In the past I’ve used the EWG’s sunscreen ratings — extremely helpful! (I think I’ll add a note to the post itself to highlight this site so readers don’t miss the mention.) 

Speak Your Mind