Product Analysis: Proactiv
“Bonfire of the Vanities”
What’s the most popular product on the market for teenagers with ACNE? Proactiv™, of course. You’ve seen all the infomercials on television. The company automatically ships to your home and the products pile up in the pantry.
Do you know how difficult it is to find ingredient lists for PROACTIV™ products? This is super interesting…if a cosmetic company does not distribute at retail (drugstores, supermarkets, or big box stores), they are NOT required to list their ingredients. First of all, I am not a fan of companies that automatically send you refills every month and then make it extremely difficult for you to cancel after you’ve placed your first order. Years ago, when my teenagers used Proactiv™, I became concerned when all the towels in their bathrooms showed bleach stains. Experiences like this motivated me to spend time researching cosmetics, their ingredients, and their safety (not to mention buying new towels!). Years later I decided to combine my years of experience as a nutritionist, vitamin formulator and health researcher, in order to blaze a new trail in the beauty industry with the goal of helping people love the way they look and live longer, too. I searched long and hard to find the elusive ingredient list for the Proactiv™ product below. Let’s analyze the label together (goal of my newsletters is to make you a cosmetic label detective!) to determine their safety…(or not.)
Proactiv™ Complexion Perfecting Hydrator
Active Ingredient(s): salicylic acid 0.5%
Inactive Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol, dimethicone, sodium polyacrylate, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, sophora angustifolia root extract, morus alba root extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, arctostaphylos uva ursi leaf extract, kojic acid, zinc gluconate, alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, sodium hyaluronate, bisabolol, allantoin, squalane, safflower oil/palm oil aminopropanediol esters, C12-15 alkyl lactate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, glycerin, ethylhexyl palmitate, hydrogenated polydecene, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, PPG-5-laureth-5, polyquaternium-11, ceteareth-20, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, polysorbate 60, hexylene glycol, PPG-2 myristyl ether propionate, sodium hydroxide, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance.
Ceteareth-20 is a popular toxin commonly included in cosmetic products that we encourage people to avoid. Ceteareth-20 is a penetration enhancer, as it alters the structure of your skin to allow substances to penetrate deeper. Definitely not something you want in a product already filled with poisons. This isn’t the only reason we recommend avoiding it. It is made from cetearyl alcohol which is a mixture of cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol and ethylene oxide (a carcinogen). There is a good possibility if your product contains Ceteareth-20 it is contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,2-dioxane (another carcinogen). Even at low doses, it causes skin irritation, predominantly around the eyes, mouth, and lips. The lethal cocktail of potential carcinogen contamination and toxin penetration enhancement, places Ceteareth-20 on the top of our list of chemicals to KEEP OFF your skin, especially if irritated or damaged.
- Phenoxyethanol is a glycol ether, commonly used in cosmetics and other personal care products as a preservative. Studies have shown that Phenoxyethanol can be an extreme irritant to the eyes and skin, and can even cause blistering. It is hazardous if ingestion or inhaled, as well. The Cosmetic Database rates it as a “moderate hazard,” noting cancer, allergic reactions, skin, eye and lung irritation, organ and neurotoxicity as possible effects of using products containing Phenoxyethanol. It has shown effects on sensory organs even at low doses, and impacts brain and nervous systems at moderate doses in animals, also causing cell mutation. Moderate hazard? Hmm. THE CIR expert panel says it is safe if diluted properly. Why use it at all if you can do the same thing in a natural way?
According to research, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheets show “chromosomal changes and genetic mutation effects in testing as well as testicular atrophy and reproductive damage in mice.” I’d bet most men would say NO THANK YOU to this offer.
- Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate – Let’s face it, there is no safe form of aluminum. It is a toxic heavy metal and has no place in cosmetics. Aluminum creates oxidative stress (free radicals in the skin and in the body particularly breast tissue). Free radicals cause the body and the skin to age faster. They contribute to wrinkle formation and worse.
“Fragrance” can be one or more of 200 chemicals. Companies don't have to disclose the actual components of each scent, under the guise that their fragrances are trade secrets. Fragrances have been known to cause many side effects, including headaches and allergic reactions. They may be contributing to childhood cancer. Fragrance always contains plastic phthalates known as “hormone disruptors”. Fragrance is often derived from petroleum and may also contain:
- Ethyl Acetate
- Benzyl Alcohol
- Methylene Chloride
- Methyl Benzene
- Benzyl Acetate
BUYER BEWARE! Proactiv™ typically works for a short while, only to be followed by a "flare-up" as the body develops tolerance, causing users to become a bit dependent. Try the natural way recommended by AMG. Please send us your before and after photos. Then spread the news! Join us next month for Acne Part 2.