Palm oil in cosmetics - What is the problem?

What is palm oil, and where does it come from?

Palm oil is extracted from the fruits of the oil palm. It is about three times as profitable as rapeseed, and requires only a sixth of the acreage of soybeans, with their own yield. Depending on which part of the oil palm palm oil is extracted, it has a different composition. The oil from the fruits has a very high content of oil and palmitic acid. The oil from the cores has a very high content of lauric acid. Palm oil also has an unusually large amount of A vitamins and tocopherol.[1]

Where we use palm oil?

Palm oil is very versatile. It is used in food, where it is used for cooking, frying, baking, as well as for the production of sweets and margarine. It can be found today in almost every second product in German supermarkets. It is also used to make surfactants, especially sodium lauryl sulfate. It is also used in cosmetics, as a bodying agent and as a carrier or active ingredient. It is also used to produce biodiesel. Due to its high yield, it is also very cheap. After soybean oil, it is the world's most widely grown vegetable oil, accounting for almost 30% of market sales.[2]

What are the problems with palm oil?

The cultivation of palm oil is increasing steadily, so there was a 15% increase in 2014, from 57.3 million tonnes in 2014 to 60 million tonnes. [3] Zwischen H?? Auch zwischen zwischen? Auch zwischen? Auch zwischen auch zwischen? Auch zwischen? Auch auch zwischen H zwischen auch? Zwischen zwischen auch zwischen auch? Auch zwischen? Zwischen? Auch?? H? Auch H? H zwischen? Zwischen?? Zwischen? Auch? Zwischen? Zwischen? Zwischen zwischen? Auch zwischen? Auch zwischen? Auch zwischen auch? Zwischen? Zwischen? In the years from 1990 to 2005, 1.87 million hectares were planted in Malaysia, and about 3 million hectares of plantations in Indonesia. [4] The majority of these plantations was created by the clearing of the local rainforests. In addition, it should come on the plantations to unfair working conditions, or even forced labor and child labor. This also includes insufficient protective equipment for the workers resulting in many intoxications and deaths caused by the commonly used herbicide paraquat. According to the scientific magazine "Spektrum" the greenhouse gas emissions are also massively shot up. [5] The finished product can also be caused by so-called process contaminants that foreign substances such as 2-, and 3-MCPD and glycidol remain in it. The IARC classifies glycidol as "possibly carcinogenic," and MCPD as genotoxic. [6] According to EFSA studies, palm oil contains around 3,955 μg / kg of glycidol as an average. Other vegetable oils are between 300 and 15μg / kg. [7] In addition, there are strict ecological and economic guidelines only for cultivation, for use as biodiesel. Cultivation for use as food or consumer goods does not have such regulations. Even eco-seals do not have to say anything. The RSPO is one of the seals of approval, which has sufficient informative value, but is in the criticism of "Save the rainforest e.V" not enough to respond to deforestation and climate change.

Are there alternatives ?

All in all, no. Palm oil is so rich and versatile that there are few alternatives. Coconut oil would come into question as a substitute, but the adequate cultivation of its producer would increase the required acreage by a factor of 5 and increase greenhouse gas emissions by almost 308 million tonnes. [9] In cosmetics, palm oil can be replaced with other fats. Sustainable cosmetics mostly refrain from palm oil, and preferably uses shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Surfactants can also be made from other materials, and there are several alternatives to those based on palm oil. For the first time, you can not completely eliminate palm oil, or at least its negative aspects on the environment. But a look at the ingredients and a short search for the RSPO seal can give at least some insight for those interested. [10]

Quellen und Infos zum nachlesen :

FAO search engine [3]

NewScientist article on clearing palm oil plantations[4]

Spektrum articles on palm oil and greenhouse gases[5]

Article on MCPD and glycidol[6][7]



Talc in cosmetics - What is it doing there?

What is talc?

The talc is a mineral called steatite, which is the main constituent of the soapstone. It has the chemical formula Mg3 [Si4O10 (OH) 2], the so-called magnesium silicate hydrate. It is a fairly common mineral, with the Moh's hardness 1 (with the fingernail rubbed). It is thus very soft, and is considered to be the softest mineral on the Moh's scale. [1]

Where is talc used?

Talcum is used in many industries as fillers and lubricants, in foods as release agents, and in cosmetics as the basis for powders. In electrical it is used as insulation for cables or in security applications. It has been used in baby powder for a long time, until it was replaced by diapers with absorbent material. As soapstone, it is used in plastic art, since it is very easy to work.[2]

How dangerous is talc?

Talc has been used for different things since ancient times. In the 1960s it was sold industrially for all sorts of uses. So it was around 1980 also very prominent in baby puzzles. These were replaced by absorbent diapers, not least because many deaths and illnesses of infants and children were due to the use of baby puzzles with talc. Inhalation of talc can cause pneumonia caused by particulate matter accumulation. A direct risk of cancer is not yet clearly present, however, fibrous talc has similar effects on the lung as asbestos. On the skin, talcum particles larger than 100μm can also come to so-called granulomas. These become problematic especially with open wounds. In addition, it has been proven that women who use talcum powder more frequently in the genital area have a 40% higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. [3]

Are there alternatives ?

Alternatives to talc are e.g. Cornstarch, rice flour and baking powder. Moist organic media, however, provide a good breeding ground for mushrooms, especially yeast. The baby powder has already been replaced, and the industry has strict rules regarding protective equipment. Cosmetic products are also already from the talc. The talc itself, however, is not toxic. It is harmful as fine particulate matter, harmful to the inhalation, but does not present the danger of inhalation, such as e.g. in creams with bound talcum, so it is actually harmless. One should generally avoid inhaling any powder, as this actually poses the danger.[4]

Sources and information to read:


Coal in cosmetics - What is activated carbon?

What is activated carbon?

Activated carbon is coarse to fine-grained coal with a very large surface area. It finds application in many areas from industry, medicine, to home technology. It is usually sold as grains or fine-grained powder.[1]

How does activated carbon work?

Activated carbon has a huge surface. With between 300 and 2000m2 / g, one gram of A-Co has about the surface of a football field. With this very large surface also come very large surface forces. Due to these forces, the A-coal is able to bind any particles. Such particles include dust and dirt particles or poisonous, colored and aromatic substances. [2]

How is activated carbon produced?

Activated carbon is produced from any sources of carbon, such as plant material, but also by hard coal and lignite. In this process, organic compounds are treated chemically or physically until mainly carbon is left over. Subsequently, this coal is "activated" by reacting, by oxidation with water vapor or atmospheric oxygen, parts of the carbon in carbon monoxide and then in carbon dioxide. This creates a holey, spongy network of activated carbon. [3]

Where is activated carbon used?

A coal is used in cleaning and processing in air conditioning and ventilation systems, as a carrier of catalysts and workup agents in the chemical industry, as a toxicant-binding substance in medicine, for the removal of undesirable flavors, or dyes in food (eg in vodka and Rum), used as a filter in respirators and as aquarium, pond and drinking water filter. In addition, it is used in cosmetics, in toothpaste, where it has a whitening, and in face masks, in which it has a fat and dirt binding effect.[4]

Sources and information to read:


Pestizide – Was ist das Eigentlich ?

What are pesticides?

The word "pesticide" can be derived from Latin, pestis → plague, and caedere → kill. Pesticides are chemicals that reduce the persistence of unwanted and or harmful animals. They are used in crop protection, for the cultivation of u.a. Fruit, vegetables and cereals, as well as for the hygienic protection used in the production, processing, packaging and distribution of food and the like. [1]

What are pesticides chemically?

Pesticides refers to the super-grouping of all agents that protect plants and humans from pests and micro-organisms. They have many subgroups, of which the relevant ones are:

  • Pesticides; They protect plants from predators and pathogens

  • biocides; They have many target organisms, including microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as larger organisms such as e.g. Insects or rodents.

  • herbicides; Weed killers, which target or radical against plant life proceed.

Zu den Pflanzenschutzmitteln zählen Biozide, Herbizide, sowie Wachstumsregulatoren. Solche sind z.B. Insektizide, welche hauptsächlich aus Phosphorsäureestern, Carbamaten, Neonicotinoiden und Pyrethroiden zählen. Natürliche Insektizide sind z.B. Nikotin, Anabasin oder Piperin. Zu den angewandten Herbiziden gehören Aminosäurederivate wie das Glyphosat (eingestuft nach WHO als Karzinogen 2A, „steht im starkem Verdacht Krebs im Menschen auszulösen“[2]). Diese machen ca. 18% der weltweit eingesetzten Herbizide aus[3]. Die Sulfonylharnstoffe, wie z.B. das Amidosulforon (Nach GESTIS-Stoffdatenbank stark Gewässergefährdend[4]). Diese machen rund 10,8% der weltweit eingesetzten Herbizide aus. [5]

The biocides are used outside the cultivation of plants, in the processing, production and distribution of food and other consumer goods. For example, Disinfectants with the subcategories of bactericides (kill off bacteria), virucides (kill off viruses), algicides (kill off algae) and fungicides (kill fungus). Such substances are among aldehydes, alcohols and chlorine-containing substances. In addition, the biocides include the rodenticides, the rodent control agents, mostly coumarin derivatives, which prevent blood clotting. There are also avicides (against birds), molluscicides (against snails), piscicides (against fish), acaricides (against arthropods) and nematicides (against roundworms). [6] All have their respective permitted and prohibited substances. [7]

How harmful are pesticides?

Pesticides can potentially cause damage to ecosystems, humans, and organisms for which they are not made. They are a constantly occurring and difficult to treat topic. Many studies on pesticides have no precise statements regarding their toxicology, KRM effect, or ecotoxicology. So there is no clear picture to the currently used pesticides. They move in gray areas, which represent clear applications in contrast to inaccurate, possible damage, that is to say the benefit of security due to ignorance. In recent decades, some pesticides have been banned. [8] And a few even worldwide, as part of the so-called Dirty Twelve (English "Dirty Dozen"). Although in Germany the "as low as reasonably achivable" principle for the limits of pesticide-restricted fruit, vegetables and cereals must be strictly adhered to, the amounts found are still considered harmful. [10]

Pesticides in cosmetics

Especially in natural cosmetics, in which herbal ingredients make up a large part of the composition, the question arises "Are there pesticide residues?". Depending on the initial conviction, this answer is different. If the plants were cultivated without pesticides, none are present in the plant raw material. If they were cultivated with pesticides, these traces are in the plant raw material. And yet, biocides can be included in the final product. Substances that protect the product itself. Of course, no such, as they are used in large-scale cultivation, but still. [11]

Are there alternatives ?

There are natural sources of plants own pesticides, nicotine, anabasine, piperine and the currently interesting pelagronic acid. Or natural predators of pests. But they are not effective enough for human needs, or cause other harvesting or processing problems. Germany alone has an annual consumption of more than 48 thousand tons of pesticides of all kinds (as of 2017) [12]. However, biological pesticides are on the rise, but are not least held back by the economic aspect. Global sales of crop protection products increased by 5.6% in 2017 to around € 47.62 billion. [13] Nevertheless, the research is progressing steadily, and maybe the "dirty dozen" will soon get a dozen more.

What does all this mean now?

Pesticides are not such a big topic for nothing. Without them, it would be healthier, more environmentally friendly, hyperbolic, even utopian. At the moment, though, that's exactly what utopia is. With around 7.6 billion people, many with virtually nothing and even more who are already struggling to survive, one must think of the need for care. A similarly difficult topic would be nuclear power plants. They are far from being environmentally friendly and, moreover, represent a huge hazard. Although nuclear power only supplies about 11.7% (as of 2017) [14] of the electricity, it would now become 11,7% from one day to the next % are missing, so the cost would rise to the priceless. Like pesticides, it would be better without them, but we could not meet the needs, not those who are already starving, not those who are worried about hunger, or those who are not hungry at the moment are.

Quellen und Info zum nachlesen:

Entry on pesticides of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment[6][7][8]

Stockholm Convention on the "dirty dozen"[9]

Statistics on power generation[14]

Article on sales of plant protection products of the Agricultural Industry Association[13]

PDF of the Federal Office for Consumer Protection on Plant Protection Products (download)[12]

Entry of the IARC under WHO into glyphosate[2]


Skin whitening - What happens and why at all?

What is skin whitening and why do it?

Skin whitening is a practice in which the production of melanin is inhibited, making the skin brighter. It is particularly popular in Africa and Asia, where a fair skin is culturally regarded and brings certain social benefits. Mainly a worldview aspect in Asia, the people in Africa hope for higher chances of marriage and work. [1] But it is also practiced in many other countries. Here are mainly medically treated pigmentary disorders and diseases. In addition, the complexion is cosmetically balanced. [2]

What is used and how does it work?

In Japan, a long time was looking for possible substances, where mainly kojic acid and rucinol are used. The only whitening substances approved in Germany are mixtures of hydroquinone, tretinoin and hydrocortisone. They mainly work by influencing melanin synthesis in the body. [3] Melanin is a pigment in the body that gives the dark color of the skin. Likewise, melanin protects us from UV radiation. Side effects of these bleaches are:

  • Hydroquinone: classified as a carcinogen under REACH (ECHA Evaluation - Item 7.9.5)[4]

  • Tretinoin: Causally causes skin irritation

  • Hydrocortisone: is a body's own stress hormone, which is involved in the metabolism. Prolonged exposure may cause skin thinning, acne or dermatitis (primarily around the mouth).

In some parts of Asia and Africa, one often resorts to more dangerous means, e.g. Mercury. [5]

Are there alternatives ?

As alternatives come substances in question, which act as a light tyrosinase inhibitor. These prevent tyrosine from producing melanin. They are found in synthetic as well as natural sources. e.g. Kojic acid, vitamin C, ortho-vanillin or various ingredients of licorice root extract. [6] In addition, alpha-hydroxycarboxylic acids can be used to remove old, darker skin layers (the so-called fruit acid peeling). [7]

Sources and information to read:

The "skin whitening" in Africa[1][5]

ECHA evaluation of hydroquinone[4]


UV-Filter in Kosmetika – Was machen sie und sind sie gefährlich ?

What is UV radiation?

UV radiation is a certain wavelength range of light that is more energetic than visible light. It occurs naturally, but is also artificially produced. It covers the ranges around 380-315nm (near UV / UV-A), 315-280nm (middle UV / UV-B) and 280-200nm (far UV / UV-C).[1]

Fig. 1 The sun, based on fusion, produces UV rays of all kinds.

Where does UV radiation occur?

UV radiation naturally occurs in the form of solar radiation. Here, the sun emits radiation from UV-A to UV-C (as well as some other wavelengths of the spectrum). Much of this radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer, which virtually eliminates UV-C, UV-A and UV-B. One can also generate UV radiation, e.g. by mercury or quartz lamps.[2]

What does UV radiation do and do we use it?

UV radiation has different uses, and different properties depending on the wavelength. However, they share some properties with each other. Thus, UV rays are invisible to the human eye, they can cleave chemical bonds and can denature proteins. We use UV radiation in a variety of things, such as as a harmless party light (black light), for the disinfection of surfaces, in analytics (spectroscopy) or in the solarium. UV-A radiation causes many light-related skin damage, UV-B radiation causes skin cancer. [3]

What are UV filters?

A UV filter is a substance that makes UV rays harmless infrared rays (heat radiation). There are filters for the UV-A, UV-B and UV-C range, as well as broadband filters covering several parts of these areas. These filters operate on the principle of Stokes shift. In this case, the absorption of UV radiation, a part of the energy is stored, and the radiation itself emits weaker (returned).[4]

Which UV filters are used in cosmetics and why?

UV filters are used as sunscreen, in lotion and creams. They protect cells and DNA from damage by UV-A and UV-B. Sunscreen products come in various "starches", which are classified under the sun protection factor (SPF). These range from an SPF of 6 (low) to an SPF of 50+ (very high). Such sunscreens provide organic substances, e.g. Benzophenone, benzylidene camphor or homosalate. Organic UV filters are usually derivatives of camphor, salicylic acid or cinnamic acid. Inorganic UV filters are e.g. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or zinc oxide (ZnO). Nanoparticles are also used by these UV filters. [5]

Are UV filters in cosmetics dangerous?

UV filters can cause allergic and photoallergic reactions. Some UV filters can affect sex hormones, but this effect is clear in fish (feminization of fish), but does not seem to be relevant in humans. However, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor could not be excluded, this substance should be avoided. Also inorganic substances, like TiO2 and ZnO are not safe. TiO2 and ZnO are carcinogenic when inhaled (but sunscreen is only inhaled in powders and sprays), nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have cytotoxic properties (ie they can damage cells and tissues), and they can form radicals by UV radiation. which can degrade organic material. Nanoparticles of these metal oxides can also be detected with lymphocyte transformation tests by some users. Zinc oxide penetrates only into the epidermis, titanium dioxide into the outermost layer of the skin (Latin stratum corneum).[6][7]

Are there alternatives to conventional UV filters?

Unfortunately, no. There is already research on alternatives and some promising candidates have been found. So far, however, there has been no clear 'Ok' for these substances. Substances such as; Avobenzone, amiloxate, bemotrizinol or octyltriazone have not yet been classified as toxic, but REACH and the responsible health authorities are awaiting evaluation. So far: From some substances such. 4-Methylbenylidene camphor should be kept away. People who are allergic to some organic UV filters should use TiO2 and ZnO (whitish products usually contain "normal" TiO2 and ZnO, while transparent ones often contain nanoparticles, which depends on you). As a basic idea, one should take the comparison of the risks, so the chance of skin cancer when not using sunscreen is higher than the risk of using it. For the sake of the environment, you should use solar protection a little more sparingly, and if you want to do without it, you have to protect yourself from the sun, for example, from the sun. through long clothes.[8]

Sources and information to read:

Scientific article on zinc oxide nanoparticles[6][7]

Scientific article on titanium dioxide nanoparticles [6][7]