I dug deep into the metaphorical folds of Google to write this article because I really believe in what I am about to share with you. And I’ll be honest - It was really hard to find a concise, non-biased source of information that really explains why aerosols are toxic to us and to the environment.
Despite what the “authorities” have concluded about this topic, it feels to me like common sense that you shouldn’t be spraying that… stuff... into the air.
So, why are aerosols so prevalent? You walk down the aisle of any major chain store and it’s hard to find a shelf that doesn’t have aerosol cans.
In short, the answer is: because the powers that be have deemed it okay.
According to the Scientific American, “..consumer aerosol products made in the U.S. have not contained ozone-depleting chemicals—also known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—since the late 1970s, first because companies voluntary eliminated them, and later because of federal regulations… All consumer and most other aerosol products made or sold in the U.S. now use propellants—such as hydrocarbons and compressed gases like nitrous oxide—that do not deplete the ozone layer.”
This is a HUGE topic if we are talking about aerosols (propellants) in general. For our purposes, I am going to try to stick with the details as they relate to the common ingredients found in cosmetics. And, more specifically, spray dry shampoo.
Modern-day, CFC-free aerosol sprays emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “VOCs can cause immediate health issues, such as headaches, and numerous VOCs are linked to neurological and organ damage, chemical sensitivities, and cancer. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable, as studies have suggested that increased exposure is directly linked to lower neurological function in their offspring. VOC exposures are also linked to miscarriage and congenital malformations… Examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, phthalates, gasoline, benzene, and solvents including toluene, xylene, styrene, and perchloroethylene (PERC)” (Green Mama to Be, Gallespie).
In plain English, here is how I understand the issue: Aerosol products utilize propellants to push whatever ingredients are contained in the can out into the atmosphere as tiny particulates. Many of these particulates are smaller than bacteria. So, it’s not just the propellant (in the case of dry shampoo, isobutane) itself that is the issue. It’s the fact that the other ingredients in the can are now a size that makes them highly penetrable to your skin and lungs. If you use spray dry shampoo, these are some of the tiny particulates that are penetrating your system:
- Fragrance - IMO the most ominous of the toxins commonly found in dry shampoo. “Fragrance” is an umbrella term for that stuff that the manufacturer doesn’t want you to know is in your daily cosmetic regimen. It is most likely a concoction of any number of 400+ ingredients know to cause an array of issues. Including but not limited to dermatitis, asthma, headaches, allergies, and cancer.
- SD Alcohol 1 (denatured alcohol) - The purpose of this ingredient is to increase skin absorption. So, now that the toxin particulates are super small, denatured alcohol is going to make sure you skin can soak them right up. This is what EWG’s Skin Deep database says: “Specially denatured (SD) alcohol is a mixture of ethanol with a denaturing agent. Ethanol is considered broadly toxic and linked to birth defects following excessive oral ingestion. Potential risks from ethanol in personal care products are significantly smaller than the health risks posed by the consumption of alcohol.”
- Limonene - “Limonene is a scent ingredient and solvent naturally ocurring in the rind of citrus fruit. Upon storage and exposure to sunlight and air, limonene degrades to various oxidation products which act as skin and respiratory irritants and sensitizers” (EWG).
- Phenethyl Alcohol - A preservative and fragrance ingredient. It's never been assessed for safety, but body care specific animal studies show skin irritation at very low doses, and brain, nervous system and reproductive effects at moderate doses. Further testing also revealed this ingredient responsible for mutation on mammalian cells.
- Cetrimonium Chloride - This one is classified as a known human toxicant and allergen by a handful of toxicology authorities such as the AOEC, CIR, and NLM.
Stay safe out there. - Meg, DDS Founder XOXO