Safe Cosmetics Australia

The Toxic-Free Campaign

Key Allergens

What are the most common allergens found in cosmetics and other products? SCA's  Australian Allergy Certified™ seal aims to provide allergy sufferers with an identifiable Certification seal that they can trust. Brands submit a product ingredient declaration, SCA screens this against our toxicant data, brands submit documentation to confirm the health and safety of their products, and suitability for allergy prone skin. 

What are the most common allergies?

CHEMICALS IN PRODUCTS
Allergens can be air-born, consumed or applied topically. Ingredients such as preservatives, fragrances, colours and formaldehyde-releasing agents are common culprits causing skin allergies and irritation.

Did you know that 'dermatology tested' only stands for tested on human skin?
This does not mean that the test has met any standard, how brands define marketing claims is unknown to consumers. Products that exclude and/or restrict the use of common allergens eliminates many issues associated with cosmetics and allergies. Dermatology tests are usually done as a patch test, the product is left on the skin for 48 hours, and then assessed for irritation. Brands are required to submit clinical tests and/or reports to verify their marketing and product label claims.

In an article by Sarah Wexler for ELLE magazine, dermatologist Kristen Hudson Nichols spoke freely about chemicals in cosmetics, and her numerous clients that have suffered skin flare-ups, eczema, skin irritation and bumps that she has traced back to the application of cosmetic products.

What do dermatologists advise?
Kristen advises "I've had patients develop facial eczema that I can trace back to them using cleansing wipes rather than a traditional rinse-off cleanser. As mineral makeups have become more popular, I've seen many cases of eczematous rashes due to its shimmery mica, and acne eruptions due to bismuth, which is included in some brands' formulations."

Who should be concerned?

SCIENCE RESEARCH & EXPERT ADVICE
People who know that they have allergies should avoid known irritants completely. Young children and teenagers, the sick or elderly, pregnant and those who are aware of their allergies and sensitivities, should best avoid skin irritants.

What skin allergies do dermatologists see the most and what is the reaction?
"Because eyelid skin is so thin, allergies to products applied in this area are common—eye creams, eye shadows, and mascaras, especially. I've seen a lot of allergies to long-wear products for eyelids and eyelashes, which may due to the many chemicals they combine to make it last for 12 hours or more." - Dermatologist, Kristen Hudson Nichols for Elle Magazine.

How can you tell if you are having an allergic reaction?
Kriston continues "You'll know—the most common type of cosmetic allergy is called "irritant contact dermatitis" and means red, itchy, rough skin where you've applied the product, and sometimes comes with a stinging or burning feeling. Another type of reaction I see is "acne cosmetica," red inflammatory acne bumps without the blackheads you'd see with the usual form of acne. The most severe allergic reaction, called "allergic contact dermatitis," can cause blistering and poison ivy-like eruptions, or even facial swelling, and means you should see a doctor right away."

What chemicals are the top offenders?

THE MAIN CULPRITS FOR SKIN IRRITATIONS
American Contact Dermatitis Society is concerned about Methylisothiazolinone (MI).
MI has recently been allowed in much higher concentrations for use in cosmetics than ever before, and this may account for the steady increase in allergies. Sadly, individual skin sensitivities makes it virtually impossible to rely on product labels alone. Marketing phrases such as "formulated for sensitive skin" or "non-sensitising" are too often miss used and offer consumers absolutely no guarantee.

Comparative ingredient assessments are a vital part of identifying key allergens. Each and every product submitted is screened against leading mainstream brands, and comparable Certified organic products, to ensure that we achieve significantly safer ratings for everyone's health and safety.

+ Brands are required to submit clinical tests and/or reports to verify their marketing and product label claims.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Tests carried out on animals are Not accurate, and Safe Cosmetics Australia does not support animal cruelty. Visit choosecrueltyfree.org.au and view their list of approved CCF-Accredited Contract Manufacturers.
 

KEY ALLERGENS

To apply for Certification, brands sign a disclosure agreement, and submit their PID Product Ingredient Declaration stating that they exclude and/or restrict the use of chemicals published under Key Allergens. Brands must be compliant in providing consumers with a transparent ingredient philosophy that is in-line with SCA's criteria. *Guidelines apply with specific usage that is advised for allergy prone skin. Brands must exclude, restrict and/or clinically test their products that contain the Top Offending Key Allergens.

COSMETICS & PERSONAL CARE

What does Australian Allergy Certified represent? Free of harmful hormone-altering chemicals, and ingredients that may affect allergy suffers and teenage development. Identifying products that are free from chemicals commonly known to trigger asthma, allergies and skin irritation is the first choice for allergy suffers, the sick or elderly, teenagers, babies and young children alike. Key Allergens are excluded, restricted and/or products are clinically tested to confirm the formulation is made safe® for allergy sufferers. Where products meet this criteria they are awarded the Australian Allergy Certified™ seal.


+ The Australia Allergy Certified criteria™ is a document base review that assesses chemicals in a given product, and the suitability of the combined use of chemicals.  See the list of Key Allergies that are published in A-Z order in the next column. Chemicals are excluded and/or restricted from products that carry the Australian Allergy Certified™ seal of approval.


+ Where restrictions apply, the percentage of individual ingredients are confirmed by clinical tests and/or reports submitted from a formulation specialist. Brands are required to meet SCA's restrictions and submit documentation that confirms their formulations are compliant and eligible to be awarded the Australian Allergy Certified™ seal of approval.  Brands sign a binding agreement to exclude and/or restrict chemicals published under Key Allergens.


+ What are the top 10 common allergies?

1. Fragrances
2. Nuts
3. Pollen
4. Shellfish
5. Colourants, Synthetic coal tar dyes
6. Eggs 

7. Dust mites
8. Soy
9. Insect bites
10. Wheat, gluten

+ How to do a patch test. Despite products being formulated for allergy-prone skin, or passing any form of clinical test, it is ALWAYS advisable to do a patch test before using any product. Place a small amount of the product on the inside of your elbow and wait 48 to 72 hours. If you have any redness, swelling, itching, or burning sensations then don Not use the product.

FRAGRANCES

+ Always apply fragrance to your hair or clothes, and Not directly on your skin. This can help to reduce the risk of potential skin reactions to the fragrance or perfume. The risk of the fragrance interacting with ingredients in other products, can cause a skin reaction. By applying fragrances to your hair and clothes, synthetic or otherwise, this can reduce the potential for multiple chemicals to react.

TOP OFFENDING PRODUCTS

+ The top beauty products that are most likely to cause skin reactions and allergies include synthetic bath soaps and detergents, antiperspirants especially when use on freshly shaved skin, eye makeup, moisturisers, shampoos, long-wearing lip stains, and nail polish, especially those that have formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives, and fingernail glue containing methacrylate. Hair dyes commonly cause skin reactions, especially those containing p-phenylenediamine and ammonium persulfate used together to lighten hair.

KEY ALLERGENS

+ Safe Cosmetics Australia has compared countless cosmetic ingredients used in thousands of competitor products from big name brands, to small hand made varieties.  Scutinising every ingredient, and individual product formulations across cosmetics, personal care, baby and household cleaning categories. Comparing products from all kinds of Certifications, we have compiled the list of Key Allergens to best protect consumers first. 

+ Assessing the comparative safety of ingredients used in these products. We used information from independent databases that assigns each ingredient a ‘hazard score' furthermore we refer to clinical data published by multiple organisations, to create an integrated database of potential chemical hazards that are best avoided by people who know that they have allergies or are susceptible - Young children and teenagers, the sick or elderly, pregnant and those who are aware of their allergies and sensitivities, should best avoid skin irritants.

+ By integrating the data of over 50+ databases and different sources, from government agencies to academic resources and industry panels in Australia and internationally. Credible sources provide's SCA with a set of guidelines to establish a database that assess potential health hazards for cosmetics, personal care and household ingredients.

+ EWG has developed a hazard rating for chemicals used in cosmetics. The rating reflects known and suspected hazards that are commonly associated with ingredients. Extending the potential hazard rating, EWG's rating system also considers combined chemicals in a given product ie risk assessment of a combination of chemicals used in products.

+ Hazard ratings within the Skin Deep database are reflected as low, moderate, or high concern categories. They use numeric rankings across multiple categories of products ranging from 1 being of low concern, through to 10 being of highest concern.

+ Various industrial chemicals have been prioritised for public health and safety screening. But alarmingly, there is over forty thousand chemicals currently permitted for use in Australia, and the Government is not even close to screening cosmetic ingredients for public health and safety analysis.  Whilst some cosmetic manufacturers claim to clinically test their products, this is not a mandatory requirement to do so. So how do brands assess chemical safety and what measures are taken to protect your health by considering the IngredientsFIRST™

+ Today it is unknown exactly how brands substantiate their product claims. Consumers are left with no alternative solution other than to trust that manufacturers have your best interests in mind. We all know too well that there are huge differences in quality when it comes to formulating cosmetics, personal care and household products. Safe Cosmetics Australia considers your health first, by assessing chemical data, and cross referencing over 50+ organisations that publish differing opinions when it comes to chemicals in products. At the heart of Safe Cosmetics Australia's, Toxic-Free Campaign, we pride ourselves on listening and responding to consumer concerns. 


+ Credit source, Johanna Congelton for EWG, she reflects on chemical safety and USA data:  "The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  estimates that the number of American children and teenagers reported to suffer skin allergies increased from 5.2 million reported cases between 1997 and 1999 to nearly 9.3 million between 2009 and 2011.   Another 12.6 million children and teens were estimated to suffer from respiratory allergies in 2009 to 2011, according to the CDC."

+ SCA takes the precautionary approach towards assessing chemical safety
. Where there is any doubt over toxicity and potential adverse health effects, it is best advised to avoid any such use of common chemicals that can trigger allergies until science can validate, restrict or otherwise offer a quantifiable solution. That includes so-called "natural" ingredients.  Some of the substances that trigger allergic reactions are found in natural as well as synthetic fragrances.

KEY ALLERGENS

Products that exclude and/or restrict the use of common allergens eliminates many issues associated with products, chemicals and allergies. SCA has restricted the criteria to the top offending chemicals that are known to trigger allergies, asthma and skin sensitivities. By excluding and restricting key allergens from products we use everyday, you can safe guard your health. Approved products that carry SCA's "Australian Allergy Certified" seal, have disclosed all of their ingredients and substantiated their product claims.

SCA's Australian Allergy Certified™ seal minimises the potential for allergic reactions.

Published in A-Z Order:
*Star indicates restricted use, CTU indicates - Combined Total Usage Restrictions. Concentrations less than <1% are recognised as being safe for sensitive skin types, during pregnancy, illness, for the very young and the elderly. 

+ A
*Acids, Retin-A, Tretinoin also known as all-trans retinoic acid, low-pH acids including ascorbic, azelaic, glycolic, kojic, salicylic and alpha-hydroxy acids- combined total usage less than <1%
*Alcohol, Synthetic sourced CTU <1%
Ammonium Persulfate, Hair dye

+B
Balsam of Peru
Bath Soap
Benzyl Alcohol, Synthetic
Benzalkonium chloride
Benzocaine
Benzophenone 4
Bismuth Oxychloride
2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) FRP's

+ C
Cocamide DEA
Copolymer - no derivatives.
Colourants, Synthetic coal tar dyes including Chromium, Cbolt Chloride, FD&C, D&C - no synthetic colourants.

+D
Detergents, Synthetic including
Diazolidinyl Urea FRP's
Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA), Paraphenylenediamine (PPD), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate SLES - black hair dye including henna.
*Dimethicone and Phenoxyethanol - combined total usage less than <1%
DMDM Hydantoin FRP's

+E
*Essential Oils and added EO components including: Benzoyl Benzoate, Citronellol, Farnesol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carbox-aldehyde, Isoeugenol, Limonene, Linalool. Benzoyl Benzoate, Farnesol, - Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen are contained in every essential oil. They combine in countless mono- and sesquiterpenic families of hydrocarbons, alcohols, ketones, acids, phenols, esters and coumarins, and furocoumarin - See fragrances for restrictions.

Ethoxylated Surfactants - ethylene or propylene oxide in the chemical reaction & ingredients ending with –eth, like laureth or containing the phrase PEG.

+F
Fish or shellfish - no animal, or insect ingredients or derivatives.
*Fragrances, Synthetic or otherwise including Essential Oils, and Essential Oil Components, including nut and vegetable extracts  - restrictions apply for the combined total usage of fragrances limited to less than 1% a low dilution for sensitive skin. *The percentage for products that are not applied directly to the skin is 2.5% for the combined total usage of fragrances. *Balsam of Peru is not permitted.

Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Releasing Preservatives FRP's - quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal. 
*Fruit Extracts of Mango and Strawberries are restricted to a combined total usage of <1%  -

+G
Gluten, No Added Wheat-related Ingredients
Glyceryl monothioglycolate, permanent waxing solutions
Glyoxal FRP's
GMO's - no genetically modified organism

+H
Hydantoin

+I
Imidazolidinyl Urea FRP's
Diazolidinyl Urea FRP's
Isopropyl Stearate

+L
Lactose
Lactic Acid
Lanolin & wool related ingredients
Laurate
Lime, Essential Oil, Acids and Extracts

+M
Methacrylate in nail glue
MCI/MI Methylisothiazolinone
MCI/MI Methylchloroisothiazolinone
MCI/MI Related kathon-like
Mica, ultrafine & shimmer varieties
Micronised Particles
Milk, Cows Milk Sugars

+N
Nanoparticles, ultra-fine, micronised
Neomycin Sulfate
Nickel, Added and Cobalt Related

+O
Oats, Glutenous Grains including wheat

+P
Parabens, Synthetic - no Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Parabens.
Palmitate, Vitamin A
PEG Compounds - PolyEthylene Glycol, PPG
Petrochemicals, Petrolatum, Paraffin, including mineral jelly and mineral oils, and PVP/VA.
Phthalates
*Preservatives, Synthetic  CTU less <1%
*Pehnoxyethanol and Dimethicone - combined total usage less than <1%
Propolis, Bee Glue,
Polyoxymethylene Urea FRP's
Poly-Propylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol
P-phenylenediamine, Hair Dye - Propylene Glycol from vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol - synthetic varieties.
Polyethelene Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, PEG
Pyrethrum Herbal Extract

+Q
Quaternium 15

+R
Ragweed Herbal Extract
Resorcinol
Rice Powder

+S
Silicone Oils
Sodium hydroxide
Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate FRP's
Sodium Laureth Sulphate SLES
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate SLS
Sorbitan Stearate
Soy, and derivatives - no GMO's
Stearalkonium Chloride
Sulfates - SLS, SLES
Chemical reference number (CAS): 7446-09-5
Sunscreen Agents; Benzophenone-3, -4, BP, BP2, Oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Sulisobenzone Sodium

+T
Talc powder, contamination issues
Topical Anti-Biotics
Toluenesulfonamide formaldehyde (Toluidine), in nail polish.
Tree Nuts, Nut-Free Cosmetics
Triclosan
Triethanolamine TEA

CLEANING ALLERGENS

Safe Cosmetics Australia has done the research and cut through green washing hype. The following chemicals are Not permitted for use in cleaning & household products that are accredited by SCA's Key Allergy standard. The *star indicates restricted use, documentation &/or clinical test results are required where the formula utilises key allergens.


Published in A-Z Order:

*Star indicates restricted use


Cleaning products must:

  • Not contain hazardous chemicals
  • Use only biodegradable surfactants
  • Contain No or low levels of phosphates
  • Low Sodium = Septic Safe
  • Contain no or low level use of fillers
  • Be 100% Soluble in water
  • Have low environmental impact packaging.

Biodegradable surfactants are used accordance with the Australian Standard AS 4351

+ A
Ammonia
Animal Tallow

+ B
2-Butoxyethanol
Benzalkonium chloride
BPA, or Bisphenol A
1,2,3-Benzotriazole
Butylparaben

+ C
Chlorine
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Dye, No Synthetic dye

+ E
Ethanolamines

+ F
Formaldehyde
*Fragrances, Synthetic or otherwise including Essential Oils, and Essential Oil Components, including nut and vegetable extracts  - restrictions apply for the combined total usage of fragrances limited to less than 2.5% dilution that is considered ideal for sensitive skin where the product is Not applied directly to the skin.

+ G
Glycol Ethers - Glycol Ethers

+ H
Hydrochloric acid

+ M
MIT/MCIT/BIT Isothiazolinones
Methylchloroisothiazolinon
Methylparaben
Mineral Oil, Petrochemical Derivatives

+ O
Optical Brightener

+ P
Perc, Perchloroethylene
Propylparaben
Phthalates
Phosphates
Polyethylene Glycols
Propylene Glycol

+ S
Sulfates - SLS, SLES
Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach)
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
Synthetic Beeswax
Synthetic Dyes

+ T
Triclosan
Trisodium NTA

+ V
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

+ Q
Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”

Australian Allergy Certified™ household products are formulated free of key allergens, where the *star indicates safe use restrictions. All fragrances are restricted to less than <2.5% combined total usage for products that are not applied directly to the skin, made safe® for allergy sufferers. Free of palm oil, synthetic irritants, synthetic dyes and colours. Formulated without potentially harmful chemicals that are known to trigger allergies.

ETHICAL POLICY

+ Safe Cosmetics Australia does not support animal cruelty. Brands that test their products on unwilling dogs, cats, rabbits and any other animal need Not apply. We have a strict No Testing on animals policy. 

The use of Palm Oil and derivatives is devastating natural habitats, human rights, deforestation and harming the existence of endangered species of orangutan.

+ No other oil is used in such vast arrays of consumer products. Whilst SCA does not support the use of palm oil in the products we certify, we have only recently implemented a non-compliant policy for products made with palm oil. This new initiative will be achieved during 2018 as we audit Certified products. New applications containing non-sustainable palm oil and derivatives, need only apply with the intent to phase out the use of palm oil from their products. Independent palm oil Certification is encouraged.

PRODUCT LABEL CLAIMS

+ Just because a label says something is hypoallergenic, clinically tested, dermatologist tested, sensitivity tested, allergy safe or non-irritating, offers No guarantee that the product formulation will be kind and gentle to your skin. Some companies do dermal tests (skin tests) on all of their products, but others don't. Whilst there are no governing rules about how these terms can be used on a label, Safe Cosmetics Australia fills in where government and industry legislation fails to protect your health.

+ Free of harmful hormone-altering chemicals, and ingredients that may affect allergy suffers and teenage development. Identifying products that are free from chemicals commonly known to trigger asthma, allergies and skin irritation is the first choice for allergy suffers, the sick or elderly, teenagers, babies and young children alike.

+ Key Allergens are excluded, restricted and/or products are clinically tested to confirm the formulation is made safe® for allergy sufferers. Where products meet this criteria they are awarded SCA's highest seal Australian Allergy Certified™

+ In an article by Johanna Congleton, Former Senior Scientist, she talks about "Natural" Extracts and how they can trigger allergies, Johanna explains that "Allergies are an increasingly serious health issue for millions of Americans, especially children". She continues "Many consumer products such as cosmetics and cleaners contain ingredients known to cause both skin and respiratory allergies.  Since these disorders are lifelong conditions that can range from annoying to disabling, EWG believes that products containing any substance that may cause allergies should be properly labeled so that people can avoid them. " Johanna concludes that so-called "natural" ingredients can also be substances that are capable of triggering allergic reactions. Natural chemicals and synthetic fragrances can both be culprits of adverse reactions on the skin, in the air we breathe, natural or synthetic, people need to identify allergens and avoid them 100%.
 

CRITERIA REQUIREMENTS

APPLICATION PROCESS

Step.1 - To meet SCA's Australian Allergy Certified criteria, each product must first pass the key allergen screening process that excludes and restricts certain chemicals as published in detail above.

+ Brands submit a Product Ingredient Declaration
outlining the restricted use of any chemicals listed with a *Star including - *Fragrances, *Acids, *Mango and Strawbery Fruit Extracts, *Phenoxyethanol and Dimethicone, Synthetic Preservatives, and Alcohols. 100% Exclusion of key allergens listed above confirms marketing claims (see Step.3). Brands submit the percentage usage, SCA verifies the chemicals are used within the guidelines. Providing clinical tests are only required where full disclosure is Not submitted.
Step.2 - Products must Not be tested on animals or use palm oil. Although not compulsory, brands are encouraged to apply for a cruelty free certification and a palm oil certification.

+ Where a brand excludes all animal ingredients including insect derivatives, SCA permits the use of our Not Tested On Animals logo. Brands that use our logo must also sign a legally binding agreement pledging to exclude non-vegan ingredients from their products, and pledge to never test products or ingredients on animals. Where a product carries an independent Certification from CCF, PETA and other leading organisations, brands are approved by SCA's standards and have met the highest quality and ethos in good practice. 
Step.3 - Product and marketing claims must exclude the following terms and/or be compliant in the first step of the application process, supplying the percentage usage of restricted chemicals.

+ Terms requiring compliant documentation include:
allergy safe, safe for sensitive skin, eczema safe, clinically tested, dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, non-irritating, sensitivity tested, ideal for sensitive skin types, ideal for allergy-prone sufferers, non sensitising. 

+ Where a brand does not make any product claims listed above, and/or  restricted chemicals are within SCA's Certification guidelines, SCA approves the product.
Australian Allergy Certified™ products are formulated free of key allergens, the *star indicates safe use restrictions. All fragrances are restricted to less than <1%, made safe® for allergy sufferers. Free of palm oil, synthetic irritants, synthetic dyes and colours. Formulated without potentially harmful chemicals that are known to trigger allergies.