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Sorbolene Cream, what is it made from and why does it irritate my skin?
From birth I was bought up on Aqueous and Sorbolene creams and right up to the day I stopped using them, they irritated my skin but sadly no one would believe me. This product is highly recommended by doctors and skin specialists and other celebrities, so my complaints were dismissed and labeled hypochondriac. Apart from that I would find myself going through a litre or more each week and it never seemed to provide enough moisture to my skin and it eventually seemed to dry my skin out. Interestingly enough most people I have ever spoken to with eczema or other dry skin conditions say the same thing, it irritates their skin condition rather than soothing and hydrating it, but they still use it because of a doctor's or pharmacist's recommendation.
So I started to really question this product, why it seemed to work in the first instance, then irritate my skin making it red and itchy and inevitably my skin would dry out very quickly. What the heck was it made from and why did most doctors recommend it? Well a little research revealed some very disturbing facts to me.
Sorbolene Cream is a petro-chemical or mineral oil based product and may contain many additives such as Triethanolamine (TEA) which may cause irritation, redness, and pain, especially on prolonged or repeated contact. It is often used in cosmetics to adjust pH and may cause an allergic reaction. TEA is widely used in the manufacturing of household detergents and polishes, textiles, agricultural herbicides, mineral and vegetable oils, paraffin and waxes, pharmaceutical ointments, petroleum demulsifiers, synthetic resins, plasticizers, adhesives, and sealants and in many other industrial applications.
Other ingredients in Sorbolene may include fragrance (synthetically derived), glycerine (glycerin, glycerol) which is the main by-product of making bio-diesel and vitamin additives such as Vitamin E which may be synthetically manufactured.
TYPICAL SORBOLENE INGREDIENTS:
De-ionised water, glycerine, sorbital, light mineral oil, cetyl stearyl alcohol, stearic acid, triethanolamine, wheatgerm oil, cetamacrogol, imidzaolidinyl urea, methyl paraben, tetrasodium EDTA and paracresol..
There are many different brand names attached to Sorbolene, but basically they all share the same recipe. So let's looks at each ingredient in most Sorbolene preparations and expand the ingredients list into something we can understand. I hope this will offer you a very clear picture about what you are putting on your skin which is then being directly absorbed into your blood stream and vital organs.
At the end of this report you'll find a mini-dictionary for any of those words or medical terms you don't understand.
EXPANDED SORBOLENE INGREDIENTS LIST
De-ionised water: also known as demineralised water (DI water or de-ionized water) is water that has had its mineral ions removed, such as cations from sodium, calcium, iron, copper and anions such as chloride and bromide. Deionisation is a physical process which uses specially-manufactured ion exchange resins which bind to and filter out the mineral salts from water. Because the majority of water impurities are dissolved salts, deionization produces a high purity water that is generally similar to distilled water, and this process is quick and without scale buildup. However, deionization does not significantly remove uncharged organic molecules, viruses or bacteria, except by incidental trapping in the resin.
Glycerine (Glycerol): Humectant - Considered non-toxic and non-allergenic although may cause skin to dry out in low humidity and skin irritation in sensitive people - Used in hand creams, face masks and barrier creams and various food uses.
Sorbitol (420): Humectant - May be synthesized from glucose and used as a Humectant, sweetener and emulsifier - excess intake can cause intestinal cramps, diarrhea, gastrointestinal disturbance, may alter absorption of drugs so they are either more toxic or less effective - it is widely used in confectionery, dried fruit, chewing gum, lollies, cosmetics, hair spray, shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, embalming fluid and anti-freeze.
Light mineral Oil: (white oil, petroleum derivative): Emollient - Can inhibit proper functioning of the skin; dry the skin; teratogenic; kidney and neuro-toxicity when untreated or mildly treated; may be phototoxic.
Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol: (of animal origin) - Emollient, Opacificer - May cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis in people with sensitive skin - used in Depilatories, hair rinse, moisturisers, shampoos and pharmaceuticals.
Stearic Acid: (may be of animal origin) - Emulsifier, anti-caking agent - May cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin; health effects not yet adequately investigated - Used in Deodorants, hand creams, barrier creams, soaps, chewing gum base and suppositories.
Triethanolamine: (TEA: synthetic, made from ethylene oxide and ammonia) - Buffer, coating additive - causes allergic contact dermatitis; skin irritation, redness & pain especially on prolonged or repeated contact; may react with nitrites to form nitrosamines; on NIH hazards list.
Wheatgerm Oil: obtained from wheat, it contains vitamin E as well as carotene, vegetable lecithin and unsaturated fatty acids. It may cause skin irritation to people sensitive or allergic to wheat including those with celiac disease.
Cetomacrogol: Is a brand name for Ceteth- 20. It is a petroleum derived ingredient used as an emulsifier and surfactant. Some human studies show a possible link to cancer; and because it is an ethoxylated ingredient it may be contaminated with dioxane and ethylene oxide.
Imidazolidinyl Urea: Preservative - causes contact dermatitis; may release formaldehyde - used in baby shampoo, eye shadow, bath oil, moisturisers and rouge.
Methyl Paraben: (Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate) - Preservative - may cause allergic reactions, contact dermatitis - used in many cosmetics and personal care products - See Parabens.
Tetrasodium EDTA: (Ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid) - Sequestrant, Preservative, chelating agent - adverse effects can include asthma; skin and mucous membrane irritation; kidney damage; teratogen; harmful to aquatic organisms; used in Hair dyes, shower gel, shampoos, bar soaps, face and hand gels, oral supplements, carbonated beverages, dishwashing liquid and pesticides. On NIH Hazards list
Paracresol: Cresols are used to dissolve other chemicals such as disinfectants and deodorisers and to make specific chemicals that kill insects and pests. Cresol solutions are used as household cleaners and disinfectants, perhaps most famously under the trade name Lysol. Skin contact with high levels of cresols can burn the skin and damage the kidneys, liver, blood, brain, and lungs. . Effects observed in people include irritation and burning of skin, eyes, mouth, and throat; abdominal pain and vomiting; heart damage; anemia; liver and kidney damage; facial paralysis; coma and even death. In the past cresol solutions were used as antiseptics in surgery but have been largely replaced in this role by less toxic compounds. Cresols are found in many foods and in wood and tobacco smoke, crude oil, coal tar, and in brown mixtures such as creosote, cresolene and cresylic acids, which are wood preservatives. Most exposures to cresols are at very low levels that are not harmful.
Is it any wonder that your sensitive eczema skin reacts to this chemical cocktail commonly labeled as a moisturiser? Many of the ingredients names themselves are hard to pronounce and I would guess that most of us have no idea what they actually are. Searches on the internet have revealed many people find Sorbolene a problem and a skin irritant and some of those people do not even have eczema; searches also reveal that there are mixed opinions about Sorbolene and its virtues. For me Sorbolene creams do not even enter the equation any more. Synthetic and chemical based products are no longer on my shopping list. I now choose natural plant based products that will nurture and heal, soothe and nourish my sensitive skin
BUFFER: A substance added to a food or cosmetic product to adjust, maintain or stabilize the acid/alkali (pH) balance.
CHELATING AGENT: A substance added to a food or cosmetic product to react and form complexes with metal-ions that could affect stability and/or appearance.
ETHOXYLATION: is a chemical process in which ethylene oxide is added to fatty acids in order to make them more soluble in water.
EMOLIENT: A substance that softens or soothes
FORMALDEHYDE: a gas derived from the oxidation of methyl alcohol; banned in cosmetics in some countries. It is a preservative and anti-microbial - it causes eye, nose and throat irritation; coughing and nose bleeds; liver-, respiratory-, immuno-, skin-, reproductive- and neuro-toxicity; nausea; contact dermatitis; rashes; asthma; teratogen; carcinogenic. On NIH hazards list
HUMECTANT: A substance that absorbs or helps retain moisture
NITROSAMINES: an organic carcinogenic compound found in various foods.
OPACIFICER: A substance added to a shampoo or other transparent or translucent liquid cosmetic product to make it impervious to visible light or nearby radiation
PARABENS: (butyl, ethyl, methyl, propyl, etc.,) synthetic; esters of hydroxybenzoic acid - Preservatives - may cause allergic reactions; endocrine (hormonal) disruptions; contact dermatitis; possible increase in the risk of breast cancer; toxic in animals by ingestion.
PHOTOTOXIC: making the skin unusually sensitive to light and subject to damage by light, e.g. sunburn which can lead to skin cancers
SEQUESTRANT: A substance capable of attaching itself to unwanted trace metals such as cadmium, iron and copper that cause deterioration in food and cosmetic products by advancing the oxidation process.
TERATOGENIC: an agent that interrupts or alters the normal development of a Foetus, with results that are evident at birth.
Some of the above information has been sourced from The Chemical Maze 3rd & 4th Editions by Bill Stratham and from www.wikipedia.com
SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Remember, everything that you put on your skin is absorbed into the blood stream and then transported throughout the body and vital organs.
Whatever product you choose as your moisturiser of course is entirely up to you. There are many products available now through health food shops and the internet, that are safer and free of chemicals. Shop around choose carefully, choose wisely. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find a product that is suitable to your unique skin.
What a great website. Thank you for sharing your valuable information and research with the public. Especially for breaking down the jargon that so often finds people at a loss on what to do.
I am so grateful to have read about your research on the sorbolene creams. When I mentioned to health care proffessionals that the cream seemed to irritate my son and daughter they looked at me like I was just a silly mother. I than decided to research the ingredients myself and came across this web site.
I don't need to look any further you have answered all my questions.
Thank you. I will be adding this to my favourites.
Thank you for the very clear and detailed explanation of sorbolene. I have had a recent experience with it and can confirm that it is certainly the internal organs which suffer too. My problem is not the skin but the symptom is diahorrea. I have known to avoid sorbolene for a long time but didn't pay enough attention to the fragrance free cream being used during a massage. Foolish me! If it upsets us sensitive types so much, surely we are warning signals for the damage being caused to others who are not so sensitive. Anyway thanks again Trish.