I coined a term; Cosmetica Nervosa.  The idea came from the food industry where some folks are heavily preoccupied with the idea of “clean eating, and now I’m seeing sales copy boasting “clean cosmetics”.  You may have heard the term “orthorexia nervosa,” which means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996. He began to use it with his patients who were overly health-obsessed.  It was not meant as a diagnosis; instead, Dr. Bratman used the term to help his patients entertain the possibility that this “healthy” eating may not be as beneficial as they presumed. Over time, however, he came to understand that the term identifies a genuine eating problem. It is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM-5, but is similar to other eating disorders – those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa obsess about calories and weight while orthorexics obsess about healthy eating.  Source

There was a discussion in a group along these lines about a frequently demonized ingredient, propylene glycol, used as a processing aid in soap.  (ooh, scary!)


Soap is nothing to be afraid of.

Soap is nothing to be afraid of.

Yup, soap.  It was a great discussion about the significance of it, and what their customers may think.  (I think PG got the reputation as a “nasty chemical” because it was confused with ethylene glycol- or that it’s a derivative of petroleum).  I couldn’t comment to the discussion without snark so I just stared at it.  Like an accident scene.  Double Face palm.  First world problem at its finest.  Because it shows how consumers can be so afraid of a teensy amount of a safe ingredient for a brief contact time on the skin, followed by a rinse can cause so much angst.

It must be a drag to live with such fear.  (Thanks NGO’s and the makers who hang on their coat tails!)

I plucked out some facts about propylene glycol from wikipedia and personal care truth.  HERE’S A MASHUP:

Because of its low chronic oral toxicity, propylene glycol was classified by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as a direct food additive, including frozen foods such as ice cream and frozen desserts.

Prolonged contact with propylene glycol is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, producing slight transient conjunctivitis; the eye recovers after the exposure is removed.

Propylene glycol does not cause sensitization, and it shows no evidence of being a carcinogen or of being genotoxic.

CIR Expert Panel and they concluded that Propylene Glycol is safe for use in cosmetic products at concentrations up to 50%.

Propylene glycol is listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia and is included in New and Non-Official Remedies as a proper ingredient for pharmaceutical products.

The above guidelines were determined by dermatologists, toxicologists, MD’s, not fearmongering bloggers, the EWG, or armchair toxicologists.

What can we do to combat chemophobia?