We first published this ingredient review in 2011. I think it bears repeating because of some of the information included, especially about the choice of a cosmetic ingredient database for valid info about ingredients. Here we go!
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS OF A CAT GROOMING SPRAY
We received this request to take a look at the list of ingredients for a cat grooming spray. The writer had researched the ingredients at cosmeticsdatabase.com and was concerned about the safety of the product. She wrote:
Barbara, I Received a list of ingredients in a cat product (a spray for fur) and I am trying to decipher if it's really safe. Was highly recommended by another groomer. Here's the break down (no proportions were given):
Deionized Water ..........safe
Sodium PCA................. a nitrosamine, safe in low dose
Cetrimonium Chloride.. possible carcinogen. Hazard score 3 out of 10
Propylene Glycol.......... somewhat toxic. Hazard score 4
Aloe Barbadensis Gel ..safe
Glycosaminoglycans....not tested. Assumed safe.
Polysorbate 20............. Hazard score 4-7, dependent on usage. Avoid if skin is abraded
Polysorbate 80.............Score 5-8. Reproductive effects at low doses
Citric Acid ....................Score 2-3
DM DM Hydantoin........an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser preservative. Score 7-9.Systemic effects in animals
Methylparaben.............Moderate toxin, score 5. Endocrine & organ issues
Tetrasodium EDTA......Chelating agent. Score 2.
Scores are from the Cosmetic Safety Database and tested for human effects. Barbara, what would you make of this? Thanks, ~groomer
Before I go into an item-by-item analysis, I need to say something about cosmetic safety databases. Basically we have two: cosmeticsdatabase.com and cosmeticsinfo.org. We could broadly describe these two as the "glass half empty" (not proven to be safe) vs the "glass half full" (not proven to be dangerous) views.
The cosmeticsdatabase.com was developed through the efforts of the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog and lobbying group that has a political agenda to discredit the cosmetics industry and push for stronger governmental controls over cosmetic ingredients. Cosmeticinfo.org, on the other hand, reflects the assessments of ingredients by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, the industry body that reviews available studies and makes recommendations regarding safety. CIR is the cosmetics industry attempt to govern itself. The CIR Expert Panel is independent and consists of highly credentialed scientists who review scientific studies. In making their assessments, the CIR considers the validity of the studies and disregards junk science and/or poorly designed or carried out studies. The cosmeticsdatabase.com makes no distinction between solid science and junk science studies.
There is another significant difference between these two databases: The cosmeticsinfo.org database and the CIR take into consideration how ingredients are used, and how troublesome an ingredient might be in an actual formula. The cosmeticsdatabase.com makes an overall caveat that their score for any ingredient "indicates that research studies have found that exposure to this ingredient -- not the products containing it -- caused the indicated health effect(s) in the studies reviewed by Skin Deep researchers. Actual health risks, if any, will vary based on the level of exposure to the ingredient and individual susceptibility.."
Which database do I use? I refer to both, but tend to put much more credence on the cosemeticinfo.org knowledge. Although I appreciate being informed of potential hazards, I don't like fear-based tactics.
Here is my review of the ingredient list, using the www.cosmeticsinfo.org database, as well as Hair-Care Products & Ingredients Dictionary, by John Halal, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, by Ruth Winter, www.truthinaging.com and www. GoodGuide.com.
Sodium PCA – A naturally occurring humectant that is found in skin. It has high water binding properties. It attracts moisture from the air and holds it to the skin. Also has a skin softening effect. It is a very effective humectant for hair and skin. It is relatively non-toxic and non-irritating. (Source: Hair-Care Products & Ingredient Dictionary). Sodium PCA is not itself a nitrosamine, but carries a warning that it should not be used in cosmetics containing nitrosamines. It has been reviewed by the CIR Expert Panel, concluding that it is safe as used in cosmetics. (Cosmeticsinfo.org)
Cetrimonium Chloride – A quaternary ammonium compound (quat) that has good anti-static and detangling properties and also helps cleanse skin and hair. The CIR Expert Panel has reviewed this ingredient and determined that it is safe for rinse-off products and safe for use at concentrations of up to 0.25% in leave-on products. Although it appears on some “hit lists” of undesirable and/or toxic ingredients, there is no significant evidence to support this. At the most, it can be an irritant if used in high concentrations in a product.
Propylene Glycol – One of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, this humectant has outstanding moisturizing effects. It has been the target of controversy, however, as it is easily associated with anti-freeze. It has been the subject of extensive study, because of its wide use. In cosmetics and personal care products, it has been associated with some instances of skin irritation and allergic reaction.
The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Propylene Glycol and the Polypropylene Glycol polymers were safe for use in cosmetic products at concentrations up to 50%. Patients with diseased skin may be susceptible to developing irritation/sensitization reactions to Propylene Glycol. The Expert Panel recognizes that there may be some potential for irritation or sensitization (allergic reaction) with dermal application to normal skin, and suggests that this is dependent on concentration, There is no science to link Propylene Glycol in cosmetics to cancer.
A fairly reasonable overview of the information about Propylene Glycol may be found here: www.naturalnews.com/023138_propylene_glycol_food_health.html. This article correctly points out that although Propylene Glycol may indeed be found in some brands of anti-freeze, it is used as a substitute for the much more toxic ethylene glycol, the ingredient associated with poisoning of pets.
Aloe Barbadensis Gel – A natural moisturizing agent with no known harmful effects. Aloe is often included in an ingredient line-up to enhance the natural appearance of the ingredients, as it is widely recognized. According to the American Medical Association, there is no scientific evidence that Aloe Vera has any benefits in cosmetics.
Glycosaminoglycans – A naturally occurring protein complex, formerly known as mucopolysaccharides, a moisturizing agent. Claimed to increase the pliability and elasticity of skin. No known harmful effects have been cited.
Polysorbate 20 and Polysorbate 80 – These are non-ionic surfactants used as emulsifiers and stabilizers to mix essential oils and fragrance oils in a water-based solution. They help keep a solution from separating. They have been reviewed by the CIR Expert Panel and are considered safe as used in cosmetics. In this product, they are likely to be less than one-half of one percent in the formula.
Citric Acid – Used to adjust the pH in many products, it is rarely found to be more than a pinch or two per gallon. Citric Acid has been evaluated by the FDA and is determined to be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).
DMDM Hydantoin – A preservative agent that may release formaldehyde and may cause skin irritation. Although it has been considered to be a possible formaldehyde donor, it has not been established this ingredient can release formaldehyde in hair care products. (Hair-Care Product And Ingredients Dictionary). The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that DMDM Hydantoin was safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use. In 2005, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on DMDM Hydantoin and reaffirmed the above conclusion.
Methylparaben – One of a class of ingredients derived from para-aminobenzoic acid, known together as Parabens. Methyparaben is the most widely used and least troublesome of the Parabens. It is on the FDA list of substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as a direct food additive.
CIR - CIR Safety Review: Data reveiwed by the CIR Expert Panel included negative genotoxicity data, negative carcinogenicity data, and negative developmental toxicity data. Parabens were practically nonirritating and nonsensitizing in populations with normal skin.
FDA - To date, the FDA has found no convincing evidence that ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products have caused endocrine disruption effects. See http://www.fda.gov/ora/inspect_ref/igs/cosmet.html
Notes about preservatives: Preservatives are absolutely essential to the safety of cosmetic products. There are no proven, established preservatives that are truly benign and friendly. The job of preservatives is to inhibit microbes, to prevent life at a microscopic level. It’s a tough job, but necessary. The preservatives in a product should be viewed as a system, not one by one. While DMDM Hydantoin and Methylparaben may each have their downside, they work together well, allowing the formulator to use less preservative chemicals. Less is a good thing when it comes to these chemicals, as it reduces the overall health risk. The health risk of not having effective preservatives in a product is much greater than that of the minute amounts of these chemicals.
Tetrasodium EDTA – A chelating agent used to stabilize products and increase shelf life. A secondary preservative agent, that allows for use of less of the first line of preservatives. EDTA also helps products perform in hard water.
Fragrance – There is not enough information for evaluation. This product is very lightly fragranced, however, so it is unlikely to be of concern. What gripes my grits is that, on my bottle, fragrance is spelled incorrectly, “Frangrance.” I hate seeing that, as it suggests a disregard for accuracy and laziness on the part of the manufacturer.
Defoamer – This is an unidentified ingredient, what I call a “dodgeball” item on the list of ingredients. “Defoamer” is what an ingredient does, not what it is.
Manufacturers identify ingredients this way, by function, when they do not want to disclose the identity of an ingredient, usually from concern that the consumer would not like it, or that it is not consistent with what the company says about their choices of ingredients. What is this company hiding from us? Why throw a dodgeball at the end of a transparent list of ingredients? I seriously doubt that it would be something that would make the product undesirable or unsafe. My quess? It might be Simethicone, an anti-foaming agent and conditioner. Why not name it? Because this company is marketing "No Silicones", and most anti-foaming agents are silicones.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS:
Evaluating the listed ingredients with the help of the cosmeticsinfo.org database gives a different and considerably more favorable view of the product than when the scores on the cosmeticsdatabase.com are the viewpoint. We need to keep in mind that one database has its goal to reassure us that ingredients have been evaluated and are safe, and the other has the agenda to make us uncomfortable and even afraid. Where is the truth? - Probably somewhere in between.
The first four ingredients reveal the foundation of this product: Water, Sodium PCA, Cetrimonium Chloride, and Propylene Glycol. The rest of the ingredients are probably minor players. Even the Cetrimonium Chloride and Propylene Glycol are most likely not more than two percent each of the total volume. I would consider this to be a safe product for felines. What bothers me the most about the ingredient list is the unidentified “defoamer” at the end of the list. To name all the ingredients except one is a bit of an integrity loss.
While reviewing this ingredient list, I recognized the lineup as belonging to the EQyss Cat Mist, a product I have been using and selling for at least ten years. We have never had a report of a product reaction and the mist works well to assist in combing out cat fur and maintaining a healthy coat.