In our monthly steps to reduce the burden of toxic chemicals in our homes, our most-used products are typically a good place to start since those are the products we come into contact with most frequently.
One of the typical high-use products that many of us don’t stop to consider very often is our body wash.
Most of us use body wash multiple times a week so we assume that, at this point, there should be no secrets left between us and those lathering products. The sad truth, though, is that your body wash likely has a few little dirty secrets to hide. But fear not! Avoiding these ingredients and switching to safer alternatives is much easier than you think.
Join us this month as we come clean about some of the ingredients of concern in body washes and examine safer alternatives.
Want to skip the nitty-gritty and go straight to safer solutions? Skip to What to Look for When Shopping for Safer Options.
Ingredients of Concern Commonly Found in Body Washes
Surfactants – Lathering agents (oftentimes synthetic) added to products that create foam due to a chemical reaction. Examples of these kinds of sudsing ingredients that you may recognize are sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate. These foaming ingredients can cause contact irritation in the humans using the products, and then travel down the drain where they can be harmful to aquatic life.
Contaminants – Contaminants are ingredients that are not intentionally added, but can still be found in the finished product due to factors such as processing or sourcing. A contaminant to be on the lookout for in body washes is 1,4 dioxane. Surfactant ingredients can undergo ethoxylation to make them less harsh. An example is the ethoxylation of sodium lauryl sulfate to convert it to sodium laureth sulfate, which can produce and contaminate the final product with 1,4 dioxane in the process. 1,4 dioxane will not be listed on the label of a product since it isn’t an intentionally added ingredient, which can make it tricky to avoid. A good way to steer clear of 1,4 dioxane is by reading labels for the chemicals that tend to be contaminated with it: as a general rule, avoid ingredients that end in “-eth” or PEGs.
Preservatives – Preservatives are used to allow products to last for long periods of time without expiring or growing microorganisms. They can come in many forms, but a few examples are: parabens (ethylparaben, isopropylparaben, etc.), quaternium-15, and glyoxal. Preservatives are designed to kill things, so it’s no wonder that they have been linked to a range of toxicity issues. Parabens, for example, are hormone disruptors that are linked to breast cancer and in some cases even reproductive harm.
Fragrance – An umbrella term used on product labels that may contain upwards of one hundred different ingredients. Many common fragrance ingredients, such as phthalates and synthetic musks, can be toxic to human health. Because companies are not required to disclose fragrance constituents, it’s best to avoid fragranced products unless they are either entirely disclosed or otherwise vetted by a trusted third-party verification such as MADE SAFE.
What to Look for When Shopping for Safer Options
- Avoid PEGs or ingredients ending in -eth.
- Avoid products that contain ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, or other ingredients ending in -paraben.
- Use products that disclose 100% of ingredients.
- Avoid products that list “fragrance” or “parfum.”
- Look for the MADE SAFE® seal.
MADE SAFE® Certified Solutions
Foaming Body Washes
- Not Just Body Wash – Fragrance Free
- Not Just Body Wash – Lavender & Cedarwood Scent
- Not Just Body Wash – Mandarin & Yuzu Scent
- Not Just Body Wash – with Purifying Charcoal & Shea Butter
Annmarie Skin Care
- Body Wash – in Botanical Bliss, Free & Clear, Goody Goody Grapefruit, Herbal Fresh, and Spruce’d