What are you cleansing your body with every day? What are you washing down the drain? If your answer is conventional body wash or soap, this article will help you in learning about the importance of transitioning to non toxic body wash.
This article will cover:
- What is the problem with conventional body wash?
- Common chemicals in body wash to avoid
- What is non toxic body wash?
- 5 best non toxic body wash brands
What is the problem with conventional body wash?
Like other cosmetic products, body wash contains various types of chemicals that are toxic for our skin and for the planet. The ingredients hiding in your body wash formula might actually be doing more harm than good. In the short term, these ingredients actually dry your skin out and cause skin irritation. Long term, they are linked to more serious health concerns. Many of these health concerns are caused by common body wash ingredients like undisclosed fragrances, toxic preservatives, harmful surfactants, and contaminants. Fragrance is a huge issue with the cosmetics industry. This is an unregulated umbrella term that can contain upwards of 3,000 ingredients, some of which are linked to developmental and reproductive harm. Preservatives are often used to maintain freshness and expand shelf-life, but they often contain chemicals linked to toxicity issues, hormone disruption, and even cancer. In order to get the sudsy, bubbly lathering quality of conventional body wash, manufacturers use harmful surfactants. These chemicals actually irritate the skin and are extremely harmful to aquatic life when washed down the drain. Another concern with conventional body wash is that it often contains contaminants. These ingredients are unlabeled, unintentionally added substances present in the finished product. Since these chemicals are labeled, they are hard to avoid. A general rule we recommend is avoiding PEGS and sodium laureth sulfate since they tend to be contaminated with other harmful chemicals. Aside from chemicals inside the products, there are also concerns with the chemicals in common plastic packaging. Most body washes use plastic packaging which doesn’t biodegrade and often contains harmful chemicals that can leach into your product. Switching to a completely clean beauty routine may feel overwhelming at times. That's why it's good to start your clean beauty journey with products like body wash that you apply to your entire body daily and swap those products for better, safer alternatives first.
Common chemicals in body wash to avoid
Below is a list of commonly used, known to be harmful ingredients that you should look out for when shopping. Many brands will market their body wash as nourishing, natural and/or clean, yet it is often just a greenwashing technique to trick consumers into buying their chemical products. In order to avoid greenwashing, it is important to know the most important, harmful ingredients to look for.
Petroleum is often used as a moisturizing ingredient yet it doesn’t actually hydrate your skin. Instead, this ingredient sits atop the outer layer of skin blocking moisture from getting in. Another concern with petroleum is that it is essentially a byproduct of oil production. This makes it an extremely unsustainable resource.
2. SLS/Surfactants and Sulfates
Surfactants are substances that help to reduce surface tension and create that satisfying foaming lather body wash is known for. But they actually strip away natural moisture. Sulfates are the most common and cheapest ingredient used in surfactants. Sulfates are also petroleum based and linked to serious health concerns. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a common sulfate that easily penetrates the skin and is shown to leave residue in the liver, lungs, heart, and brain. Another common foaming agent is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) which is linked to skin irritants, allergens, kidney damage, and neurotoxicity and often contains 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen.
These chemicals are synthetic preservatives used to make body wash formulas shelf stable. Preservatives are designed to kill things so it’s not surprising that they have toxic issues. More parabens are needed for body wash than for a bar of soap because liquid ingredients attract more bacteria. Parabens are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen and are associated with breast cancer, reproductive harm, skin irritation, and neurological issues. Generally, four types of parabens are used: butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethylparaben. It is best to avoid all parabens whenever possible.
4. Artificial Fragrances
Manufacturers use the term “fragrance” in place of the actual ingredients used to create scents. This is because the FDA considers fragrance ingredients potential trade secrets. Over 3000 undisclosed materials are being used in these fragrances. Since the ingredients don’t have to be disclosed, they can contain harmful and even banned chemicals.
Phthalates are a common chemical that is usually hidden behind the term “fragrance.” They are used to make scents last longer. This chemical is already banned in the EU due to concerns around it being linked to reproductive issues.
6. DEA, MEA, and TEA
Along with sulfates, these three chemicals are also commonly used to produce foam or lathering effects. Diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA) are all banned in the EU for cosmetics. Another common name for these chemicals is ethanolamine. These foaming agents cause skin irritation, eye irritation, and dryness. The main concern is that they react with other chemicals used in body wash and create carcinogenic byproducts.
Formaldehyde is a preservative that helps prevent bacteria growth. It is strongly linked with cancer, allergic reactions, and damaging immune systems. Due to its toxic effects, many companies have stopped using Formaldehyde, yet many products still contain it.
Triclosan is a preservative used to kill germs and fight odor. It is concerning due to its cancer causing capabilities. Triclosan quickly affects the body's natural hormones and makes it easier for antibiotic resistant bacteria to grow.
What is non toxic body wash?
Non toxic body wash uses safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging. Ingredients are typically plant based, natural, and/or organic. The products we recommend disclose 100% of their ingredients so you can be sure there aren’t any undisclosed chemicals lurking behind the ingredient list. Common ingredients used in non toxic body wash include coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and vegetable glycerin. Look for body wash that avoids PEGS, parabens, and fragrance or perfume. Try to avoid non toxic body wash that is made from non renewable natural materials like palm oil. Palm oil production is responsible for massive amounts of deforestation because people are burning down forests to plant palm trees. Non toxic body wash keeps you fresh and smelling great without exposing you to dangerous chemicals. Non toxic body wash is a better choice for both you and the environment.
5 best non toxic body wash brands
All of the body washes we recommend below are EWG Skin Deep Verified or have achieved an EWG rating of 1, the highest rating for product safety. In order to get this score or be EWG verified, a company must show that it fully discloses ingredients on labels or packaging, contains no EWG ingredients of concern, and meets good manufacturing criteria. This helps us ensure that we are recommending truly safe, non toxic products.
Attitude offers a variety of EWG verified scented and unscented non toxic body washes. These body washes are also hypoallergenic, PETA certified vegan, and EcoLogo certified biodegradable. Attitude products are free of endocrine disruptors like BHA, BHT, phthalates, and triclosan. They are also free of toxic preservatives including phenoxyethanol, parabens, formaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, and MIT. Attitude products are always free of sodium laureth sulfate, 1,4 dioxane, and ethylene oxide. Their body wash is enriched with oatmeal which has natural nourishing and moisturizing properties. Some of their common ingredients include argan oil, avocado oil, and chamomile extract. Attitude body wash provides good suds and smells nice, without all the harmful chemicals. They also offer a variety of other body, hair, baby, kid, household, and even pet care products. To make it even better, with every product purchased, Attitude plants 1 tree! This non toxic body wash is also easily accessible. Aside from ordering it on their website, you can also find Attitude body wash at your local Sally Beauty, Buy Buy Baby, and Bed Bath and Beyond.
Be Green offers three EWG verified non toxic body washes including lavender, orange and unscented. Their orange scent uses real orange peels and their lavender scent uses natural lavender oil. This body wash is made with organic oils and is overall, 95% organic. The natural formula lathers and cleans without the use of sulfates. They use coconut oil for its lathering and moisturizing properties, olive oil to add more moisture and softness, and vegetable glycerin to rehydrate the skin. Their formula is PETA certified and free of harsh detergents, sulfates, artificial colors, synthetic fragrance, and chemical preservatives. This non toxic formula is great for sensitive and eczema prone skin.
Earth Mama Organics is a great brand that formulates their products to be especially safe for pregnant mothers. They offer a variety of products for moms, babies, and kids including deodorant, soap, sunscreen, lotion, and tea. The Morning Wellness body wash is a safe and moisturizing hand and body wash for the entire family. It is rated 1 on the EWG Skin Deep Database and is dermatologist tested for irritation. Their formula is made with certified organic herbs and oils. Castile soap is great against germs and is an essential ingredient in DIY non toxic household cleaners. The main ingredients of this body wash are olive oil, vegetable glycerin, vanilla extract, ginger root oil, shea butter, flower extract, and aloe leaf juice. Earth Mama products use no synthetic fragrance, preservatives, triclosan, parabens, or synthetic foaming agents. Instead, their body wash foams naturally and all ingredients are explicitly labeled.
Aleavia’s Enzymatic Body Wash uses only 7 pure plant based ingredients! The simple ingredients are filtered water, coconut oil, aloe vera, dead sea salt, Acadian sea kelp, citric acid, and plant glycerin. The ingredients are 100% organic and natural, free of GMOs parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes, and cruelty free and vegan. EWG gives it a rating of 1 on their database. Aleavia also offers citrus, orchid, green tea honeysuckle, and lavender body wash options. These non toxic body washes are even safe for babies. The formula naturally nourishes and moisturizes the skin, stabilizes PH, and eliminates body odor. Formulated with prebiotic nutrients like sea kelp and pure aloe vera, this body wash naturally helps reduce fresh burn scars, eczema, keratosis, and psoriasis.
Alaffia is a great non toxic body wash that is fair trade and Ecocert For Life certified and gives back to ingenious communities. The founder and CEO grew up in a small village in West Africa. The brand is a Minority Business Enterprise meaning it is minority owned, managed, and controlled. Alaffia’s methods and products are rooted in Ancient African traditions, indigenous ingredients, local resources, and traditional handcrafting. Their products are created in cooperatives in Togo, West Africa where their employees and sourcing are always paid above market price. By keeping production in West Africa, Alaffia hopes to uphold ingenious African traditions and provide stable income to the community. The brand also created The Alaffia Foundation, a charitable organization, to further empower African Communities and lift them out of poverty. The Alaffia Foundation has successfully funded over 5,000 births, donated over 10,000 bicycles, planted over 100,000 trees, and built 16 schools! All Alaffia products are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum, silicones, and artificial fragrances and dyes. Their natural body wash is cruelty free, gentle, lathers, and only contains 5 ingredients! The body wash is offered in a variety of scents including coconut, vanilla, passion fruit, lavender, and unscented. Alaffia is a great non toxic body wash that uplifts ingenious African communities.