Aside from lotion, this is the one product that touches the largest surface area of your body. That means it has more opportunity to poison you. Remember that our skin immediately absorbs 60% of what we put on it. Plus, body wash leaves residue on your skin so it can sit there and soak in more.
Commercial body washes are bottles of toxic soup. Like most personal care products, they contain a whole lot of ingredients that really aren’t necessary at all. In this post, I’ll mention a couple major ingredients to look out for.
After water, topping the usual suspects in the ingredient list is likely sodium lauryl sulfate (or some other form of sulfate). Check the bottle in your shower right now. If it isn’t a natural, organic brand, I bet you it’s the second or third ingredient. As we know, the sooner it appears on the label, the more volume of the ingredient it contains. Sulfates are there to create suds and help prevent dirt from settling back onto surfaces (in this case, our skin). Through the processing of making sodium lauryl sulfate, a chemical called 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, is produced. However, you won’t find it listed on any ingredient list.
PEG is short for polyethylene glycol. Its purpose is to thicken, make things more spreadable, and dissolve grease and oil. Sometimes you’ll find a few different varieties, with numbers attached, scattered in varying amounts in products. Again, these can be contaminated with the carcinogen 1, 4-dioxane.
Propylene glycol or PG is another common ingredient. It works similarly to PEG and acts as a preservative in the product. It’s also an active ingredient in antifreeze. The EPA even recognizes it as a toxic substance that requires special procedures for handling. Along the same lines are butylene glycol, ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol.
Rounding out the list of nastiest body wash toxins are parabens. Somehow, they seem to be in just about every product we put on our bodies. They are the most widely used synthetic preservative on the market. Research shows that these mimic estrogen in the body and can mess with our hormones, which can lead to breast cancer. Check labels for anything that ends in “paraben” like methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.
Even though this seems like an overwhelming amount of things to avoid, body wash is by far one of the easiest things to replace. Two years ago, I found the ultimate natural cleansing product: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. It’s completely natural, multi-purpose, and comes in a variety of natural scents. I swear, I will never ever use anything else to wash my body. I enjoy the liquid version, but they also have it in bar form. Since it’s made from natural oils, it doesn’t leave your skin tight and dry like some body washes.
I’ve been a loyal almond soap user for this time, but I recently tried a sample of rose scented and have fallen in love. There’s also lavender, baby unscented, peppermint (watch out, it tingles), tea tree, orange, and eucalyptus.
I also hear campers take a small bottle since it can be used for everything if needed. I’ve tried it as a shampoo, but had a hard time working it through all my thick long hair. I also tried it as toothpaste once—which I don’t recommend unless you’re in the wilderness.
So, ditch your current body wash and make the switch! I’m betting you’ll be happy with the chemical-free results.