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Hidden Dangers in a Popular Hand Soap: A Review of Ingredients

Laura Billingsley

Hidden Dangers in a Popular Hand Soap:  A Review of Ingredients

If you have visited any mall in America in recent years, you have more than likely experienced the hypnotic pull of the delicious fragrance emanating from a popular bath and body boutique.  The products are in almost every home in America and the desire to take some of those sweet-smelling delights home with you is undeniable.  They are pretty, they smell great and it seems everyone is doing it, but let’s pause for a minute to consider what you are slathering all over your body.  Yes, it smells good but is it good for you?  Here’s a review of the ingredients in an antibacterial gently foaming hand soap that smells like cherry blossoms.  You decide if you want to bathe in this chemical formulation.

Triclosan 3mg in 1g:  (From the FDA website)  Some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones. But we don’t know the significance of those findings to human health. Other studies have raised the possibility that exposure to triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. At this time, we don’t have enough information available to assess the level of risk that triclosan poses for the development of antibiotic resistance.

There are other ongoing studies that involve the safety of triclosan. One is a study investigating the potential of developing skin cancer after a long-term exposure to triclosan in animals. Another is a study on the potential breakdown of triclosan to other chemicals on human skin after exposure to triclosan to ultraviolet (UV) rays. At this time, neither study has been completed.

In December 2017, the FDA issued a final rule regarding certain OTC health-care antiseptic products. As a result, companies will not be able to use triclosan or 23 other active ingredients in these products without premarket review due to insufficient data regarding their safety and effectiveness.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate: (  A common ingredient in personal care products, sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, is an additive that allows cleansing products to foam. According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a "moderate hazard" that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption.

Fragrance:  (  The word "fragrance" or "parfum" on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Hydroxyethyl Urea:  (  Releases formaldehyde: According to a study published in 2010, ureas can release formaldehyde, which has been classified as a human carcinogen. In addition, the test found a clear relationship between patch test reactions to formaldehyde-releasers like urea and contact allergy to formaldehyde.

Can be irritating: According to the Material Safety Data Sheet on this substance, urea can cause skin and eye irritation, and prolonged exposure can cause reproductive effects.

Tendency to cause allergic reactions: Whether related to its tendency to release formaldehyde or not, urea has a tendency to cause allergic reactions. Those with sensitive and infected skin are advised to steer clear of this ingredient. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology has established diazolidinyl urea as a primary cause of contact dermatitis.

PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate:  (  This synthetic polymer is based on PEG (polyethylene glycol) and fatty acids derived from coconut oil. Due to the presence of PEG, this ingredient may contain potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.

Propylene Glycol:  (  Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin conditioning agent. It has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis as well as contact urticaria in humans; these sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2%.

Triethylene Glycol:  (  Violation of industry recommendations - Restricted in cosmetics; use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions - Not safe for use on injured or damaged skin (only for products for use on damaged skin)

Sodium Hydroxide:  (  Sodium Hydroxide is a highly caustic and reactive inorganic base.

As for me, I made the decision to use only organic, plant based, natural ingredients for my skin.  If I can’t identify or pronounce an ingredient then I don’t want to feed it to my skin. 




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