Hello there, Seed friends. Today's blog topic is body wash -- more specifically, the ingredients used in body washes. I have been giving this quite a bit of thought. What do I look for in a body wash? How about you? Most likely, we're looking for the same things. We want our skin to feel clean. We want our skin to feel nourished. We want to step out of the shower without our skin feeling as if all of the moisture has been zapped out of it.
We want to have a gentle lather. No need for bubbles. Those are just the detergents talking. We also want to know that we are using healthy ingredients. It isn't too much to ask.
There are so many harsh ingredients in your typical body wash. That is why so many of us seek out natural body washes. Would it surprise you to know that many brands who are marketing their body washes as natural are using some really harsh ingredients?
I've said it before and I will say it again. Ingredients matter. Why? Because you deserve better!
Let's take a look at 5 ingredients you may want to avoid in your body washes.
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - SLS was once rumored to cause cancer. While this has been proven false by the research community, SLS is a highly irritating detergent. While it is fantastic for creating a lather, it is believed to be a leading cause of skin conditions such as Perioral Dermatitis. Scientists do not recommend using SLS at a rate of 15% of a total product, and at that amount only because it will be diluted with water and immediately rinsed out.
2. Ethanolamines - "Say what? I have never seen something called Ethanolamine on my product labels!" This is one of those ingredients with "aliases", so to speak. If you see DEA, MEA or TEA before or after a word on the label, it is an ethanolamine. Examples would be TEA Lauryl Sulfate and Cocamide MEA.
If you see these ingredients on your products labels, they are also ethanolamines, which are simply amino acids + alcohols. Unfortunately, these are linked to liver tumors. DEA is prohibited for use in cosmetics in the EU per the European Commission. Studies have shown that a large number of cosmetics with ethanolmines are contaminated with Nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.
3. Fragrance - If I had to pick only ONE "naughty" ingredient to avoid in personal care products, it may surprise you to read that it would be artificial fragrance. That wasn't always the case, but the research is compelling. In addition to the sound science behind the negatives surrounding synthetic fragrance, I like many others, no longer experience headaches or allergies when we are fragrance free or use only essential oils. Artificial fragrance is found in nearly every body wash on the market. It may say parfum, fragrance or fragrant oils, or something similar on your ingredients labels.
Did you know that your typical “fragrance oil” may contain over 100 different chemical compounds such as amines, ethers, ketones, lactones, terpenes and thiones. Many also contain phthalates, benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and other toxins shown to cause cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, neurological disorders, and allergic reactions. Read more here.
4. Parabens - Research is mixed on parabens. There are so many question marks. I look to scientific studies to guide my own decision-making process. With this one, I personally say, "Better safe than sorry. There is too much evidence."
In the September 1, 2011 edition of Carcinogenesis, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center released their findings showing that both BPA and Methylparaben at even low concentrations found in humans have negative health consequences such as an increased breast cancer risk.
It also went on to mention the ever-increasing male breast cancer rate, which is another alarming trend. These findings are quite similar to an older study on parabens from about 12 years ago. In this compelling study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens were linked to breast cancer as they have shown to be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth. This is one of many reasons that I would never apply body wash to my children if it contains parabens.
5. Cocamidopropyl betaine - Also known as Coco-betaine, this is a commonly used ingredient used in body wash and is billed as "a natural coconut cleanser." There ARE many natural surfactants derived from coconut oil, but they all differ and this issue is not cut and dry. Coco-betaine is not a healthier choice. This is quite irritating due to the by-products of amidoamine and dimethylaminopropylamine. This ingredient actually was chosen Allergen of the Year (yes, it's a thing) by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. The appeal of this ingredient is that it can make a product lather almost as well as traditional sulfates. Is this better, though? No, not really.
A gentler choice with naturally plant-based ingredients -- because it's better.
Seed Body Wash is gentle. It contains better for you ingredients and quality you can count on. It delivers on all of my "body wash must-haves" from up above. Take a peek at our body wash ingredients and try it out the next time you're needing to order.
Challenge: When you have a chance, head to your bathroom and take a look at the ingredients in your body washes or shower gels. Do you see any of the 5 ingredients listed above? If so, I'd really love to hear what's in your products. Are they marketed as "natural" or would you consider them to be more mainstream?
Löffler H, Pirker C, Aramaki J, Frosch P, Happle R, I. E. Evaluation of skin susceptibility to irritancy by routine patch testing with sodium lauryl sulfate. Eur J Dermatol. 2001;11(5):416-9.
EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry
World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs Programme on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Lists of Group 1, 2a, and 2b substances can be obtained
Ethanolamine, Material Safety Data Sheet