Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Green Alternative to Toxic Soap

It's beginning to look a lot like...cold and flu season, and you know what that means, time to really up your hand washing game. Or just get lectured by the news and advertisers as to why we MUST get a flu shot, but that's a whole other post in itself. But back to soap, most people probably think, "the stronger the better" when it comes to choosing a soap. "I want all those germs gone!" says a mother or a teacher or a doctor or anyone else who comes in contact with sickness/kids/or germs in general on a daily basis. But did you know the "germ-killing" properties of that soap may come at a price? Certain chemicals found in everyday products like the soap that is probably sitting in your bathroom right now have been shown to irritate the skin and respiratory systems, disrupt hormones, cause reproductive issues, and worst of all, lead to cancer.
"What's in my soap?"
You may be thinking, "How can this be possible? I buy it off the shelf at my local drug store, surely they wouldn't be selling me something that isn't safe...right?" I'm afraid that's wrong. I had the same "false reality" when it came to thinking that my cosmetics were safe, I figured that if it was on the shelf, then it must have been tested for safety. And if it could harm my body, my health, or my baby in anyway than there's no way it would be allowed to be produced, marketed, and sold. But as of now, there are no regulations in the world of personal care products.

Here's just a fraction of the "soap aisle" I found at Target.
What's in these products? Found out below...

Learn more about this in one of my favorite videos, "The Story of Cosmetics"...

So until that day comes, mothers, fathers, men, women, grandmas, grandpas, teens and even kids, we have to take responsibility for our own health and read the labels of the products we buy. We have to do our own research. We have to learn which kind of chemicals to avoid and what healthy alternatives we can use instead.  In the end, we can complain all we want to these companies to change their products and switch to safer ingredients, but if we continue to buy their toxic products we are contradicting ourselves.

Many food/farm advocates say, "We have to vote with our forks." I firmly believe in that idea as it relates to food, but also for our personal care products in how we can "Vote with our soap bottles...our lipstick tubes...our mascara wands, etc." You get the idea. Money is power, and where you spend your money, whether it be on toxic products or safe products, sends a message. Use that message to say we want and deserve, cleaner, greener, safer products.  Sooner or later they will get the message.

Wow, I got a little carried away there, excuse me as I step off my "soap box" and actually begin discussing soap with you...
Here's my favorite green soap...
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

Before I get into my favorite green soap, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, let me share some toxic ingredients you'll need to be on the lookout for in your quest to find a greener soap.

1. Triclosan (pronounced "try-clo-san") If you have any type of soap that claims to be "anti-bacterial" there's a pretty good chance that it has triclosan in it. Here's some facts about this toxic little gem...the EPA registers it as a PESTICIDE, it has a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange, it has been shown to disrupt the thyroid hormone in frogs and rats, alters sex hormones of laboratory animals, even worse it may be contributing to creating "antibiotic resistant super bugs". The fun doesn't stop there, in humans studies have shown it may be associated with reproductive hormones  impaired thyroid function, and liver toxicity  The kicker to it all is that studies have shown that triclosan-based soaps are no better at preventing illness than traditional soap and water.  (read more here)

Here's a funny video I found on YouTube that speaks to the truth of germ-killing chemicals called, "Disinfectants Horror Show" and although it is more about disinfectants in cleaning products, some of the chemicals are the same as what you will find in antibacterial soaps.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)-This is what makes your toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash so nice and foamy.  Unfortunately, those soap bubbles aren't so innocent.  SLS can cause skin irritation, strips your skin of important oils, could affect eye sight, and possibly cause cancer.  SLS is has industrial uses too as engine degreasers...and you want me to put on your body or in your mouth, no way! (read more here)

3. Fragrance- This is one sneaky little ingredient because under the name "fragrance/parfume" manufactures can include a whole slew of ingredients, but not have to tell you because they are all part of the "fragrance"...not cool.  One common chemical used to preserve fragrance is phtalates,  (pronounced THAL-ates). Phtalates are a toxic petroleum-derivative that has been associated with cancer, disorders of sexual maturation in girls, and birth defects of the penis and desmasulinization in boys (when exposed to phtlates while in the womb).  Also causes asthma, liver and kidney damage.  Not to mention fertility problems in men.  Hmm...makes you wonder if that sweet little scented soap is worth it for all the health problems that might come from it. (read more here)

4. Parabens-These little guys are known hormone disruptors.  Basically meaning that they mimic our natural hormones, which disrupts our bodies natural hormone production.  This shift or alteration in hormone levels has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems in women, and decreased sperm count,  prostate and testicular cancer in men. Even more scary, a study even found parabens still intact in breast cancer tumors.  I don't know about you, but I want my hormones left alone!! (read more here)

Learn more about how I made the switch to a greener soap in this week's video...

With that said, let's take a look at the ingredients and claims of common soaps and see if we can find any of our little toxic friends from above:

First up is Dial Gold Antibacterial Soap:

The bottle claims: "Get a clean you can trust in a hand soap that's the gold standard for antibacterial protection. Enriched with moisturizer, this refreshingly scented liquid removes dirt and germs and rinses clean."

Let's check out the ingredients:
Active Ingredient: Triclosan
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-7, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Coco/Isoteramide, DMDM Hydantonin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Yellow 5, Red 4.

See some offenders? What do you know...all three: SLS, Fragrance, and of course Triclosan.

Next up is for babies is Johnson & Johnson's Head-To-Toe Baby Wash

The bottle claims: 
"We've taken love and gentleness and bottled it. JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash is an ultra-mild cleanser for your baby's skin and hair that's gentle enough even for newborns. The #1 choice of hospitals. Milder than baby soap. NO MORE TEARS® formula is as gentle to the eyes as pure water. Soap-free, dye-free, hypoallergenic and allergy- and dermatologist-tested"

Let's check out the ingredients:
Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Fragrance, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.

Offenders: SLS...check, Fragrance....check, no triclosan, but don't worry, it was replaced with the lovely: Quaternium-15. Read about this nasty chemical here. On top of that, I don't understand how the bottle can claim to be so gentle, mild, and doctor approved, when there are ingredients in it that are known to cause cancer and other ill effects?! No wonder parents are confused. Why question the ingredient list, when it states that it is so gentle, soap-free, and hypoallergenic?

Last up is Johnson & Johnson Baby Bubble Bath & Wash

The bottle claims:
"Turn bath time into fun time! JOHNSON'S® Baby Bubble Bath & Wash is an all-new formula combining big, bubblin' fun with a hypoallergenic, extra gentle baby wash. No need to save bubbles for special occasions; this dermatologist and pediatrician tested formula is gentle enough to use everyday."

Let's check out the ingredients:

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Glycol Distearate, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA, Laureth-4, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-7, Citric Acid.

Now the ingredients are no surprise here, you'll find the standard Sodium "Trideceth" Sulfate, Fragrance, and many other chemicals listed.  But to me the shocker comes from the directions of use and safety precautions...

When to use: Use JOHNSON'S® Baby Bubble Bath & Wash in a warm bath, morning, day, or night, as often as you like.

Safety Tip: Use only as directed. Excessive use or prolonged exposure may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract. Discontinue use if rash, redness or itching occurs. Consult your physician if irritation persists. Keep out of reach of children, except under adult supervision.

Okay, so according to your "when to use," I can use the bubble bath morning, day, or night...but yet excessive or prolonged use may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract? Didn't you just give me the go-ahead to use whenever? So confusing. So contradicting. Anybody else mad?

Let's get green, get calm, and chill on out with my favorite green alternative... Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap.

Gotta love Dr. Bronner's and their crazy bottles!

It's plant-based, all natural, organic, and it has no additives or foaming agents.  Also, no crazy safety tips or precautions with use other than the obvious of keeping it out of your eyes.

Let's check out the ingredients:
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
*Certified Fair Trade Ingredients
**None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin

Ahh...much better. No triclosan, no SLS, and no fragrance.

Even better, Dr. Bronner's has 18 different uses!  The main way I use Dr. Bronner's soap is as a hand soap, but the list doesn't stop there! I also use it to:
  • as a dish soap
  • as a body wash in the shower
  • as a body wash for Avery during bath time
  • to shave with
  • to make homemade cleaners (see my favorite recipes here)
While it doesn't bubble up like I'm sure Johnson & Johnson's
does...I like to rest assured knowing she's getting clean without
all the other side effects from traditional toxic soaps. 

Other uses I've read about online are:
  • to wash dogs
  • fruit and veggie rinse
  • ant spray
  • laundry detergent
  • for brushing teeth
  • and even as shampoo
(Follow the link here to see how to dilute and use the soap for these other uses that I personally haven't tried yet.

In order to make body wash, I fill about 1/3 to 1/2 of an empty 16 oz. bottle or soap dispenser with Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile Soap and then I fill the rest with water.

How I make my Dr. Bronner's diluted soap. All you need is
the castile soap, a soap dispenser, and a funnel (optional).

My diluted Dr. Bronner's soap, ready
for hand washing, dish washing, and
Don't have a fancy soap dispenser? Just use another small soap bottle. This is what I use for my body wash in the shower. Just fill half of an old soap bottle with the castile soap (sometimes only 1/3 full) and then fill the rest with water. Bam...body wash (toxin free).

How I make my body wash...

Other scents they have are: citrus, lavender, almond, and rose.  They Cost: $6 for 8 oz. bottle at local health food stores, or even Target. I typically get the 32 oz. bottle for $13-14 (and with diluting it, it will last several months). Trader Joe's also sells Dr. Bronner's soap for a few bucks cheaper too, if you have one close to you!

You can also find them online here...

So now that you know the low-down on your soap, do you think you will give Dr. Bronner's a try? They have some small bottles, so you could try one of those and just "ease" into it and give it a try.

Do you already use a favorite green soap? If so, share about it below!

"This is the one I'm sticking with!"

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and this is my honest review of it.*

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1 comment:

  1. Is it necessary to dilute it with water for body wash or hand soap?


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