Most Soap makes me feel dirty

Commercially available soap, in general, does not arrive at your doorstep without being somehow touched by two powerful industries. The first being, The Flavors & Fragrances Market, the industry that makes you smell “good”,  is estimated to reach USD 31.38 Billion by 2026. And then, there’s the global petrochemical market, estimated  to reach 958.8 billion dollars by 2025. These polluting industries continue to grow convincing the general public of their necessity through household products and anything else they can extract for a buck.  Dupont, whom offers “better living trough chemistry”, Proctor and Gamble, and Johnson and Johnson a “family company” are actors that could win an Oscar for their role in misleading the public. SPOILER: the “twist” is we continue to buy.   Giant companies have been responsible for creating misconceptions about what clean it smells like, what germs must be killed and what color cleans best.  These misconceptions have been polluting the environment and killing the public for years while raking in billions of industry dollars.  Legislation continues to give unlimited power to billion dollar companies to destroy our planet and our people.  However, the informed consumer has the power purchase products that empower the local economy and do not harm the planet or ourselves.

Fragrance Farce

  It is important to be aware that not all things that smell good are actually good for you. Some may ask, “don’t everybody like the smell of gasoline?“, knowing that taking a whiff is not that great.  Fragrances are often harmful poisons that may smell good.  This is something to think about when you are buying something with natural fragrance.     Today the fragrance market is monitored by two federal organizations the FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission. These organizations often fall short when it comes to consumer safety and the best interest of the public.  For instance, if you refer to the FDA’s website (link above) you can read exactly how and what regulations they choose to enforce.  Choose is the operative term, when it comes to fragrances, because of so called “Trade secrets”.  In US there are no regulations on fragrance and flavor ingredients, because of “Trade Secrets”, and ingredients can be listed simply as “Fragrance” or “Flavor.”

From the FDA Web page:

“Here’s why: FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling ActExternal Link Disclaimer (FPLA). This law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.” Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they are the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be “trade secrets.” To learn more, see the regulation on cosmetic ingredient labeling and the Federal Register notice for this regulation, which addresses “trade secrets” and the FPLA.”   The loop holes for companies to avoid safety concerns are absurd. These fragrance producing companies are “self-policing” by creating words to describe their products that have no definitions.  Even ingredients like essential oils lack transparency because the according to FDA:     “There is no regulatory definition for “essential oils,” although people commonly use the term to refer to certain oils extracted from plants. The law treats Ingredients from plants the same as those from any other source.”

Petrochemical Stake

Our lives are touched by oil in almost every way. Look around and you can link everything you look to oil. We are stuck in “The oil matrix”, petroleum companies control society right down to your bar of soap.  Environmental activism takes many shapes, but the purchases that you make effect the bottom line of companies that choose profit over planet. Knowing the ingredients in your body products and choosing environmentally friendly products is one of the many ways to support the planet.  As you take note of the lists of ingredients in your favorite soap, lotion or dish detergent ask yourself “what is that?”.  Often ingredients aren’t necessary bad for you but the method of manufacturing is environmentally harmful.  It is also very important to realize how many of the common ingredients in body care products are poison and harmful to you.

The Short List Of Dangerous Chemicals

 

Ingredient                                          Can be found in                          Effects on People

 

  • Coal Tar/FD&C Red No 6*                                       skin treatments,shampoos                                                       carcinogen
  • DEA/TEA/MEA                                                          shampoos, body washes, soaps                                                 carcinogen
  • Ethoxylated surfactants                                                       body washes                                                                   carcinogen
  • 1,4-dioxane                                                                               body washes                                                                   carcinogen
  • Formaldehyde*                                                                 shampoos, hair dye                                                             carcinogen
  • Fragrance/Parfum                                                           many body products                                             headaches, asthma, allergies
  • Mercury                                                                                mascara, eyedrops                                         allergen, impairs brain development
  • Mineral oil                                                              baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels                             impairs the skin’s release toxins
  • Parabens*                                                                 shampoos, body washes, soaps                                 cancer, endocrine disruption
  • Paraphenylenediamine (PPD)                                hair products and dyes, but                                 toxic to skin and immune system
  • Phthalates*                                                    fragrances, perfumes, deodorants, lotions                      endocrine disruption, cancer
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)                                                   many products                                                                carcinogen
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS, SLES)                                              soaps                                                            absorbed into body, irritant
  • Talc                                                                             baby powder, makeup, deodorant                     ovarian cancer, respiratory problems
  • Toluene                                                                               nail and hair products.                                         immune, endocrine systems
  • Triclosan                                                           antibacterials, hand sanitizers, deodorants                    cancer, endocrine disruption

*Banned in the EU.      A couple more things Avoid any ingredients containing the letters “eth”, chemicals are made less harsh by adding ethylene oxide a known carcinogen.  Many of these toxic chemicals are hidden under fragrance and may still be contained in the product.  Often other toxic chemicals are not listed on your bottle but show up as a contaminate like lead, Ethoxylated surfactants and 1,4-dioxane.  Avoid surfactants, they can be dangerous to you and leave a toxic legacy in the environment.

And the good News is

Fortunately for all of us, there are in fact, many alternatives to toxic body care products that seem to have become household names.  As with many zero waste, environmentally responsible or community empowering choices,  many of these products can be found at you local farmers market.  Look for recycled or zero waste packaging and get to know you local soap maker.  Or, count stand by soap makers like Dr. Bronners which is available in bulk sizes and recyclable containers.  Pure castile soap is made from  plant oils, it is safe even for most sensitive skin. Supporting the health of oily, acne-prone skin, castile soap penetrates pores with antibacterial agents, helping clean your skin without drying it out.  This easy to make soap can be used at different dilutions to do all your house hold cleaning and wash yo butt.

Don’t wanna Buy another package?

Hey! You can make your own soap.  Its fun, easy and doesn’t have to be filled with toxic ingredients. With six essential ingredients:

  • Olive oil –  for moisturizing
  • Coconut oil – for good lather
  • Palm oil – for a firm bar
  • Shea butter – moisturizing
  • Lye – a.k.a. Sodium Hydroxide
  • water

Follow this simple video and instructions and you are on your way to a healthy environmentally friendly bar of soap.