According to EWG’s Skin Deep survey of 2300 people, on average, respondents use nine products daily. These contain 120-130 unique ingredients. ( https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/learn_more/why-skin-deep/ ).
Your daily grooming ritual can include shampoo, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hair conditioner, lip balm, sunscreen, body lotion, shaving products, and aftershave balm or perfume.
Most people use cosmetics and other personal care items without a second thought, believing that the regulatory authorities oversee their safety. Not so. No health studies or pre-market testing are required for personal care products.
Personal care products are manufactured from over 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system. In the USA no premarket safety testing is required for the industrial chemicals that go into personal care products. The FDA does no systematic reviews of safety, instead authorizing the cosmetics industry to self-police ingredient safety through its Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel. Over 36 years, this industry panel has rejected only 11 ingredients as unsafe in cosmetics. By contrast, the European Union has banned hundreds of chemicals in cosmetics. However, even in Europe many ingredients are still used which have potentially dangerous effects.
You can look up ingredients and products to evaluate their safety for yourself using EWG’s database - https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ .
Let’s take a look at an example that is currently heavily advertised: Simple Facial Wash. Here is a list of the ingredients. Perhaps the first question should be why you should need so many synthetic ingredients in one product designed to wash your face compared to using soap:
List of Ingredients:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate: can cause severe skin irritation and reduce the effectiveness of skin function when left in contact with healthy skin ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1DjRTHSCZK3h7V6dlxyHRdP/are-my-wash-products-damaging-my-skin ).
Decyl Glucoside: Alkyl glucosides (AG), of which decyl glucoside (DG) and lauryl glucoside (LG) are those most commonly implicated in causing allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), are surfactants that are increasingly used in a wide range of products, including cosmetics ( https://academic.oup.com/bjd/article-abstract/184/3/571/6702215?redirectedFrom=fulltext&login=false ).
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: is a surfactant; it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it.
Glycerin: Glycerin may be of animal or vegetable origin. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as a byproduct of soap manufacture which typically uses animal fat.
PEG-55 Propylene Glycol Oleate: acknowledged to have an association with irritation and contact dermatitis, even in low concentrations.
Propylene Glycol: is a small, synthetic alcohol (chemical formula CH3-CHOH-CH2OH) that has the potential to cause allergic contact dermatitis in some individuals.
Sodium Chloride: common salt.
Panthenol: Primarily used as a humectant (helps retain moisture).
PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate: Due to the presence of PEG, this ingredient may contain potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.
Phenoxyethanol: Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions.
Glycol Distearate: hydrophilic, and is used as a penetration enhancer.
Tocopheryl Acetate: Used as an antioxidants or skin- conditioning agent. May cause a local skin reaction.
Polyquaternium-39: a cationic, surface-active polymer that is adsorbed by keratinous surfaces, such as hair and skin, functioning as an anti-static agent.
Cocamide MEA: A potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals which may form cancer-causing agents.Has been linked to miscarriages and inhibiting fetal brain development. Easily absorbed by the skin and research indicates a link to liver and kidney cancer. There is also evidence that carcinogens form when Cocamide DEA is applied to the skin and in reaction with other ingredients.
Laureth-10: A surfactant that help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified. Falls into the same category as Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Disodium EDTA: while disodium EDTA is approved for commercial use for the public, several countries, including Australia and parts of Europe, have banned the ingredient because of potential health problems from overexposure. While disodium EDTA is deemed safe for the skin and consumption, the same can’t be said for the environment as disodium EDTA is identified to be a persistent pollutant that take too long to degrade and to cause multiple environmental issues.
Sodium Benzoate: is a preservative commonly used in the skincare industry to prevent fungi and bacteria from growing in products.
Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin: Hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin is a plant-derived or synthetic carbohydrate that functions as a chelating agent and stabilizer in skin care formulations
Pantolactone: Synthetic humectant that helps maintain skin's moisture.
Benzoic Acid: a preservative and pH adjuster in skin care formulations.
Bisabolol: Bisabolol is often used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations as sensitive skin skincare or anti redness skincare for its soothing effect and its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: prevents or retards bacterial growth, thereby protecting cosmetics and personal-care products from spoilage.
Citric Acid: used to adjust the acid/base balance of the product.
So why does all this matter? Household chemicals you may use every day such as toilet cleaners, surface cleaners, washing powders and liquids, are by their nature either not for use directly on your skin, or should be thoroughly rinsed off. We have watched with interest while the consumer products industry has chosen to focus on the dangers of the ingredients that go into washing powders and liquids, promoting dissolvable washing “sheets” which are meant to be totally biodegradable and non-toxic. However, any wash should be followed by several rinse cycles, so realistically unless you are using a fabric softener which would be applied in the final rinse, none of the chemicals used to clean your clothes should still be present on your clothes post wash. Instead, the focus should be more on those chemicals you actively apply to your skin each day and the potential long-term health issues which may come from their use.
At Wild4Men, we only use two chemicals. Sodium Hydroxide, which is required to create soap and is completely consumed during the manufacturing process and converted into hydrogenated oils, and Perfumer’s Alcohol which is used solely in our fragrances. We have alternative “fragrance oils” which use carrier oils rather than alcohols, for those who want to completely avoid synthetic chemicals. All other ingredients are completely vegan natural extracts and organic plant oils.
Our naked soap is widely used by those with sensitive skin and is truly simple using only organic plant oils, and is naturally moisturising. Take a look at our ingredients list!: https://www.wild4men.com/product-page/naked-soap-100g