Rub a dub dub, that soapy stuff you’ve been using probably for most of your life has some rather undesirable chemicals in it that the bigwigs at P&G and Unilever don’t want you to know about! Chemicals that are toxic to us, irritants to our skin and in some cases our insides too. Here is our round up of nasties that could be lurking in your soap bar –
A-pinene – derived from the sap of pine trees, but just because it’s from a natural source doesn’t mean it’s good for our bodies – think about petrochemicals! It’s a major component of turpentine and can be damaging to the immune system.
A-terpineol – extremely irritating to our mucus membranes. Repeated, frequent or prolonged exposure can cause excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, central nervous system and respiratory depression, headache and even fatal edema.
Artificial Colours – most of these are petroleum-based and such chemicals leave a thin film that in effect suffocates our skin, making it unable to excrete toxins and waste.
Benzyl Acetate – an eye and lung irritant as well as a known carcinogen that has been linked to pancreatic cancer.
Benzaldehyde – otherwise known as Bitter Almond Oil – a narcotic that can depress the central nervous system. When inhaled it can cause vomiting, dizziness, and a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Ethanol – an alcohol used in the manufacturing of varnish and paint remover, where it is labeled as Hazardous Waste. Side effects may include irritation of the respiratory tract, impaired vision and loss of muscle control.
Fragrance (Parfum) – not all synthetic fragrance compounds are bad, but some are! Some can lead to dryness of skin and irritation. Unfortunately, the term “fragrance” is often masking a group of chemicals known as phthalates, which have been linked to serious reproductive problems in studies of people and animals.
Isopropyl Alcohol – a chemical used in antifreeze! It can have some really nasty side effects including dizziness, mental depression, respiratory problems, vomiting and even coma! Isopropyl alcohol also reduces our skin’s ability to naturally protect you against bacteria, viruses and mould.
Linalool – another narcotic that can impair respiratory function and motor activity. It also attracts bees which can be problematic for those allergic to bee stings.
Parabens – preservatives used in many cosmetics products to prolong the shelf life. They may cause skin irritation, rashes, allergic reactions, have been linked to cancer and may disrupt endocrine function within the body.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and Sodium PCA – these two chemicals are not clean, they can contain harmful impurities and both have been linked to cancer. PEG-6 has been linked to breast cancer in particular.
Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) – a known irritant to the skin and eyes, this chemical is commonly used in soaps as a foaming agent. It also increase the absorption of other (potentially harmful) chemicals in to the skin and impairs the skin’s ability to retain moisture. It can also mutate genetic material and has been used in Japanese studies to promote bacterial mutations, it’s classified as a mutagen. The American College of Toxicology (ACT) in 1983, reported SLS to be highly irritating, dangerous and that concentrations of SLS of as low as 0.5% could cause irritation yet studies have shown that numerous soaps have concentrations of up to 30%!!
Triethanolamine, Diethanolamine, Monoethanolamine (TEA, DEA, MEA) – according to the EWG this is one of the most toxic ingredients found in soap. An irritant to lungs and eyes, this chemical can cause severe and painful inflammation. The Cosmetic Review board states that it is safe to use “as long as exposure is very short as in a product that gets washed off.” What if you miss a bit?! More concerning is the fact that these chemicals can react with other ingredients in products to produce nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer.
Triclosan – this chemical may be antibacterial but it is also a mutagen, an eye irritant, is readily absorbed thru the skin and has been linked to liver damage. Over use of antibacterials such as Triclosan has created a widespread problem of a new generation of mutated bacteria that have become resistant to the same chemicals that created them.