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Why Those Sensitive to Chemicals -- AND Everyone Else -- Should Focus on All-Natural Body Cleansers


Adults use nine different cosmetics each day, which exposes them to about 126 chemicals, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group. This massive onslaught of synthetics can easily lead to "chemical overload" -- which can cause allergies or disease -- even among the average person. But for those with chemical sensitivities, the reaction can be much worse.

chemical sensitivity

89 percent of ingredients in the personal care products you use everyday -- shampoo, soap, shave cream cosmetics, etc. -- have never been tested for safety.

Chemical Sensitivities: A Growing Problem

Because health care practitioners do not yet recognize chemical sensitivities as an actual disorder, there is no real estimate of how many people are impacted. However, some experts suggest that up to 10 percent of people may suffer from exposure to chemicals, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that one-third of people working in sealed buildings claim to be sensitive to one or more common chemicals.

Among those with chemical sensitivities, exposure to even very low amounts of chemicals including solvents, VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, and those used in many personal care products cause an allergy-like reaction. Symptoms of chemical sensitivity include:

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  • Headache

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Dizziness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Seizures

If you experience any of these symptoms, you could be sensitive to chemicals in your personal care products or around your home and should strictly avoid such exposures when you can. However, even if you don't think you have sensitivities, it's still a good idea to opt for chemical-free cleansers.

"Personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, after shave, lotion and makeup are not regulated by the FDA or any other government agency," according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "It is perfectly legal and very common for companies to use ingredients that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins in the their products. Consumers buy these products at drug stores, grocery stores, online or in salons, usually without questioning the product's safety."

What Kinds of Chemicals are in Your Cleansers?

Most people know that a harsh soap or cleanser can dry out their skin, but that is a minor inconvenience when you learn of what else they can do. According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, the following toxic ingredients may exist in your soap or body cleanser:

  • Triethanolamine: A fragrance ingredient and emulsifying agent that has been linked to cancer, immune system toxicity, allergies, organ system toxicity, and potential endocrine disruption.

  • Salicylic Acid: An anti-acne agent that may harm your brain or nervous system, have negative reproductive effects, cause organ system toxicity.

  • Triclosan: A cosmetic biocide that disrupts your endocrine system, may be carcinogenic, and showed broad systemic effects at low doses in animal studies.

  • Fragrance: About 95 percent of the chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic, petroleum-based compounds. For people with allergies or multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), these chemicals can lead to allergic reactions like sneezing, itchy watery eyes, wheezing and headaches.

  • Parabens and Phenols: Used in body wash and many other personal care products, according to the National Institutes of Health phenol is toxic and people who are hypersensitive to it could experience death or serious side effects at very low exposures. Parabens have also been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.

  • Phthalates: These industrial compounds are widely used in hairsprays, perfumes and cosmetics. Animal studies on certain phthalates have shown the chemicals may cause a variety of problems, including reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, endocrine disruption and cancer.

Choosing All-Natural Cleansers

Finding safe and toxin-free soaps and body washes is not as simple as looking for the "all-natural," organic" or even "hypoallergenic" label, as these products can still contain dangerous ingredients. The term "hypoallergenic" can actually mean whatever a particular company wants it to mean, according to the FDA.

In order to avoid harmful chemicals, you need to read the product's label before you buy. Avoid anything that has the chemicals listed above, including "paraben" (which may appear as methylparaben or others) or "phthalate" (which can be listed as dibutyl and diethylhexyl or just "fragrance").

chemical sensitivity

When choosing a body cleanser be sure to read the ingredients, as even those labeled "natural" or "organic" can contain harmful chemicals.

A general rule of thumb? The fewer ingredients listed, the better. Some generally safe and gentle ingredients are:

  • Organic oils (such as olive oil)

  • Essential oils

  • Castile soap

  • Aloe vera

  • Plant extracts

If you're looking for the crème de la crème in natural body cleansers, you'll be delighted with Vermont Soap Organics' line of products. It was created to provide customers with high quality, natural personal care products -- nurturing for you and the environment.

Seeking an alternative to commercial formulas, Vermont Soap began working with saponified (soap based) foaming concentrates, creating their own natural Aloe Castile Liquid Soap formula.

Their Castile Bath and Shower Gel is a blend of the unique Aloe Castile liquid soap along with a special extract of vegetable gum in glycerin. This process adds extra emollients to create a shower gel that is a natural, organic, rich alternative to many of the artificial, synthesized commercial formulas on the market today.

This all-natural bath and shower gel is available in five deliciously soothing scents, which will leave your skin feeling soft, moisturized, clean and refreshed -- without a trace of chemical residues.

Recommended Reading

The Health (and Beauty) Dangers of Common Soap & A Top-Recommended Alternative

Soap Proven Best to Eliminate Germs -- IF It Doesn't Contain Triclosan


Environmental Working Group August 22, 2004 Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

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