The Toxic Truth About the Soap Industry

Do you really know what you are slathering all over the largest organ of your body in the shower? Did you know that many of the ingredients in your soap is actually toxic and carcinogenic, some are even hormone disruptors! Here we take a look at some of the words none of us can pronounce on the ingredient list and what they are used for and how they are terrible for our skin.

For the most part, we usually think we are using soap, be it in bar form or liquid, to cleanse with. But did you know that commercial “soaps” aren’t even really soap. They aren’t classified as a soap by the FDA nor by definition. Which states: it is a product composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids”. The “alkali salts” is an alkali such as lye, potash; and the “fatty acids” are the oils used like coconut, olive, hemp, etc. What we find in commercial (what is believed to be) soap, is petroleum-based chemicals, detergents, hardeners, synthetic lathering agents, and many other toxic ingredients.

Let’s take a look at some of the most used synthetic ingredients and how they can affect our health!

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coco-betaine) is a synthetic chemical extracted from coconut oil. It is used as a surfactant to condition skin and create foam in many body washes, soaps, toothpaste, detergents, and cleaning products. This ingredient is known to have negative impacts on your skin and body by causing allergic reactions and irritation. Cocamidopropyl Betaine was named “Allergen of the Year” in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA), & triethanolamine (TEA), is most widely used to produce foam or lather in products such as body wash, shower gel, bubble bath liquid, shaving foam and more. This chemical group is known by the name of ethanolamine and it is responsible for skin irritation and dryness, as well as eye irritation while bathing. The European Union (EU) has banned them to use in cosmetic products due to its possible reactions with nitrosamine and creating a carcinogenic byproduct.

FD & C or D & C (synthetic colors) are made from coal tar. They contain heavy metal salts that may deposit toxins into the skin. This can cause skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown nearly all of them to be carcinogenic.

Parabens (methylparaben, polyparaben, ethylparaben, etc.), are chemicals that are used to artificially preserve cosmetics and personal care products. According to the Environmental Working Group, parabens can “act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems.” There is a 2004 study that found traces of intact parabens in the breast tissue of women. This shows the chemicals’ ability to penetrate the skin (our largest organ) and remain in the body unchanged by metabolism. There are many studies that suggest parabens can harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. 

Phthalates, are a group of chemicals used in detergents, shampoos, perfumes, and many, many other everyday products. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system in animals, and it is stated that more research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates.

Sodium Benzoate (E211, benzene, benzoic acid, benzoate – esp. when along with citric acid, ascorbic acid, vitamin C) is used in mouthwash, shampoo, body lotions, deodorant, among many other consumables. Sodium benzoate is a salt that is present in berries, apples, plums, cinnamon and a few other naturals foods at extremely low levels. The lab-synthesized sodium benzoate (and benzoic acid) is a preservative that can have a detrimental effect on your health. A percentage of people can experience asthmatic attacks, hives, and a possible link to ADHA (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) from sodium benzoate, and when combined with citric acid and/or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to form benzene, a cancer-causing chemical associated with leukemia and other blood cancers.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), is common toxic ingredient that helps break down oil and grease, and it is what causes soap to lather up when you rub it on your body. Unfortunately, these extra bubbles come at an expensive cost to our health. SLS is a high concern for irritation of the eyes, lungs, and skin, as well as for organ system toxicity. SLS is particularly dangerous as it has an ability to infiltrate the skin very easily, which in turn makes it easier for other chemicals to penetrate the skin as well.

There are so many more carcinogenic and toxic ingredients that are included in the ingredient list of most commercial body washes (note they aren’t soaps) and cosmetic products that cause skin allergies and irritations, endocrine (hormonal) disruptions, reproductive issues, and increased the risk of cancer. These affects are known and studies have been conducted to understand these effects. Many are banned by other governing agencies such as the European Union (EU), Health Canada to name a couple of them.

All of this, and we haven’t even touched on how these ingredients effect the environment (biodegradability and toxicity), especially to aquatic life once they are washed down our drains.

Mary Tylor Naturals takes your health serious and has, since its conception, assured pure, high quality, natural ingredients to fulfill a motto of ‘Better Ingredients for a Better Life!’. With their new product line The Healthy Soap®, they are truly sticking to that motto. All ingredients can not only be pronounced, but are pure and natural. Nothing that is toxic nor carcinogenic to soak into your largest organ, your skin, and cause any kind of harm. Be sure to keep an eye out for the release of these amazing new liquid soaps, and in the mean time, enjoy their many other health conscious products to suite a wide range of needs and projects.

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