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What’s hiding in your soap? 3 ingredients you should look out for

The beauty industry is booming, and with thousands of products lining the shelves, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and grab the first (or prettiest) one. But the fact is, our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs up to a whopping 60% of what we put on it.

Let’s take soap, for example. Sure, it makes you feel fresh and smell amazing, but many soaps contain sneaky ingredients that can not only be harsh on skin, but harmful to your body overall.

So, before you slather that sweetly scented soap all over, take a minute to read the label…

The most toxic soap ingredients

We could go on forever (which is both sad and frustrating), but these are the major culprits popping up in more and more soaps.


Found in many liquid soaps, triclosan is an antibacterial agent brilliant at killing bacteria that has built up on skin during the day – but it does so at a cost. Its antibacterial action speeds up antibiotic resistance, which is when certain germs become immune to antibiotic medicines. As if that wasn’t bad enough, triclosan has a similar chemical make-up to pesticide. Crazy, huh?  Triclosan can also disrupt the delicate endocrine system, and can really mess with the female sex hormone, estrogen. If you're washing your hands a few times a day (which we hope you are!), you definately don't want to be lathering up with triclosan.  Oh, and did we mention it stays on the skin for hours?


Since dioxane is a synthetic derivative of coconut, which has a ton of health benefits,  people assume it’s safe to use products containing it. Not quite. Dioxane is a carcinogenic chemical that’s easily absorbed into the skin. Over the time, it can be toxic to the brain, central nervous system, liver and kidneys. To avoid coming into contact with this chemical, ditch any soaps with PEG, ethoxylated alcohols, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol or oxynol on the label. Also, be careful with vague descriptions like “derived from coconut.”

Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS)

SLS is as popular as it is nasty, found in many commercial soaps and shower gels as well as shampoos, toothpastes, detergents and bath oils. If it foams up or bubbles, it probably contains SLS, so always check the fine print! Sodium laurel sulfate is a detergent, surfactant and emulsifier, which sounds fancy, but really means that it penetrates the skin and strips it of its natural oils. By doing so, it allows other chemicals (like triclosan) to absorb into the skin. When combined with dioxane, SLS becomes a carcinogenic. SLS has been known to cause skin and eye irritation, hair loss and organ toxicity. It’s a nightmare for those with sensitive skin conditions such as eczema. It can also interfere with your hormones and make you more susceptible to mood swings.

Okay, so what soap should I use instead?

Don’t freak out! The natural beauty industry cottoned on to the nasties in commercial soaps a while back, and started making their own, safe alternatives. At GMB, we’re big fans of Enviro Care’s range of body washes. Plant-based, bio-degradable and ethically made, the products are free from palm oil, silicone, parabens, artificial colours and fragrances, chlorine, phospates and phytochemicals. Impressive, right? Instead, they contain natural ingredients that actually nourish, soothe and heal skin, such as almond oil, citric acid, coconut, chamomile, cold pressed olive oil, pomegranate, lavender and essential oils. How divine does that sound? And trust us, the body washes smell de-lish, and leave skin feeling fresh and clean.

Do you always read beauty product labels? Will you be making the switch to natural soaps and body washes?

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