Harmful ingredients…in beauty products

We have found a few commonly used ingredients you should avoid. These ingredients can be found in most commercial soaps, and even some “natural” handmade soap. These are just a few of the unpleasant ingredients I have come across.  These excerpts have been taken from our free eBook on purepurrfections.com

Paraben Preservatives (para-hydroxybenzoic acids)

What it is: Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben) are preservatives used in many products and widely used in cosmetic to prevent microbial organism growth. FDA does not regulate the usage of parabens in bath and body products at this time

Health concerns: Research has shown that commonly used parabens can mimic your body’s natural hormones and disrupt your endocrine functions. In 2004 a study published in Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology revealed parabens in breast tumors. This study has not been proven to be accurate, but has also not been disproven and research still continues.

Alternatives: Limit use of cosmetics containing preservatives. Make only enough soap to use or sell and prevent the need for preservatives. Using natural or organic handmade cosmetics and body products can limit exposure to parabens. Shelf life of soap made without added preservatives can be 1 year to 18 months.

Parfum (aka Fragrance, Perfume)

What it is: No one knows for sure except for the chemist who made it. A general label as such can contain any number of chemicals. And while they may smell wonderful, that may contain some irritating and harmful ingredients.

Health Concerns: Unable to specify due to the “unknown” ingredients.

Alternatives: Try some essential oils. If you must use fragrance oils, use a trusted brand or a manufacturer who lists all ingredients in their fragrances. Make sure the manufacturer specifies body safe and phthalate free.

Phthalates (DEHP, MEHP, DBP, DINP, DIDP, DnOP)

What it is: An industrial chemical grouping that can be found in numerous products including bath and body products, cosmetics, toys, homes, cars, nearly everywhere. Phthalates have been under scrutiny in recent years due to reported health concerns pertaining to overuse in our environment. Concerns arise from over exposures and build up of these chemicals in our bodies.

Health Concerns: Research has reported concerns ranging from damage to male sperm counts to cancers. These findings are still in debate due to new research. Limits have been imposed as to how much and where these chemicals can be used.

Alternatives: Your best bet is to avoid using these chemicals when possible. While they cannot be avoided entirely, avoidance can reduce your chances of build up. When making your handmade soaps, verify that any fragrance oils or labels do not contain these compounds.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

What it is: A surfactant used in body products as a foaming agent and is a known irritant. SLES is also commonly used in toothpaste.

Health concerns: SLES may worsen skin problems in individuals and cause canker sores when used in toothpaste. Research continues about possible carcinogenic (cancer causing agents) effects of SLES but effects are unsure.

Alternatives: Use products that do not list SLES as an ingredient. Coconut oil has been used often in handmade soaps to increase the lathering effect as well as many other oils. Use natural toothpastes if you are prone to canker sores that do not contain SLES and perform your own experiment.


What it is: Wide spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is a polychloro phenoxy phenol. Used in hand soaps and sanitizers.

Health concerns: Reports have suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform gas, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen.

Alternatives: University of Michigan School of Public Health study showed that regular hand soaps are just as effective at removing bacteria when used properly. Many essential oils have been found to remove bacteria.