Toxic Skincare Products: Soap, Shampoo, and Lotion
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Are your skincare products toxic? Shampoo, soap and lotion.

by Chris Kresser

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Christopher Nuzzaco/Hemera/Thinkstock

Are everyday products like soap, shampoo, and lotion exposing you to harmful chemicals? Learn why what you put on your skin may be an even greater risk for toxin exposure than what you put in your mouth.

We talk a lot about minimizing exposure to toxins from food, whether by choosing organic, avoiding certain ingredients, or even changing your cookware.

But what you put on your skin might be an even greater risk for toxin exposure than what you put in your mouth.

I’m sure many of you have used a drug or supplement that needs to be absorbed through the skin, whether that’s hormone replacement cream, magnesium oil, or something else. But think about all the other stuff you put on your skin that you might not want to be absorbed – soap, sunscreen, make-up, deodorant, lotion…the list goes on. You wouldn’t eat this stuff, so why would you put it on your skin?

What you put on your skin might be more toxic than what you put in your mouth.

In this series, I’ll take a look at some of the various skin care products we use, why they might be cause for concern, and the products you can use instead. We’ll start with the chemicals in some of the most commonly used personal care products: soap, shampoo, and lotion.

Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent often added to soap, shampoo, and other personal care products. It can be absorbed through the skin, and has been detected in human urine, serum, and breast milk. (1)

With the recent focus on the importance of our microbiome and the growing threat of superbugs, people are beginning to question its widespread use, especially in antibacterial soap. Studies as early as 2006 have expressed concern over bacterial resistance to triclosan, as well as the greater fear of triclosan-induced resistance to clinically important antimicrobial drugs. (2)

Triclosan came under fire back in November when a study was released linking triclosan exposure to liver cancer in mice. (3) In the study, triclosan acted as a cancer promoter, which means it didn’t cause cancer on its own, but it increased susceptibility to cancer and accelerated tumor formation after long-term exposure.

Triclosan has also been suspected as an endocrine disruptor, although a recent review of the literature concludes that triclosan exposure through the use of personal care products is unlikely to adversely affect endocrine function in humans. (4) Unfortunately, this review was funded by the Colgate-Palmolive Company, and although there’s limited or no evidence that triclosan exposure through personal care products has harmful effects in humans, several studies have shown triclosan to adversely affect thyroid and reproductive function in rats.

To top it all off, triclosan-containing soaps don’t appear to provide any benefit over regular soap for preventing the spread of disease, so there’s really no reason to use it. (5) I suggest avoiding tricolsan completely.

Phthalates and Parabens

Like triclosan, phthalates and parabens are found in a variety of personal care products, although phthalates are more common in lotions because they act as moisturizers and enhance skin penetration of other compounds. (6) Parabens can be absorbed intact through the skin, and both chemicals have been detected in breast milk, urine, and plasma. (7)

A big concern over phthalates and parabens is increased risk for breast cancer. One study found that an increased concentration of phthalate metabolites in the urine was associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, and intact parabens have been detected in breast cancer tissue. (8, 9) Phthalates have also been implicated in reproductive and endocrine disruption, although like triclosan, the evidence is preliminary and may not be relevant in humans at normal levels of exposure. (10)

And although personal care products represent only a small portion of total environmental exposure to phthalates, they are the main mode of exposure for parabens, indicating significant levels of absorption through the skin. (11, 12)

Sulfates, Propylene Glycols, and Fragrances

Other chemicals you’ll find in soaps and lotions include sulfates, such as sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, fragrances, and petroleum by-products such as propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol isn’t absorbed through the skin in large amounts, and the only reports of toxicity in humans have been in cases of extreme exposure through IV medication or through repeated application to second- and third-degree burns over a large area of the skin. (13, 14) Sodium lauryl sulfate, however, does penetrate the skin, at least in rat models, and can cause skin irritation. (15, 16)

The category of “fragrances” is so vast and non-specific that it’s difficult to evaluate them, but they’re a common cause of contact dermatitis. (17) One big problem with “fragrances” is that they’re poorly regulated, and “fragrance” on an ingredient label could mean just about anything. For this reason, it’s best to avoid them.

Further, there could be more chemicals in skin care products than those actually listed on the bottle. Analysis of shampoo and similar products has found contamination by 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen, and phthalates have been detected in products that don’t have them listed as ingredients. (18, 19)

Like many of the chemicals we’re exposed to from food and our environment, most of the chemicals allowed in our skin care products don’t show overt toxicity in humans, but may have concerning preliminary evidence linking them to cancer or endocrine disruption. Apparently this doesn’t warrant removing these chemicals from products, but considering how easy it is to switch to more natural products, there is reason enough to avoid using them.

Non-toxic alternatives to conventional soap, shampoo, and lotion

The great thing about soap is that it’s incredibly easy to find a natural alternative. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is a popular choice, but there are tons of other options. Just look for soap that only contains oils and other recognizable ingredients. If you want to get a little fancier, here’s an easy recipe for non-toxic foaming hand soap.

Lotion is another easy one. Oils like coconut, jojoba, and even olive oil are great for your skin and widely available. And unlike petroleum-based lotions, they’ll actually moisturize your skin instead of drying it out! If you want something that feels more like “normal” lotion, Tropical Traditions sells lotions that are made from coconut and palm oils (they sell soap, too).

Shampoo can be a little harder to replace, but there are tons of resources online if you want to forgo traditional shampoo. Simple ingredients such as bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, and even honey can clean and condition hair without the chemicals. This post has lots of helpful links and recipes to get you started.

Another option would be to forgo soap, shampoo, and lotion entirely. I know this might sound radical, but recent research has shown that our skin has a microbiome (much like our gut) which acts as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory and immune-booster. The chemicals in skin care products can disrupt this microbiome, so going without them may restore your skin’s ability to take care of itself.

In fact, new companies like AOBiome now offer a product that contains Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria that was once commonly found on our skin—before we started washing it away with soap and shampoo. The idea is that these bacteria will help restore our skin’s natural protective, moisturizing and cleansing abilities, thus reducing or eliminating the need for skin care products.

I only use soap once every couple of weeks. Shampoo has been a little harder for me to eliminate; I do still use it about twice a week, but I use a brand with no harmful chemicals. And lest you think I’m crazy, there are many other people engaged in similar experiments. Check out this article in the New York Times for a good summary.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you try to avoid chemicals in your soap, shampoo, and lotion? What do you use instead? Let me know in the comments!

218 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. HI All, I have sensitive skin and Celiac Disease, so I don’t tolerate much on the skin or through ingestion. I shop regularly at Aldi or Wegmans, can I hear an all natural type of lotion and soap you recommend to buy ?

  2. Hey guys,

    I’m very satisfied with healthy shampoo’s, but it’s so hard to find/make a conditionner without chemicals

    My hair is very long and just impossible to handle with natural conditionners.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you!

    Rosien

    • Hi Rosie i know your question was a little while ago but I use a company call Mōdere, it’s the one stop all natural shop. My sons is now ecsma and asthma free. Use Promo code 885263 to receive $10 off your first order. I changed all of our household and personal care products over and noticed the difference to my families health within days! Good luck

  3. I’m soap, shampoo and conditioner free for almost 1 year now – started as a test for a few weeks and kept going because of the amazing results that I didn’t really expect. I do use coconut oil on a damp hair and skin after showers.

  4. One of the main ways your body acquires nutrients, other than eating, is transdermally through the skin. semipermeable membrane allows us to absorb vitamins and minerals, but, unfortunately, it absorbs harmful chemicals we put on it, too. Scary.

  5. I like the idea of eliminating soap, lotion, deo, and shampoo entirely except when it comes to washing hands. First, in many jobs it’s required and I’ve often had to work with bodily fluids working with kids and at homeless shelters. Even in restaurants.
    If I keep washing my hands is my skin still going to restore itself? Is using rubbing alcohol a good alternative? Are there any alternatives to washing hands with soap??

  6. I became aware of the toxins in my personal products and got busy changing my routine. I now use RAD Bath+Body products and I can see the difference in my skin. I received a bar of their vegan soap as a gift and now I am hooked. They use organic ingredients and appear to be all natural plant based products. Love the article, get the word out.

  7. As an allergist/immunologist with a specialty in the skin microbiome, I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I co-founded a biotech company (www.quoruminnovations.com) several years ago to create microbiome-derived probiotics specifically designed to benefit skin microbiome health.

    Did you know those expensive “probiotics” you are using today are foreign to your body? Derived from dirt, animals or food, those little bugs are not natural to us like our healthy microbiome bacteria, which Nature trained to be good for us through countless generations of peaceful co-existence on our bodies. Here at Quorum Innovations, we believe that better health is more likely to come by working with our own microbiome, rather than potentially working against it with foreign microbes.

    Our bodies are covered with beneficial bacteria, normally teeming with microbial life. Unfortunately, modern “hygienic” living, sanitizers, environmental pollutants, other skin care products, chemicals, antibiotics, even aging, can throw our microbiomes out of balance. Just like our gastrointestinal tracts or any other organ, our skin microbiome needs and deserves our daily support. So our research team set out to create the first skin care line in the world containing human microbiome probiotics, uniquely designed to support a healthy skin microbiome.

    We discovered a probiotic we call BellaCell, taken from the human microbiome. Unlike other skin care lines containing “probiotics” originally isolated from food, dirt or animals, our microbiome-derived probiotic BellaCell is 100% natural to the human body because it comes from it. Wouldn’t you rather use a probiotic Nature intended to be on our bodies, instead of foreign bacteria? Because BellaCell evolved in harmony with us and on us, it is designed by nature to be good for human health. Our research studies showed that BellaCell helps balance the skin microbiome, stimulate the skin immune system and promote skin strength, unlike the foreign “probiotics” we tested.

    We are now launching our own skin care line called BioEsse, containing a concentrated extract of BellaCell (www.bioesseprobiotics.com). Women in our clinical trial loved our products, which also leave out all the toxins – parabens, phthalates, gluten, silicones, petroleum products, artificial fragrances, MEA/TEA/DEA, formaldehyde releasers, polyethylene glycols – most skin “care” lines still contain. These toxins can impair not only our health, but the health of the skin microbiome. In our 4-week clinical study of BioEsse, complexions, fine lines, redness and problem skin improved as early as 2 weeks. Our ladies started noticing a new “glow” to their skin they hadn’t had in years.

    We are proud to say BioEsse is the only skin care line in the world containing a probiotic from the human microbiome. BioEsse is scientifically and clinically proven to be truly good for your skin’s whole ecosystem, from your skin cells to your good bacteria. Welcome to your microbiome!

    Eva A. Berkes, MD, Co-Founder, BioEsse

  8. I have found that copper and certain foods that contain coppers, I cannot have due to a genetic disorder called Wilson’s disease. My body does not expel copper at all. It causes rashes, blisters and many uncomfortable symptoms inside my body. This includes facial skin care and makeups that cause extreme visual side effects that cause me to look like a drug addict. I’m desperate to find products that will not cause these reactions so that I can feel and look as good as I possibly can…… no where am I able to find the answers I seek……

  9. I have not used soap in the shower for years now – though I do still use non-antibacterial soap to wash my hands as needed.I don’t use any lotions and never have.

    However I have not quite been able to give up shampoo. I wash my hair twice a week. I’ve experimented with more natural shampoos and none of them leave my hair the way I like it – full and glossy looking. I’ve tried doing without shampoo but after 4-6 weeks my hair felt and looked so disgusting I couldn’t stand myself – so I do still use conventional shampoos. Maybe if I had a buzz cut I could do without, LOL.

    • I use the shampoo bar from Primal Life Organics followed by a vinegar rinse (1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 part water). It leaves my hair feeling full and glossy and also my dandruff completely cleared up. The bar is not too expensive (~$10) and lasts me about four months; however, I do have very short hair. Might be worth your giving it a try and seeing if it works for you!

  10. It’s so hard to find natural products that are not over priced. I buy lotion and all purpose cleaners that are green but everything else is harder to buy.

  11. Thanks for the article Chris. I became aware of all the different harmful chemicals that are in everyday products when I went to a presentation a few years ago. It is amazing how here in North America these chemicals, known to be toxic, are still allowed to be used. European standards are the safest in the world. There are almost 1200 banned ingredients in Europe, but of those, only 10 are banned here in North America!!

    Arbonne is a company that has been formulating personal care products for 35 years and it’s products are originally formulated in Switzerland. It’s products are Vegan certified, Gluten free, GMO free and are Pure, Safe & Beneficial. There have skin care, hair care, toothpaste, deodorant, nutritional and spa products.

    To have a look at the products and company go to http://www.kellydexter.arbonne.com. I would be happy to answer any questions.

  12. There are natural methods that don’t work for me as well. Salt or baking soda irritate my skin just as severely as commercial deoderant. The only deoderant I could tolerate was Almay, but I wanted something that would be less harmful to lymph nodes. I use straight cold pressed virgin coconut oil, the same stuff I eat. It absorbs well and doesn’t stain my clothes, which surprised me. Also, it took a few weeks of re-applying, but now I have no armpit odor. The real test was the first summer. I took Almay with me on vacation, but didn’t need it.

    I also tried the no-poo and couldn’t live with the heavy hair texture, so I’m looking for shampoo that doesn’t irritate–again. 🙂 I wil re-read this whole comment thread again for suggestions when I have time.

    Thank you all!

  13. Does anyone else here have bacterially based skin problems? When I don’t shower using soap or some other cleaning agent on my skin and hair at least every other day, I start to get problems. I have seborrheic dermatitis, and recurrent boils and my skin just gets incredibly itchy and greasy without washing. I am a naturally lazy person, so believe me, I have tried going for many many days without showering or washing with soap, and every time it is a complete disaster and my skin peels and crusts and itches. The only area of my skin that is usually okay with only using water is my face, although I have to use a cleanser on my ears because of the seborrheic dermatitis. Occasionally I will have to use a cleanser on my face when I have an acne flareup.

    My dermatologist recommends using antibacterial products on my skin, and while I hate using them, for all the reasons people have mentioned already, they are the only things that seem to help my skin. I have tried many all-natural commercial products as well as homemade products to no avail. Also, using simple products like lemon juice or baking soda for underarm odor is a joke for me and as I said before, believe me, I have tried using no deodorants for many days at a time. The only natural products which even work passably well are Crystal stick deodorant or Kiss my Face roll-on, both of which contain aluminum (“alum”). Thank God my husband has no sense of smell.

    Clearly I know I have a systemic problem with bacteria, because when I had to go on oral antibiotics for another problem, my skin got considerably better. I have tried many different combinations of probiotics in my diet and I try to eat cleanly and remove as many toxins as possible from my environment. I also am familiar with doing cleanses, acupuncture, alternative medicine.

    But despite this, we don’t live in a perfect world and for some reason I am not able to fix whatever imbalance (either external or internal) is causing the skin problems. I find it frustrating because so many people seem to assume that what works for them must necessarily work for everyone else. I’m glad it works for some people to almost never use soap or shampoo and to just shower with water. I guess what I’m asking is, is there anyone else here with a similar problem? Anyone else who wants to use a natural approach and has tried, but has found that conventional products just work better for them?

    The same is true for me with alternative and Western medicine. I have tried both, and over and over again, the results from alternative medicine are just not enough. I know that alternative medicine and practices are not a Band-Aid fix and take time, and that the healing is supposed to come more subtly and organically. But I have a lot of problems, and Western medicine just seems to help more. I hate this, as I want to live a more natural life! Any sympathizers out there?

    • Mette, I feel for you. I don’t have the same issues you do and I don’t have the Magic bullet for you.

      There are two things you didn’t mention trying. I’m curious if they might help you (more naturally than harsh chemicals and antibiotics do).

      1. The AOBiome stuff. The theory being you in innoculate your skin with inocuous bacteria, crowding out the worst stuff.
      2. Oil cleansing (massage oil onto skin, remove excess with warm water and washcloth). The theory being that you dissolve the dirty oils on your skin with clean oils, and then remove the excess oil, taking with it some of the gunk that’s been trapped in your skin like from the surrounding environment. Your skin senses “aha, I still have oil on me, I don’t need to ramp up oil production, maybe I can even cut back some.” If you try this method, try jojoba oil or hemp oil which are both very noncomedogenic (or find another noncomedogenic oil). Coconut oil and olive oil, for all their supposed wonders, are actually both pretty highly comedogenic, far more likely to plug up your pores and cause even more problems.

      Best of luck on your quest to take good care of your skin & planet. I hope you stumble upon a method soon that helps!

    • Dear Mette
      (MARCH 5, 2015 AT 12:17 PM)…I believe you and more or less ALL the folk on this site have a common problem. DIET or rather Bad-eating life-style. Leave ALL animal products, All animal bi products, All of anything that has a mama or papa and leave basically ALL oils except a little olive oil. do not eat deep fried anything. Eat only fruit, veggies simply raw, nuts and grains and within a few weeks basically ALL your problems will be at an end. then go for GREEN soaps and shampoos. Success guaranteed; oh and you will become trim and beautiful as in your youth. Go Well. A

  14. So much great information in your post, Chris, and I love the comments from my fellow readers. It shows we just don’t trust what we are being sold as safe anymore, or in the case of triclosan soap, even effective. It’s good that we are taking back the responsibility for our own health and becoming better informed.

    I also loved the resources that other readers shared. Thanks everybody.

  15. I bought a deodorant labeled organic. (Everyday Organics brand) The first ingredient is organic ethanol. Would this be considered harmful?

  16. Great guideline. It is always very important to avoid using toxic skin care products. It is because it can be very harmful to our skin. Today, most skin care products available in the market contain chemicals which can be very harmful to our skin and health.

  17. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter has been wonderful for me. Even use it as a face moisturizer and lip balm. Tried just coconut oil and did not like the result.
    Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo has been nice. Sometimes I water it down a little too. My best trick is to just use a nice glob, work it in, then rinse out. Just once. Does not strip the oil from my hair.
    For hand washing, I use Dr Bonner’s Peppermint Soap in the dispensers, watered down.
    For toothpaste, I put a small bit of baking soda and xylitol on a wet toothbrush, and add a drop of Dr Bonner’s Peppermint Soap.

  18. I make my own soap. I tried no poo for a while, but it didn’t work well when our water softener stopped working. But, that transition allows me to wash my hair only once a week.

  19. I, too, use either Bronner’s castile or similar soap. I use it in place of shampoo as well. I use organic coconut oil for skin moisturizing and Kiss My Face deodorant to avoid the antiperspirant chemicals. I use Xyli white toothpaste to avoid fluoride. It contains essential oils that fight oral bacteria as well.

    I am searching for more natural make up and cosmetics. If anyone can refer me to a particular brand, I would appreciate it.

  20. How about washing your hands after using the toilet? Do people that mention they don’t wash don’t do that either? Isn’t that part of why human beings don’t get ill and spread diseases the way we did 100+ years ago?

    • Yeah exactly Rasmus. These people who use only water when they shower. Yikes! I do not even want to imagine how much fecal matter resides on their legs and towel and wherever else. Yuck!!

    • It’s still important to wash after using the toilet. Just don’t use the antibacterial stuff, which kills good bacteria as well as bad. The hand washing that helped to eliminate old diseases did not include the antibacterial soap we have today. That is a very recent introduction to the market that plays on people’s irrational fear of dirt.

        • I chuckled at your response, I assume you are saying ALL soap is antibacterial and the issue is we don’t need to add antibacterial agents to soap. Warm water and soap, a good scrub will do! I personally use Kiss My Face olive oil soap for my body and seventh generation in the kitchen. I agree with soap being drying but I am not up for the no soap campaign, I will stick with natural soap please!

  21. A La Maison liquid soap changed how my skin felt and looked in just a few days. For a lotion there is nothing that can compare to The Cream. Scent of Samadhi is my deoderant and people always comment on how great I smell… even after hot yoga!

  22. Hi. Thanks everyone for the great info! My “issue” is that I”m allergic to coconut. Can anyone recommend a replacement for making your own soap/shampoo without it?

    • Yeah Kellye, you could try Babassu oil. It has almost the same fatty acid profile of coconut oil except it’s not comedogenic like coconut oil. It is also a solid at room temp. and melts on contact with skin. It’s also not as greasy feeling.

  23. Finally! Someone who believes like I do that all this stuff is NOT necessary and not necessarily good for us. I use Nature’s Gate products; shampoo and lotion. They seem to work ok. I don’t understand why they have to have so many ingredients in them. I only wear blush for makeup. I was brought up with the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Something our European ancestors did not follow, as they tried and the govt. continues to try, to assimilate our Native Peoples into White culture. We should learn from them what they used for skin care.

  24. Chris,

    I’m wondering about the safety of using a Retin-A ointment on the face.

    Also, my dermatologist recommends using spf-30 on the face and exposed skin every day. Are there possible negative repercussions?

  25. Great article! Thank you for stressing the importance of avoiding these harmful chemicals. I wonder, have you heard of Lemongrass Spa products? It’s a direct-selling company that got it’s start here in Colorado 12 years ago. It was created by a new mom who wanted more natural products for her family, and now there are almost 3,000 consultants worldwide. My website, if you are interested, is http://www.OurLemongrassSpa.com/3642
    Please let me know if I can send you some samples to try these wonderful products =)
    Thanks again for bringing the dangers of using these chemicals to the forefront.
    ~Angie

  26. Chris you need to do more research.
    http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/12/parabens-in-perspective-part-vii/
    That breast cancer study linking parabens to breast cancer was disproven years ago and was a stand alone study. No other studies have come to light making that connection. Yet every once in a while someone trusted like yourself will drag that out as proof parabens are evil and scare people all over again so the myth lives on.
    Parabens are used in very small concentrations as a preservative in cosmetics. Without a preservative your creams and other products would turn moldy and go off. So it’s not just a case of removing them. They have to be replaced with something else. So now we have a public at large terrified of parabens.
    Ok so what replaces them? A whole new list of untested preservatives. It’s illegal to make cosmetics without them. So your readers will grab something off the shelves and see that there aren’t any parabens and think ‘Great, I’m all good’. Can you guarantee that the new preservative isn’t harmful? I appreciate all that you do, but don’t become Dr. Oz. You aren’t an expert about ‘all the things” just because you have an audience and the pressure of a weekly post.

    • Thank you Kris!!!
      I would also refer people to http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives and http://www.chemistscorner.com for true scientific information about preservatives.
      These companies that say they are 100% organic and use no synthetic ingredients are also not using preservatives. This is inherently more dangerous than using the ones with preservatives. They also do not list an emulsifier. It is not possible to produce a cream or lotion without an emulsifier and I would certainly never use on without a broad spectrum preservative. Are these companies just omitting ingredients from their labels??? That is deceit by omission and they could be held liable for fraud.

    • Hi Kris,

      I have to agree with Chris Kresser- the ingredients in commercial skincare have been found in tumors of the breast and in the placental blood of newborns. These chemicals are lipophilic and can cross the blood brain barrier as well and the placental barrier. Furthermore, when absorbed thru the skin, they do not pass through the liver like an ingested chemical- they loose the “first pass phenomenon” as it is called. This means chemicals that are absorbed travel first (full strength) to your organs and tissues (including your brain) BEFORE going to the liver- and very little make it to the liver. Many settle in the fat tissue and are stored there for years. Breast tissue is fat tissue- check your deodorant for the chemicals mentioned as well as aluminum.

      Furthermore, Big Cosmo mass produces products in huge quantities- preservatives are put in the products to extend their shelf life. Preservatives and all chemicals are NOT necessary and I have proven that with my company Primal Life Organics.

      Big Cosmo has us duped into believing what they sell us is safe- but I can tell you it is more harmful than you think. Check out my website, articles, webinars, podcasts, and book if you want more information. I took the power back from Big Cosmo and my skin has never looked better!

  27. I have been no-pooing for about 2 and a half years now. I changed from using the ACV wash to using my own homemade Kombucha diluted in water for convenience, and it seems to work at least as well as the ACV. I use the bicarbonate of soda about once or twice a week now. I also use milk kefir before the Kombucha rinse. I am of mixed race with very curly hair, so this seems to supply the additional oil that my hair craves. I have been dandruff and acne prone since school, but when I have my diet, UVB exposure and vitamin D levels dialed in I usually seem to mostly manage to control those. Unfortunately this means that I seem to require liver on an almost daily basis, dulse or seaweed every day, raw oysters twice a week and some Brazil nuts thrown in to try to make sure I have enough selenium. I no longer use hair serums, sprays, leave in conditioners, etc, which amazes my hairdresser as I used to have quite the selection.
    Interestingly drinking too much coffee and missing my magnesium supplements seem to link in with BO, which seemed to improve when coffee intake dropped to less than 1 cup per day, although I do still use deodorant.
    I make a tallow balm from tallow, olive oil and essential oils. Rose, rose geranium and jasmine seem to complement. Sometimes I make some deodorant based on coconut oil, arrowroot and essential oil with some olive oil so it’s not rock hard.
    I also use a clay and sodium bicarbonate based tooth powder.

  28. I’ve been using nontoxic DIY recipes for all personal care products (yes,even makeup) for about a year and love how my hair, skin and teeth look…what a tremendous improvement! From acne and oily hair to perfectly clear skin and thicker fuller hair….stay away from conventional toxic filled products…your body will thank you!

    • I only wear make-up when going out.I am happy to make my own cosmetics but do not know what ingredients to use.Please tell me what you use as natural make-up without all the chemicals.

  29. I use Beautycounter shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions and make up. They ban over 1500 ingredients from use in their products! I use Norwex crystal deodorant, and I make my own toothpaste with coconut oil, baking soda and sea salt.

  30. Hello Chris,
    My husband and I have been using 1/4 cup of baking soda with warm water in a squeeze bottle to wash our hair for the last 3 years. Sometimes we rinse with a small amount of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, also mixed with water. It’s worked beautifully. I have long hair and exercise regularly so wash my hair once a week with a water rinse in between.
    Thank you for all the enlightening information!!!

  31. A question for anyone doing the no-poo or no-soap thing: what do you do after exercising? Can you get rid of the smell of sweat using water only? This seems to me to be the biggest concern with forgoing shampoo and soap.

    • I was wondeirng just that after reading Chris’ post. I’ve been trying this for 6 days now (showering daily and applying natural deodorant based on bicarbonate), with 2 sessions of excercise, and I can honestly say that it works! No nasty smell remains after showering with warm-hot water.

  32. I have cradle crap even at 51 and itchy skin. What can I use to alleviate these.
    NOTE: I use Coconut Oil for shaving and Olive Oil for my skin and Olive Oil with cloves for deodorant and topical pain relief that I make myself since it is so easy to do.

  33. I went off shampoo last year for about 5 months…used baking soda to wash and apple cider vinegar rinse. Totally wrecked my hair! Just warning others out there….stick to water ….or now I use a lovely organic shampoo/conditioner from Prairie Naturals only two or three times a week…depends totally on how many days I have to wear a toque….I ski most days in winter. In summer I wash it way less.
    I make my own deodorant….baking soda, coconut oil and arrowroot powder….softest armpits ever! (And no stink)
    Also make my own ‘body butter’ with coconut oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, meadow foam seed oil, olive oil, lavender essential oil…all oils are organic. I use this on my face, hands, feet, wherever I need it. I am 62 yrs old and my wrinkles have noticeably subsided, but I also partially attribute that to eating way more healthy fats these days.
    I usually put Epsom salts (great way to get extra magnesium) olive or avocado oil and essential oil in my bath. And do not use soap.
    When I do use soap it is made of all natural ingredients…I love goats milk and lavender essential oil.
    My next project is to find an effective recipe for sunscreen…I spend most of my days outdoors…can anyone out there help me on this??? I was thinking about just buying some zinc oxide and mixing it in with my body butter??

  34. There are a great number of different methods that work for people and that people, as individuals, chose for their own reasons. The EWG is a good website but it’s not the end all for finding information.
    The word ‘chemical’ when used to describe ingredients in products is not really appropriate considering the definition of a chemical is anything made from different elements. Water could be classified as a chemical.
    Also, when buying from companies that say they are 100% organic and that they use no synthetic ingredients can be misleading and just as dangerous as some synthetic ingredients. If water and/or water-containing (aloe vera, plant extracts, hydrosols etc., and/or water soluble ingredients are used in any product that contains oils or oil soluble ingredients, a broad spectrum preservative should be used to prevent microbial contamination along with yeast and mold. Mold can be seen visually in a short amount of time in an unpreserved product but not microbial contamination. You could take 1 ml of water that looks completely clear and has no bad smell but yet it could have upwards of 100,000 microbes swimming in it. That is extremely dangerous. People have been hospitalized, died or developed serious infections like MRSA that were traced back to products that were either not preserved well enough or were completely unpreserved. Some companies that sell their skin care products say they only use essential oils as preservatives. Essential oils are not designed to, nor do they preserve skin care products. At best they offer scent and antioxidant properties.
    Not to mention, these companies say they use no synthetic ingredients, which means they have no emulsifier listed that bind oil and water together to form emulsions (creams, lotions, serums etc.) Beeswax is not an emulsifer. It must be used in conjunction with something like Borax in specified amounts to form emulsions. An emulsification system consists of an ingredient with a high HLB value and a low HLB value in amounts that are figured using the HLB system. There is no emulsion without this. There is no ‘machine’ out there that just automatically emulsifies their ingredients and forms creams and lotions without the emulsifier itself. It will separate into two separate layers not unlike vinegar and oil used on salads.
    I would refer people to a few other websites for more in depth information.
    http://www.chemistscorner.com or http://www.personalcaretruth.com and finally http://www.makingskincare.com
    There are actual chemists on here that can answer any question anyone may have.
    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade as there are certain ingredients that I avoid also. However, given the choice, I would choose a well preserved product over a company that says they use no preservatives at all every single time. What a lot of people don’t realize is the studies that were done on a lot of ingredients were taken up by other people on the vast internet and used out of context. Studies that used these ingredients singularly, in very large quantities and that were injected into mice and lab animals or fed to them in their water. Most skin care ingredients would never be used topically in the high amounts that were injected into these poor animals and a great many of these ingredients have a molecule size too large to penetrate even past the dermis, which is the second layer after the top layer(the epidermis).

  35. Best natural deodorant ever made by FOR PIT’S SAKE.

    Best homemade face mask: equal parts honey, avocado, coconut oil.

    Love all the suggestions and resources here. Thanks.

  36. “I only use soap once every couple of weeks”

    Really, Chris? How do you wash you hands before you see your patients?

  37. Great blog Chris! Family owned A Wild Soap Bar has been manufacturing natural and organic soaps, shampoo bars, facial oils, body balms, and dog shampoo bars for 20 years. So of course we don’t use any of that evil commercial stuff. All our ingredients are listed online because we’ve got nothing to hide. Our newest product is Tooth Savior Soap for Teeth. Tastes way better than any tooth soap on the market. Try it, you’ll like it…cheers!

  38. For ones who really want to avoid all sorts of unwanted stuff in their products, there are many natural ways to clean body and hair. For example can use soap nut to wash hair, chikpea floor can be used for washing body, can add tumeric powder to make it anti bacterial, for fragrance can add sandalwood powder or rose powder etc….and many more like this..

  39. For the ladies: I used to get about 3-4 “yeast infections” every year and used over the counter meds to get rid of them. About 5 years ago, I read that a lot of the “yeast infections” that women experience are actually contact dermatitis from soap used while showering. So I gave up washing that area with soap and miracle of miracles, have not had a yeast infection at all since! I told some girlfriends about it and initially they were appalled but tried the no soap routine and found that it worked for them too! Now I’m beginning to wonder if my aching gums and facial “perioral dermatitis” are caused by the same thing. Time to experiment again, n=1.

    • Try doing more saurkraut / beet kvaas . I noticed that when I added that and let it stay in my mouth instead of rinsing it away , it helped with the mild gingivitis I had. Also going lowish carb helps. When I was doing the gaps diet for a bit ( very low carb with saurkraut juice every meal ) , my teeth felt so great that I experimented to see if not brushing my teeth would make me feel any worse ? My toothpaste is clay based but I was still surprised that I seemed to not bleed at all – despite not brushing for 2 days. Nobody at work complained either :). I included brushing after ( since i want to eat more carbs )but am making sure I get enough probiotic s in my mouth .

  40. In addition to the soaps you choose, I highly recommend a water filter for your shower. I found a product on Amazon for about $55 that removes 91% of the chlorine, as well as softening the water, and it made a HUGE and immediate difference to my hair and skin health.

    Soap: I love Grandma’s Lye Soap. It’s far more gentle than it sounds, made especially for sensitive shin, and I find it to be particularly good for softening. It’s “ye olde fashioned traditional” soap, made with lye and lard, but it doesn’t smell too bacony, which could be a plus or a minus, depending on your predilections. 😉

    For hair care, soap nuts are very effective, but a little goes a long way, and it’s easy to strip all the oil from your hair. Also, there is the inconvenience of preparation.

    I’ve been exploring alternate shampoo options over the past 5 years or so, and my experience is that there’s a definite trade-off. If you want convenient and fast options, you are pretty much stuck with commercial products. If you are willing to put some effort and time into a homemade version, you can get good results, and sometimes even AMAZING results, but nothing is fast or easy, aside from no poo, which doesn’t seem to work too well if you are naturally oily, or have long hair. (Believe me, I KNOW this from experience. And comments from concerned friends and relatives!)

    My most recent experiments have been with ayurvedic recipes, and I have been amazed by the results. Most of my life, I’ve had very thin, fragile hair, and had given up on ever again having the lush, long hair I had when I was 16. Then, one day at the grocery store I saw an Indian woman with a thick, gorgeous braid of hair down to her knees, and it got me thinking…was it more than just genetics that gave her that beautiful hair? Turns out that I was right.

    I already knew that henna really works to thicken and strengthen hair – I’ve been using it to dye my hair for years, and it always comes out healthier afterward, instead of damaged and fried. And soap nuts have been used in India for hundreds of years to clean everything from hair to delicate clothing. The final piece of the puzzle turned out to be OILING. Not just a tiny dab on the finger tips to scrunch the ends. The secret is completely dowsing your hair with oil and letting it soak for hours or even overnight. I did this once a week for about a month, and the result was incredible. Now I do it only on occassion…more often in lower humidity months like winter, and less often in the rainy seasons.

    I use a mix of raw coconut oil, walnut oil, a few drops of essential oils like lemon and lavender, some tea tree oil, and an ayurvedic oil blend called bhringaraj oil (which I don’t think is necessary, and is quite smelly, but there is some evidence that it really does promote hair growth). I pour this mixture into my hair and massage it in, starting with the scalp and working to the ends, to make sure it’s drenched but not dripping, then cover with plastic wrap and a towel for a few hours. I suspect that the benefit of oiling comes from the stimulation of the scalp by rubbing as well as the addition of the oil. To clean it afterwards, I sometimes use the traditional (and very time-consuming, and messy) method of ayurvedic herbal powders (amla, henna, neem, shikakai) mixed into a paste with soapnut and hibiscus water (dried hibiscus flowers and one or two soapnuts soaked in warm water and squeezed to release the saponins) left on for an additional hour or two, and then washed out. This is very effective, but not for the faint of heart, or short on time – most often I just use a store-bought, minimal ingredient shampoo (it takes a couple of sudsings).

    The only other thing I recommend is not shampooing more than once or maybe twice a week. The less soap you use, the less you need, once you ween yourself.

  41. The prices from that company , Chris mentioned, are horrible Like $100 a month per person for this body spray!. Yet another way for some one to profit from those who are trying to restore their health…some kind of gimmick. There has to be a less expensive way to rid ourselves of these chemicals. The hair cleaning is going to be the hardest part to replace.

    • Hi
      I make ALL my products myself.
      I clean my hear with Amla and Soap nut powder, mixed with chamomile or peppermint tea and made into a paste.
      I rinse with water and add Apple Cider Vinegar to the hair. I mix that in the ratio 1 to 10 or even to 20 in a bottle. Also have added Essential Oils like lemon and peppermint.
      This works very well!
      I also make my own soaps. There are tons of resources on the web.
      You could start with wellnessmama.com Katie has loads of recipes 🙂
      I make my own toothpaste, wrinkle serum and cream plus Lotion bar!
      Today I am making a batch of solid perfume too.
      Once you start…there’s no stopping. It’s just too much fun! <3
      Good luck!

  42. Great post, Thanks Chris! My question is, you state that “what you put on your skin might be an even greater risk for toxin exposure than what you put in your mouth.” – then you go on to explain what some of these harmful chemicals are. But, can you explain or point to some research that explains the process by what you put on your skin absorbing into your body. I feel like this isn’t talked about. We hear so much about eating bad foods and what it does inside (destroys gut, increases blood sugar, hormone disrupter, etc), but how do the chemicals we put on our skin become harmful? What’s that process? Thanks in Advance 🙂

    • @Tammy – you are wondering how what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream. Our skin is our largest organ and part of its job, besides holding in all our other organs, is to rid our bodies of the toxins we are exposed to.
      Think of medical patches, nicotine patches, that are applied to the arm or where ever and how the medicine is absorbed by our system. You can do a little experiment at home to see. Take a clove of garlic, crush it and put it between your toes. In a few minutes you will actually taste the garlic!!! I did it at a party once and we all tasted it at about the 1min 40 sec mark. 🙂

  43. Coincidentally, I have recently been seeking a non-shampoo way of cleaning my hair. This was brought on by growing it, which led to my very fine hair becoming greasy way to fast, thus leading to more hair washing. Not a good cycle. I did the “no-poo” method for a while, which was good, but got advice that it might not be great over the long run. I have been using a raw shampoo for the last week and a half and early results are amazing! I have been using the Morrocco Method. (https://www.morroccomethod.com/). Not for the frugal though ($30/bottle) but my hair has never been this full and nice. Conditioner is not necessary with it. (Sadly, there are only three places to get it in Canada.) Only need to wash hair twice per week. Love it.

    I also recently switched to a little almond oil as my moisturizer (have been using it as a make up remover for a while now) — it is great! Not oily like I expected.

  44. May I suggest the EWG (great site) skin deep database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/, where you can look up both products and ingredients and get a listing of study results and a danger rating. I go here all the time and copy out ok products and then look for them in natural foods stores. While natural food stores have lots of products with no toxic ingredients, they have a lot of products that do have the ingredients Dr. Kresser listed.

    • “May I suggest the EWG (great site) skin deep database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/, where you can look up both products and ingredients and get a listing of study results and a danger rating.”

      May I suggest that literally everyone, completely, and totally, get off the premise?

      You do not need a single product in the world.

      It’s so humorous, watching everyone bat product concoctions back an forth.

      Water ONLY. Then you can just argue about chlorine, and a niece in 7 billion passing out from the fumes.

      You should see my long hair. Women are envious. No shampoo in 6-7 years. No substance at all. My skin? At 54, smooth as a baby’s ass, also the envy of women. Not a drop of soap in 6-7 years.

      Check your PREMISES. Absolutely no substances are required, if you’re willing to go through the detox and withdrawal you’ve subjected yourself to for decades.

      I post this knowing it’ll fall deaf on 9 of 10 ears, because sorting substances to slather on your largest organ is just so essential. All the Animals do it.

      • My sister didn’t think it was nothing when her daughter collapsed from chlorine inhalation. I’m sorry you have no compassion. It must be a wonderful life to be the envy of everyone. And you’re right, no one will listen to you because there is an aggressive and self-righteous tone to your comment. Yes, it must be nice being the envy of everyone!

        • “My sister didn’t think…”

          And when are you going to start?

          You write:

          “from chlorine inhalation.”

          Did a truck or train overturn and you got gassed, which would raise the question of why everyone’s talking about a tender, tender, tender, tender, tender,mender DAUGHTER, with a MOTHER, and an UNCLE!!!

          Sir, what is the distinction between you and your niece’s mother?

          I’m not seeing one. Pretty redundant, but I see males trying to fill female roles everywhere I look.

      • Great comments Richard. I have done some of this, including just rinsing my hands with water (without soap) after using the bathroom or before cooking, and haven’t washed my “sensitive” area with soap in years, but now I have to try it on my underarms, feet, face and teeth — the only areas where I still use cleansing agents. Thanks for the heads up!

      • Agreed, I haven’t used soap, shampoo, or deodorant in about 6 months. Hair and skin are better than before (after the initial adaptation period of course) and it is nice to be able to skip a shower or two and not wake up looking like the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

  45. As a skin therapist for many years, I am particularly aware of the numerous chemicals found in products. The highest culprits are over-the-counter skincare products, but also the professional products are still formulated with parabens and many other chemicals. I totally disagree. I use 302 Professional Skincare which is preservative free and utilizes organiicaly grown plants extracts (and also totally without for those too sensitive even to natural plant extracts), avocado, coconut oil, etc. What I enjoy is that you can understand what the ingredient list is made up of for the most part. This product is especially helpful when chemo or other drug therapies disrupt the cell development causing side effects.

  46. I have recently started using rye flour with water (apx 1/4 cup rye flour with enough water to make a consistency of a shampoo) as a shampoo followed by a rinse of apple cider vinegar and water (1 tbs ACV and 1 cup water). I love it. This is the best shampoo I have ever tried. No icky buildup, no fragrance. Coconut oil with baking soda and corn starch as a deodorant – love it too. Coconut oil and baking soda to brush my teeth. Works great. There really is no need to use store bought chemicals to keep clean.

  47. Shampoo: baking soda
    Conditioner: apple cider vinegar
    Soap: Dr Bronner’s or saponified olive oil soap bar
    Toothpaste: Dr Bronner’s
    Deodorant: homemade version of primal pit paste or just baking soda
    Make up: none
    Lotion: coconut oil (used just this on my belly when pregnant and voila – no stretch marks ;))

  48. I’m not sure if anyone else mentioned it but I use ewg.org as a resource to find “safer” products. In general I do believe most people use too many unnecessary products.

  49. Several years ago I switched to Dr. Bronner’s shampoo, and also started gradually decreasing how often I showered/washed hair to once or twice a week.

    Then I switched to J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo.

    In January of this year I totally stopped using shampoo at all. I bathe once or twice a week, use minimal soap on “the smelly bits” as one person put it, and wash my hair vigorously with hot water only.

    • Sorry, but water only, or water and vinegar or oils do not work for folks like me who have extremely oily skin (yes, still at 69). If I had a dime for every time someone said, “Are you too warm? You are sweating” (what they thought were beads of sweat on my face were beads of skin oil), I could start my own natural products company. I actually have a sensitivity to my own skin oil if I don’t cleanse frequently — it causes itching and burning, it gets into my eyes, my scalp gets a waxy coating and itches and breaks out. And, the longer my skin oil sits, the more unpleasant its odor becomes — mainly because there is more of it, not that it changes odor, just gets stronger.A natural diet, hygiene products based on natural ingredients, etc., and all those things that we all do to be healthier can do us a world of good. But, I have found from experience I need to clean my skin frequently, and my hair (scalp) at least every other day. I think most people tend toward the opposite problem — dry skin. I wonder what this feels like — have never experienced it! Never had to use a moisturizer on my face or scalp. I can wash my face 5 or 6 times a day with a natural grease-cutting liquid dish soap, and never experience drying. People never believe my age — no scaling, wrinkles, etc. I guess oily skin has its blessings, but it’s very annoying and inconvenient at times. And, please don’t give my that old line about how washing your face more often increases oiliness. Skeptical scientist here — I can tell you that it doesn’t. If that were the case, all people would have to do to treat dry skin would be to wash their faces more often.

      • And I thought I was the only one…I’m 61, and not as oily as I used to be, but the burning eyes if I didn’t wash my face two or three times a day caused me to carry an old-fashioned cotton handkerchief so I could wipe them occasionally. Washing your face more often definitely does not increase oiliness. Only at about age 55 did I start using a bit of moisturizer – now just coconut oil. My scalp also still breaks out a bit if I don’t shampoo often enough. Tried the baking soda/apple vinegar routine for about three weeks – did not work for me.

  50. You mention the option of using coconut oil and palm oil — are you aware of the sustainability issues surrounding Palm Oil? I would suggest looking into http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/ for a quick overview of the concerns with most palm oil. In brief, deforestation, habitat degradation, etc.

  51. Thank you for this article! I am a consultant for Beautycounter and our mission is to get safe products into the hands of everyone! We have pledged not to use over 1500 chemicals/ingredients AND we test each of our products for safety – looking at allergens, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. We look at our ingredient sourcing, how it interacts with other ingredients (such as by-products). We are a B-Corporation and fully disclose every ingredient in our products! There are NO hidden chemicals grouped under the terms “fragrance or perfume.” No parabens, phthalates, triclosan!
    Did you know that the US hasn’t passed a law legislating the personal care industry since 1938 and has only banned 11 chemicals in personal care products! Beautycounter is a industry disruptor! We want to force change, whether one purchases Beautycounter or not!
    Another good source for screening your products is Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep App. It rates over 60,000 products on a scale of 1 to 10 for safety! http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

  52. Great article, Chris! Here is a great new film on toxic ingredients. Unacceptable Levels – Pollution just got personal. A documentary about the chemicals in our bodies, how they got there and what we can do about it.
    http://ykr.be/18yn510n5f
    Is your “natural” skin care line on this list? http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/ethical-skincare/ If you want to learn more about an ethical company with safe products, check out: http://www.us.nyrorganic.com/shop/tinavandenheuvel

  53. I really appreciate you writing an article on this. All of my friends think I’m crazy since I’ve gone shampoo-less. I have been using the Morrocco Method products on my hair with great results. No suds, only raw, organic and wild crafted and earthy ingredients. It has helped bring my hair and scalp back to a healthy state. I will never go back to that toxic stuff that strips the healthy oils away.

    Also, I’ve found that using fermented cod liver oil skin products is a good replacement for moisturizers or anti aging creams. It’s a little stinky at first but you get used to it and it actually seems to nourish my skin. Those are my two favorite replacements and I’m going to check out some of the other suggested in the comments!

  54. I’ve been using shampoo soap bars from Chagrin Valley. They’re great and all natural. I love the coconut one and the conditioning bar. I use the conditioning bar for shaving. My hair is softer, less tangled, less frizzy and has more body. The only problem is that I live next to farms that spray Roundup. Every fall and winter my endocrine system gets worse. I’m trying to move but I’m not sure if I can financially pull it off. The other issue I figured out is that my drinking water is likely contaminated and making me sick. I’ve been drinking purified water recently. After a week my years of digestive issues went away. I no longer sleep until1-3pm each day but I’m still fatigued. I’m having the tap water tested next week.

  55. Love this article. So many people are unaware of these toxins.
    I make a lot of my own skin care products. The ones that I don’t make or can’t, I buy from a friend who sells Ava Anderson Non Toxic products. Great company.

  56. SInce I got poisoned by pesticides many Years ago I use coconut oil and olive oil for skiing and for soaps only the ones that are gluten and gmo free fragrance free and made from such materials as you read here.
    Palm oil, palm kernel oil, distilled water, safflower oil, babassu oil (from the babassu palm) and sodium hydroxide. In Babassu Bar Soap, the natural glycerin is kept intact; glycerin has a moisturizing effect on both skin and hair and is very desirable in soap.
    Use as you would any other soap.
    Rinse well with clean water after bathing and also use for shaving or use for shampooing hair:

    Attribute & Allergen Checklist:
    Fragrance-free: Yes
    Gluten-free: Yes
    Latex-free: Yes
    Casein-free: Yes
    Vegan: Yes
    Vegetarian: Yes
    Made in the USA: Yes
    Animal testing used: No
    Feingold Program Standards: Yes
    Contains Essential Oils: No
    All Natural: Yes
    Paraben Free: Yes
    Alcohol Free: Yes
    Dye Free: Yes
    Tree Nut Free: Yes
    Peanut Free: Yes
    Citrus Free: Yes
    Corn Free: Yes
    Soy Free: Yes
    Shellfish & fish derivative Free: Yes

    This unscented product is ideal for anyone who wishes to avoid synthetic chemicals, including those with environmental illness, chemical sensitivities or TILT (Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance). Every Product is gluten-free and wheat-free. They are the perfect skincare line for those with Celiac Disease, Dermatitis herpetiformis or a wheat allergy. Nontoxic, unscented skincare and bath products that are ideal for anyone who wishes to avoid synthetic chemicals, including those with environmental illness, chemical sensitivities or TILT (Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance).

    • re: Attribute & Allergen Checklist:

      You can add right at the top:

      0. Is it easy to get a list of ingredients for the product on-line?

      This household just fired Mary Kay on that alone.

      All too many makers don’t put the IL on the product page, don’t have a button/tab for it on the product page, don’t have an allergens page with it anywhere on site, don’t offer a rear view of the product container, and expect to hide this until you are in the store (or take delivery): NO SALE

      They need to learn that hiding this information, even if only due to incompetent marketing, sends a message that there is quite likely something to hide.

  57. Right up front I will say that I market these products, but i would encourage you to check out the Sense’ line of products by USANA Health Sciences. We have full skincare line with a patented self preserving technology. Sense’ line also includes shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, toothpaste, and shower gel. You can see a full description including ingredients @ http://www.samdurrance.com. You can contact me there with any questions and to receive preferred customer pricing.

  58. I have always watched what goes on to my skin and into my mouth, however, after deciding to make my own natural perfume as I already produce skincare, bath products and candles and after making one on BBC Countryfile with Julia Bradbury I have come against a brick wall with all the legislation that seems against anything ‘natural’. I would have to add aroma chemicals to my perfume to make it legal and yet no-one yet knows how harmful these chemicals are for us or the planet. How many people know that their favourite perfume which is sprayed on everyday day can or may contain harmful chemicals. Its very frustrating.

  59. Another great post! I use a shampoo bar from Oregon Soap Company, make my own coconut oil lotion with essential oils & shea butter, re-mineralizing toothpaste (the glycerin in commercial toothpastes is preventing our saliva from cleansing our teeth between brushing) and I use a himalayan salt crystal for deoderant, topping that off with essential oil in a carrier oil. Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera and nettles tea makes a nice hair rinse. Alima Pure makes wonderful mineral make-up, no chemicals. Sadly, I haven’t found a toxin-free hair spray that performs. Anyone out there as vain as I am who has?

    • Not a hairspray, but I’ve used homemade Flax Seed Gel. I’ve seen commercial Flax Seed Gel in a spray bottle, so you could probably do an internet search for that company.

    • Try Karen’s Naturals. Her gel has worked wonders for my hair. And all the products are made for chemically sensitive people and are 100% fragrance free. Good luck!

    • Giovanni L.A. Hold Hair Spritz. It’s the best I could find while still actually working… I too have been struck by the vanity bug :-/

      And I have to agree with Alima Pure! Love them! 100% Pure and W3LL People are some of my other favorites for makeup.

  60. Chris, your work is great. Thank you. Bicarbonate of soda dusted as a deodorant when needed is good.’ Pulling ‘ with coconut oil is a daily must and keeps teeth and mouth really clean. ALso a single drop of tea tree oil when cleaning teeth about three times a week helps clear plaque. Coconut oil on a cotton bud (use sparingly) will help keep ears clean, comfortable and my daughter, who has a hole in her eardrum has not had an infection for the two years since I started this remedy. In fact coconut oil is a good moisturiser, I never put anything else on my face. It cleanses as well.

  61. Not only do we have to examine our use of Health & Beauty aisle items, but we MUST consider the container they come in–plastics (with all their inherent problems). Not only is the solution inside poisoning us, but the very CONTAINER they come in is as well!

    BPA through your hand skin, anyone?

    • Schmidt’s Deodorant from Portland, Oregon comes in glass jars, made from ingredients you can eat, effective for odor, and has four essential oil choices plus unscented choice. My favorites are Lavender-Sage and Bergamot-Lime.

    • Also, BEWARE – “BPA-free” is a gimmick. BPA-free contains BPS which is equally or possibly even more toxic. Stay tuned for the next gimmick. You just CANNOT make plastic non-toxic.

      Also touching plastic or cash register receipts with hands that are damp or wet from hand sanitizers or lotions containing absorption enhancing ingredient (most lotions) causes UP TO 85 TIMES MORE ABSORPTION OF BPA. (probably BPS too)

  62. Chris is usually so thorough with research, but this article contains a startling (and really, irresponsible) amount of misinformation. Parabens have been overwhelmingly declared safe (at concentrations hundreds or thousands of times larger than those used in cosmetics) by the scientific community. The studies linking them to cancer have been discredited and retracted. Methylparaben, the most commonly studied, is the anti fungal agent that occurs naturally in blueberries.

    Your skin has a pH of 5.5. It’s protected by an acidic layer that keeps it hydrated, discourages bacterial growth, and helps cell turnover. Products like Dr Bronner’s have a pH of about 9 – thousands of times more basic than your skin. Scientific studies have shown that even brief exposure to products at an inproper pH, like harsh soaps or baking soda, is enough to damage the acid mantle and decrease your skin’s ability to take care of itself. Those pH balanced formulas made by people with degrees in cosmetic chemistry are actually a lot more gentle on your skin than most homegrown solutions, once you know which ingredients to look for. While we’re at it – petroleum doesn’t dry out your skin. It’s belongs to a class of moisturizers called occlusives, and it’s the best occlusive there is, preventing over 99% of transepidermal water loss. So while it doesn’t technically provide additional hydration (neither do oils – you need water and a humectant for that), it does increase hydration significantly over time, without causing irritation for the large majority of the population.

    Being created in a lab or existing in nature doesn’t make something inherently “toxic” or safe. Bears are natural. Poison ivy is natural. Ricin is natural. Most lab created chemicals exist somewhere in nature, and are safely isolated from the potentially irritating or harmful natural substances they’re packaged with, or are simply concentrated to provide a more effective dose. This practice doesn’t make something good or bad, but done well it can make things safer and more effective. Fear doesn’t make you smarter. Science does. This article could use a bit more science.

    • You should probably respond to this Chris. Thank you for giving people an alternative viewpoint on the subject Katy. Well spoken!

    • Amen!!! More actual scientific facts that are not taken out of context and spread across the internet like they are gospel.

  63. I shampoo my longish curly/wavy hair once a week and sometimes I let a month pass without shampooing. I find that, at least in my case, my hair looks better and shinier the longer it’s unwashed. Beauty pageant contestants learned this “secret” years ago.

    For almost 4 years, I’ve been using milk of magnesia as a deodorant. I work out every day and I don’t glow, I sweat so when I say that I never have underarm odor, it’s significant. At first I thought the white would stain my dark clothes but it never has (it was a correspondence with the late great Roy Mankovitz and his suggestion to use MOM that started that practice).

    I’ve also been using Desert Essence tea-tree oil toothpaste.

    I do all of my own maintenance and keep my grooming utensils immaculate. The thought of going to a salon for a manicure/pedicure, aside from the high cost, is repellent to me.

    And, finally, I put absolutely nothing on my skin and I wash with Dove soap. I’ll be 82 in May and men do not ignore me so I’m doing something right.

  64. It’s like 6 or 7 years now with no soap or shampoo ever. Water only.

    I may have been the first Paleo-ish guy to popularize it. Took my blog from 40K visits monthly to over 100K in 2009. And it’s stayed there.

    The blog stinks. 🙂

    • Serious question. Why do you even shower at all? If the microbiome of the skin is really that amazing, should you even need to take a water only shower? Seems like a logical step to just go without the shower at all.

      • Our ancestors have always washed the grit off with water, in a steam, swimming in a lake, taking a dip in the ocean. The idea of needing “products” to get clean, was an idea born from commercialism rather than necessity.

  65. I have stopped using most commercial products in the shower, and generally only wash with soap once per week. I usually scrub with a washcloth only and this is fine most of the time unless I’ve been particularly sweaty.
    For shampoo I’ve substituted Baking Soda & Water, and for rinse I use a weak solution of cider vinegar & water. I do put conditioner on after washing but I don’t let it reach my scalp. I suffer from lichen planus on one leg and it has been hard to deal with. I’m getting some result with autoimmune protocol, but not completely healing. Waiting for the sun to come out in the Spring!

  66. I am also asthmatic and hate other people’s perfumes – I’ve got this weird thing about liking to be able to breathe comfortably. I use regular shampoo with a pleasant, light fragrance, and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile soap. And I use only unscented deodorant (not antiperspirant). I’ve got some supposedly natural lotions, but might decide to go with coconut oil, as long as it doesn’t stay greasy on my skin. Worth a try.

    • I’m with you, Susan. I wish fragrances were banned. It’s hard to go to theaters and even the mall has stores pumping out perfume. My daughters cone home from friend’s houses smelling scented our like dyer sheets.

      • Totally understand this. People’s homes are so toxic with dryer sheet chemicals, and plug-ins. It’s inescapable and just mind blowing that we’ve become obsessed with scented products. I’m 51 and when I was a kid, no-one’s home smelled as toxic as homes do now. People do not realize that indoor air pollution is linked to varied health issues. Now there are scented garbage bags. Have we all gone scent crazy? Ew! I intensely dislike this toxic crap.

        • Plus the “just like nature scents” people perfume their homes with-smelly candles, plug in air “fresheners” rings on their lightbulbs with “aroma therapy”. Let’s all breathe in petroleum products.

          I can no longer walk into a craft store because they have scented candle and soap ingredients and I stay away from most stores in the fall and winter because of “Christmas scents” they sell. I have had to cancel all magazine subscriptions because of scented samples, and I can’t walk down the soap and detergent aisles of stores anymore either.

          THAT’s what’s driving me to online shopping, far more than lower prices and convenience.

      • Eliminating fragrances is problematic. What’s a “fragrance” and what’s an active ingredient? I make an insect repellent with natural essential oils for my pets and me. Some of the oils, like cinnamon leaf, catnip leaf, and citronella, have strong, distinctive fragrances. Some folks don’t like these herbal scents. But they are not in the stuff for perfumery — they are there because they are the active ingredients that kill/repel mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas, ticks, etc. Natural skin-healing oils, like tea tree and oregano, also have very distinctive odors. If you were to eliminate any of the fragrant ingredients, the preparations would lose their therapeutic effects.

    • I put coconut oil on my face twice a day year-round and it does absorb well. I use it once a day as deoderant and I don’t see any clothing stains. I recently started pulling it and the calculus on my teeth softened and came off with brushing! Good stuff.

  67. So, it’s tempting to reduce soap and try the no-shampoo haircare methods I see around the paleosphere — but I just can’t bring myself to do so because I do submission grappling and martial arts. With all the crud that gets brought onto the mats, and god knows what living on the skin and gis of everybody I roll with, I feel like it would be irresponsible to neglect to immediately wash my uniform and take a soapy shower after each session. Thoughts? Is a healthy skin microbiome strong enough to prevent spreading ringworm and fungal infections around a community of sweaty grapplers?

  68. Good information, I look forward to the rest in this series!
    I have been making our bar soap for years and have recently begun mixing up our foaming hand soap with dr Bronners and essential oil. Shampoo and conditioner have been the tough ones for me. I have long, thick hair that has been unruly with homemade or no shampoo methods…

  69. What do you think about soap for combat sports? I do Jiu-Jitsu and rolling around with guys who may not be fully clean has it’s risks (staph). I use defense soap which is alot of natural oils and tea tree oil active ingredient.

  70. I have been using non-toxic products for awhile, but I’m getting more and more into minimalism and simple living. I’d prefer not to have to read labels do research on the social and environmental impacts of these products. So, the idea of not needing these products at all is very intriguing to me, especially when I hear of benefits like better skin bacteria.

    However, it is hard. I’ve tried the ‘no-poo’ method, but can’t get past the adjustment period. I’ve also tried to not use soap in the shower, except for the ‘smelly’ parts, and that has also been hard. I will keep trying though!

  71. I’ve been a patient of Chris’ and appreciate the time he takes to share his knowledge of toxic substances with us. This is a subject close to my heart. I too have been aware of the lack of regulation in the beauty/cosmetics industry in the U.S. and have tried to minimize my exposure to toxic chemicals through my beauty/cosmetic products. My experiments with homemade “products” were lackluster, at best. They were non-toxic, sure, but they didn’t make my skin glow and they left my hair dry and dull. I had resigned myself to the thought that I couldn’t both look good AND use safe products, unfortunately. BUT…through a friend, I recently learned about a new company, Beautycounter, which has changed everything for me. Finally, safe products that work fantastically well! Beautycounter has set out to disrupt the industry and create change all the way to Washington. They have the strictest safety screening of any company out there and are 100% transparent, yet they are high-performing and luxurious. Learn more about their social mission “to get safe products into the hands of everyone” and view their product line: maureenm.beautycounter.com

  72. I’ve stopped using toothpaste several weeks ago because I suspected that they were contributing to my gradually receeding gums and occasional inflamation. I thought it was from the fluoride. I just recently bought a Tom’s toothpast without fluoride. After only 2 uses, my gums were all inflamed, so that told me that another ingredient(s) was involved. That may be the sodium laurel sulfate. After 4 days back on a sea salt solution, the inflamation is gone again. I’m starting to brush my teeth once or twice a week with baking soda because the salt solution doesn’t seem to stop plaque formation. Another solution, of course would be to brush my teeth more frequently, right after every meal, something I haven’t been doing.

    I’ve also stopped using lotions last summer and am using coconut oil exclusively. It’s cheap, it feels great and smells wonderful. It really helps heal up scratches and cuts from in the kitchen.

    I haven’t used deoderants in years and found that after a two month adjustment period where I had to wash my underarms several times a day to keep smelling clean, I no longer have an underarm oder problem. I wash my underarms with soap once a day. I’ve found I don’t even smell after working out at the gym for over an hour.

    Most recently, I’ve backed off on soap use and the frequency of showering. Right now, of course, it’s winter. I now shower every other day, but only use soap on my underarms and genital area. The rest I just use a washcloth to scrub off dead skin. I try not to use too high a water temperature. I’ll modify as I observe the effects of this strategy.

    • re: … contributing to my gradually receeding gums and occasional inflamation. I thought it was from the fluoride.

      After years of ignoring the fluoride debate, I’ve also ditched fluoride in toothpaste. I’m thinking that the real hazards are not those featured in historical histrionics but:
      – gut biome antagonist (kills beneficial bacteria)
      – thryoid antagonist (competes with iodine)

      Having been the victim of periodontal hacking, I would also advise, if you haven’t already, eliminating grains (esp. gluten-bearing) from your diet.

      The relatively trivial benefit of fluoride in toothpaste is dwarfed by the benefit of removing dental destroying amylopectin A.

      • From what I understand, the scientific literature says that flouride is only harmful when swallowed (especially in large amounts) — but it’s extremely effective in preventing bacteria from adhering to teeth. The Natural Dentist has toothpastes that do NOT contain sulfates, but DO contain flouride. As far as I know, it’s also the only brand that has a non-mint flavor — although I prefer the mint flavor.

    • Try brushing your teeth with coconut oil. I dip my toothbrush in coconut oil then in a tooth powder with bentonite clay. Keeps the plaque away. Then with that mix still in my mouth I do a short form of oil pulling and swish all that around my teeth for a minute. Then I rinse with water and swish that around my mouth again.

    • Christa,

      RECEDING GUMS/ GUM INFLAMMATION may be the sign of a systemic issue… if you see the work of dental pioneers Dr. Hal Huggins and Dr. Fife…
      Two mouth rinses to try:
      1. Unrefined coconut oil mouth swishing, start with a few minutes and work up to 15 minutes daily which heals not only the mouth, but is a healing detox for the body.
      2. Mouth swishing with 50/50 solution of baking soda and Mortons canning and pickling salt with NO iodine.

      LESS BODY ODOR AND SHOWERING
      Years ago people had beneficial microbes all over the skin which controlled the bad odor causing bacteria. We have stripped it away with daily soap and shampoo…

      AO BIOME SKIN PROBIOTIC SPRAY
      The AOBiome Chris mentions above – an MIT scientist came up with the probiotic body spray and it’s selling like crazy. I ordered and it’s on backorder.
      To read the science go to aobiome.com BUT
      To ORDER go to mist.aobiome.com
      It’s expensive, but unnecessary products add up.

    • Too much tooth brushing wears away tooth enamel, even without using toothpaste. I have settled on only once a day brushing in the AM, followed by flossing. I use a non-flouride toothpaste, or sometimes I just brush with warm water.

      For tooth enamel health, I eat a fairly low carb diet, drink raw milk, some bone broth, nutrient dense type foods along with the following supplements: Vit D, Vit K2, Iodine, Zinc, selenium, and cod liver oil. My teeth feel silky slick and pearly with this regimen. They appear to be a bit more milky white, less “grey” as well. My fingernails are thicker and stronger too. I am 58 years old, and my gums had started to recede and now they have “grown back” to cover my teeth better. When I run my tongue over my teeth, they ALWAYS feel like I just got back from having them polished. Amazing.

      Sometimes less is more. Cut back on the brushing and the harsh mouth chemicals in toothpaste. Reduce sugar. Take in nutrients needed for good bone and joint health which will help to create healthy enamel and connective tissues in your mouth.

    • Christa, there are several good DIY Paleo toothpaste recipes available online. Some have ingredients that are supposed to promote remineralization.

  73. I have been using Just Soap shampoo bar for years and like it a lot. I also use apple cider vinegar rinse as conditioner (1 Tbs vinegar per 1 cup of water). Tried a homemade toothpaste recipe for a while but decided I actually prefer brushing with plain Dr Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap. Tried coconut oil as hand and foot lotion but it didn’t work that great–I’m getting better results with shea butter, though not as good as the Neutrogena chemical lotion I used to use. Last couple of years I’ve avoided sunscreen almost entirely by diligently building up a base tan starting in April. I’m still using a “style cream” product on my hair, though, that’s full of chemicals–one concession to vanity.

  74. I recently started using a home-made deodorant that is working wonderfully, much better than any product that I’ve ever purchased. The blend is 2:1 coconut oil and baking soda, and then add several drops of your favorite essential oils–I use lemon and chamomile. I really am amazed how well this works.

  75. Last Summer, I found instructions for making my deodorant. It works and I’ll stick to that. Soap and shampoo can be found that has all natural ingredients. Also, lotions. The problem is make-up. I use a mineral makeup but that still has chemicals in it. I want to start making my own, but will it do the job? Thank you for the article. Until recently, I never even thought about what I put on my skin could damage my health.

  76. Great article! I was bit by a tick over ten years ago and have suffered from lyme disease symptoms and I am doing whatever I can to decrease the amount of toxins in my body. I am an Ava Anderson Non Toxics consultant and I have switched to her non toxic beauty products for my skin and cleaning products for my home. The most noticeable difference this winter has been clear skin, no dryness, no flaking and increased energy. A little moisturizer goes a long way too! And for eczema a lot of users have testimonials showing results in as little as 5 days. Non Toxic 🙂

  77. Christina Moss Naturals has an excellent line of facial products, shampoos, conditioners and bar soap that are completely natural. Their facial moisturizer is the best I have tried…organic and non organic. You can find them on Amazon.

  78. Would love to see a discussion around the ancient practice of shivambhu……… Using your own urine as a moisturizer and conditioner. Rinsed out, there is no residual aroma but it does leave hair clean and soft……… Perfect DNA match to boot. Rubbed into the skin, you will never need another moisturizer. And, it’s free! If your reaction is EWWW! consider millions practice around the world…… I’m into my 4th year.

  79. I found a company that makes non-toxic, gluten free products called Ava Andreson Non-Toxic. I love their products so much I started selling it (not my full time job!). I love the shampoo, conditioner, body lotions even make up. Makes me feel much better knowing my daughters and I are not putting toxic chemicals on our body.

  80. Dr. Bronner’s soap contains citric acid, a cheap chemical compound found in many food items. Does anyone know about any adverse effects this chemical additive in soaps and foods causes?

  81. I only use soap on the smelly bits, and only every other day in the winter. The rest just gets a rinse with plain water. I use ordinary shampoo because it’s on and off within 30 seconds… so no big deal.

    The best thing I’ve found though, is to save the grass-fed beef tallow from making stock/bone broth, and to use it as a moisturizer. You have to clarify it once or twice in boiling water to remove any bits & bobs, then just pour into small jars and keep in fridge. This stuff works wonders on eczema and those winter-time cracked fingers.

    The only downside is the grass-fed smell of the tallow. I do add some essential oils for a better smell, but nothing really covers the stench. Oh well, it’s still great for our skin, and basically free.

    • Shampoos are very toxic. DEA, MEA, TEA, SLS, ETC. Effects are cumulative. Therefore, it’s best to re-consider your shampoo choice. Those fragrances are nasty chemicals. I use BARE UNSCENTED John Master’s. It’s the least chemically toxic shampoo I can find.

  82. I’m glad you addressed the skin’s natural microbiome. On that topic, for the past 4 years I’ve been using only 2 items on my face: Once a week, soap with Dr. Bronners bar. Twice a day I use a hot washcloth on my face & neck to remove oils and debris, then apply Skin of Gold face cream, which seems to balance and heal the skin, even around my eyes. All skin issues have become history.
    I’ve used DermOrganic on my hair for over a year, pleased so far.
    Body – loofah with Bronners liquid, diluted. Just right.
    Thanks Chris!

  83. I swim in a chlorinated pool several times a week. What about those chemicals?
    It may be counter-productive, but I shower with all natural soap from the farmers’ market immediately after.

  84. I found a gem of a product & company. Mango Me Body Butter – handmade in Kauai, HI. So natural I can use it on my face! http://www.islandsoap.com / (800) 300-6067. Natural ingredients: Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Avocado Butter, Mango Butter, Mango Fragrance. Very Green, Responsible Company too! I also like their Mango Coconut Guava Soap that uses pure Saponified Organic Coconut Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil, Fragrance and Natural Color. Cured in the Hawaiian Air!

  85. 4 years now no shampoo and soap only occasionally after reading about it on FTA. My hair is the best its every been, albeit there’s less of it!

    No one can tell. My girlfriend knows and can’t tell any difference between me and anyone else.

  86. I’ve used Ecover Washing-up Liquid for years for both showering and washing my hair. I see they’ve recently brought out several different products and, having read Chris’s important information, I shall read the labels carefully before being tempted to try anything new!

    Nobody has mentioned the problems “fragrances” cause to asthmatics. I am very bothered by the smell of other peoples’ cosmetics and perfumes, especially when I’m singing.

    • Me too. When a person passes me who is wearing a lot of perfume or cologne, my lungs just want to seize up. Most of the essential oils smell good to me, but I have to hold my breath when walking into a department store because, inevitably, you have to walk past the fragrance counter to get to the rest of the store. I also don’t even open the advertisements coming in the mail from many stores because of the stench. They go straight in the trash.

      • Department stores are brutal for asthmatics and people with MCS. It’s not just perfumes there. It’s the pesticides, fumigants, and carcinogenic formaldehyde that the clothes are saturated in. People forget that there are many toxic chemicals all over new clothes. Cotton items and cotton/poly blends the worst. The cotton industry sprays billions of pounds of pesticides on cotton. It ends up on our clothes! Imagine! We, as conscientious consumers, should start calling manufacturers and demanding that they stop making clothes with so many toxic chemicals.

        • I can’t even try on clothes anymore. Not only all the stuff new fabric is treated with, but people try on the clothing reeking of perfume and it sticks to the clothing like glue! This is even a problem in thrift stores. I try to go clothing shopping only once or twice a year, and I drug up to do it.

    • We who are sensitive to fragrance chemicals are the LUCKY ones. Everyone else is poisoning themselves directly into the bloodstream with all these skin products and perfumes.

  87. Nobody has mentioned the problems caused by “fragrances” to asthmatics. I try to use unperfumed products but am very upset by the smell of other people’s cosmetics, especially when I’m singing.

    I have used Ecover Washing-up Liquid for years for showering and washing my hair! I see they are recently selling some different products so I’ll read the labels carefully, having read Chris’s information, before I try anything new!!
    very interesting blog

  88. Chris – great article!

    Last year, I became aware of this issue when I was having skin problems which I eventually traced back to some of the products in my home. When I dug a little deeper, I couldn’t believe what was in the things my family & I were using every day! I was lucky enough to find a company who was really passionate about removing these type of toxins from people’s homes, and having replaced those items, what a surprise, the skin irritation went away! I haven’t looked back since, and just wonder what else could have been in store further down the line. Frightening.

    I really think it’s such an important issue, and one which many people aren’t even aware of. Thanks again for all the great work you do!

  89. The best shampoo ever is simply the raw egg!
    Or, try a home made shampoo recipe:
    1 raw egg, 1 tablespoon of flax seed flour, paprika, salt, plus 50 ml apple vinegar, 3 drops of essential oil of lavender and sage, blend everything. And your shampoo is ready to use.

    • When I was a child I remember my mom used an egg-based shampoo on my hair. I have no clue what was added to keep the egg ingredient from rotting in the bottle. But I was thinking of trying to make some homemade egg shampoo.

  90. I started making my own lotions about 9 years ago when my infant son developed eczema and the doctor prescribed a topical corticosteroid cream. I refused to put it on him and just used some oil at the time. The eczema cleared up and I started researching more to find some commercially available lotions without all these chemicals. I could find none, so I started making my own using beeswax to create an emulation between oil and water. Now, I make my own soaps and shampoos that are all natural, no preservatives, no toxic chemicals. I only use natural essential oils as fragrance, preservative, and for their medicinal properties. I am also an acupuncturist and I sell them to my patients at my clinic and they love it. Chris, if you send me your mailing address to my email, I’d love to send you some of my all natural soaps and lotions.

  91. Soap nuts from India (not a nut but a berry) are used widely for laundry and they’re so mild they can be used in place of soap and shampoo. Don’t forget laundry products that saturate your clothes with chemicals and fragrances that end up next to your skin can cause all sorts of problems for sensitive folk.

  92. Don’t forget the environment! Palm oil (how can you know if it’s really sustainable) use is deforesting land in countries such as Indonesia. By not choosing palm oil products it further reduces commercial choices, so then it’s back to olive, coconut, etc…

  93. AOBiome – the spray-on bacteria is amazing – surprised Chris or Robb Wolf, Sean Croxton et al have not given this more attention.
    Completely removes the need for any soap or shampoo – their founder has not touched soap of any kind for 12 years.
    Def. makes my skin feel & look much softer after using…one downside is any swimming in chlorinated water immediately kills the protective shield from using the spray

  94. Good article, Chris, so many people are obsessing over their diets but still paying $20 a bottle for toxic shampoo! For the record, I’m a girl with long hair and I wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. I just use the suds from scrubbing and squeeze them over my hair and lather them like shampoo – I see no reason why short haired folks can’t use the exact same method! Helps simplify my shower, too. My everyday conditioner is vinegar water, which just restores the pH of my hair after the soap, plus I use a natural conditioner maybe once a week. I tried baking soda and baking soda water but they didn’t work for my hair type.

    I’d say also that women face a lot more threat from these products because we have to slather 50 different things on our faces in order to be beautiful and acceptable to society. I quit using foundation makeup as well, I like to let my skin have ‘rest days’ as the makeup gurus put it, all the time. The more shit you put on your face, the more shit you NEED to put on your face, is how I see it.

    • Grace – I agree completely about what you put on your face. I don’t wear any makeup on my skin and it looks healthy on its own. Not completely perfect, but then again who really needs perfection? It glows and looks healthy and a blemish or two on occasion is no big deal.

      I am grateful to hear from someone with long hair. That is what I was looking for in the comments! I also have long hair and I am hooked on Tres Semme because so many of the organic shampoos I have tried dry out my hair. I wash 1-2x per week. ACV and baking soda left it soft but also dry. For fear of having to cut it off again, I have more or less given up. If shampoo and conditioner are the only products in my bathroom that are toxic, how bad could it be anyway…? Yet it bothers me. I have used Dr. Bronners before on my hair but not the bar soap. Perhaps your approach of using just the suds is a better one. Perhaps I should just rinse with water and add coconut oil. Don’t know – all I know is I have spent a lot of money on organic healthcare and as much as I want it to moisturize my hair, it has not.

    • After going paleo, I was able to ditch the foundation (or basically any other make-up, unless it’s a special occasion)! What a blessing! I don’t even have to wash my face anymore!

      • I know what you mean. When I went Paleo, my skin looked better. Now I basically wear makeup on Sunday and on special occasion. I do still have signs of Roscea, so I have to watch that. But Paleo has been the best thing I’ve done for my body and health in years.

  95. Hi, I have a dilemma. I’m a nurse and have to use those alcohol based hand rubs and I scrub for surgery as well. I have changed to using the iodine scrub only. How harmful are these products? It’s very difficult to find any info on this. We are about to start a new product, skinman. It’s an alcohol based surgical rub. Also, do the gloves and abhr products interact, as with the print out receipt at the check out. Do gloves have BPA in them? I feel more and more how I put myself at risk while caring for other people as a nurse!

    • Nicolette,

      My sister is a nurse who is very holistic and says she walks a fine line to help her patients without getting “in trouble” by the conventional “standard of care”. I have great respect for any nurse like yourself who follows Chris Kresser and the like.

      Regarding your safety, if you let your hands DRY COMPLETELY after using hand rubs before putting on surgical gloves or touching receipts you are avoiding the super high levels of plastic chemical absorption we have seen in the news/ research.

      Do gloves have BPA in them? It probably doesn’t matter because BPA-Free contains BPS an equally or worse chemical.

      The research said cashiers who touch receipts all day have higher levels of BPA in their bodies so I assume wearing gloves all day would increase absorption. We ALL have our own unavoidable toxins… I would just increase your overall health measures to make up for it.

  96. Rad soaps are great. I also love Badger products. 100% Pure for cosmetics and shampoo. I make my own toothpaste using coconut oil, baking soda, peppermint oil, and stevia. It also doubles as a facial scrub. I also use activated charcoal to whiten my teeth. I love coconut oil for hair and skin but it unfortunately does not work well as a moisturizer for me during winter.

  97. I use bicarb soda in water to wash my hair and ACV in water to condition it. I rub a small amount of argan oil in to the ends if they get a bit dry.

  98. I’ve recently switched to using Aqueous cream BP for just cleaning the sweatiest parts of me as this product was recommended by my doctor to clear up eczema on my 17 month old – it has worked a treat for both him and myself (no more eczema!) – I have read it contains a sulfate should this be a cause for concern? We no longer use any other soap (except what is left on the anti bac for the kitchen and washing hands)

  99. re: The category of “fragrances” is so vast and non-specific …

    The word “fragrances” is to topicals what the phrase “natural flavorings” is to edibles – an officially-sanctioned weasel word that is just as likely to be hiding serious toxins as protecting trade secrets.

    If you are avoiding processed foods containing “natural flavorings”, you probably need to be avoiding topicals with “fragrances”.

    When checking the chemistry set list on the container, a useful resource is the Dirty Thirty list:
    http://www.teensturninggreen.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/dirtythirty-10-11-10.pdf

    • Very true! I’ve thought about it for food but illogically/naively/ wistfully wanted to assume the ‘natural’ product that has fragrances in it will somehow be, well, natural!

    • Chlorine zaps energy stores. Before my friend had a water filtration system installed in his home, he was taking 1 hour soaking baths in very smelly chlorine water. It was ruining his health. He became lethargic, exhausted, etc. Once he got the system installed that removed chlorine, he could still take his hour long baths and his health turned around rapidly. More energy, seemed happier than before… Chlorine is very toxic. My niece used to pass out from just taking a shower from the smell of chlorine and having it become absorbed through her skin. Salt water pools, IMHO, are less toxic.

  100. Chris, could you please post the brand of the shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. that you use? One of the most frustrating parts of these types of articles is that we find out how bad these things are without an easy to use alternative. I, like most people, have no interest in making homemade shampoo, deodorant or toothpaste. So, it would be very helpful to have brand names. The brand name for the soap was great, but it would also be helpful to have other easy to purchase brand names. Thanks so much.

    • How about taking the initiative yourself? Go to the store and read the labels. It isn’t really fair to expect CK to do your homework for you.

    • Robb,

      I’m with you on wanting high-performing, non-toxic products and I’ve found a line of beauty and cosmetic products that works great. There are also men’s products. I used to make products myself but I found homemade stuff to be lackluster, at best. You can click on my name, above, to learn more on my website.

      Maureen

  101. Really good information in this article. The thing I always wonder is how the future will characterize this time in humanity’s existence. Will they say “Oh how we were using all the wrong chemicals on our bodies back then,” or will they talk about all the “horrible things we once thought were healthy.” If history is any indication of the future, then the latter is more likely, but who knows. Maybe we just need better antimicrobials.

  102. Absolutely. Once you understand the gut-bacteria issue, protecting your skin bacteria is the obvious next step. It makes sense to use (non-antibacterial!) soap on those body parts that pose a risk of spreading disease (hands & privates); but to routinely use soap on the rest of your body is just nuts.

    For the hair, I find that hot water alone works just fine, and then towel-drying it will certainly remove any small amount of greasiness that might remain after the shower.

    Of course shower frequency probably plays a role too; I doubt that showering every single day is good for your skin. And obviously your diet will affect how you smell and how oily your skin is…

  103. Dr. Bronner’s soap — even their “Baby-Mild” version — is for dishes or washing your clothes while backpacking. The pH is entirely too high to use as a body soap. It’s a great way to get a vaginal yeast infection.

    • I had really big issues with the build up of Dr. Bronner’s too. I used to mix half vinegar and half dish soap in a spray bottle to spray in my dishwasher as a rinse aid. It works amazingly. However, when I switched to Dr. Bronner’s the build up in the dishwasher was so disgusting.

    • Bar soaps and liquid soaps like Dr. Bronners (made with saponified oils) are really not good for our skin and hair. The pH is way too high and our skin and hair is negatively charged and prefers a slightly acidic environment (i.e. below pH 7 which is neutral).
      If anyone has used these on their hair and it felt like a wet, matted, dirty carpet it’s because every hair follicle has little overlapping shingles that run down the length of the shaft. High pH products cause the shingles to raise up, which exposes the cortex. This can be very bad indeed because then your cortex is exposed and can cause more damage and loss of moisture from the inside of the hair shaft. Rinsing with vinegar will not reverse that. That is just basic chemistry.
      Don’t get me wrong, I love certain bar soaps that are handcrafted. I buy from http://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com and also http://www.soaptopia.com but I do not use these all the time because of the high pH.

  104. re: … triclosan-containing soaps don’t appear to provide any benefit over regular soap for preventing the spread of disease …

    Even if they are effective, then they are breeding resistant bacteria.

    That aside, any studies or trials looking at the health effects of topical and oral (toothpaste) antibiotics need to look at the entire spectrum of possible systemic effects, and I suspect no study has looked at gut biome impact.

    We only just got around to investigating our skin care products. The trash cans are starting to fill up.

  105. I have washed and bathed without soap or shampoo for several years by now. Well, I do use soap for my hands, and especially while cooking. I also do wash my hair with shampoo once in a while, maybe once a month when it gets way too oily. But mostly I just let plain water do the work.

    All my life I have had very itchy skin and serious dandruff. Since stopping the use of soaps, my skin itchiness and dandruff have decreased a great deal – not completely gone, but much, much better.

    My original reason for going soapless was simple – the oils on your skin are (I have read) an important factor in preventing infections and other problems from minor scratches. So it seemed like a good idea to try to leave the oils in place, and that meant no soap. I also knew that the mix of bacteria would be different if you washed with vs without soap. I didn’t think of that as being too much of a factor for my skin, but I hoped it would be for my scalp.

    I’m happy with the results and will keep on this way. True, I rarely have squeaky clean hair (and I do like that feeling after a shower), but I don’t have much dandruff either.

    • Same here! I kept having a problem with thrush while nursing my baby. One day I realized that maybe I was washing all the protective bacteria away and that is what was allowing the yeast to return. So I stopped using soap and shampoo. Sure enough, the thrush never came back. I shower twice a week with water only and use cocoa/shea butter as a moisturizer, which is rarely needed now that I’m not stripping all the moisture away with soap. I use a clay based shampoo twice a week. The best part is I no longer need deodorant! Once I stopped using soap, the odor causing bacteria disappeared.

      • You’ve inspired me to use less soap. My skin is so dry from taking showers all day long. I have MCS do I’m constantly in the shower.

      • When you say you’d get thrush what exactly do you mean. I’m not a nursing mom but I battle with thrush when I’m stressed. I already am aware of the candida issues related but was curious about your comment.
        Thanks-

  106. P2 Probiotic Power (.com) has many products for topical use as well as cleaning products. We’ve been pleased with them so far.

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