Not all kind of cleaning and not all kind of cleaners are good. Let us learn what to promote and definitely what to avoid in our soaps – one of the most intimately used products by us all.
What Chemicals Should One Avoid in Soaps?
Soaps and other cleansing agents are laden with many ingredients both natural and chemical. These chemicals serve secondary purposes like forming a lather, giving fragrance or simply preserving the soap from bacterial infestation, but since they come in contact with the skin, they can have many harmful effects. Effects and side-effects of many of these chemicals have been debated since long. Some have been banned, the others are under the radar. For the end consumer, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Following is a list of common chemical ingredients in soaps which may be doing you worse than good.
1. Chemically Sourced Fragrance
The fragrance comes from mixing a variety of chemicals and is found in almost all beauty products. However, it has been associated with a variety of respiratory diseases like asthma, arthritis, dermatitis and various allergies.
2. 1,4 Dioxane
It is a by-product of mixing ethylene oxide to decrease the strength of other chemicals. 1,4 Dioxane is carcinogenic. Ethylene oxide is abbreviated ‘eth’, and this is something to look out for.
Parabens are used to inhibit the growth of microbes, which is why it is heavily used in cosmetics and sanitary products. But, it also gets absorbed into the skin and mimics estrogen (female hormone). It has been found to be associated with breast cancer and tumours.
4. Synthetic Colours
Made from coal tar, almost all synthetic colours have been found to be carcinogenic. They are loaded with metals and salts, which often get deposited on the skin, causing skin allergies. They are abbreviated as FD&C or D&C, followed by a colour and a number.
Triclosan kills off human cells and damages hormonal balance in animals. It stays on the skin for hours at end. Once it sets inside the body, it keeps getting accumulated and may cause defects at birth, reproductive problems and toxicity in organs.
6. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
Sadly, SLS which is found in almost 90% of skin care products, is an industrial-scale cleaning agent. This means that it is actually a part of your garage cleaner, and it also goes inside your toothpaste. It is potentially carcinogenic and can cause organ toxicity. It has also been linked to hair fall.
Urea, found in many products, can weaken the immune system and can be a cause of dermatitis. They can cause joint pain and heart irregularities.
8. Propylene glycol
It is very common ingredients of beauty products and unfortunately baby products as well. It is carcinogenic and can be toxic to internal organs. It also kills off cells.
It is a very common ingredient in hand sanitizers and has been found to have its ill-effects if used too frequently. Skin problems drying and cracking can result from the alcohol washing away your skin’s natural oils.
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Lye generally dries out the skin and irritates. In most cases, the lye will undergo chemical reactions and form glycerine, but any unchanged lye is classified caustic.
How Can We Replace These Harmful Chemicals?
One can choose non-chemical cleansers. Glycerin soap, for example, is a very good alternative to soaps as it can be made with completely natural ingredients. It is also very gentle on the skin and does the cleaning just fine. There are other natural alternatives which contain natural oils for microbial action and no added fragrance. Although it is impossible to avoid all chemicals, one can avoid most of them by reading the labels carefully before buying counter-top products.
Also read: Best Natural Soaps for Dry Skin.