With all this hand washing we are doing (and really should be doing all the time, not just during a pandemic), it’s important to learn how to find an option with cleaner ingredients. As I always say, you can make a significant impact in lessening your overall toxin exposure by switching to safer items that you are using everyday and even multiple times per day. This alone will make a HUGE difference over time.
Think about it, if you wash your hands 10 times each day for a year, you have exposed yourself to potential toxins 3,650 times! Now, if you change just this item to safer, think about the impact you will have over your lifetime. Pretty cool, huh?! Here are a few tips for finding safer choices for you and your family:
Ingredients to Avoid
Synthetic Fragrance is number one on my no-no list across all products from hand soap to cosmetics to detergent. When you see “fragrance” or “parfum” on an ingredient label, it can actually house upwards of 100 ingredients chosen from thousands of chemicals. Fragrance ingredients do not have to be disclosed because they are considered proprietary. Unfortunately, pretty gnarly ingredients can be hidden in “fragrances” that can cause health issues over time, including allergies, asthma, endocrine disruption and even cancer.
One of those hidden ingredients that I have a big beef with is a phthalate. Phthalates are used to make a scent stick to you – that’s why you can often smell scents on you long after you’ve used a product – I’m looking at you sun-ripened raspberry lotion and mist from my high school days - ha! Phthalates are also used in plastics to make them more malleable – so no thank you for putting that directly on my skin (and into my body). Phthalates are linked to a host of human health issues, including birth defects, hormone disruption, pre-term birth, and developmental toxicity.
Bottom line: If you see “fragrance” on any ingredient label, just say no!
Parabens are also a giant red flag for me across all products, but certainly in items I am using everyday. Parabens are preservatives commonly used in personal care products and are found on ingredient labels as methylparaben, polyparaben, etc. They are linked to a number of a health issues from skin irritation to neurotoxicity, and a recent study found parabens to be present in 99% of tested breast cancer tumors.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant often used in hand soaps, dish soaps and even toothpaste to help create a lather or make a product foam. SLS and it's friend, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are linked to cancer, organ toxicity and respiratory issues.
My Picks for Safer Hand Soap
For the Family We have used the Everyone brand hand wash for years. It’s got great ingredients and you can buy it both locally and online. I especially love finding it at TJ Maxx, but it is also available at both the Real Foods Store and Natural Grocers. I have yet to try a scent I do not enjoy!
For the Foaming Fan I recommend Alaffia if you are used to a foaming soap. It’s not only clean ingredient-wise, but it has a great foaming dispenser (without the SLS) and comes in a huge bottle!
For the Aesthetic Eye
If you want a fancy option for your kitchen sink or guest bathroom, then this Beautycounter beauty is my pick. It’s got a light citrus mimosa scent (without using synthetic fragrance) and a beautiful bottle. You can bet that this hand soap will have a spot in Virago’s bathroom when we open our space alongside it’s hand cream partner! Receive a 20% off code to use for these options when you sign up for email notifications in April.
For the Multitasker Mutha
My longtime favorite cleaning product is the Branch Basics concentrate. You can mix the concentrate with water to create a foaming hand wash along with an all-purpose cleaner (this successfully tackled easter egg dye on the counter), the best no-streak glass cleaner, and more. Grab $10 off your first Branch Basics purchase using this promo code. For the Sustainably Conscious Opting for good old bar soap is such a great choice if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint. There is very little, if any, packaging waste with bar soap and it lasts for forever!
Clean Ingredient Detective Tip
If you want to see how safe your current hand wash is, check out the EWG Healthy Living App or online Skin Deep Database. Both rate your personal care products on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being the most toxic. I aim for our everyday products to rate between a 0-3.You can also search “hand soap” to find additional options outside of my above recommendations.
In case you miss it...you can watch my short video on Choosing a Safer Hand Soap from my Live at the Lozar House Series. Enjoy and happy hand soap hunting!