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Your Soap is Doing You Dirty! Toxins in Your Bathing Bar

by Anant Khare 27 May 2022

If you've ever seen an advertisement for a block of antibacterial soap, you've heard the claim that bacteria can cause serious illnesses. However, you might not know that this claim is exaggerated at best and false at worst—so much so that the FDA has banned antibacterial hand soaps containing triclosan. Triclosan is also linked to hormone disruption, affecting the thyroid and reproductive hormones. In animal studies, it has been shown to impact fertility and development and alter muscle function. If you've ever been the victim of a leaky soap bar while taking a shower, you're probably nodding your head. But that's not the only reason to avoid this ingredient. Sodium tallowate is a fatty acid made from beef or sheep fat. It's meant to increase the lather and keep skin moisturized, but it can lead to bad things like acne and clogged pores.

Synthetic fragrances:

Synthetic fragrances are umbrella terms for thousands of different chemicals with a scent or flavour added. The issue is that no one knows what they are—they are protected as "trade secrets" by companies and therefore do not have to be disclosed on labels. That may sound innocuous enough, but when you think about it, any product with a synthetic fragrance could contain anything from mild allergens to carcinogenic.


Triclosan is a popular antimicrobial chemical in soap and toothpaste but has recently been banned from using these products because of its potential health risks. In 2012, after years of research and debate, the FDA concluded that there was no evidence to show that triclosan in antibacterial soaps was any more effective at preventing illness than regular soap and water. It only found evidence that triclosan contributed to bacterial resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials. So if you use a product containing triclosan now, your body could be less likely to fight off infections.


Formaldehyde is the second most used cosmetic preservative in the world after parabens. This toxin is present where you see the following on a product label: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. If formaldehyde is used in an aerosol or spray can, it can be inhaled into the lungs and cause coughing, wheezing and asthma-like symptoms. Formaldehyde has also been linked to skin irritation after exposure to its products. In addition, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.


Parabens are another widely used preservative in cosmetics and personal care products like shampoo and lotion. These chemicals mimic estrogen and have been shown to increase your risk for breast cancer and reproductive disorders like decreased sperm count and inhibit the development of male fetuses. Parabens are listed as butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparab, etc. You can use TheBetterHome's activated charcoal soap with no parabens or chemicals. It is safe for sensitive skin. Also, it removes excess oil from the skin, unclogs dirty pores, and exfoliates your skin.

The better Home's Activated Charcoal Soap


Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can interfere with the production of testosterone and other hormones critical for sexual development. The most common phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are:

  • ‣ Dibutyl phthalate in nail polish.
  • ‣ Diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions.
  • ‣ Dimethyl phthalate in hair spray.

They are often not listed on the packaging because they are used in the fragrance. However, phthalates have also been measured in human blood, urine, breast milk, amniotic fluid, and cord blood. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in several beauty products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can increase the risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and congenital reproductive disabilities in males and females. They are often found in perfumes or other fragrance mixtures and can also be found in plastic packaging.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG compounds):

Propylene glycol is a minor organic alcohol used in cosmetics and bathing soaps as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture carriers. It has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis and contact urticaria in humans. However, depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both carcinogens. It's also important to know that PEG compounds often appear in products as ingredients with the letters "eth" (e.g., Polyethylene glycol) in their names. These toxins are widespread because they're easy to manufacture and cheap for companies to use. In addition, some studies suggest they can bioaccumulate over time, which builds up in your body. Likewise, repeated use can cause a buildup on your skin's surface. The good news is that you can avoid these ingredients by reading labels and looking out for these two words: polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polyoxyethylene.

Cocamidopropyl betaine:

Although it may be derived naturally from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine, Cocamidopropyl betaine doesn't always react well with other ingredients commonly found in personal care products. This can result in the formation of nitrosamines, which are potential carcinogens. Cocamide DEA is another ingredient that can form carcinogenic nitrosamines, but the European Union has banned this chemical from being used in cosmetics. Another reason to avoid Cocamidopropyl betaine is that it's an allergen for many people, causing reactions such as rashes, dryness, and itchiness.

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