Sunday, May 2, 2010

Can washing your hands be toxic?

I recently discovered that my Ecover hand wash contained Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I know! Now I admit I am partly to blame for the oversight. I needed hand soap and quickly added the Ecover brand to my Ocado shopping. I trusted them - they are eco-friendly, etc and since I was in a rush I didn't conduct the background research. But come on, Ecover, SLS?

For a bit about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), a foaming agent that is a human irritant, see the Environment Working Group's Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database. It's a moderate hazard on their database, but considering my toddler is going to use it and little ones are more sensitive and susceptible, I want to be damn sure it is safe. (He just LOVES to wash his hands, and would nearly every 20 minutes if I would let him.)  

It ain't easy being green. So I spent my Sunday morning looking for safe, cost-effective alternatives to the Ecover hand soap.

I found the Method Olive Leaf Moisturizing Hand Wash (300 ml for £3.99), but it contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, a cousin of SLS), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate*, Sodium Lauromphoacetate*, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate. Not really any better than Ecover.

We've used Neal's Yard Citrus Hand Wash in the past, but for £10.90 for 200 ml it is quite a pricey selection. With 62% organic ingredients, it doesn't contain SLS or SLES,  but uses Cocamidopropyl betaine, which is a known human immune system toxicant. Augh!

I then found Waitrose's Organic Purifying Hand Wash (£3.89 for 200 ml). The ingredients include: Potassium Sunflowerate, Potassium Cocoate, Glycerin, so you don't have to worry about a scary foaming toxic agent. And not a bad price either for 93% organic ingredients.

Green People Organic Liquid Soap (£6.99 for 200 ml) clearly labels its ingredients: *Potassium Oleate (from Sunflower Oil), *Potassium Cocoate (from Coconut Oil), *Glycerin (Plant-derived), Betaine (from Sugar Beet), etc. -- with 93.89% organic products! Very transparent, very admirable in an industry of greenwashing and smoke and mirrors.

So many choices! Hope this brief overview helps! xx


  1. Drives me crazy this - and even worse, when people say 'oh, everyone uses it, it can't be that bad' - but I personally know two under 30's who've had cancer, and 2 under 35's who've had mild strokes. Something MUST be causing it! (Not saying its SLS, but it all must count towards it!)

  2. Try Liquid Soap Flakes from DriPack. They cost £3 for 750mls at Tesco & Waitrose. The ingredients are Water
    Potassium sunflowerate
    Potassium cocoate
    Potassium chloride
    Potassium citrate