Soaps and Hand SanitizersWhat You Need To Know

Washing hands frequently with regular soap and water is always best to keep everyone in your family healthy. Unfortunately, many soaps and hand sanitizers have added ingredients that can do more harm than good. Here are some tips.

What To Avoid
Antimicrobial and antibacterial agents:Antimicrobial and antibacterial agents are made with chemicals that destroy or reduce germs. That sounds like a good thing, but these chemicals can be harmful to our health. One chemical released by some antimicrobials is formaldehyde, a substance that can cause cancer (a carcinogen). Exposure to some antimicrobials may increase the risk of cancer, reproductive and brain impairments, and contribute to allergies, asthma, and skin conditions such as eczema. The overuse of these chemicals is also creating new “Superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics.
Fragrance:Hundreds, or even thousands of chemicals, can be lumped under the term “fragrance.” Many companies do not have to disclose the specific chemicals they used, claiming they are proprietary. Among several concerns in synthetic Fragrances, many contain Phthalates to boost the scent’s staying power. One such common phthalate is Diethyl phthalate (dep). Some chemicals listed as “fragrance” are suspected, or even known to increase risk of cancer (be Carcinogenic). Others may contribute to reproductive and brain development problems.
Essential oils:Two pure Essential oils, tea tree and lavender have been shown to have Estrogenic properties that could disrupt hormones and impact reproductive health. Other Essential oils have not been tested yet for these properties, so it is unknown whether or not there may be reason for concern. However, in some cases, some Essential oils may have therapeutic benefits that outweigh concerns.
Safer Choices
Hand-washing:Hand-washing is almost always healthier than using hand sanitizers. And, sanitizers work much better when your hands are free of dirt and grime.
Soap:Just plain ol’ soap. No Fragrances. No other synthetic chemicals. Simply soap made with ingredients such as food grade olive, coconut, sweet almond, or caster oils, shea butter, goats’ milk, honey, and natural pigments. If you can buy organic, all the better.
Hand sanitizers: If you feel its necessary to use a hand sanitizer, choose a highly well rated one from the Environmental Working Group’s list of hand sanitizers or from another source listed on our Safer Product Directory page.
Find Safer Products
Websites and Apps:
Clearya is a free browser extension and app that notifies you when there are unsafe ingredients in your makeup, personal care, baby care, cleaning and other products, and helps you find safe products.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics - Nontoxic Black Beauty Project
They offer a list and database of non-toxic beauty products made and sold by Black-owned companies that are committed to toxic-free beauty and personal care products.
Detox Me
This app allows you to scan barcodes on products to find relevant tips. They also offer a buying guide to decode product labels and find non-toxic alternatives.
Environmental Working Group (EWG)
EWG has a "Skin Deep" database that rates personal care and beauty products based on their safety and toxicity levels. EWG also offers a Healthy Living app that allows you to scan barcodes and find safer products.
Think Dirty
This app and website allow you to scan or search for personal care products to see their ingredient safety ratings.