This time, let’s check out a handwash…  On the front label, key branding words on the front label include: nature, organics, fruit, soap-free, vitamins, glycerin, cruelty free. There are pictures of three fruits (apple, orange and lemon) and a rabbit logo, though not the one we usually see in Australia. The back label thanks the reader for supporting Australian owned and made, and gives pride of place to “Cruelty Free (CCF accredited)”.

Here’s the ingredients list: Purified Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Cocamine Oxide, Fragrance, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Cl 191140, Cl 42090.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that other than water, the main ingredients are two surfactants: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) and Cocamide DEA. Which in ordinary-speak means, this natural, organic, soap-free product is simply cheap detergent. Both those ingredients are linked with problematic contaminants. SLS often comes with a hidden stash of 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. Cocamide DEA often comes with carcinogenic nitrosamine impurities.

When something is carcinogenic, it has a known ability to mess with your biochemistry. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating… If you’re wondering just how little you need to have an impact, consider this: one dose of Viagra is just 30 parts per billion (ppb or 10-6) and that has an impact you can see. Or so I’m reliably told… One dose of Nuvaring contraceptive pill is just 0.035 parts per billion (ppb or 10-9). That doesn’t have an impact you can necessarily see, but it is enough to inhibit conception with potential side effects including headaches, abdominal cramps and bloating, breast tenderness and enlargement, nausea, changes in appetite, dizziness, vomiting and depression. A little really does go a long, long way.

The second thing that jumps out at me are the two really long words towards the end of the list: Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone. Because they’re long, right? Also because they’re really familiar. Now that so many people are avoiding parabens, we’re seeing a lot more of these two preservatives.

Methylchlororisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone are both known for causing contact dermatitis. You can perhaps be reassured that tests on animals have not identified a carcinogenic effect, assuming you’re okay with the incongruity of animal testing of ingredients used in a product that promotes itself as being cruelty free.

We’ve also discussed Methylisothiazolinone in a post based on a Today Tonight segment on wet wipes. If you haven’t already seen the story, you can find the link here.

The segment features a young woman who suffered a shocking reaction to wet wipes due to sensitivity to methylisothialinone. Its use in wet wipes or any form of cosmetic is mystifying because – as pointed out by Dr Lynne Gordon of Flinders Medical Centre – about one in every six or seven patch tests reveal sensitivity to methylisothialinone. It’s also mystifying because the problems with methylisothialinone are no secret. It’s already banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics in the EU and its use in cosmetics is also restricted in Canada and Japan.

I can continue if you like, but here’s the thing…  You don’t have to know everything. You just need to know enough. And I suspect that with just knowing those few chemicals, you now know enough to choose something else if you have the option. How cool is that?!

Til soon xx

One Response

  1. Great article, short enough and informative enough but still able to be understood by non-chemists. Thanks BG for taking the time. I appreciate it.

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