How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXV

Body wash is a necessity.  There are various options on the market, all which boast different attributes that should entice you to buy.  As you already know, all body washes are not created equal-some smell better, are less drying, and have varying quality of ingredients.  It can be difficult to navigate all of body washes found in supermarkets in drug stores, especially when it come to ingredients.  Will you find a product that meets your standards?    Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.  For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

The Label


The Ingredients

Water:  Safe!  Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key base in many products.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate:  Beware!  Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant and foaming agent commonly found in shampoos and body washes. It is a known skin and eye irritant. SLES can also be containated with possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane and known carcinogen ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide can be toxic to the central nervous system; 1,4-dioxane does not easily degrade in the environment (persistent. This ingredient can be extremely drying to the hair, though it is considered less harsh than sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). (MSDS, MSDS)

Acrylates Copolymer:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as a binding, film forming, and antistatic agent. It can be found in a variety of products including nail polish, hair sprays, sunscreen and mascara. It is not known to be carcinogenic or mutagenic, thought it may be a skin or eye irritant. (MSDS)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:  Beware!  This ingredient is a mild amphoteric (reacts as a base and an acid) synthetic surfactant, and the bottle indicates this product is derived from coconut/palm. This ingredient is not believed to be an eye or skin irritant, though an additional study found it to be a skin allergen in a patch test. It is not believed to be a carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, or reproductive toxin, though there is limited information available. (MSDS)

Sodium Chloride:  Beware!  This is common table salt. Sodium Chloride can be added to a lotion as a thickener or as a preservative. Salt can dry moisture away from the skin, however, given the likely concentration it should not be a concern.  (MSDS)

Fragrance:  Beware!  Fragrances are often synthetic. Though they are low in concentration in the product, there is still a small chance of having an allergic reaction.

DMDM Hydantoin:  Beware!/Avoid!  This product is a used as a preservative and prevents (or slows) microbial growth in personal care products. This ingredient works by releasing formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) to kill or prevent microorganisms. In concentrations over 0.2% it is suspected to be a skin, eye, and lung irritant and may cause contact dermatitis. (MSDS)

Sodium Hydroxide:  Beware!  Also known as caustic soda or lye, this ingredient is likely used to aid surfactants or increase pH. In pure form it can be dangerous, toxic to eyes, lungs, and skin, though it is typically used in low concentrations in personal care products. (MSDS)

Tetrasodium EDTA:  Beware!/Avoid!  EDTA is an abbreviation for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. This ingredient is used as a chelating agent to sequester metal ions and causing them to lose the ability of reacting with other ingredients. It is also used as a preservative. It can also improve lather and decrease incidence of soap scum. Tetrasodium EDTA is a penetration enhancer and suspected to be toxic to the upper respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. Target organs are the kidneys and bladder. This ingredient is toxic to the environment and is a suspected persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the EU. (MSDS, MSDS)

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter):  Safe!  This ingredient is derived from the nut of the Shea Tree and is used for its moisturizing properties.  (MSDS)

Zea Mays (Corn) Oil:   Safe!/Avoid!  This ingredient is derived from the germ of corn. It is used as an emulsifying surfactant and skin conditioner. It is not known to be toxic. Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the U.S., if you are averse to GMOs, Avoid! this ingredient. (MSDS)

Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract:  Beware!  This ingredient is used in conjunction with Honeysuckle extract as a preservative. It is not known to be toxic or an irritant in small quantities. It should be noted that parabens are very similar in structure (essentially the synthetic version) to p-hydrobenzoic acid, the active ingredient in Japanese Honeysuckle extract. It is believed to act similarly to parabens in the body. (MSDS)

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract: Safe!/Beware! This ingredient is used as an emulsion stabilizer, viscosity controlling agent, soothing agent, and fragrant. It is “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. FDA, and is not believed to be toxic, though it can be a skin irritant in pure form. (MSDS)

Gelatin: Safe!/Avoid! Gelatin is an animal derived ingredient commonly used in powdered form to act as a film forming agent and thickener. Specifically, it is produced from the partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals such as cattle, pigs, fish, and chicken. It can be a slight irritant in pure form, though it is not known to be toxic in humans. It has been found to cause negative teratogenic effects in animals, though it is unclear if it was through ingestion or skin contact. Avoid! if you are vegan or are opposed to GMO fed animals. (MSDS; MSDS)

Acacia Senegal Gum: Safe! This ingredient is a gum derived from Senegalia senegal, a deciduous tree that is native to sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as acacia gum, it is used as an astringent. Acacia Senegal Gum is not known to be toxic though it can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form. It is considered safe to use by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review in current use amounts. (MSDS)

Mica:  Safe!  Mica is a mineral that is often ground and used for its reflective and refracting properties in various cosmetics, including moisturizing lotions. In pure form it can be a slight skin and eye irritant, as well as act as a toxin to the lungs and mucous membranes. Information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

Citric Acid:  Safe!  This ingredient is naturally occurring in citrus fruits, but is typically produced by feeding sucrose or glucose to mold and additional chemical treatment.  It is used in cosmetics as a pH adjuster.  It is generally considered safe, though it is a skin and eye irritant in pure form. (MSDS)

Xanthan Gum:  Safe!  This ingredient is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate consisting of sugar molecules) secreted by Xanthomonas campestris (a bacterium). It is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or cause developmental toxicity, though it can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form. There is a risk of long term biodegraded products being more toxic than pure Xanthan Gum. (MSDS)

Titanium Dioxide:  Safe!  Also known as CI 77891, this is a white pigment used for various applications. In pure form Titanium Dioxide is a potential human carcinogen when inhaled. Its health impacts are dependent on size (i.e. nanoparticles), based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It should be fine to use in this topical product. (MSDS)

FD&C Yellow No. 6:  Beware!  This is a synthetic yellow dye (food coloring) also known as Cl 15985 or Sunset Yellow FCF. This dye in manufactured from the aromatic hydrocarbons of petroleum. It is not known to be toxic and there are low instances of allergic reaction (aspiring intolerant should avoid this ingredient). (MSDS)


Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  This product boasts natural extracts and moisturizing properties.  From past use I found the scent to be nice, it is not too drying, and lathers well–I liked the product.  However, the ingredients in this body wash are not good in the slightest.  All of the natural extracts and ingredients are found after DMDM Hydantoin (a formaldehyde releasing preservative) and fragrance, which typically means they are in low quantities.  This product works well on a budget, but if you can spend more or find something similarly priced with better ingredients, go with the alternative.


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