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Top 6 chemicals in hand soap to avoid

Have you found yourself washing your hands more frequently? Our skin absorbs everything we put on it, so while hygiene is important, knowing what you're washing your hands with is vital for your health. 

As more of us are gravitating towards natural home and beauty products, manufacturers are producing products that appeal to this growing market. 

Unfortunately, these products are often misleading and we can fall into falling for products that we think are good for us and good for the planet. 

Here are 6 chemicals in hand soap to avoid


The term "fragrance" featured on an ingredient list provides you with an easy clue that the hand wash is not a natural product. 

Fragrance refers to synthetic ingredients that may be derived from petroleum. Some fragrance chemicals have been linked to serious health issues including allergies, reproductive toxicity, skin issues and endocrine disruption. 

Opt for fragrance-free hand soap or look for ones that use natural essential oils to add a pleasant aroma. 

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) & Sodium Laurly Sulfate (SLS)

These chemicals are used to help the hand soap foam up when lathered. There are many health concerns associated with SLES and SLS including organ system toxicity and irritation to your skin, eyes and lungs. SLES has been listed as a known carcinogen. 

SLES and SLS are also very hazardous to our environment, in particular to the health of our aquatic life. So having fun suds can be toxic for your health and the planet. 


You'll find parabens in many beauty and personal care products as it acts as a preservative to stop them from spoiling. 

Parabens mimic how oestrogen behaves in the body and disrupt normal hormone function. Emerging evidence associates parabens with endocrine disruption and cancer development. 

Cocamidopropyl betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine is another synthetic ingredient that increases the foaming action of your hand soap. It has been known to irritate the skin and is particularly harmful to conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. 

Watch out for the other names this toxic chemical goes by such as CADG, Cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine, Cocoamphocarboxypropionate, Cocoamphodiproprionate, and Disodium cocoamphodipropionate.


Triclosan is an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent that was banned by the FDA in 2016 in antibacterial soaps, however, it's often still found in personal care products. 

This chemical was banned due to its negative impact on cardiovascular and immune system function. It's been found to trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, reduce testosterone levels and read to antibacterial resistance. 

How to care for your hands and your health 

chemicals in hand soap to avoid

Deciphering marketing terms and reading labels can be confusing and time-consuming. But for your health and that of our planet, switching out chemical, toxic products for truly natural products is a great move. 

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Bypass the marketing spiel on the front of the product and skip right to the ingredients. 
  2. If there are terms you don't know or names you can't pronounce, take the time to look it up! 
  3. Choose a truely natural hand soap such as our Simple Clean hand wash that you can purchase at our refillery. 
  4. Find soap-free hand washes that don't disrupt the skin's natural pH.
  5. Dry your hands well including the webs of your fingers and under jewellery to avoid skin irritation. 
  6. Protect your skin's barrier by nourishing your hands with a natural hand cream after washing. We love Weleda's Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream for hard-working hands.