Savvy Swaps: Toxic Toiletries

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Welcome back to our series, Savvy Swaps, where we analyze popular store-bought products and offer up healthier alternatives, without any of the negative additives. Today, we’re tossing toxic toiletries for safer, natural products: toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, shampoo and face wash.

Savvy Swaps: Toss toxic store-bought products for safe, natural alternatives without the negative additives and harmful chemicals. |

These are the products that almost every person, male or female, use every single day. And even if they were the only products you used, that's still a ton of chemicals to be putting onto your skin (which absorbs over 60 percent of what we put on it, going directly into our bloodstream).

The Truth About Chemical Exposure

Think of it this way: If each of these five products contains a dozen ingredients (which is on the low end), then that's 60 ingredients we're exposing our bodies to every single day. And that's before makeup and perfume/cologne and other products, like lotion, hair conditioner and sunscreen.

If the government did much to protect its citizens from harmful chemicals and toxic ingredients, this maybe wouldn't be so scary. But unfortunately, unlike Canada, Japan and Europe, the U.S. allows pretty much anything in our products, even known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, skin irritants, allergy inducers and more.

Sound extreme? I'm sad to report, it's the truth. BUT there is good news. There are a growing handful of companies who are putting customer safety first and creating products that are natural, non-toxic and just as effective.

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Take a look at some of the leading brands’ ingredients labels to get an idea of how some of these toxic toiletries compare to their safer counterparts:

In Savvy Swaps, we're replacing everyday toxic toiletries with safe, natural products without any of the harmful additives or chemicals. |

Note: The products shown above in the toxic cosmetic category are Colgate Optic White Anticavity Fluoride ToothpasteSoft & Dri DriGel, Antiperspirant & Deodorant Clear GelPantene Damage Detox ShampooDove Creme Body Wash, Visible Care, Radiance and Clean & Clear Morning Burst Skin Brightening Facial Scrub.

The products shown above in the safe cosmetic category are Jason Sea Fresh ToothpasteBriogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Gentle Cleansing ShampooEveryDay Coconut Body Wash and Acure Facial Cleansing Gel.


You may be wondering why some of these ingredients are even bad for you in the first place (when you can't pronounce the 25-character chemical, it's usually a bad sign). I've blabbered on many times about the dangers of fragrance and parabens (reminder: they cause cancer, infertility, hormone disruption, and allergies, among other ills). And we've talked before about the controversy over aluminum in deodorant–likewise, Fluoride is a hot button ingredient in toothpaste. 

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But a few of these ingredients haven't been covered here yet. So, to give you an idea, here are a few of the worst offenders from above:

  • BHT: Rated a 6 by the EWG, BHT is a preservative and a known human immune toxicant or allergen and has also been shown to cause organ system toxicity.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Though it's only rated a 3 by the EWG, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (the ingredient that makes products sudsy or foam) is a known skin irritant causing allergic reactions, itchy, cracked and dry skin and can even damage our eyes.
  • Methylisothiazolinone: Rated a 7 by the EWG, Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals also suggest that it may be neurotoxic.
  • DMDM Hydantoin (Formaldehyde Releaser): Rated a 7 by the EWG, DMDM Hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser preservative. I don't know about you, but I don't want formaldehyde anything near my skin (remember, formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen), especially after learning that this ingredient is a known human immune toxicant or allergen. It's so dangerous that Japan has restricted its use in cosmetics. That's enough for me.


In Savvy Swaps, we're replacing everyday toxic toiletries with safe, natural products without any of the harmful additives or chemicals. |

  • Dr Bronners Organic Toothpaste: I've tried a few different natural toothpaste brands and think the flavor and hygiene of this toothpaste is the best. You still get that minty freshness of traditional toothpaste (Tom's of Maine's taste just didn't do it for me), and my mouth always feels super clean after brushing.
  • EveryDay Coconut Body Wash (also available for $7.95 on Thrive): I'm obsessed with this body wash. It suds up just as much as traditional soaps, but without any of the harsh chemicals that strip your skin and make you dry and itchy. It's got a light, coconut smell that's not too beachy or overpowering and it leaves my skin moisturized and glowing.
  • Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Gentle Cleansing ShampooNatural shampoo has been tough for me. There's not much I miss from my previous life of using store-bought products with harmful additives, but getting my suds on in the shower in that Herbal Essences commercial way is one sacrifice that I've really felt the weight of. I miss the smell of shampoo, the clean feeling of really massaging foamy soap into my hair… most natural shampoos I've tried just don't foam enough and their scents are so subtle you almost don't notice them. But then I found Briogeo and I think it's the perfect happy medium. Not quite as sudsy and delicious as regular shampoo, but still foamy and scented enough to give me my fix. I love their website, too, which explains why all of their ingredients are used and gives you the EWG score for each one. This shampoo isn't perfect, but it's much better than Pantene and that has to count for something.
  • Acure Facial Cleansing Gel (also available for $6.45 on Thrive): I'm obsessed with this line of face wash, including their scrub. I've experimented with making my own face wash, but haven't landed on quite the right mixture yet. So I turned to this super affordable brand and my skin has thanked me SO much! This gel removes all of my makeup and leaves my skin feeling clean and moisturized, without overdrying it. For the price, I can't imagine finding a more effective and safe cleanser.
RELATED:  Savvy Swaps: Natural Toothpaste + Oral Health

As always, be sure to read the ingredients label on any product you buy and search the item (or specific ingredients) on EWG’s Skin Deep database to see how it ranks. Being aware and making informed decisions is the first, and most important, step.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.

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2 thoughts on “Savvy Swaps: Toxic Toiletries”

  1. This is such great information. I was wondering if you had another recommendation for body wash. My daughter is sadly, allergic to coconut oil.

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