I feel like finding non-toxic skincare and makeup is fairly easy these days, if you know where to look. For me, the hardest part of the experiment was getting my hands on clean body wash and hair products, since so many of them contain solvents that are marked red by EWG. Mind you, normally I wouldn’t even care, if not for my Clean Beauty month! Today I wanted to show you four “green” body washes that I’ve been testing lately, and let’s see which of them can pass the harsh ingredient check through EWG, Think Dirty, CosDNA, and other cosmetic safety databases.
I’ll start with the budget-friendly body washes first, and then move on to more luxurious products.
1 // Nature’s Gate Aloe Vera Body Wash – Nature’s Gate was one of the first green beauty brands I discovered ages ago, and I always admired their mission to deliver safer personal care products at affordable prices. This body wash was sent to me by PR ages ago, but I totally forgot about it, and rediscovered this bottle in time for my Clean Beauty experiment. The very first thing you notice is the heavenly fragrance – it reminds me of fruity bubble gum. In the ingredient list the fragrance is listed with an asterisk, which reads that the composition is phthalate-free. Ideally, would feel a lot better knowing that the composition comes from safe all-natural sources, but at least it’s free of one of the major offenders.
What I love about this body wash is how soft it makes my body feel after every use. The formula is sulfate-free, and doesn’t produce mounds of foam, but it spreads on the skin easily with a loofah or bare hands. The texture is on the runnier side, so I’m happy that it comes in a tall pump bottle that dispenses just the right amount for one full wash.
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients now. We’ll start with Polysorbate-20, which goes by another name Polyexyethylene Sorbitan Monolaurate, and we know that the -eths can be potentially contaminated with Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-Dioxane. In EWG database it’s listed as a fairly safe surfactant and a better alternative for the sulfates. However, if this ingredient was obtained from sketchy labs that don’t follow safe ethoxylating procedures, it can do more harm than good. Considering how high it is on the ingredient list, I’d be wary if it came from some obscure Chinese factory or something.
Tocopheryl Acetate is listed in yellow in EWG database, but honestly I just ignore its presence in a body wash, because it won’t be staying on the skin. Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate is another surfactant that’s often used as an alternative for sulfates, it has a toxicity level of 3, which is pretty low. In low concentration it’s not expected to be harmful, but it can potentially be contaminated with Nitrosamines, which is a human carcinogen that was banned for use in cosmetics in Canada. Again, the purity of the ingredients is only as good as the lab they were made in. Know your sources! Next we have Sodium Hydroxide, which is basically lye, and it’s irrelevant here because I tested the pH level and it’s low enough to rule out its presence. To quote EWG, “in a properly manufactured soap, this common raw ingredient completely reacts with oils; none remains in the product. Therefore, the hazards associated with sodium hydroxide are not considered relevant for this product.”
Phenoxyethanol is a necessary preservative, and is considered to be among the safest alternatives to parabens. In extremely low concentration it is not expected to be harmful. And finally, at the bottom of the list we have fragrance. What bothers me is that nowhere on the package does it state that the fragrance sources are natural, but they do make a point to note that it’s phthalate-free. I did read somewhere that Nature’s Gate doesn’t use synthetic fragrances, but of course now I can’t find it. So yeah, I don’t know how I feel about it. What do you guys think?
Ingredients: Water (Eau), Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Lauryl Glucoside, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera/aloès) Leaf Juice, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber/concombre) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria/matricaire) Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea/karité) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond/ amande douce) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot/abricot) Kernel Oil, Glycine Soja (soybean /fève de soja) Oil, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow/grande mauve) Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice/réglisse) Root Extract, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Fragrance (Parfum).
2 // 100% Pure Honey Cream Wash Gingerade – I find ginger incredibly refreshing, so I originally bought this body wash as an everyday morning treat to myself, and been using it on and off for months. First of all, it smells like real ginger, not the ultra-sweet chemical stuff, which is perfect if you enjoy sniffing your spice rack as much as I do [I’m weird like that]. The consistency is on the runnier side, so using a loofah is definitely recommended. I also found that without a loofah I don’t feel as clean when I use this body wash, which I guess can be a good and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
The ingredients are looking good! The only potential triggers here are the fragrance components derived from essential oils, which to me is not an issue at all. I just thought it was worth mentioning in case some of you can’t tolerate fragrance in any shape or form, regardless of how natural it is. This body wash is actually listed in EWG database with an overall score of 2.
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Organic Rose Hydrosol), Cocos Nucifera (Saponified Coconut) Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Extracts of Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel, Citrus Paradisi (Pink Grapefruit) Fruit, Camelia Sinensis Leaf (Organic Green Tea), Asparagopsis Armata (Red Algae), Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower, Thymus (Thyme) Vulgaris Flower/Leaf, Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf, Rosmarinus (Rosemary) Officinalis Leaf and Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal), Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Essential Oil, Natural Flavors, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Orange) Fruit Essential Oil, Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.
3 // Teadora Rainforest at Dawn Body Cleanser – I bought this body cleanser some time in 2016 and it was sitting in the drawer for the good part of the year. Then I remembered that I had it when my skin turned incredibly dry from all the indoor heating, so I started using it and I thought it was just okay. The fragrance is not my favorite, but it doesn’t linger on the skin, so at least there’s that. The formula doesn’t leather very well, not even with a loofah, which makes it hard to tell which body part I already washed unless I keep a mental check at all times. It does leave my skin feeling hydrated, thanks to a generous mix of nourishing oils and plant extracts.
The ingredient list looks fairly clean. The only two potential triggers are Benzyl Alcohol and Potassium Sorbate, which are both used here as preservatives to protect the delicate botanicals.
Ingredients: Aqua, Decyl Glucoside, Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Organic Coco Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Coco-Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Kosher Glycerine, Dicaprylyl Ether, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Carapa Guianensis (Andiroba) Nut Oil, Glyceryl Oleate, Diheptyl Succinate, Capryloyl Glycerin, Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Non-GMO Tocopherol (Mixed-Ester) Vitamin E, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C) Ester, Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5), Euterpe Oleracea Fruit (Açaí) Extract, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit (Buriti) Extract, Theobroma Grandiflorum Seed (Cupuaçu) Extract, Natural Fragrance.
4 // Elemental Herbology Neroli & Rose Damask Body Wash – This is the most luxurious body wash I own, and it feels like an absolute treat to use! The scent reminds me of a tropical SPA, and it always put me into relaxed mood whenever I use it. The consistency is slightly runny, but not overly so, and I can easily spread the product using loofah or just my bare hands if I feel like it. The fragrance does leave a faint trail on the skin that lingers for a few hours. I must say, I’ve been kind of obsessed with Elemental Herbology lately, their products never cease to impress me. From the elegance of the formulas to beautiful packaging, this line is unbelievably appealing to my skin and my senses. I wrote a review about their Cell Nourish serum, that I absolutely adore, and I’ve since added several other products to my routine, all of which I love as well. I seriously think they can’t go wrong!
Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate are surfactants that make the dirt and oils lift off the skin, kind of like soap. These are safer alternatives for sulfates, with EWG scores of 4 and 3 respectively. Both are at risk of being contaminated with Nitrosamines, an issue that I mentioned above when talking about Nature’s Gate body wash. Basically, if you are concerned about potential ingredient contamination, then you definitely don’t want to buy products with this ingredient from sketchy brands, or if you suspect that these ingredients were obtained from shady low-quality labs and factories. Next on the list is Polysorbate 20, another surfactant that can be contaminated with Ehylene Oxide and 1,4-Dioxane.
Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Potassium Sorbate, and Sodium Benzoate are all non-paraben preservatives used here to protect the botanical extracts, which this body wash has a LOT of! In fact, I’d be shocked if it was preservative-free, because then there would be nothing good left in those extracts at all. At best, it would have a shelf life of one month or so, if kept in the refrigerator. Now, whether you should care about having botanicals in your body wash or not is another question, after all they don’t exactly do much for the skin because they are only in contact with it for a very short time. I like them, because they “glam up” an otherwise boring body wash. When a product stops being fun and becomes 100% practical is where I draw the line, because to me skincare is therapy and I want to enjoy all aspects of it. But I digress…
At the very bottom of the list we’ve got the usual Linalool and Limonene – natural fragrance compounds derived from essential oils, which can be highly sensitizing in large quantities, so naturally they come with safety warnings.
Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe barbadensis extract, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, Sodium cocoamphoacetate, Lauryl glucoside, Disodium lauroyl sulfosuccinate, Coco-glucoside, Glyceryl oleate, Citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower water, Rosa damascena flower (rose) water, Citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower oil, Olea europaea leaf extract, Citrus medica limonum peel extract, Vitis vinifera leaf extract, Thymus vulgaris leaf extract, Foeniculum vulgare seed extract, Citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seed oil, Ximinia Americana seed oil, Magnolia biondii flower extract, Jasminum officinale flower extract, Borago officinalis extract, Oenothera biennis seed extract, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium phytate, Potassium sorbate, Sodium benzoate, Citric acid, Ascorbic acid, Linalool, Limonene.
So there you go, this was a small but very thorough roundup of four green body washes that I had in my stash. To be fair, all four of them passed my personal purity test, and the presence of potentially sensitizing compounds actually makes sense to me when I look at the ingredient list as a whole [surfactants, preservatives, etc]. However, the “cleanest formula” crown goes to 100% Pure Honey Cream Wash Gingerade, which is not surprising, considering that the brand is committed to making sure their products are non-toxic first and foremost, and everything else comes second [like how the products feel, smell, foam, and such]. That is precisely why it’s not my personal favorite. I do enjoy the fragrance, but the runny consistency and lack of foam don’t bring me much joy in the shower.
My personal pick is Elemental Herbology Neroli & Rose Damask Body Wash, which of course happens to be the priciest one. I don’t like to think that I have expensive taste, but if we held a blind test, I’m sure I would have picked this one again and again. I love everything about it! This body wash hit the nail on the head with its delicate floral fragrance, aesthetically pleasing packaging, non-stripping formula, and mounds of luxurious bubbles. However, I do realize that it’s a splurge for many of us, especially considering it’s meant to be literally washed down the drain. In that case, you should definitely check out Nature’s Gate Aloe Vera Body Wash. It has runnier consistency and doesn’t produce nearly as many bubbles, but in general it leaves my skin soft and lightly scented as well as Elemental Herbology body wash. It’s also available in other scents, which may be more to your liking, especially if you don’t particularly care for florals.
Have you tried clean and non-toxic body washes before? What body wash do you have in your shower right now? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post features PR samples and products purchased by Glamorable, and may contain affiliate or referral links. For more details about my product review policy, copyright, and information about affiliate links, please refer to Disclosures & Content Use page.