We all know the importance of washing our hands regularly. According to the Center for Disease Control, we can prevent several illnesses and diseases and stop the spread of germs to others simply by washing our hands with clean soap and water. While studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have revealed that antibacterial soap is no more effective than plain soap and water – which resulted in an order to remove antibacterials in consumer soaps – there are still several ingredients you might want to avoid.
Ingredients like parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are both common chemical ingredients in conventional household soaps that may actually be harmful to us.
Parabens are preservatives added to many personal care products meant to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolong shelf life. One study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that exposure to parabens may lead to increased levels of estrogen in the human body and potentially increase the risk of cancer. When choosing products, look out for ingredients like methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
SLS is a cleansing and emulsifying agent that is added to many personal care products to make them foam. In spite of being present in so many ingredients, nearly 16,000 studies mention its toxicity. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews, SLS can lead to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer. Look out for labels with ingredients like sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, aquarex me, or aquarex methyl.
Not only are parabens and SLS toxic to us, they are toxic to our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists personal care products as one of the major pollutants that make their way into the environment via household drains. Although water that leaves our homes gets filtered through water treatment plants, chemicals like parabens and SLS persist and end up being filtered back into surface and ground water. Chemicals from personal care products that end up in the water fish and other marine animals live in and can potentially cause endocrine system disruption, which can lead to reproductive and behavioral disorders, a compromised immune system, neurological problems, and cancer. This also doesn’t spell good news for people who the consume fish.
So, now that you know the dangers lurking in many hand soaps, what can you do? There is always the option to make your own hand soap, but that is not convenient for everyone. Luckily, there are brands out there that are dedicated to making safer, more environmentally-friendly hand soaps. The soaps below are just 10 options you can find.
Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap in Lavender Vanilla
This Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap has a non-toxic formula made from natural ingredients like plants, minerals, water, and essential oils. It contains no sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, triclosan, or other harsh chemicals. It is also 100 percent plant-based and cruelty-free, plus the ingredients are all biodegradable, so it’s safer for the planet, too. It’s scented naturally with soothing essential oils like lavender and vanilla rather than perfumes and is fortified with vitamin E, sea salt, and aloe vera to soften your skin. According to the product description, this formula has been rated the best liquid hand soap on Amazon based on average customer reviews. You can pick one 12-ounce bottle for $6.99.
Puracy Natural Foaming Hand Soap
Love foamy hand soaps? Pick up a bottle of this Puracy Natural Foaming Hand Soap. According to the product description, this soap forms a rich, foamy lather fortified with moisturizing vitamin E and aloe vera. Like the top-rated liquid hand soap, this is fragranced naturally with lavender and vanilla essential oils rather than harsh perfumes and free from sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, animal ingredients, and other harsh chemicals. It is also hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, and made with biodegradable ingredients that are better for the planet. Amazon reviewers love the soap’s gentle formula and natural fragrance. You can pick up one 8.5-ounce bottle, which is good for 650+ uses, for $13.99.
OM SHE Aromatherapy Moisturizing Hand Wash in Mango and Orange
Not only is this OM SHE Aromatherapy Moisturizing Hand Wash free from parabens, SLS, mineral oil, and harsh chemical ingredients, it is fortified with nourishing ingredients like organic rosehip oil, aloe vera, chamomile, and calendula oil to keep your skin feeling soft. Amazon reviewers love the fragrance as well as the soap’s moisturizing benefits. You can pick up one 16.9-ounce bottle for $12.99.
Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Liquid Hand Soap
Treat your hands to this Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Liquid Hand Soap. Infused with argan oil, vitamin E, and certified organic botanicals like grape seed and olive leaf extracts, this luxurious soap cleans your hands without the use of harsh sulfates and parabens, and is free from petroleum, phthalate, and phosphate. According to one Amazon reviewer, this soap is also free from silicone and DEA, plus it is vegan, made with biodegradable ingredients, and the packaging is recyclable. You can pick up one 17-ounce bottle for $6.59.
Natural HomeLogic Sulfate-Free Foaming Hand Soap in Citrus Grove
Created by a mother of two who was frustrated with the lack of natural, family-friendly household products, this Natural HomeLogic Sulfate-Free Foaming Hand Soap will gently clean your hands without the use of harsh chemicals. It’s eco-friendly, plant-based formula is free from sulfates, ethylisothiazoloinone, benzisothiazolinone, formaldehyde, phthalates, petroleum NPE, DEA, TEA, PEG, as well as any artificial colors and fragrances. This cruelty-free formula is also completely biodegradable, so it’s better for the planet, too! It comes in two fragrances, Citrus Grove and Jasmine Mist, both of which are scented naturally with essential oils. You can pick up one 8.5-ounce bottle for $5.95.
Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade and Organic Shikakai Hand and Body Pump Soap
This Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade and Organic Shikakai Hand and Body Pump Soap is strong enough to use as a body wash, but gentle enough for your hands. According to the product description, it is infused with organic shikakai, a seed pod of a South Asian tree that has been used as a conditioning cleanser for centuries. The shikakai is extracted in organic sugar and organic grape juice in pure castile soap base to create a rich, emollient lather that moisturizes as it cleans. This soap is free from synthetic detergents and preservatives and all ingredients are Certified Organic, GMO-free, Fair Trade, and cruelty-free. Although this soap does not lather as much as a typical hand soap, Amazon reviewers love its gentle formula. You can pick up one 12-ounce bottle for $13.99.
Hugo Naturals Foaming Hand Soap in Shea Butter and Oatmeal
Pamper your hands with this Hugo Naturals Foaming Hand Soap in Shea Butter and Oatmeal. This foaming soap cleans your hands with vegetable glycerin rather than harsh sulfates and moisturizes with shea butter and oats, plus botanical extracts like aloe vera. Amazon reviewers say that the pump can be tricky to manage, but otherwise are fans of its gentle, non-drying formula. You can pick up one 8.5-ounce bottle for $7.99.
Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap in Nourishing Lavender
This Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap in Nourishing Lavender is a nourishing blend designed specifically for extra dry hands. It is formulated with a blend of botanical cleansers like lavender essential oil and calendula, vegetable glycerin, and vitamin E. It contains no parabens, harsh sulfates or preservatives, synthetic colors or fragrances, and phthalates and it is also GMO-free and biodegradable. Amazon reviewers with a history of dry hands or those who wash their hands often have reported that this formula keeps their hands feeling soft and clean. You can pick up one 12-ounce bottle for $7.99.
Cove Lavender Castile Soap
This Cove Lavender Castile Soap is an all-purpose cleanser that can be used for hair, body, hands, and even your house! For hand soap, simply dilute it in water in an empty bottle. This gentle formula is made with soothing organic lavender oil, argan oil, hemp oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil and no detergents, foaming agents, chemicals, and animal products. It is completely biodegradable, too! Amazon reviewers who use this product as a hand soap are fans of its nourishing properties. You can pick up one 33.8-ounce bottle for $13.59.
Nature's Gate Herbal Blend Liquid Soap
This Nature’s Gate Herbal Blend Liquid Soap thoroughly and gently cleanses your hands with organic lavender oil as well as organic aloe and juniper berry extracts, which leaves hands feeling silky smooth. It is also vegan, cruelty-free, and made without parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Amazon reviewers who wash their hands often that this soap does not dry out their hands and leaves them feeling conditioned. You can pick up one 12-ounce bottle for $14.99.
Lead image source: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock