Most of us shower every day (or at least several times per week for those super busy new moms), but you may not worry too much about the products you use to wash your skin. Some synthetic ingredients are completely harmless, while others can build up over time and contribute to a toxic load that’s bad for your overall health. Even that fresh, just-washed scent that you love may be secretly harming your health.
Luckily, there are some amazing natural, non-toxic, and organic body washes on the market. Here are some you can try this year.
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The Best Organic Body Washes
There are so many natural and organic body wash options on the market today; how do you pick one? Here are some of our favorites!
This soap is filled with organic plant-based ingredients and essential oils, and it does triple duty as a body wash, shampoo, and bubble bath. As an EWG VERIFIED™ product, each scent option is eco-friendly and non-toxic (and they smell amazing too!). In addition, Everyone is committed to zero waste practices and is a Certified B-Corporation.
This sulfate-free natural body wash is a great option for health-conscious consumers. It’s made with cleansing ingredients that are derived from coconuts, and its few simple and natural ingredients are listed and explained on the bottle for maximum transparency. The 3-pack comes in 3 incredible scents – Cucumber & Mint, Coconut & Vanilla and Lavender & Rose.
This popular body wash is powered with soapberries! Soapberries come from a tree, and they are naturally pH-balanced, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. Their saponin produces a natural lather that’s perfect for body wash. The ingredients in this soap also include aloe vera, shea butter, and cucumber extract, which help refresh and soothe dry, sensitive skin. Tree to Tub gets their soapberries from Taiwan (where they are ethically harvested), and the company commits to vegan, cruelty-free, and fair trade practices.
I absolutely adore Earth Mama’s range of products, and their body wash is no different. It’s gentle enough for baby, and also very popular with pregnant and nursing mothers. This foaming wash is about as natural as it gets! It’s formulated from castile soap and a few other plant-based organic ingredients, and its mild formula is ideal for anyone with sensitive skin or health concerns. It is available in orange, lavender, and unscented.
Botanic Hearth formulates its Tea Tree Oil Body Wash with a variety of delicious-smelling natural oils. It’s a luxurious body wash that also contains shea and cocoa butters for a naturally soothing moisturization. In addition, the brand is cruelty-free and make this product in the USA.
Alaffia’s products are some of our all-time favorites. The company is committed to ethical, fair-trade practices and even gives back a significant portion of its proceeds to international charities. In this 2-in-1 body wash/shampoo, shea butter and coconut oil work together to moisturize your skin. The heavenly scent is from a combination of lavender essential oil and neem leaf extract. All of this makes for a luxurious shower experience. Best of all, this body wash is gentle enough for babies, so it’s the perfect option for the whole family to share.
Another popular product by the trusted brand Alaffia is their all-in-one cleansing soap. This authentic African Black Soap formula can be used as a body wash, facial cleanser, shampoo, hand soap, and shaving cream. Available in 6 scents, this award-winning product provides all you need for the shower. In addition to the detoxifying properties of African Black Soap, this formula harnesses the natural power of shea butter and West African palm oil to cleanse and moisturize skin.
For a truly all-natural, plastic-free body wash, give the Ethique bodywash bar a try. This luxurious plant-based bar comes in 6 different scents, so you’re bound to find one that you love. Its short list of natural ingredients and essential oils is perfect for those with sensitive skin. Ethique is also a Certified B-Corporation, and the brand is sustainable and cruelty-free.
California Baby only uses plant-based, natural ingredients in their products. Pure ingredients like organic calendula extract and soothing aloe vera gently cleanse your skin without any harsh or drying ingredients. And we love that this body wash doesn’t have any sulfates or fragrances. Kids, babies, and people with allergies or sensitive skin can benefit from using this natural body wash.
How to Shop for Natural & Organic Body Washes
If you’re looking to purchase a body wash at your local grocery store, there are some specific things you should look out for.
What to Look for on The Label
There are a few certifications you can look for on the label of your body wash in order to help determine if the product is a good buy.
In order to receive the Leaping Bunny seal, a company must commit to cruelty-free practices. In addition, the company must create all of their products with ingredients that are not tested on animals. Generally, you can trust these companies to care about the environment and your health in addition to animal rights, which ensures a safe and healthy product.
This seal means that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has verified the product and found it to be safe and healthy for use. The EWG has very strict standards for consumer products, and an EWG VERIFIED™ mark means that there are no ingredients that cause any “health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination” concerns. In addition, these products must provide full disclosure of all ingredients and must use good manufacturing processes. Not many body washes have earned this prestigious seal, so if you’ve managed to score one, you’ve discovered a great find!
Although the non-GMO seal is usually displayed on food products, you may also see it on your body wash and other personal care products. The quality of ingredients matters when you’re putting a product on your skin because some ingredients can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Organic ingredients are more beneficial for you and your health.
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Body Wash
In addition to the seals listed above, you’ll want to look for a product that doesn’t have sulfates, parabens, artificial dyes, or fragrances. Ideally, the ingredients will all be plant-based compounds that you can readily identify. Here are some specific ingredients that you want to avoid.
Chemical-based scents are often comprised of mysterious undisclosed ingredients. Synthetic fragrances have been linked to everything from cancer to neurological damage, but they can also have more mild effects like allergic reactions and respiratory concerns. Many people are sensitive to these fragrances, and get bad headaches, lightheadedness, and even asthma flare-ups. Don’t think “natural” fragrances are any better for you though. Research shows that natural fragrances can be just as harmful as synthetic ones.
Some brands dye their soaps and body washes in order to make them look better. While adding colors to your beauty products may make them look more appealing, these dyes have been linked to everything from cancer to skin irritation.
SLS and SLES are usually what makes your soap foamy. Unfortunately, they are also harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even hair loss. They can be harmful to the environment too, potentially having a toxic effect on marine organisms. SLES can even contain traces of the cancer-causing 1,4-dioxane due to the manufacturing process known as ethoxylation.
Parabens are some of the most harmful chemical ingredients on the market, yet many manufacturers continue using them. Research shows that long-term exposure to parabens through your personal care and beauty products can lead to reproductive issues, endocrine disruption, and cancer.
Propylene glycol is typically derived from petroleum or natural gas and has a complex history when it comes to use in cosmetics and other products. Although much research has been done, results are not conclusive and there are many differing opinions on the toxicity of propylene glycol. Skin irritation and allergic reactions can occur, and the ingredient is potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys. Respiratory and cardiovascular concerns are possible as well. To be safe, consumers should avoid products with propylene glycol, especially if pregnant or nursing. Babies and young children should also avoid this ingredient.
Polysorbates often have ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane in them. These two chemicals raise a variety of health concerns, including an elevated risk of cancer, allergic reactions, and developmental/reproductive toxicity.
Phthalates are often used as solvents in personal care products. They’re all over the market, but scientists have linked them to potential liver, kidney, lung, and reproductive system damage. Like parabens, phthalates can also have a negative effect on hormones and fertility. In addition, studies show that prenatal exposure can even impact neurodevelopment. Therefore, pregnant and nursing women should avoid this toxic ingredient at all costs (If you are pregnant, however, you may want to check out our list of the best pregnancy-safe makeup!). Learn more about phthalates.
With so many natural alternatives to choose from, many of which smell heavenly and do a better job cleaning than their traditional alternatives, there is no reason to continue harming your health with toxic synthetic body cleansers.
And if you want a little something extra for your bath, check out our favorite non-toxic bath bombs.