iWhat’s in your “naturally derived” hand soap?

The ingredients in “naturally derived” soaps aren’t. One such case: Method hand soap.

method liquid soap

Is this their “Method” of deception?

So I am in a rush and I pick up some hand soap at the market.  I make sure it doesn’t contain triclosan, an anti-bacterial chemical that actually has it’s own law suit groupies and is currently under investigation by the US FDA for health concerns including being suspected to cause cancer.

I put it out  for the family to use.  After all, the label says “naturally derived” and the scent is juicy pear…how could it be bad??

But then I get looking more closely at the label. Here are the ingredients:

  • water (ok so far…)
  • sodium laurel sulfate (not exactly from nature, but ok)
  • cocamide DEA (while it starts out as coconuts, it gets mixed with chemicals and ends up a possible carcinogen and irritant)
  • cocamidopropyl betane (known skin irritant)
  • glycerine (fine)
  • aloe vera gel (wow! something natural!)
  • vitamin E (fine)
  • citric acid (OK)
  • sodium chloride (salt, ok)
  • benzophenone 4 (a chemical that causes a high degree of dermatitis when tested)
  • sodium citrate (fine)
  • methylisothiazolinone /methylchloroisothiazolinone -OK here’s where I go nuts…

Methylisothiazolinone (if link doesn’t work copy and paste:  http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/3092fact.pdf) is a registered pesticide.  The EPA approval is for industrial use. (preventing mold and bacteria on heavy equipment in oil field operations, cooling systems, paints, dip tanks and sprayers) No where in the approval documentation does it list a use for “personal care products”.

The EPA, in it’s own document reviewing methylisothiazolinone states,

“it is highly acutely toxic when applied dermally or to the eye and is considered to be corrosive”

Workers handling methylisothiazolinone making products that are category I or II toxicity level must wear:

  • long sleeves
  • chemical resistant gloves
  • protective eye-wear
  • chemical resistant apron

Under “safety recommendations” it states if exposed:

“users should wash hands before eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco or using the toilet”

Wait, I’m confused….should they use this hand soap containing methylisothiazolinone to wash their hands after being exposed to methylisothiazolinone ?

Wait we’re not done with the list of ingredients

  • parfum (fragrance that could contain up to 50 different chemicals including formaldehyde)
  • yellow #5 (this artificial color also known as tartrazine, was associated with hyperactivity in children and removed from the UK safe list)
  • green #5 cl 61570 (the safety data sheet states ” wash hand thoroughly after handling” more confusion…)

Well at least the bottle is 100% recycled plastic.  It also says “recycle for good karma”.

Well, Method hand soap-that-says-you-are-naturally-derived-but-you-lied, karma can be a bitch.

Granted, you are not eating this stuff, you are merely washing with it, but remember: your skin is a carrier, not a barrier.  If you think you are washing this stuff off before it has a chance to be absorbed, you’re wrong.

It turns out “naturally derived” has no meaning on labeled goods. Only 5 out of the 16 ingredients could be considered to be “naturally derived” if we stretch it in this product, so if you see “naturally derived”, don’t be fooled.

You can use just simple castile soap to clean your hands.  I am in love with Dr Bronner’s soaps and use them in mixtures all over the house.  Using just coconut oil (for real), jojoba oil, olive oil and hemp, they add essential oils (pure oil) to scent the soap with lavender or peppermint.  Nothing artificial. Fair trade. All natural. Family owned. USA made. I get mine at my local supermarket with the body washes and loofahs.

natural hand soap

I love you Dr Bronner (don’t tell my husband)

           Great article on triclosan.

Study that links triclosan (anti-bacterial soap) to increased allergies in kids.

Triclosan(anti-bacterial) causes impaired muscle function

For great 100% natural products click here

Study on how early exposure to microbes reduce inflammation and disease later in life.



Categories: child safety, environmental hazards, green living, healthy living, healthy living blogs, household chemicals

Tags: , , , , , ,

35 replies

  1. Thank you for such an awesome article dear and from my side I want to say that i am using best hand soap for dry skin for my hair Because this natural liquid hand soap leaves hands feeling clean and soft.

  2. You should check out the MSDS for acetic acid — it requires the same PPE that you list for methylisothiazolinone, but with the addition of a respirator. It’s diluted form is vinegar. Just because something is not safe in large amounts at high concentrations doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe at lower exposure.

    On their website, Bronner’s states that they use potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide (depending on the soap) in their manufacture. Both of those are extremely caustic chemicals.

    • Thanks for your comment! ❤ Many things that are "safe" at lower exposure ONE TIME are not safe at lower exposure ONE THOUSAND TIMES. It's the constant repetitive use of these lower doses that are harmful in the long run. I'm not talking about vinegar here…..ALso the potassium hydroxide in Dr Bronners products gets absorbed during manufacture so there is virtually none left in the product when it hits the shelf. Of course anyone is free to shower themselves with whatever chemicals they like! They choice is always yours ❤

  3. All my Method hand soap bottle clearly state “Triclosan-Free” on the back of the bottle. I love my Method soap products.

  4. Thanks for your article, I have been using Method foaming soap and also making my own foaming soap with Dr Bronner’s (in a Method bottle). I am wondering what is the best dilution of Dr. Bronner’s to water to make it a good hand wash? I usually leave a layer of Dr. Bronner’s on the bottom of the bottle and then add water to the rest of the bottle. It foams well but you do have to give it a few swirls to mix it. I like the recipe above as well, are you adding those ingredients to water and then putting it into a hand pump bottle?

    I am a nurse also and it is amazing to me that the hospitals are not more up on what they put in their soaps. Maybe I should just bring my own Dr. Bronner’s with me?

    • Amber: thanks very much for your comment! I have to say that I just use the Dr Bronners straight…but I’m probably wasting money! I guess I’m just addicted to the peppermint aroma every time I pump the bottle that I don’t want to dilute it! LOL
      No water used in the above recipe. Unfortunately, water grows bacteria, even distilled water, so the less water you use in a formula the better. If you are using water, I would highly recommend that you use distilled water as tap water is FILLED with nasties.
      Again that very much for taking the time to comment! Come back!

  5. I find it strange that you are the only person giving this soap a negative review. I have tried to find other articles giving Method soap bad ratings due to their ingredients but it’s hard to find. I found this article actually rating Method soap a 10/10 in health right alongside Dr. Bronners.
    http://www.goodguide.com/categories/152732-liquid-hand-soap##products

    That being said, I have started to do a little research and I do believe you. I am going to buy Bronner’s soap once I finish up with my Method soap. My question is, have you come across any other source that agrees with your review of Method soap and these ingredients in it? Thank you so much for making people aware of this.

    • As you know, I only speak what I find. I went to numerous sources for each individual ingredient to get the “lowdown” on its safety.
      Let’s face it, this is a big name, and I’m sure they pay big bucks to get good reviews (it’s not that hard to have your own blogging team…)
      It’s Dr Bronners for me all the way (and they DIDN’T pay me to say that 🙂

      • Awesome Article. I am sensitive to chemicals and bought this online (so didn’t have the ingrediants list) and stupid me didn’t check it until i started getting really sick. I also reacted badly to the METHOD clothes washing liquid. It definately is not natural….it is quite toxic and for people with sensitivites like me it knocks you around for quite a while.

  6. That sucks 😦 I love Method products. The hand washes actually used to be labelled “natural” in 2008 but then it changed to “naturally derived” in 2009.

    • Interesting…I wish they could pass some kind of legislation in the US for proper labeling. I spoke to the IL senator who came up with the last 3 proposals to re-vamp the system, but she has no plans to introduce any more legislation. It’s such BS> She and a bunch of other senators on the committee got thousands of dollars in lobbyist $$ just for introducing the bill and it didn’t even pass. Crappy corrupt system. That’s why we all have to look out for each other and ourselves…Thanks for your comment!

  7. Just read your well researched and well written article. Thank you for the info and I love the slogan your skin is a carrier not a barrier. That’s one that will stick with me whenever I “wash hands before leaving”. I wish we could read the ingredients of the soap in public washrooms. Any products out there that I can carry with me so I don’t have to use their soaps?

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment! You can bet the industrial hand soaps are full of chemicals and heavy on the preservatives.
      There are some antibacterial soaps out there that are safe, but I have to admit I’d rather make my own. I have actually been experimenting to try to come up with an alternative soap. It seems that cinnamon and lemongrass are very effective against e. coli (one of the main bacterias that makes us sick) and tea tree oil is a great overall anti-bacterial. (see this article that tests essential oils against many different bacteria)
      You could make your own by mixing
      –1/4 cup plain pure liquid castile soap (found in most drug stores or supermarkets…organic if possible)
      –20 drops pure lemongrass essential oil (found in health food stores in the aromatherapy section…make sure it’s the essential oil, not the scent)
      –20 drops of tea tree oil (found in most pharmacies in the vitamin section)
      –I added 2 tBsp aloe gel to soften hands when washing, and a few drops of grapefruit seed extract for additional anti-bacterial action but this is optional
      I love the way my hands feel really clean after using this and they smell nice too (it may just be the nurse in me that likes the “medicinal” smell of the tea tree oil mixed with the lemon-y aroma)
      oregano, thyme, and patchouli oils are also very effective against bacteria of many kinds
      You have inspired me to create some anti-bacterial soaps for my company
      Thanks so much!

  8. I can’t seem to find this Dr. Bronner soap in the UK :-(. Great article!

  9. Wow another great piece of advice from you! Thanks!

  10. Great article! I’ve been a great fan of Method products for a long time because they’re cruelty-free but I wasn’t aware of all the issues with their ingredients. Thank you very much for sharing. I’ve already put Dr. Bronner on my shopping list!

    • Thanks Tracy! I just love Dr Bronners soaps. The company is family owned and they use fair trade ingredients. Everything is 100% natural and the bottle some “good energy” quotes from scripture. You just can’t help but love them!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      • Does this soap clean germs just as well as the other soaps? I have a child with not only asthma (we need to be careful with respiratory illnesses), but he also has celiac disease, so we wash hands often.

        • Plain soap…any plain soap without triclosan or other chemicals cleans hands and gets rid of germs as well as any other “anti-bacterial” soap. You may want to look into getting a diffuser and use essential oils for asthma.

  11. Great post! I just saw an old episode of The Drew Carey Show where Kate’s skin broke out because she wore a used wedding dress contaminated with formaldihyde. It’s hard to believe that anyone would put that in soap but I guess that’s why it pays to do your research, thanks for keeping us up to speed.

  12. Thanks for the article. we sell miniature guest soaps and one of them mentions they are Paraban free. I know little about chemicals could you help shed some light please?

      • What is Paraban and what are the risks in using soap with it in?

        Also does Paraban go under a different name so I can look out for it on labels?

        • Parabens are synthetic preservatives that are used extensively in the personal care industry. There are even parabens in some medicines you are meant to ingest. Anything with the “paraben” suffix is harmful(methylparaben, butylparaben, polyparaben ethylparaben etc). The paraben family disrupts hormones and some studies suggest play a part in hormone related cancers like breast cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer. Parabens enter the blood stream and have been found lurking in breast cancer tissue.(see study here) You probably have parabens surgin through your blood stream right now. EWG tested 20 teens randomly and found that they all had 2 forms of parabens in their blood and urine

          There are safer preservatives, but parabens are cheap to manufacture and use, so big companies don’t like to switch.

          You just have to be a little more careful when choosing a product that goes on or in your body.
          Remember, your skin is a carrier…not a barrier!

        • Wow, thanks for the quick reply and for the very through reply to my question. It makes me want to stop using any form of soap or other chemical with parabens in them.

          I will need to read the labels of the other products we sell to see what is in them. This is eye opening stuff thank you for highlighting this to me.

          This is the range of products that are parben free: Duck Island

  13. Thank you, once again, for a great, well-written article!

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