Chemicals in supermarket hand soap to avoid

Date Posted:22 January 2021 

With many so called 'natural' hand washes in the supermarket isles, it is so easy to fall in the trap of thinking that they are good or safe for us and that paying extra is justified, but consumers are too often mislead and misrepresented by the manufacturers and here is why.



When the word “fragrance” appears on the ingredients list of any skincare product, this means there is at least one, if not multiple synthetic fragrances in the product. These fragrances are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream where they can cause endocrine disruption, allergies, and many other possible toxic side effects. Fragrances also contain something called phthalates which cause hormonal disruption by affecting the endocrine system. While fragrance-free hand soap is safest, this doesn’t mean you have to say so long to sweet smelling soap. Natural essential oils add aroma just as well as synthetic fragrances, but without the harmful side effects. Essential oils also have unique therapeutic qualities and can be used to achieve a natural antibacterial effect.


Cocamidopropyl betaine

Coca-what? Don’t worry about pronouncing the name, just be wary when you see this chemical on a hand soap label. This synthetic detergent is used to increase the foaming action of cleansing products and may irritate or flare up skin allergies such as eczema and dermatitis. Other names this chemical goes by include: CADG, Cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine, Cocoamphocarboxypropionate, Cocoamphodiproprionate, and Disodium cocoamphodipropionate.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are used as a surfactant and emulsifier to add a foaming effect in hand soaps. They can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs and as well as potentially causing organ toxicity. Since these chemicals are known carcinogens, most consumers are aware of the negative health impacts, yet many companies still choose to use them in their products.


What you might find in natural hand soap 

Reading labels can be confusing, especially when a natural hand wash has ingredients that you don’t recognise. Here are some natural ingredients that sound scary but are actually safe:


Sodium coco-sulfate

Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) is a solid anionic (negatively charged) surfactant of coconut origin. It is not the same thing as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), as it is naturally derived and is exceptionally gentle on the skin. 


Glyceryl Caprylate

Glyceryl Caprylate is a co-emulsifier that is used to stabilise the product. It is produced from various vegetable oils and helps to restore the natural oils of the skin and regulate skin moisture. 


Potassium Cocoate 

Potassium Cocoate is the potassium salt of the coconut fatty acid derived from whole coconut oil. It is used in natural liquid hand soap as a surfactant. 


Caring for your hands after frequent washing

While using natural hand soap is more gentle on the skin than supermarket brands, frequent washing can still leave your skin feeling dry and looking scaly. It’s important to protect the skin’s barrier by replenishing with natural hand cream. Hydrating oils such as avocado and coconut used in natural hand cream helps to deliver a boost of hydration to dry skin and protect the cuticles from drying out. Keep some natural hand cream in your handbag and next to your hand soap and moisturise after each wash. 





Eco by Sonya Driver Organic Hand & Nail Cream For Rafiki Mwema (75 ml)

Non greasy, absorbent, with organic mango butter & sea buckthorn



Saba Organics Hand Wash Lemon Tea Tree & Kunzea (500 ml)

Leaving your hands feeling cleansed, soft and revitalised



Saba Organics Hand Wash Rose Geranium & Marshmallow (500 ml)

Leaving your hands feeling cleansed, soft and revitalised



Ausganica Nourishing Hand & Body Wash Rose Geranium (500 ml)

With rose, rose hip, rose geranium & palmarosa



Cleanskin Organics Foaming Antiseptic Hand Wash

A blend of 7 essential oils, shown to have anti microbial properties

From $9.95

See Options

Planet Luxe Hand Wash With Lemon Myrtle, Ylang Ylang & Kakadu Plum (500 ml)

A natural blend of organic herbs, plant extracts & pure essential oils



Planet Luxe Hand Balm With Lemon Myrtle, Shea Butter & Kakadu Plum (500 ml)

Super moisturising, without synthetic fragrances or dyes



Antipodes Deliverance Kowhai Flower Hand Cream (75 ml)

Non greasy, readily absorbed & suitable for most skin conditions


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