Dirty Confessions: Soap and toothpaste

Bless my sweet mother’s heart. She packed me with plenty of extra Dove soap and Crest toothpaste when sending me off for college round 2, saying “I want you to spend less time worrying about these kinds of things so you can have more time to study!”

While this has undoubtedly saved me CVS Pharmacy/Whole Food trips in favor of burying myself in the wonders of physics (blah), these products, of course, are not the greenest of the bunch.

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist. But I do know how to read No More Dirty Looks and use the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to look up ingredients. Because my memory is finite and I don’t speak chemistry, my most basic way of reading ingredients is: does it sound like science or does it sound like nature? It’s not a flawless system of course, and I know that even “natural” ingredients can be irritating and that science is incredible, but it suffices for a first look-over before checking up things with Skin Deep.

Crest Toothpaste ingredients

Active: Sodium fluoride (0.243%); Inactive: sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, disodium pyrophosphate, flavor, sodium hydroxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol (0.7%), xanthan gum, sodium saccharin, glycerin, carbomer, carnauba wax, poloxamer 407, polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate, cetylpyridinium chloride, benzoic acid, titanium dioxide, blue 1, yellow 5

(source: the back of the toothpaste box)

Note that everything sounds like science except for water. And flavor, which actually can be made of science. Looking over its Skin Deep profile, there are contamination, organ system toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, irritation, and ecotoxicology concerns associated with 13 out of the 22 ingredients.

Dove Beauty Bar ingredients

Fragrance, BHT, cocamidopropyl betaine, titanium dioxide, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium tallowate, sodium stearate, sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, stearic acid, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium palm kernelate, trisodium etidronate, sodium isethionate, sodium cocoate, coconut acid, water, sodium chloride

(source: its Skin Deep profile)

“Fragrance!,” you say, “Fragrance is not science!” But no! It is made of science too! (The synthetic kind of fragrance, that is.) And it has allergies, immunotoxicity, irritation, and organ system toxicity concerns. Here, 10 out of 17 ingredients have pretty much the same concerns as the toothpaste.

It’s not just a matter of scary ingredients that are hard to pronounce, but as No More Dirty Looks puts it, “If you can’t be sure a product is safe–and it’s not doing your looks any favors–why bother using it?”
But, you know, my mother was terribly thoughtful, and I can’t afford to throw them away, so I’ll be using these products up before getting green replacements. I’ve only had a small dabble in green body care and toothpaste so far. At home, we do have the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castille Soap which I do enjoy as a body wash with a pouf. Also when I got back from winter break, I thought I had run out of toothpaste, so I picked up the Tom’s of Maine Botanically Bright Whitening Toothpaste which is more clean and I don’t mind, but I’m not dedicated to it.

So green beauty community! Please. Tell me your favorite soaps–bars or liquid–and favorite toothpaste! Comment me, tweet me @ultravoodoo, email me. My body and teeth are counting on you.


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