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Bubble bath has a dirty little secret. Many brands hide irritants, toxins, and harsh chemicals that most of us wouldn’t choose to put on our skin. Unless you’re reading labels closely, it’s easy to miss these nasty additives. To keep your skin happy and make your home a healthier place, avoid these toxic ingredients next time you choose a bubble bath:

1. Parabens

What they are: Parabens are preservatives used in the cosmetics industry. Companies add them to their cosmetics to keep products fresh, germ-free, and shelf-stable. 

Why avoid them: Parabens are a powerful hormone disruptor known to mimic estrogen in the human body. One 2004 study found high concentrations of parabens in breast cancer tissue taken from adult women. These preservatives are particularly common in the cosmetics and personal care industry, so be sure to check your labels before you invest in a new product. 

2. Gluten

What it is: Most of us know gluten as the ingredient that makes bread so delicious or puts the “sticky” in sticky rice. Did you know that it’s also a popular ingredient in skincare products like bubble bath and lotion, though? Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in grains like wheat and rye, so products that contain these ingredients or their byproducts will also contain gluten. 

Why avoid it: If you have a known sensitivity to gluten, using a product with gluten or gluten byproducts can cause unpleasant skin reactions, like rashes and irritation. Fortunately, gluten-free skincare products are becoming easier to find.  

3. Alcohol

What it is: Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, and methanol help creams and solutions feel lighter on the skin. They can also work to help ingredients penetrate the skin or to extend the shelf-life of products. While they sound harmless, these alcohols often cause irritation, dryness, and breakouts. 

There are also good alcohols in skincare, though. Benzyl Alcohol, for example, is a little different than other “bad” alcohols. While the EU does list this product as a potential allergen, it’s a critical ingredient in organic and natural skincare products because it prevents bacterial development. Benzyl Alcohol occurs naturally in essential oils like Peru Balsam and is an approved preservative under the COSMOS Organic Certification criteria. 

Why avoid it: Today, some skincare products contain such high concentrations of “bad” alcohol that they demolish the skin’s natural protective barrier. This makes it difficult for the skin to retain moisture. The stripping nature of alcohol also stimulates excess oil production, which can lead to breakouts. Bottom line: there’s nothing wrong with putting certain alcohols on your skin. You just have to understand the difference between skin-safe and potentially harmful varieties. 

4. Phthalates

What they are: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in a variety of manufacturing processes – from plastics to skincare products. In most cases, they’re used to keep materials pliable. 

Why avoid them: Studies have shown that Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, widely associated with adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women and reproductive damage in children and men. While research is ongoing, The National Toxicology Program listed Di(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (usually known as DEHP) as “anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in last year’s 13th Report on Carcinogens. The danger of Phthalates is so evident that cosmetics companies like Revlon, Unilever, and Johnson & Jonhson have eliminated these chemicals from their products. 

Also Watch out for: Sulfates

What they are: Sodium lauryl sulfates are a lesser variety of additives that some people may want to avoid. Potent cleansing agents designed to remove oil and dirt create a rich lather in products like soaps and shampoos, sulfates are a common ingredient in skincare products. 

You might want to avoid them, though, if you color your hair since sulfates can strip the dye from your strands prematurely. Studies have also shown they can be irritating to sensitive skin and eyes, as well. If you decide to use a bath product that contains sulfates, avoid soaking dyed hair in the water.

Today, there are about 100 different kinds of sulfates. Some varieties are synthetic, often derived from sulfur- or petroleum-based products, while others occur naturally in substances like coconut oil. 

Finding a Clean Product for Your Next Bath

The cosmetics industry has an issue with toxic ingredients, and it can be tough to find clean alternatives that nurture your skin and provide the relaxing experience you’re looking for. Fortunately, Sage & Cedar carries a wide assortment of skin-safe products to choose from. 

Our new bubble bath, specifically, is a totally clean product with no sulfates, parabens, gluten, alcohol, or phthalates. Available in four fragrances: Tobacco Amber, Magnolia Sandalwood, Sea Salt, and Coconut Lemongrass, this is one of our favorite new products for body-safe self-care.