Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Liquid soaps ingredients: The secret to low allergen personal care items

Have you ever wondered what your liquid soaps ingredient list actually meant? I have! A friend on facebook asked me about a particular soap as it is the only liquid soap that makes his daughter eczema disappear! So here was my analysis of the top ingredients:

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (also known as SDS) = surfactant (soap) compound. Used as standard soap ingredient in nearly all soaps/shampoos. However it can be quite harsh - I used it at relatively low concentration for a series of experiments. I didn't use gloves cause it isn't "nasty" in the chemical sense. However after a day to touching this stuff all the time the oils in my hands were stripped out and I got dermatitis all over my hands (used gloves after this). So very interested that product has this as number one ingredient. I would have thought that the low allergen products had used another chemical as the soap.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine. This is interesting chemical made from coconut oil. It is added to soaps to "reduce irritation purely ionic surfactants cause". In everyday speak this chemical reduces the irritation of SDS (the above chemical).

Cocamide DEA. This creates foam. People equate foam = clean/product working. No really need to have it at all. It is however again made from coconut oil and is a known irritant. So as 3rd ingredient I find it intriguing that the soap doesn't cause irritation (I suspect low irritation soaps don't have this in them?)

Glycol Distearate. This holds the fatty parts of soap in solution so don't get settling out of the ingredients in the bottle (known as emulsifier)

Sodium Chloride = salt. This is very common ingredient in liquid soaps to increase viscosity. It also prevents other chemicals coming out of solution at lower temperatures (kind of like when you put olive oil in fridge, thus adding salt lower the temperature that the chemicals will solidify at)

Carbomer thicker / emulsifier the same as PEG-150 Distearate.

Parfum = fancy name for perfume / chemical smells good.

The next on the list is Disodium EDTA. EDTA is a very potent anti bacterial agent. Basically it keep the product sterile so nothing grows in it! Soap is a very good food for bacteria/mold etc. However EDTA is very poisons and is added in very low concentration. Therefore I will stop here as we are getting down to lower concentrations which are likely not to be the source of the problem/solution to problem

So in summary I would say the high level of Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CB) is the secret to having a low irritant soap. Would be interested in any feedback on what products people have found to be low allergen and what there ingredients are.    

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