Body Care - Things We Won’t Carry and Why

Our Body Care cares back.

What we put on our skin, brush our teeth with, wash our hair and hands with, and use as deodorants are as important to our health as what we eat. That’s why we created a Body Care Department with a conscience; it’s the clean with less of the crud. We partner with companies that are truly working to formulate products with the cleanest ingredients possible. Our quality standards experts examine every label and meet regularly to evaluate and review specific ingredients and address issues and concerns. We set the (soap) bar high, with one of the strictest ingredient standards around, because your health and the health of the planet, depend on it. What we don’t allow in our body care products is just as important as what we do. Below is the growing list of ingredients you’ll never find lurking in our Body Care Department.

Hair color brands are mostly excluded from the list of ingredients we won’t carry. We believe that our hair color brands are a better choice for consumers than those at conventional stores. However, at this time, there are no permanent hair colors with nonsynthetic ingredients.

Body Care Ingredients We Won’t Carry

Antibacterial soaps and body washes contain compounds that work like antibiotics. Currently, such products are allowed by the FDA to contain the following chemicals: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride or chloroxylenol (PCMX). In 2016, the FDA banned 19 antibacterial chemicals, including triclosan, from use in antibacterial soaps and body washes because there was mounting evidence that these substances were harmful to humans and the environment, were no more effective than washing with soap and water and were contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[i],[ii]

However, the allowed replacement chemicals are, according to the researchers: “… not any safer than the banned antimicrobials.” And, “These findings strongly indicate that scrutiny should be put on these replacement compounds before their introduction into massive use in personal care products.”[iii] Unfortunately, this has not happened. Studies have found that they contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[iv],[v],[vi]

Furthermore, consumers should be aware that while triclosan and the other 18 chemicals were supposed to have been removed from sale by 2017 due to safety concerns with them, many online vendors are still selling antibacterial soaps that contain these banned antimicrobials.

Additionally, while the FDA banned triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes because it is a known hormone disrupter and causes antibiotic resistance, it is still allowed in hand sanitizers and wipes, toothpaste, pacifiers, clothes, food containers, and toys. Natural Grocers does not carry any product that contains triclosan or any other antimicrobial chemicals that have been banned or are currently allowed in antibacterial soaps, body washes, hand sanitizers/wipes, etc.


[i] Kodjak, A. (2016, September 02). FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps. Retrieved from…

[ii] Say Goodbye to Antibacterial Soaps: Why the FDA is banning a household item. (2017, January 11). Retrieved from…

[iii] Sreevidya, V. S., Lenz, K. A., Svoboda, K. R., & Ma, H. (2018, April). Benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol - Three replacement antimicrobials are more toxic than triclosan and triclocarban in two model organisms. Retrieved from

[iv] Tandukar, M., Oh, S., Tezel, U., Konstantinidis, K. T., & Pavlostathis, S. G. (2013, September 03). Long-term exposure to benzalkonium chloride disinfectants results in change of microbial community structure and increased antimicrobial resistance. Retrieved from

[v] Akimitsu, N., Hiroshi Hamamoto, R. I., Shoji, M., Akifumi Akamine, K. T., Hamasaki, N., & Sekimizu, K. (1999, December 01). Increase in Resistance of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus to β-Lactams Caused by Mutations Conferring Resistance to Benzalkonium Chloride, a Disinfectant Widely Used in Hospitals. Retrieved from

[vi] Taheri, N., Ardebili, A., Amouzandeh-Nobaveh, A., & Ghaznavi-Rad, E. (2016, November). Frequency of Antiseptic Resistance Among Staphylococcus aureusand Coagulase-Negative Staphylococci Isolated From a University Hospital in Central Iran. Retrieved from

This insecticide can be found in most over-the-counter insect repellents. However, there are some concerns about the toxicity of DEET. For instance, a Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist named Mohamed Abou-Donia, Ph.D. has conducted a number of animal studies that found the chemical causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use. While the chemical’s risks to humans are still being intensely debated, Abou-Donia says his 30 years of research on pesticides’ brain effects clearly indicate the need for caution among the general public. Children, in particular, are at risk for subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in the environment, because their skin more readily absorbs them, and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems. With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath. There are many other insect repellant products that are DEET-free on our shelves that we are comfortable offering to the community.

Acetone is a denaturant, fragrance ingredient, and solvent used in nail polish remover. It is classified as an irritant and there is moderate evidence of associated human neurotoxicity.

(Aluminium chlorideAluminium Chlorohydrate, Aluminum-zirconiumAluminium Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly) –  Many different forms of aluminum are used as antiperspirant agents, cosmetic astringents, and deodorant agents.  These aluminum compounds prevent sweating by clogging the pores and preventing sweat from reaching the skin’s surface.  There is evidence that the forms of aluminum utilized most commonly in commercial antiperspirant products are human toxins/allergens with possible links to breast cancer.

Potassium alum is a naturally occurring mineral salt that is most commonly used in crystal deodorants.  While deodorants work by masking odor, and antiperspirants work by clogging the pores, potassium alum’s creates an unfriendly environment for the bacteria that causes body odor.  Potassium alum is not an antiperspirant, nor does it inhibit the activity of sweat glands in clinical testing.  The main difference between potassium alum and aluminum chlorohydrate is that potassium alum is a much larger molecule, not thought to be absorbable through human skin.  Potassium alum has a long history of safe usage in a variety of products.

Artificial in terms of food means “a substance not duplicated in nature.” There are currently seven artificial (synthetic) coal-tar based dyes on the market. There is evidence that four of the seven being used cause cancer in laboratory animals. The FDA has banned 17 food dyes since 1918 because of their potentially toxic effects. Furthermore, six of the seven being used in the US have been banned in other countries. Natural Grocers does not allow artificial colors in body care products or color cosmetics.  All color cosmetics at Natural Grocers are mineral or plant derived.

It is estimated that 95% of the synthetic fragrances on the market are derived from petroleum by-products. The Environmental Working Group states, “Fragrance, is usually a chemical cocktail, often containing individual chemicals associated with allergic reactions and hormone disruption. Some fragrance chemicals have not been assessed for safety. Until all fragrance ingredients are disclosed on the label, consumers cannot know what is in a particular fragrance.” Artificial fragrances commonly cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, and possible organ system toxicity.  They also contain phthalates which are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers.  The phthalates found in the majority of artificial fragrances are known endocrine disruptors.

BHA is a preservative, stabilizer, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  It is suspected to be an endocrine disruptor and is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.

(Butylated hydroxytoluene, butylhydroxytoluene) – BHT is a toluene-based ingredient used as a preservative, fragrance ingredient, and masking ingredient.  Human case studies show significant allergenic effects.

Bismuth oxychloride

Bismuth oxychloride is a naturally occurring mineral used as a filler ingredient in cosmetics to achieve a shiny effect.  It is typically a byproduct of lead/copper refining and may cause extreme irritation, redness, burning, itching, and worsening of some skin conditions (particularly when perspiring or in hot weather).

Coal tar is a thick liquid or semi-solid obtained as a byproduct in the destructive distillation of coal.  It is commonly used as an anti-dandruff agent, cosmetic biocide, denaturant, and is a known human carcinogen.

DBP is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent.  It is classified as a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin

(DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium 15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Tetrasodium EDTA, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropane-1, 3-Diol) – Formaldehyde donors/releasers come in many forms and under many different names.  They function as antimicrobial preservatives in creams, gels, and liquids.  There is strong evidence that formaldehyde donors/releasers are human skin toxins and allergens.

Hydrogenation is a process that takes an unsaturated fat, such as soybean or other vegetable oil, and makes it more solid at room temperature, thus more saturated. A large percentage of the once healthy fats are converted to the trans-configuration, also known as trans-fatty acids. This process changes the molecular shape of these fatty acids, which negatively alters their biological functions.  Applying these damaged oils to the skin is not recommended.

Hydroquinone is an aromatic organic compound used as a fragrance ingredient, hair colorant, reducing agent, & skin bleaching agent.  There is strong evidence that this ingredient is a human skin toxin and allergen.

Isopropyl alcohol is a common solvent used as an anti-foaming agent, fragrance ingredient, and a viscosity decreasing/controlling agent.  It can cause skin, eye, and/or lung irritation, possible organ system toxicity.

Mineral oil, petroleum, and petrolatum are liquid or semi-solid mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum.  They are commonly used as a fragrance ingredient, skin protectant, hair/skin conditioning ingredient, and solvent.  These ingredients interfere with the body’s natural moisturizing mechanism.  They are also directly obtained from the petroleum industry which has a negative environmental impact.

(Methyl, Propyl, Butyl & Ethyl Parabens) – Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and are commonly used as preservatives.  Parabens mimic estrogen and are therefore possible endocrine and reproductive disruptors.

(phthalate Esters, phthalic Acid(s) see artificial fragrances) – Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers.  The phthalates found in the majority of artificial fragrances are known endocrine disruptors.

This anti-caking agent is used in some dry powdery foods, personal powder products (bath, baby, face, etc), creams, and supplements. Prolonged inhalation of talc (magnesium silicate) can cause lung problems because it is similar in chemical composition to asbestos, a known lung irritant and cancer-causing agent.  Talc is not considered food grade by the FDA.

Although some men may benefit from testosterone, the use of any steroid hormone should be supervised by a trained physician. Even bio-identical hormones can be dangerous in excess. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it does increase the growth rate of cancer that is already there. So it is important to not take more than directed by a physician after adequate assessments.

Toluene is a volatile petrochemical solvent that is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea.

Triclosan is a chemical that acts as an antibiotic and, until 2017, was most commonly found in antibiotic soaps, body washes, and dish soaps. In 2016, the FDA banned its use in these products due to mounting evidence that these substances are harmful to humans and the environment, are no more effective than washing with soap and water and contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[i], [ii], [iii] However, in spite of these issues, the FDA continues to allow it to be used in hand sanitizers and in one toothpaste. It can also be found in pacifiers, teething products, toys, clothing, furniture and kitchen wares (such as cutting boards and food storage containers)—the EPA, not the FDA is responsible for regulating its use in these types of products.

Animal studies indicate that triclosan is an endocrine hormone disrupter that reduces thyroid hormone levels and disrupts the level and functioning of sex hormones—estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone.[iv],[v] There’s evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever.[vi] Furthermore, the most recent studies on triclosan indicate a new problem with the chemical; it has been shown to disrupt the intestinal microbiota and can cause low-grade colon inflammation.[vii]

Triclosan is readily absorbed through the skin and the gums, and a study conducted in 2008 found that 75% of people tested in the US had triclosan in their Triclosan exposure has become a world-wide problem. According to Rolf Halden, an environmental engineer at Arizona State University in Tempe, “The large-scale use of triclosan-containing products has not brought any measurable public health benefits but instead resulted in environmental contamination of water, dust, soil and biota in countries around the world.v Furthermore, the long-term environmental implications of triclosan use are concerning. Quantities of the chemical persist after treatment at sewage plants, and as a result, The United States Geological Survey (USGS) surveys have frequently detected it in streams and other bodies of water. It is one of the top 10 pollutants found in US rivers. Once in the environment, triclosan can disrupt algae’s ability to perform photosynthesis.[vi]

Natural Grocers does not carry any product that contains triclosan—from hand sanitizers to cutting boards and other kitchen wares to pacifiers. We believe that the products we use every day should not contain substances that are harmful to human health or to the health of the planet we all share. 

[i] Kodjak, A. (2016, September 02). FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps. Retrieved from

[ii] Say Goodbye to Antibacterial Soaps: Why the FDA is banning a household item. (2017, January 11). Retrieved from

[iii] Sreevidya, V. S., Lenz, K. A., Svoboda, K. R., & Ma, H. (2018, April). Benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol - Three replacement antimicrobials are more toxic than triclosan and triclocarban in two model organisms. Retrieved from

[iv] Triclosan: Health Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[v] Brouillette, M. (2016, September 02). U.S. Bans Common Chemicals in Antibacterial Soaps. Retrieved from

[vi] Stromberg, J. (2014, January 03). Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap. Retrieved from

[vii] Subbaraman, N. (2018, May 30). Triclosan, A Chemical Found In Hand Sanitizers And Cookware, Linked To Gut Problems In New Mouse Study. Retrieved from


References available upon request