A study released in March 2008 commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group, analyzes leading “natural” and “organic” brand shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care products for the presence of the undisclosed carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. A reputable third-party laboratory known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing.
Excerpt which describes the process of how 1,4 dioxane makes its way into body care products:
Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under proposition 65, and has no place in “natural” or “organic” branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading “natural” and “organic” branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.The group is calling for the mislabeling of organic products. 1,4 dioxanes have no place in true organic products.
Some of the Leading Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
JASON Pure Natural & Organic
Giovanni Organic Cosmetics
Kiss My Face
Nature’s Gate Organics.
Brands Found not to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
All USDA Certified brands tested in this study were 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
Sensibility Soaps (Nourish)
All German Natural “BDIH” Certified brands tested were found to be 1,4-Dioxane-free:
How to avoid 1,4 dioxane
To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, the OCA urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. In general, the OCA urges consumers to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients. “When it comes to misbranding organic personal care products in the US, it’s almost complete anarchy and buyer beware unless the product is certified under the USDA National Organic Program,” says Cummins.
The products/brands tested can be found here with the level of 1,4-Dioxane detected, if any, along with ethoxylated ingredients listed on the label. Note, only certain products of these lines were tested, not all products in the line and certainly not all natural and organic products were tested.
Here are the products from the study that were found to be FREE of 1,4 dioxane. However, one still needs to read labels to avoid parabens and synthetic fragrance (due to the possibility of the presence of phthalates). All dish soaps tested were found to have 1,4 dioxanes present. Surprisingly, so were a couple conditioners. And oddly enough, some brands, like Kiss My Face had 1,4 dioxane present in their body wash tested, but not the shampoo.
1,4 Dioxane Free Products
Alba Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel (Island Citrus) (EWG rates a 4, contains fragrance and parabens)
Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Bath Soap
Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo
Avalon Organics Nourishing Shampoo
Burt’s Bees Body Wash
Circle of Friends Buenas Noches Bubble Bath (EWG ranks a 6, contains fragrance)
Desert Essence Body Wash
Desert Essence Organics Hair Care Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo
Dr. Bronner’s and Sundog’s Magic Orange Lavender Organic Lotion
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Trade Shikakai Soap
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Hemp Almond Pure Castile Soap
Dr. Hauschka Apricot and Sea Buckthorn Shampoo
Dr. Hauschka Body Wash Fresh
EO All Purpose Soap
EO Nourishing Shower Gel
EO Volumizing Shampoo
Head Organics Clearly Head Shampoo
Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic Whenever Shampoo
Lamas Soy Hydrating Shampoo for Chemically Treated, Dry or Damaged Hair
Nature’s Gate Organics Fruit Blend Shampoo
Nourish Food for Your Healthy Skin Organic Chai Vanilla Body Wash from Sensibility Soaps
Nourish Organic Vanilla Yogurt Body Butter
Origins Ginger Up Aromatic Conditioner
Pure Basic Natural Bath & Body Wash Wild Banana Vanilla (contains fragrance)
Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo
Shikai Natural Shampoo
TerrEssential Organic Baby Wash
TerrEssential Organic Body Wash Organic Cool Mint
TerrEssential Organic Fragrance-Free Facial Cleanser
TerrEssential Organic Sultry Spice Pure Earth Hair Wash
Zia Fresh Cleansing Gel with Sea Algae
Zia Skin Basics Daily Moisture Screen SPF 15 with Cucumber
Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap
Burt’s Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Hand Soap
Method Hand Wash
TerrEssential Organic Real Soap for Hands Jammin’ Spice with Organic Tea Tree Oil
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Aubrey Organics Kids line product review
4 thoughts on “Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products”
It is a very confusing world out there for consumers to select truly organic and natural body care products. There are also lots of confusing logos out there too. In the UK the Soil Association provides organic certification and this is a good first point of contact to find organic body care products.
Thanks for this post. I was unaware of this being a big problem.
Great article. These companies out there claim to be producing organic products but are actually misleading their consumers. What is even worse is that some of these companies actually have certifications to prove it. We pay so much for this so called organic products and still end-up with chemicals in it.