Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by The Filtery
We don’t often think of it as one, but our skin is actually our largest organ. We might think that what we put into our bodies is more important than what we put onto our bodies, but the fact is that our skin absorbs a lot! What percentage of ingredients that we put onto our bodies get absorbed? That’s debated, and it most likely varies from ingredient to ingredient.
But we do know that a lot of what we rub on our epidermis (the top layers of our skin) does get absorbed into our bloodstream and then circulated through our bodies—so using body lotion without harmful chemicals matters.
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What’s Wrong with Conventional Body Lotion?
Most conventional body lotions contain ingredients that have either been found to be toxic to human and/or environmental health or are highly suspected to be potentially damaging.
These ingredients can cause hormone disruption (which can then lead to a host of issues over a long period of time), they may be carcinogenic (cancer-causing), they might be associated with organ damage or fertility problems, or they might cause irritation or allergic reactions.
Many of these ingredients are banned by law in places like Europe, while the United States continues to allow companies to use them in products—even ones that are specifically targeted toward babies and children.
What Harmful Ingredients Are Found in Body Lotions?
Although this is not an exhaustive list, below are some of the most common toxic chemicals and other ingredients that are often found in conventional body lotions and moisturizers.
The top toxic ingredients in lotions include:
Parabens: Often found in body lotions, parabens are preservatives that are also endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with essential hormonal functions in the body and potentially cause chronic conditions over time.
Sulfates: A petrochemical byproduct, sulfates can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Phthalates: Used to make fragrances stick to skin, many body lotions contain phthalates which can also be endocrine disruptors.
Synthetic Fragrance: Under federal law to protect “trade secrets,” companies are not required to disclose what is actually in their fragrance—it could potentially contain a whole host of toxic chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and more.
Benzalkonium Chloride: Used as a preservative, this ingredient has been associated with skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
Butylatedhydroxy Anisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene: These are synthetic antioxidants which are likely carcinogenic and may cause liver damage.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): A binding agent, EDTA may cause organ damage.
Polyethylene glycol: A solvent, this ingredient and other PEG compounds may be carcinogenic, depending on how they are processed.
Why Should You Use Natural & Chemical Free Body Lotions
Why go non-toxic for lotions? Why is body lotion without harmful chemicals important?
Small amounts of the ingredients above may not cause any noticeable damage, but toxins of all kinds abound in our personal care products, food, environment, air, and emotional/relational lives—and that can all add up!
We don’t have control over all of that, but there are certain things we do have control over… and choosing a body lotion without harmful chemicals can be an easy choice!
Knowing that so many conventional body lotions carry potentially toxic ingredients, why would you risk it when nature offers the same (or better!) skin benefits? There is no shortage of brands using nourishing, plant-based ingredients in their body lotions, which will provide deep hydration to your skin without risking your health.
What are the best organic body lotion ingredients?
Butters: Shea, Cacao, Mango.
You’ll find that a large number of the non-toxic body lotion brands below use shea butter in their formulations. Shea butter is a powerful natural ingredient that has been used since the 14th century (maybe even before). It moisturizes deeply because of its fatty acids and polyphenols, it has antibacterial properties because of catechins, it carries oleic acid which is anti-inflammatory, it contains high amounts of Vitamin E which can protect your skin, it contains cinnamic acid esters which can help with irritation and redness and more. Shea butter is truly a powerlifter when it comes to natural and non-toxic skin health, so it’s no wonder so many organic body lotion brands use it as a primary ingredient.
Mango Butter is another nourishing ingredient; it contains vitamins A, C and E, which help to fight free radicals (and therefore, wrinkles).
Cacao Butter contains cocoa mass polyphenols, which some studies have indicated may reduce signs of aging. Like Shea Butter, it also contains polyphenols, which help to provide deep moisture. It contains antioxidants too.
Oils: Argan, Coconut, Olive, Jojoba, Avocado, and Sunflower Seed.
These natural oils like argan contain elements such as squalene, which help to lock moisture into your skin and improve elasticity.
Coconut and jojoba oil may help with a whole host of things, from reducing inflammation to preventing the growth of bacteria, to helping treat acne, to aiding in wound healing. Avocado oil can help treat sunburned skin, improve nail health, and improve scalp health.
Herbs: Calendula, Lavender, Chamomile, Green Tea
Herbs can provide a whole host of benefits to your skin. Lavender and chamomile can have a calming effect. Calendula can help heal wounds, scars, and lines with its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea also has a ton of antioxidants, while the caffeine can also help perk up tired skin.
Best Non-Toxic Body Lotion Brands
Reed + Gwen
This clean beauty brand is brought to you by one of the best non-toxic mattress & bedding brands on the market: Avocado.
Their “intensely moisturizing” body melt and grounding dry body oil (for a less greasy, faster-absorbing lotion) are made with safe, natural, and non-toxic ingredients like avocado oil (of course!), chamomile, moringa, reishi, and more.
Their products come with a variety of labels including B Corp, 1% For the Planet, Climate Neutral, Vegan, and Cruelty-free.
Silk Therapeutics’ Body Enrich Moisturizer is made from just 11 clean and consciously sourced ingredients. The key ingredient is their own Activated Silk,™ which is a liquified silk and works with your body’s own collagen to keep skin looking and feeling fresh.
Eu’Genia Shea’s super-luscious shea butter is sourced directly from female farmers in Ghana. They offer Unscented, Lavender, and Grapefruit, which are mixed with other natural oils like Moringa. Or you can choose their Dermatological Strength Shea Butter, which is 100% shea and made for extra dry skin.
True Botanicals’ Nourishing Lotion is made with key ingredients like green tea and shea butter. This one is a more lightweight option that still works to hydrate thirsty skin. It’s cruelty-free and MADESAFE certified.
On a mission to make beauty products safer for everyone, Beautycounter a collection that includes a balm, lotion, butter, oil, and cream—so you can get what’s best for your skin type and needs.
Weleda was founded in Switzerland in 1921 by a philosopher, a chemist/pharmacist, and a doctor (one of Europe’s first female doctors!). For the most active and nourishing ingredients, they work with biodynamic gardeners and farmers to establish fair trade relationships. Weleda carries a wide range of moisturizing products for a variety of concerns, but their Skin Food is a popular one!
Earth Mama’s gentle skincare products are specially formulated for babies and mamas. They carry scented and unscented baby lotion, belly butter, and eczema cream that’s been accepted by the National Eczema Association.
This luxurious Triple Butter Whipped Body Butter is handcrafted out of just 12 plant-based ingredients that will provide your skin with antioxidants and vitamins to keep you protected and hydrated.
One Ocean Beauty
If you’re looking for a non-toxic sculpting and/or firming lotion, One Ocean Beauty is your go-to. Their Bioactive Body Sculpting Marine Cream and Ultra Marine Cellulite Night Cream are actually clinically-proven to improve muscle tone and tighten and firm the skin. They use what they call “Blue Biotechnology,” which uses active marine ingredients which have a whole host of regenerative benefits.
As the name indicates, 100% Pure uses only natural and non-toxic ingredients in their collection of body butters and creams.
Best Chemical Free, Organic Body Lotions
Organic Bath Co.
By mixing shea butter for deep hydration, protective sweet almond oil with antioxidants, and argan oil which delivers essential fatty acids to support skin health, Organic Bath Co.’s Body Butter provides all-organic skin nourishment that lasts all day long.
Annemarie’s body butters, oils, and lotions are infused with nourishing herbs like milk thistle, calendula, and lavender. The Annmarie team builds relationships with sustainable farmers to curate wildcrafted ingredients, and everything is cruelty-free and made in the United States.
Honest’s Organic All-Purpose Balm is USDA certified organic and made for dry and/or sensitive skin. It’s technically marketed for babies, but it’s great for adults too! Click here for a deeper dive into Honest.
Best Non-Toxic, Moisturizing Body Lotion for Very Dry Skin:
Pipette Eczema Lotion
Pipette’s fragrance-free eczema lotion is specifically formulated for those with the most sensitive skin—even babies. The plant-based ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and jojoba work to soothe flare-ups and provide relief for dry, itchy, and irritated skin.
All of Pipette’s products carry the National Eczema Association seal, are cruelty-free and vegan, are dermatologist tested, and are backed by pediatricians.
Best Natural Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin:
Attitude Moisturize & Repair Dry Skin Body Cream (Sensitive Version)
Attitudes’ Moisturize & Repair Dry Skin Body Cream is hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested, so it’s safe for the driest and most sensitive skin. The key ingredient is argan oil, which is a gentle, fast-absorbing, and non-greasy moisturizer that you can use throughout the day. It’s cruelty-free, ECOLOGO certified and made in Canada.
When looking to purchase a new lotion or moisturizer, non-toxic is the way to go!
Image credits: Karolina Grabowska, Sora Shimazaki, all product photos below to respective brands
Where can I purchase any. Of these products locally. Or must they be ordered on line?
Unfortunately, a lot of non-toxic brands are direct-to-consumer and are only (or mostly) available online. Your best bet would be to check at your local health food store or natural grocery store (Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.). Store like Target and Walmart have also started carrying more non-toxic brands (such as Honest and Weleda), so you could check there, too!