When it comes to shampoos and lotions, guys need to pay attention to the same health, safety and environmental issues as we girls do. Personal care products often contain synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, and antibacterial agents. All have been linked to health problems ranging from increased respiratory illness and reproductive failure to breast cancer and antibiotic resistance. Additionally, many name brand soaps and shampoos contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), concoctions that can increase the frequency of canker sores and irritate the skin. Scientists are concerned that both SLS and SLES have been found to harbor very low levels of 1,4-dioxane, a human carcinogen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration encourages manufacturers to remove 1,4-dioxane, but it is not required by law.
The way you spend your money is your first line of defense against products like these that could pose a threat. Using your consumer clout also sends a clear message to manufacturers to clean up the ingredients they want you to buy. The following lotions, soaps and shampoos give you some greener, safer options to choose from – and dangle a bright green “carrot” in front of businesses to encourage them to be better:
Anthony Logistics for Men Glycerin Hand & Body Lotion: This fragrance-free lotion is made with sea kelp, shea butter, aloe vera, glycerin, chamomile, and vitamins A, B5, C, and E. It is available at Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, and Sephora or via the Anthony Logistics website. $10.
WildWays Studio Hand Balm Just for Men: This sandalwood-scented hand and body lotion contains water, cold-pressed oils (hazelnut, coconut, avocado, and wheat germ), shea butter, aloe vera, vitamin E, verbena, beeswax, and sandalwood essential oil. Available through the WildWays website for $10.
Aubrey Organics Ultimate Moist Unscented Hand & Body Lotion: Coconut, macadamia nut, and sunflower oils give this lotion its moisturizing oomph. Their “Men’s Stock” Daily Moisturizer mixes aloe vera and calendula oil with other plant-based ingredients to moisturize. Aubrey Organics has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
Tom’s of Maine: Several of Tom's “body” bars do double duty as moisturizers and deodorizers. A moisturizing body wash does the job in the shower. Tom’s of Maine is widely available in conventional grocery and drug stores.
Zum Soaps: You might be inclined to eat this soap rather than wash with it, once you get a load of the delicious ingredients it's made with (hint: olive oil, goat’s milk, honey, rosemary…). If your store doesn’t stock it (see left), ask for it.
Vermont Soap Works: These full-bodied soap bars are infused with organic oils like palm, coconut, olive, and orange, then scented with peppermint, hemp and woodspice.
Aubrey Organics: Aubrey’s Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin shampoo consists primarily of certified organic plant-based compounds that are not tested on animals. Available online, in natural foods stores, at Whole Foods markets, at the Vitamin Shoppe, and General Nutrition Centers.
Ahava Mineral Shampoo for Men: This Isreali company utilizes the
mineral salts of the Dead Sea in its cosmetic line. Oil free, alcohol free, hypoallergenic, and not tested on animals, the mineral compound are mixed with gingko and ginseng. The shampoo is also said to have anti-dandruff properties. It is available at Bath & Body Works or through Ahava’s website.
Gaia Made for Men Shampoo: This shampoo is low-foaming, vegan, cruelty -ree and made without soap, sulfates, mineral oils, petrochemicals, parabens, propylene glycol, or artificial fragrances. It is scented with a blend of certified organic orange, certified organic chamomile, certified organic spearmint, and certified organic aloe vera.
NOTE: Whole Foods Market is working with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Teens for Safe Cosmetics to create a “Whole Body Premium Standard” to ensure the safety of personal care products. To date, Whole Foods has identified more than 300 ingredients unacceptable for Premium Body Care. These include parabens, polypropylene and polyethylene glycols, and sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates. Look for the Whole Foods Premium Body Care Logo when you shop.
Research by Katie Kelleher