Close-up of hands holding non-toxic and eco-friendly body wash bottle under shower against green backdrop.
March 11, 2024
 in 
Lifestyle

12 Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Body Washes for Naturally Refreshed Bathing

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here’s a famous blues song about washing “your troubles away” but these days, what’s going down your shower drain is far more troublesome than many realize. Most conventional body washes contain sulfates, parabens, and other hazardous chemicals that rush down our shower drains and into public water systems where they accumulate and can contribute to human and environmental health issues.

We haven’t even mentioned what happens to the packaging but read this article and you’ll soon see the full picture of non-toxic and eco-friendly body washes. We’ll go through ingredients to avoid, what “non-toxic” even means, how to judge if a body wash is as eco-friendly as it claims, and finally, 12 of our favorite brands worth supporting. If you’ve been worried that cleaner formulas won’t leave you as refreshed, then be prepared to have your mind changed. With non-toxic and eco-friendly body washes, bathing has never been cleaner.

Table of  Contents

What Is Non-Toxic Body Wash?

The term “non-toxic” isn’t protected which unfortunately means that it can be used quite freely for cosmetic items. That said, it’s generally used to describe body washes that avoid known, harmful chemicals in their formulations and stick to more natural and biodegradable ingredients wherever possible.

Does “Non-Toxic” Mean the Same as “Natural”?

“Natural” and “non-toxic” are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different things. Something can be non-toxic and not made from 100% natural ingredients, and vice versa.

The main reason we bring this up is because we want to give credit to the fact that there are plenty of amazing non-toxic body wash brands that still use synthetics. The reason for this is that sometimes synthetic versions of an ingredient are easier to get hold of ethically, or they’re less irritating for sensitive skin. 

What is a Chemical-Free Body Wash?

From a scientific perspective, there’s no such thing as a chemical-free body wash. Even water is a chemical compound. That said, “chemical-free” is often used to indicate that a product is free of harmful chemicals.

Why Should You Switch to A Non-Toxic Body Wash?

Pollution from the cosmetics industry is rife. Not only are there major issues with pollutants coming from cosmetic wastewater treatment plants, but any time that we use a body wash, we’re potentially adding to the problem. As one research paper noted, personal care products “continuously release biologically active and inactive ingredients in the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere” as well as our water.

Some of these ingredients pose a risk to human and ecological life by accumulating in our environments, but there are also concerns about what our bodies may be absorbing. Switching to a non-toxic body wash is a chance to limit some of this harm and support the brands who are trying to change things. We all want cleaner, safer water systems and environments. Why not start the shift with safer body washes?

Which Chemicals to Avoid in Your Search for Non-Toxic Body Wash

Chemicals in our food and personal care products collecting in our bodies have become such a problem that scientists have developed a name for it: “body burden.” If you’re interested in reducing your body’s chemical burden, here are 5 main ingredients to avoid when looking for a safe body wash:

  • Phthalates: The biggest concern with phthalates, a type of preservative found in many body washes, is that they can act as endocrine disruptors. This means that they affect your hormones and with that, can also impact the health of a person’s reproductive system and pregnancy development.
  • Triclosan: Even though it’s been found to have been absorbed by the skin and mouth during use, triclosan is one of the most widely used anti-bacterial ingredients in American personal care items. Early research has cautioned how risky this ingredient could be to reproductive and other endocrine-related areas of health.
  • Synthetic Fragrances: Under FDA guidelines, cosmetics brands don’t need to disclose what ingredients are used to create their product fragrances. The issue with this is that many of the chemicals that create those lovely aromas of a refreshing body wash are associated with endocrine disruption and skin irritation. It’s why the EWG has been clear about only verifying products that are transparent about what exactly is in their fragrances.
  • Sulfates: This ingredient usually appears in body washes as “sodium laurel sulfate” (SLS) and is used to give a product that soapy, sudsy feel. The problem, however, is that they’ve been appearing in water systems at an accelerated rate over recent years and pose risks to both human and ecological well-being. Sulfates are a common skin irritant, especially for eczema or psoriasis sufferers, but they’re also associated with gastrointestinal issues and, as they reach wider environments, can negatively impact aquatic life. 
  • Parabens: Like phthalates, this family of ingredients is synthetic and used as a preservative in cosmetic items such as body washes. Unfortunately, they’re also associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive issues.

What Makes Body Wash Eco-Friendly?

Want a more environmentally friendly body wash but not sure what to judge it on? We’ve got you covered. Here are the 3 main pointers to keep in mind if you’re looking for a safe body wash that’s also kind to the planet:

  • Ethically sourced and Non-Toxic Ingredients: Look at brands that are transparent about what’s in their products and how they’ve been sourced. Ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil often pop up in non-toxic body washes and while we love seeing more natural ingredients, how they’re sourced also matters. Another thing to look out for is ingredients that are marked as “biodegradable”. These are extra eco-friendly because they won’t collect in our waterways and instead break down naturally. 
  • Eco-Friendly Packaging: Packaging is a major part of the beauty industry’s impact on the environment. That’s why it’s so important to, where possible, stick to refillable options or body washes that come in recycled or recyclable materials. 
  • Usability: Something we say a lot on this site is that the most eco-friendly product is the one you can get the most use out of. When it comes to a body wash, think about what type of formulation suits your lifestyle best (oil, bar, liquid, etc.) and what your skin needs. That way you’ll be able to use every last drop and not end up having to waste something or purchase loads more products.

How Do You Shop for Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Body Wash?

A woman shopping and evaluating the ingredients of a tub of body wash.

Ok, you’re standing in a beauty aisle faced with a million different body wash options. They’re all saying different things but finally, you pick up something that looks like it will work – you’re just not sure if it’s non-toxic and eco-friendly. Here’s what to do:

  • Check the Ingredients: Scan the ingredient list for words like “fragrance” or any mention of parabens, phthalates, triclosan, or sulfates. Non-toxic brands will also be fairly good about declaring what they’re free of and will usually disclose whether an ingredient is organic.
  • Look for Stickers and Certifications: Any cruelty-free certifications are a major plus in our eyes, as is EWG verification. EWG is highly stringent when it comes to clean beauty standards so their seal of approval should be a sign you can trust the brand behind it. 
  • Consider Packaging and Shipping Options: If you’re ordering online, look to see if the brand discloses whether the packaging is recyclable or not and if they offset their carbon emissions.
  • What About Recycling?: Some brands don’t just sell products in recyclable packaging, but help you with the recycling. Check what options or guidance they provide for your empty body wash.
  • Do a Quick Online Search: Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, it’s worth perusing reviews, etc. about a potential product as it will help give you a more well-rounded picture. The best way to shop for a non-toxic and eco-friendly body wash is to get serious about finding all the facts. The more information you have, the less likely you’ll be greenwashed into buying something that doesn’t live up to expectations.

Where Can You Buy Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Body Wash?

The great thing these days is that you can buy non-toxic and environmentally friendly body wash anywhere personal hygiene and cosmetic products are sold. Target, Walmart, Amazon, and CVS have all gotten better at stocking safe body wash options. Every single one of the brands we’re about to mention below is also available for easy, direct ordering online.

12 Of Our Favorite Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Body Wash Brands

Whether you’re looking for a body wash that’s exfoliating, nourishing, or organic, we’ve got all the best non-toxic and eco-friendly options right here:

1. Nécessaire

A favorite of beauty editors and customers alike, Necessaire makes the best non-toxic body wash for sensitive skin. We also love their chic, minimalist, eco-friendly packaging.

Price Range: $12-$35

Standout Soap: Nécessaire’s The Body Wash is an Allure Beauty Winner (2019) and was called the “epitome of shower luxury” by Byrdie thanks to its unique oil-in gel formula. It’s nourishing, fragrance-free, and designed to balance the skin. What more could you want?

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of phthalates, sulfates, etc.
  • Refillable, eco packaging made from bio-resin.
  • Certified climate neutral.
  • 1% pledge.

2. Plaine Products

Plaine’s simple, eco-friendly approach to formulas means that they make some of the healthiest body wash options out there.

Price Range: $27-$30

Standout Soap: The Rosemary Mint Vanilla Body Wash is great for restoring your skin’s balance (and making you smell incredible), but we love that there’s an unscented version too for anyone with sensitive skin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, biodegradable formula free of synthetic fragrances, sulfates, etc.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Carbon Neutral.
  • Recyclable aluminum packaging with refills available, as well as fully recycled shipping materials.
  • Certified B Corp.

3. Everist

Everist is a true innovator in the natural body wash space committed to making great products that do as little damage to the planet as possible.

Price Range: $25-$28

Standout Soap: The exfoliating body wash concentrate manages to cut the water and the amount of packaging used, but it’s also just a fantastic exfoliator that helps buff and hydrate the skin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Carbon Neutral Shipping.
  • Non-toxic, plant-based, biodegradable ingredients.
  • Packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable aluminum tubes.
  • Certified Ocean Positive.

4. By/Rosie Jane

Because this brand primarily began with fragrances, everything smells amazing. Not only that, but their formulas feature thoughtful, organic ingredients that will clean your skin without stripping it.

Price Range: $25

Standout Soap: Their Chill The F*ck Out Everyday Body Wash features an uplifting peppermint and mandarin scent as well as skin-boosting ingredients such as cocoa, pine bark, and organic white tea extract. 

Sustainability Stats:

  • Cruelty-free.
  • Vegan.
  • 1% for the planet.
  • Climate neutral.
  • 100% recyclable packaging.
  • Clean, safe formulas.
  • Recyclable packaging.

5. Uni

We could not write this list without including the brand behind one of the best natural moisturizing body washes. They’ve been featured in Bustle, Vogue, and plenty of others for their eco-friendly, skin-loving approach.

Price Range: $30-$33

Standout Soap: The Skin Shield Body Wash uses a plant-based surfactant to cleanse the skin alongside Australian botanicals that help in hydration.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Reef-safe
  • Non-toxic formula that features organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.
  • Recyclable and refillable aluminum packaging

6. Naturium

Available at Target and formulated with non-toxic ingredients – Naturium is a great option for anyone looking for their first clean body wash or who wants a Nécessaire dupe.

Price Range: $16

Standout Soap: The Glow Getter Multi-Oil Hydrating Body Wash has gone viral a few times. This YouTube reviewer praised how much product you get for the price, and how nourishing the formula is.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Cruelty-free.
  • Vegan.
  • Paraben-free and features many naturally derived ingredients.

7. Ethique

With their plant-derived formulas, incredible scents, and innovative products, this brand has proven that a non-toxic body soap can actually be cool. 

Price Range: $10

Standout Soap: Ethique has a popular non-toxic soap bar but their nourishing body wash concentrate is where things get truly exciting. It’s a product that cuts down on waste while still being great on your skin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Certified B Corp.
  • Plastic-free, biodegradable, and home-compostable packaging.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Certified palm oil free.
  • Climate positive (they offset more carbon than they use.)

8. Dr Bronner’s

We’d argue that Dr Bronner’s was the original non-toxic soap brand. They’ve been making eco-friendly, healthy body wash options for decades and yet continue to push the envelope with their sustainability factors.

Price Range: $11-$70

Standout Soap: The Pure-Castile Hemp Peppermint Liquid soap is a cult classic for a reason. It’s refreshing, versatile (you can even use it on your hair) and extra gentle on the skin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Biodegradable formula with organic ingredients.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • EWG-verified
  • Non-GMO verified.
  • Recycled and recyclable packaging, with refills available.

9. Ursa Major

“Basic” is a compliment when it comes to this brand. They make no-fuss, safe body wash and soap products that pack a punch.

Price Range: $14-$52

Standout Soap: The Morning Mojo Bar Soap has been described as “invigorating” by the NY Times and spa-like by Esquire. Volcanic rock adds exfoliating properties to this wonderfully refreshing peppermint soap.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of parabens, sulfates, etc.
  • Certified B Corp.
  • Recycled and recyclable packaging.
  • Certified plastic negative.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

10. Good Time

Soap bars have gone out of fashion in many respects, but Good Time makes products that feel fresh, and modern again.

Price Range: $12-$32

Standout Soap: The cleansing body bar trio will refresh, rehydrate, and exfoliate your skin with natural ingredients that include jojoba oil and illipe butter. Scents like bergamot and sandalwood will also leave you smelling delicious all day long.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Plastic free.
  • Carbon-neutral shipping.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • No preservatives, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, silicones, etc.
  • 50% of profits support clean water initiatives.

11. Earth Mama Organics

Looking for the best natural body wash for sensitive skin? Earth Mama is the place to shop with their National Eczema Association-approved soaps for both kids and adults.

Price Range: $12-$14

Standout Soap: The Ginger Fresh Castile Body Wash is the perfect morning wake-up/ It’s zingy and super cleansing, while still feeling mild on the skin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-Toxic formula free of triclosan, parabens, etc.
  • Organic ingredients.
  • Certified non-GMO.
  • Partnered with the Safecosmetics.org
  • Plastic Neutral.
  • EWG-Verified
  • Cruelty-Free.

12. 100% Pure

This is one of the best organic body wash brands, and in fact, one of the best places to shop for just about any non-toxic cosmetic or personal care item.

Price Range: $20

Standout Soap: The Honey Almond shower gel is just one of the many fragrance options, but we love how light and soothing this one is. Coconut oil, aloe, and red algae all make this an extra nourishing non-toxic soap.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, biodegradable formula with natural and organic ingredients.
  • Cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Green Business Certified in California.

Clean Up Crew

Cleaning up the planet starts right at home, in your shower. Next time you need a body wash, consider going the eco-friendly and non-toxic route. It’ll cut down personal exposure to risky chemicals, create a cleaner environment for all, and leave you feeling more refreshed than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Toxic Body Wash

What is the healthiest thing to wash your body with?

The healthiest thing to wash your body with is some warm water and a simple, fragrance-free soap without SLES or any other toxic ingredients.

Is Sukin body wash toxic free?

Yes, Sukin body wash is toxic free. It’s free of some of the main potentially harmful cosmetic ingredients such as sodium sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.

What is the safest body soap to use?

The safest body soap to use is one that firstly, is non-toxic i.e. does not contain parabens, phthalates, sulfates, etc., and secondly, one that works with your skin. For example, if you have very sensitive skin then you may need a completely fragrance-free formula without irritating essential oils. Always keep your body’s specific needs in mind when trying to pick the safest soap option.

What is the most natural way to wash your body?

Honestly, the most natural way to wash your body is with plain old water and maybe some mud or sand as an exfoliant. That’s how people did it before body wash but nowadays we have amazing, all-natural, and non-toxic body wash options from brands like Ethique and By/Rosie Jane to pick from. Using mud sounds fun, but it’s not exactly practical.

Which is better for the environment soap or body wash?

When it comes to what’s better for the environment, a hard bar of soap is probably better than a body wash. The reason for this is that soap bars, like the ones Good Time makes, are water-free, use less packaging, and generally use less of the earth’s precious resources. Ironically, however, whether using body wash or soap, you actually want the product to be soap-free as the sulfates that usually make that soap aren’t great for the environment.

How do you not waste body wash?

The best way to not waste body wash is to pick something that seems well-suited to your lifestyle and skin type – that way you’re more likely to use up every last drop. If however, you have a bad reaction to something, consider donating it to a homeless shelter or a friend who might get better use of it. It’s so much better for the planet if we can find ways to pass on unwanted body washes rather than simply throwing them in the trash.