Stan posted a comment about St Ives Elements Olive Cleanser ($7.99) and I wondered what to expect when I went looking for it. St Ives products are extremely well-priced and the brand cleverly manages to convey that the products are natural when, in fact, they are often full of chemicals. Olive Cleanser turned out to be no exception.

For a start it has a couple of sulfates. Laureth sulfate is less likely to cause these side-effects than its siblings in the sulfate family because it doesn't denaturate (change the structure) of proteins, unlike lauryl. Nevertheless, in Germany, a product cannot be labeled 'natural' if it contains any members of the sulfate family (lauryl, laureth, or ammonium). Sodium trideceth sulfate is considered safe for baby shampoos because it doesn't irritate. On the other hand, it contains formaldehyde, classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency..

As is PEG-150 distearate, due to the presence of ethoxylated compounds, which unless vacuum stripped, are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen. Linalool is oil of lavender and, according to a couple of clinical trials, kills skin cells. Red 4 (CI 14700) has been banned as a food color because of its toxicity. In the non-carcinogenic, but likely to irritate camp are DMDM hydantoin and disodium EDTA.

Hey, though, it does have olive oil.

Ingredients in St Ives Elements Olive Cleanser

Water (Aqua, Eau), Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Olive Oil PEG 7 Esters, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, PEG 150 Distearate, Fragrance (Parfum), DMDM Hydantoin, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium 7, Red 4 (CI 14700), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Linalool, Blue 1 (CI 42090), Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Olea Euroaea Leaf Extract (Olive), Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Helianthus Annuus Extract (Sunflower), Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (Matricaria)