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Cetaphil: Why the popular cleanser isn’t doing your skin any favors

Cetaphil: The popular cleanser's not doing your skin any favors Cetaphil probably has the best PR of any facial soap. Beauty magazines gush over it as a no-frills $8 must-have. Dermatologists love to recommend it as a mild and non-irritating facial cleanser for two reasons: it doesn’t contain fragrance and, more tellingly, because MDs have a big Pharma love affair with the manufacturer, Galderma, the offspring of Nestlé and L’Oréal, which also makes acne drugs like Differin.

And yet there’s nothing healthy about this face-washing prescription.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser contains just eight ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

All but the water are chemically manufactured (let’s hope), and propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and the three parabens have a seat on the dirty dozen, a list of cosmetic ingredients to avoid as potentially toxic.

One look at the label and you’ve got to go “Wait a minute! What?”says Spirit Demerson, who analyzes skin-care ingredients for Spirit Beauty Lounge, her online natural beauty store. “Cetaphil does not contain even one single beneficial ingredient and what it does contain is the equivalent of toxic sludge. Whether you think it’s keeping your skin healthy or not, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and research has proven almost all of the few ingredients in it are carcinogenic. I know it’s hard to imagine that washing your face can give you cancer but it’s worth consideration.”

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

The ingredients in this popular Gentle Skin Cleanser don’t support the name

Julia March, a top NYC facialist, says that so many New Yorkers believe that Cetaphil is healthy, they tend ignore the ingredients completely. “Cetyl alcohol, an emollient used in many cosmetics, is essentially a wax,” says March. “Propylene glycol is a common humectant (meaning it brings moisture from the air to the skin), but it also enhances product and chemical penetration into the skin and blood stream. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a foaming agent, and skin and eye irritant, that disturbs the healthy lipid barrier of the skin, and parabens are a group of preservatives being phased out for potential health risks.”

Given that there’s actually nothing clean about this cleanser, it’s rather amazing that millions of women think their skin will freak out if they use anything else. “It may not irritate skin very much, but it probably won’t help it much either,” says Nicole Yih, Assistant Spa Director at the Mandarin Oriental New York. That’s because there’s nothing in Cetaphil that nurtures skin. No antioxidants that help fight free radical damage; not a dribble of omega-rich plant seed oils that fortify the skin barrier; and not a drop of skin-calming botanicals.

A cleanser that you use twice a day should be judged on what it gives your skin. Consider this your new cleanser criterion. —Melisse Gelula

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141 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. July 20th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Who knew…now we do.

  2. July 20th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I am with you on this one!

    I would go to a dermatologists if I had skin cancer, but I honestly don’t think they know that much about basic skin care, and this Cetaphil recommendation is evidence. As you say, look at the ingredients — it’s a chemical stew.

    Beauty editors treat the dermatologists (and doctors) like the last word on everything, but neither have a holistic approach. In fact they tend to treat it as the enemy. And perhaps it is for them.

  3. July 20th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    “Whether you think it’s keeping your skin healthy or not, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and research has proven almost all of the few ingredients in it are carcinogenic.”

    I’d love to see the research that supports this claim. The owner of an all natural beauty store hardly seems like an authoritative source.

    I’m not a fan of cetaphil, but the claims in this article are alarmist to say the least.

  4. July 20th, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I agree Catherine. Completely alarmist and how would a cleanser absorb into your bloodstream? It is on your face for maybe two minutes tops and is washed away. I think hair color has a chance of being dangerous over time because it sits on your head for thirty or more minutes but not a cleanser. I don’t buy it.

  5. July 20th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    whatever you put on the skin 26 seconds later it can be found in the bloodstream… great article. I am from the raw ingredient background…wouldn’t put 5 of these items on my skin!!! Never again. I know too much!

  6. July 20th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Yep, I completely agree with Catherine and Claudia. Sounds like scare tactics to me. And coming from an all natural beauty store owner hardly seems credible.

  7. July 21st, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Catherine, Claudia, and Angie… please do your research! Anything you apply to your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream in less that 30 seconds. Laurel Sulfate has a pH level of 9 or 10. The healthy pH level for your skin is 5.5… when you was your face with something that has sulfate you are stripping your face from its protective layer called the acid mantle. You can be naive or stubborn and choose to look the other way… or you can research and educate yourself.

  8. July 21st, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Everything you place on your skin topically goes into your bloodstream with in 26 seconds. It is more vital to watch what you use on your skin than what you eat. It is a fact, any physician will tell you this. No hype here. But unfortunately we have not been educated about this until recently in this country. There are people that go alittle nuts and try to alarm us about wellness , but this article is spot on.

  9. July 21st, 2010 at 10:02 am

    “You can be naive or stubborn and choose to look the other way… or you can research and educate yourself.”

    …which is why I asked for a source. It should be easy to provide a source if there is one available, and if you’re going to go around claiming that ingredients are *proven* to cause cancer, the burden of proof rests with you.

    Repeating info from the article and telling people to do their research just makes it seem like you don’t have any credible sources to back up your claims.

  10. Well+Good
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Well+Good’s Melisse here: The ingredients in Cetaphil are water and chemicals, not plants. So we thought we’d point that out, especially since so many people claim the cleanser’s healthy. Compare that to food you’d choose to eat—a meal made from water and chemicals or plants—and you see our point.

    As for sources, in the U.S., the EWG independently assesses the components of ingredients used in skin care: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. The FDA does not regulate cosmetic ingredients for safety. However, we provided a PDF of the Dirty Dozen ingredients that have been cited as potentially toxic internationally. Some of these ingredients, like parabens and petroleum-based derivatives, which I’m sure you’ve read about, are already being phased out of skin care because of their potential health risks and links to cancer. Even Estee Lauder, a giant parent company of beauty brands, is phasing out these ingredients, which can’t be sold in many markets outside the United States. “Proven to cause cancer” is Spirit’s opinion, although it’s shared by many passionate beauty-product makers, who like organic farmers, want better choices in the skin-care aisle. As soon as someone conducts double-bind, peer-reviewed studies on cosmetic ingredients—and repeats them, which is what’s done with drugs—we’ll let you know.

  11. Well+Good
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Wow, how’s this for timing: Today, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) are introducing the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which would close the gaping holes in federal law. It would phase out the most dangerous chemicals, set up a system to assess cosmetic ingredients for safety, require companies to be transparent about what’s in their products, and provide adequate resources for the FDA to do its job. http://huff.to/dfCgoF

  12. July 21st, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    As a *former* Cetaphil fan (as of a few minutes ago), I want to thank you for a very revealing article, Milisse.

    I do sympathize with those who object to the alarmist tone, but I think they are reacting because there is such a huge gap between popular understanding and the latest medical research and epidemiological concerns about chemicals in our environment. Some of these ingredients are definitely toxic but as you point out in your follow-up it is hard to say exactly how toxic because the research hasn’t been done. So we are left guessing – is 30 seconds on our skin safe or not?

    That is the real crux: should we be having to make these decisions? Not possible as we don’t have the skills or data. So taking a natural approach using generally recognized as safe ingredients is a much more sensible approach – it follows the “precautionary principle” of not using products that haven’t been proven safe.

    The modern chemical and beauty industries have been able to conduct a huge biology experiment with few constraints in the last 50+ years – sometimes it works well and sometimes it turns out to be toxic, but I don’t want to be a guinea pig – we can and should do better.

    By the way, as someone with very sensitive skin, I now have a hole in my regimen – can you recommend any very gentle face cleanser for sensitive skin?

    Paul

  13. July 21st, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Another timely item to look into – an awarenss raising video from the folks at Free Range Studios:
    http://storyofstuff.org/cosmetics/

  14. July 22nd, 2010 at 12:05 am

    @Paul:
    I wish I could send you this privately but there is a company out there called Arbonne that specializes in pure, safe and beneficial skincare.

    The ABC Hair and Body Wash would probably do very well on your skin. This is a part of the Arbonne Baby Care line and is a very gentle cleanser.

    Check out the website http://www.arbonne.com Yes, I am a consultant with the company and I joined Arbonne because I believe that my family’s skincare should be beneficial, not toxic.
    I don’t normally post things like this but I really believe that Arbonne could be just what your skin is looking for!

    @ Well + Good: it’s about dang time! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Well+Good
    July 22nd, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Melisse here: I’ll be recommending a handful of natural facial cleansers for a variety of skin types next week on WellandGoodNYC.com. I list a handful right now on our Facebook page: http://bit.ly/9OyK8o

  16. July 22nd, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Nicotine patches and pain relief patches are just 2 kinds of patches now being used to deliver needed medication directly through the skin into the bloodstream without having to go through the digestive system. This may also become the preferred method of delivering vaccinations. If you doubt that the absorption rate, place some minced garlic between your toes and time how long it takes until you can “taste” it in your mouth.
    I have been an Independent Arbonne Consultant for the past 2 years and have noticed a huge difference with my skin from using products that are botanically based and from a company whose motto is: Pure, Safe, and Beneficial.

  17. July 22nd, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Catherine, Claudia, The last thing anyone should ever think of me as is alarmist. I respect people’s choices and preferences for natural or not-so-natural person care. I agree I should not have said “are carcinogenic” I should have said “are potentially toxic” which is a simple fact and what I usually do say but perhaps got carried away. You would like to see facts and sources? Well so would I! There is no law that says personal care products have to fully disclose their ingredients or test and prove their safety. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/product.php?prod_id=8634 There are some big question marks and I’d like to be on the safe side of them. As for absorption, interestingly, Cetaphil instructions advise “leaving a thin film of CETAPHIL on the skin” but even if you don’t, is it hard to believe that a couple minutes of exposure to a chemical (daily), especially formulated with an absorption enhancer (prop glyc), could result in dermal absorption of the chemical into the bloodstream? Certainly we’ve heard of a nicotine patch? Now here’s something that actually IS FDA regulated and what does it say right on the box? “The nicotine begins to be absorbed into your bloodstream as soon as an appropriate area of your skin makes contact with the patch.”

  18. July 22nd, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Arbonne is a CULT!

  19. July 22nd, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Why so much talk about dangerous chemicals from people who SELL all natural skincare products (at very high prices I’d like to add), yet color their hair ( chemicals there, no?) and consume/DRINK alcohol? Isn’t all the same? Is one less dangerous that the other?

  20. July 23rd, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Melissa, perhaps the difference is choice. People can choose to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes (even organic ones!), get botox, whatever they want! What isn’t right is when we are misled, or told it’s safe – even healthy, when it’s not, and are not able to make an educated choice. Botox comes with a list of side effects and warnings as required by law but skin cream doesn’t even though it enters the bloodstream. Is it because there are no side effects or is it because it’s not regulated? How can we know? I just want women to have the information and look into it for themselves. Remember Philip Morris had tons of “evidence” and “research” that “proved” cigarette smoking was NOT hazardous to your health. Some of us SELL natural solutions BECAUSE we care about womens health, not the other way around. And just like it costs organic farmers more to produce a $3 nectarine than a conventionally grown $1 nectarine, so does it cost an organic skin care formulator more to create a nutrient rich, non-toxic, ethical and sustainable cleanser more than it costs to create a chemical one. And sadly both the organic formulator and organics farmer’s margins are much smaller. Cetaphil probably spends less than $1 making their $7 cleanser while the “high priced” natural alternatives may be 70%-80% ingredient cost. I know of formulators who actually sell their cleansers AT COST, just hoping that as demand grows, eventually their costs will go down so they can eventually make a profit.

  21. July 23rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Spirit, if ARBONNE is selling AT COST, whom is paying for the WHITE MERCEDES BENZ vehicles that sales people are awarded?

  22. July 23rd, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I don’t consider Arbonne an organic skin care formulator for one. I’m certainly not familiar with their costs.

  23. July 27th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    [...] Here it is.  A well-written breakdown as to why Cetaphil is not the life saver so many think it is.  I love dissecting skincare products and Cetaphil was the next on my list but Well and Good NYC did such a great job I don’t feel like I have to!  Enjoy. “Cetyl alcohol, an emollient used in many cosmetics, is essentially a wax…Propylene glycol is a common humectant (meaning it brings moisture from the air to the skin), but it also enhances product and chemical penetration into the skin and blood stream. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a foaming agent, and skin and eye irritant, that disturbs the healthy lipid barrier of the skin” [...]

  24. August 3rd, 2010 at 10:18 am

    As a Cetaphil user for years I understand why people tend to freak out when they learn that it’s filled with some not-so-helpful ingredients. How can it be so bad if your dermatologist told you that it will help your skin? That it is so gentle, you don’t even need to use water to take it off! I used to think that there was something really wrong with my skin, I went to countless dermatologists looking for help. They claimed to understand my dry, sensitive skin and told me to use Cetaphil and Aquaphor. I believed that they were on my team, that these products would really help heal my skin. Well, let’s just say that the products didn’t help at all. I now know that my skin is totally normal BUT what it was sensitive to- were the irritants in those very products that the doctor was telling me to use.
    So to all of those ladies (and men) who are skeptical about what folks are saying about Cetaphil- let me invite you to experiment- to stop using it- try one of the products that are recommended on the site- or even just try using raw/organic coconut oil to clean and moisturize your face…. I promise you, your skin will improve. My skin has changed 100% for the better since I stopped using Cetaphil and the other products that the dermatologist suggested.

  25. August 4th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    68% off all things that you put on your skin are in your system in 28 seconds.

  26. August 11th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I have not used Arbonne products, but what I know of their products has not convinced me they are any different than the mainline cosmetic companies.
    My approach to choosing skin care and cosmetic products is to only put things on my skin that I would feel safe to eat.
    If you are interested in safe and healthy products for your skin, it pays to do a bit of research and find a producer you trust.
    One producer I like is Daisy Blue Naturals. There are plenty of other excellent choices out there, but sadly I have yet to find one in a mainline retail store. Your local food co-op should be able to help you, but always read the label and ask questions!
    Be well.

  27. August 11th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks for the detailed information on Cetaphil. Never have used it and am thankful for that. The products I use are the polar opposite of Cetaphil. I am happy to say that they are 100% certified organic botanicals that nurtures the skin and is filled with anti-oxidants. I totally feel that they are feeding my skin with good health. You can see for yourself at http://www.MiBetterChoices.com

  28. August 24th, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    the skin is our largest organ… yes, i did say organ. that means it can easily absorb toxins just as you can absorb them through your mouth, nose and any other organs. hope this helps you understand how you might be absorbing toxins from cetaphil…

  29. August 31st, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I agree with Jessa-I was a Cetaphil user for years. Then I started having symptoms similar to rosacea and just could not figure out what was going on. So, I threw out my whole skin care regime and started researching on the parabens, SLS, and other ingredients in practically all of the skin care lines. Once I tried more natural products the change in my skin was dramatic. Also, my life long struggle with dandruff and psoriasis ended too. In the beginning, I was skeptical about chemicals being absorbed through skin too, but like another poster said, if nicotine patches, birth control patches, etc, can be effective then there is something to it.

    As for Arbonne, I’ve tried it and I’m not impressed. I know a lot of people who like their products but a little bit of research will show you that it’s got all the same chemicals (and sometimes more) than anything else.

    I’m not selling anything and I think anyone who is looking to test this out will be able to find options out there that are inexpensive. I agree with Spirit, it’s about having the information to make the choice.

  30. September 9th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Michelle and Jessa, can you share which facial cleansers you are currently using? I have been a Cetaphil user for years, but am planning to switch.

    Michelle, I have had a very similar experience to yours with symptoms similar to that of rosacea.

    Thanks!

  31. Well+Good
    September 9th, 2010 at 10:31 pm
  32. September 9th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    propylene glycol is in ingredient in antifreeze! Is that really what you want on your skin?

    As for dermatologists, they aren’t trained on toxicology, so all they know is “does this product irritate the skin?” They don’t know that the very products they are recommending are causing greater problems than the ones they are trying to correct.

    @Claudia and Catherine, numerous studies have shown that what you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream. And, more so if you are in or just out of a hot shower. And, unlike the food you eat, what you put on your skin isn’t metabolized in the liver, it goes directly into the blood stream.

    There are many studies out there, but the really big scientific ones that you’re looking for aren’t done on purpose. The companies that produce and use those ingredients don’t want the results. Much of the information on toxicity of these ingredients can be found in the MSDS sheets, which are produced by the companies themselves. These MSDS sheets aren’t the totality of knowledge, because of laws surrounding what is and isn’t required to be included, but it’s really telling when and MSDS sheet directly from the manufacturer note its toxicity. Deny the information all you want, that doesn’t make it less true.

    Here’s a toxic ingredient list that comes directly from MSDS sheets.

    Another reason this is important is because of the number of products we use everyday. Yes, there might be a small amount in this product, but combine that with the 11 other products women use every day or the 5 that men use, and you have a toxic soup. Then there is also the toxin we are exposed to in every other facet of our lives. And studies aren’t being done on what happens when all these different chemicals in your body combine. Also, since our food is so nutritionally void, our bodies aren’t able to eliminate toxins well.

    @Melinda Mahnke, Wendy, Arbonne is a well known greenwasher. Their products are LOADED with synthetic toxins.

    The only true way to know your skin care products are safe is if they are certified organic. 3rd party verification is the ONLY way to know if a companies claims of safeness, purity, etc are valid. And, if they are certified organic they are certified to food-grade standards. There are a lot of “fake” natural brands out there. If you go to the Organic Consumers Association they have a list of “fake” organic products to boycott and a list of truly safe, organic, high quality products to “buy-cott.” So, that’s a great place to look for truly safe, natural and organic products. Just go to the Organic Consumers Association website and search for “Coming Clean.”

    These are the only products I will use on my skin, and more importantly, on my daughter’s skin http://www.YourOranicLife.com.

  33. September 17th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    [...] few weeks ago, New York City-based wellness blog Well + Good NYC wrote about the not-so-awesome ingredients in favorite cheap face cleanser Cetaphil.  If you have ever wondered about the ingredients in your cosmetics, soaps, and lotions, this is a [...]

  34. September 28th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I’m pretty sure a LOT of big brand creams/cleansers, soaps etc. anything you apply to your skin contains some kind of potentially harmful chemical. I’ve checked every single chemical and all has been considered “safe” for cosmetic purposes (when used abidingly to safety standards). Cetaphil has been approved by dermatologists and doctors alike, am I not supposed to trust it despite possibly years of substantial experiment and testing unlike some other products? It was even recommended by my dermatologist.

  35. September 28th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    By the way, I just went through a bunch of products and their ingredients, almost all contain some kind of “paraben”, at safety level. I think a lot of the time, people think some product is not chemically harsh only because they only read the “active” ingredients listed on the product which does NOT fully describe the entire list of chemicals actually put into the product.

  36. September 28th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Sorry for multiple posts! But I’d like to share something interesting I found from that website you cited.

    St. Ives Apricot Scrub has a hazard score of 9/10 which is on the high end of the scale. A bit of surprise for something that sounds so organic, natural and friendly. Hehe.

  37. September 30th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Ingredients like these are EXACTLY why I usa ARBONNE products !!!!!!!!! Pure-Safe-Beneficial Nuff said !!

  38. October 1st, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Yes! Let’s get that info out there! I wrote a blog about Cetaphil myself because I was shocked by the ingredient list.
    #1 recommended cleanser even for babies. Those doctors need to be educated.

  39. October 29th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    MichelleH- Please tell us what products you are currently using. I have psoriasis and haven’t found any products to help. THANKS

  40. November 1st, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Next time, please seek comment from an independent expert. If you think dermatologists have a conflict, what about spa owners who apparently have no relevant science background?

  41. November 4th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    To the Arbonne sellers… some Arbonne products contain toxic chemicals too! Look up the ingredients on http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. Their undereye lotion/cream burns my skin! Hate it.

  42. November 12th, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Wow, so many opinions, so few facts. When it comes to skincare, I would rather take advice from dermatologists who have spent years studying the effects of beauty products on the skin. I can wiki the ingredients from my favourite cleanser any time I want, but it takes a little more to understand it’s interaction with the body.
    For one thing, there is absolutely ZERO systemic uptake of any ingredients in Cetaphil into the bloodstream – the molecules are just too large to pass through the skin barrier. Which is the skin’s function, by the way: to stop harmful environmental factors getting into the body.
    Chemicals are used for many different purposes, but what is important is the concentration. Propylene glycol can act as a solvent in low conc., or as a humectant to increase the water holding potential of the skin. Either way, just because something is organic doesn’t make it good for you, or even safe.
    Cetaphil is recommended by dermatologists because it has a huge body of clinical evidence supporting it. Sure, pharma companies are the devil, but they do they studies to prove beyond reasonable doubt that their products are safe. First, try getting a study showing clear benefits in your Arbonne products published in a peer-reviewed paper. It doesn’t have to be a double blind, but multi-centered would add some legitimacy to a faultering argument.

  43. November 19th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks Eva, for calling out these claims about the permeability of skin for what they are–bollocks.
    If 68% (a figure mentioned above by a couple of people I think) of all chemicals made their way into our bloodstream after being in contact with our skin for only 30 seconds, or whatever it was, we’d be about as vulnerable as Bubble Boy.
    We’d also be able to deliver all medications through transdermal patches. But we can’t. Hence injections, etc. Drugs like nicotine are unusual in being able to penetrate the skin to enter the bloodstream.

  44. December 4th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/105265-cetaphil-gentle-skin-cleanser-ingredients/

    explains why their ingredients are not as bad as you think. :)

  45. December 6th, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Loved the discussion on Cetaphil. As someone with troublesome skin and have used Cetaphil for years I do hope it is still safe to use. I rarely use anything else on my skin – it is non greasy and makes my skin smooth and feeling good. Hope all the bad chemicals it reportedly has don’t get absorbed into the blood stream as some describe… I await more info with baited breath… thanks

  46. Well+Good
    December 8th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Melisse here: This Livestrong article sounds like it was written by the manufacturer of Cetaphil. It’s exactly the kind of information that our article takes issue with.

  47. December 11th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    The fact of the matter, is that the only difference between the plant based cleansers and Cetaphil is? Well, who knows. You may get your ingredients from plants, but you have to extract them somehow. Maybe a distillation? Or a reaction with another chemical? You don’t just squeeze a plant and all it’s vital components are somehow magically separated. You need CHEMISTRY to separate them! And the chemicals in Cetaphil? Some of these were likely created by a reaction in a lab or even with plant-based material. If you wanted to make “all-natural soap”, you get some bones from an animal or you buy chemicals. But both would still require a CHEMICAL REACTION to occur for the end product to be achieved. The only difference would be the bi-products of the reactions which may or may not wind up in the final product.

    I’m a chemist!

  48. December 11th, 2010 at 8:32 am

    My point was that your product contains chemicals as well. You are either misleading your customers on purpose or you are just ignorant of chemistry and how it works. Or both possibly.

  49. February 10th, 2011 at 7:02 am

    [...] It’s a buzzkill to discover that your favorite facial cleanser—and one that dermatologists love to recommend— is not so clean. [...]

  50. February 20th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    A lot of my clients tell me that they use Cetaphil for their skin as recommended by their dermatologists. I educate them on the unhealthy benefits of this product and always remind them to read the ingredients.
    I offer organic facial treatments and am a big believer in organic products.

  51. February 21st, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Did I miss the “M.D.” or “Ph.D.” after your sources’ names?

    These people aren’t qualified to makes these statements.

  52. February 22nd, 2011 at 8:51 am

    So, who is dead or sick and the cause for it has been determined to be the use of cosmetics containing chemicals ?

  53. February 28th, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    So you’re saying everything that our doctors are telling us is wrong, and that the only “right” answers come from all natural hippies and uncited research… because anyone with a degree is corrupted by corporations?

    Every day people smoke, breath smog, swim in polluted lakes and drink polluted water… but you can’t rub a gram of soap on your face without getting cancer?

    maybe there is some truth to this, but i dont think that truth is worth changing anything, i see noone dieing.

  54. March 7th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I’m so tired of articles that make eye-catching claims simply to get attention, while offering no sources or credible research to back it up. You should be ashamed for peddling your own agenda under the guise of helping others. As an actual scientific researcher, I would just like to stress to the less-informed readers that if there are no references to credible journal findings, then please do not take any of it seriously. (That goes for all articles!)

  55. April 7th, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Cetaphil also tests on animals, and there are so many alternatives now for products that do not test on animals. Yet another strike against Cetaphil.

  56. April 7th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    How does a surface cleanser get absorbed into your bloodstream? Junk science strikes again!

  57. April 14th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    [...] Read the rest of the post here. [...]

  58. April 14th, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I started switching between Cetaphil and Cerave cleansers a couple of years ago when I began getting severe facial eczema from… who knows? The hundreds of patch tests and experimental diets haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause reliably.

    What I do know is that my skin has improved significantly since I STOPPED trying new natural and organic products.

    As my dermatologist explained, and as I’ve found in daily use, for people with truly sensitive skin, botanical, plant based ingredients do more harm than good. Many of the popular plant-based ingredients can and do irritate skin.

    I care about my health AND use Cetaphil cleanser. It’s unfortunate that so many followers of blogs like this and Well+Good believe those two things are mutually exclusive.

    I, along with others above, am wondering where the alternatives are (other than Arbonne, it seems like everyone that likes it is ALSO selling it)! Everyone has an agenda here.

  59. April 19th, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I’m a bit bewildered by all these comments and arguments, particularly from people that consider the article to be scare-mongering then defend their use of Cetaphil by saying that companies ‘test to ensure their products are safe’. What rubbish! Remember when thousands of women around the world were breathing in formaldahyde while getting their ‘safe’ Keratin hair treatment? OOPS! Nobody is saying sorry to those women now are they?

    ‘If in doubt – leave it out’ is the motto that I live by… and for the record my skin has been great since I switched to natural products such as Living Nature. I also make my own skin serums and cleansing oils and share the recipes on my blog. The best cleanser you can ever use on your skin (and I’m an ex beauty ed so I’ve tried them all) is an oil blend, massaged in and removed with a hot steamy face cloth. Olive oil/Castor oil blend works beautifully, as does Avocado oil. Here’s the surprising thing: we actually don’t need to put this manufactured crap on our faces to look good! SO… I repeat ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.

    OH, I also used Cetaphil on my teenage acne (before I knew better). It did sweet F.A. to benefit my skin at all. I’m sincerely astonished by the following. I found Ten O Six much more preferable as far as chemical cleansers went.

    If you google oil cleansing, you’ll realise there are many believers. Here are my thoughts for those interested: http://nzgreenqueen.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-heart-oil-cleansing.html

  60. April 20th, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    [...] few weeks ago, New York City-based wellness blog Well + Good NYC wrote about the not-so-awesome ingredients in favorite cheap face cleanser Cetaphil.  If you have ever wondered about the ingredients in your cosmetics, soaps, and lotions, this is a [...]

  61. April 21st, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    “Chemicals” are automatically bad and “botanicals” and “natural sources” automatically good? That’s awesome, because I’m about to debut a cleanser made of 100% organic, natural hemlock and poison ivy. And be sure to avoid the dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide (fatal if inhaled, and present in all tumors and cancerous growths — why would you put that on your skin??!)

    Also, “proven to cause cancer” cannot be an opinion. Jesus.

  62. April 21st, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I agree with the commenter above – chemicals are not automatically bad. I have sensitive skin and everything I have ever tried that says “natural” or “organic” or lists all these plant products usually ends up irritating the heck out of my skin!
    Personally, I use Cetaphil. I wander off to other products, but I come back. Everything else makes my skin freak out! But I still need to get the makeup and daily grunge off my face.
    Plant seed oils? Oil?! On my skin?! Tried it. Acne breakout! Witchhazel? Tried it. Rosacea flare up. And I can’t even describe what the supposed panacea of tea tree oil did to my skin. I’ve put all-natural home concoctions with everything from avocados to apple cider vinegar to mayonnaise to tea on my face and never noticed one iota of difference – well no positive difference.
    I’m all for finding kind to the earth/kind to our bodies solutions but ripping on a product that millions of people swear by without any hard evidence that it causes harm is bad journalism. AND it is insulting to the people who use the product and see good results. “No, no. Don’t trust your eyes, trust me.” And since most of those users/readers are probably women we don’t need the extra dose of infantalizing condescension.
    And to the commenter who says that the best cleanser is rubbing in an oil blend and then steaming it off…again – acne and rosacea. Either one of those things alone would kill skin like mine. I’m sure it does work great for you and plenty of people, but to claim that it’s the best thing anyone can use with such authority (former beauty ed or not) does a disservice to anyone reading. The point is, don’t assume you know what’s best for everyone. What’s good for one person is not good for another. Anecdotes are not data.
    It’s OK to question, it’s not OK to be an idealogue. We should all stop writing in such sweeping terms. I’m all for keeping it natural/organic/whole/green but these terms get thrown around and lose all meaning.
    A – don’t trash a product without citing relevant case studies that TRULY back you up and B – keep the trashing to a minimum in any case. Instead, offer tried and true alternatives, BUT be honest with people that just because it’s made from a plant doesn’t make it safe for your skin.

  63. April 22nd, 2011 at 9:01 am

    [...] – This popular, purportedly healthy facial cleanser is actually no friend to your face. (Well + Good NYC) [...]

  64. June 13th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I agree with MichelleH. I have been using Cetaphil for at least 8 years as recommended by my dermatologist. I was pleased for a while. However, for at least 6 years I am now experiencing issues similar to rosacea/eczema on my neck and chest area only. My dermatologist cannot 100% tell me what is going on. I have just now thought it may be Cetaphil. I have an appointment with my dermatologist in a couple of days and plan to share my thoughts on the possibility it may be Cetaphil. However, I am at a lost as what to use on my very dry sensitive face and neck. My neck burns and itches all of the time(both day & night)and is quite red.I have also tried Arbonne and was not pleased at all. I threw out a lot of expensive products. I am open to any suggestions anyone may have.

  65. June 20th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    After a winter of horrific acne breakouts, I tried to revamp my skin care routine and simplify. I got rid of everything and started using Cetafil Gentle Facewash. It did nothing to help my skin calm down. A couple of friends noticed my misery, and recommended Origins Clean Energy Oil to me as a facial cleanser. Love it!! Breakouts only happen occassionally and not nearly so severe. It’s weird using oil to wash your skin, but mine has benefitted tremendously from ditching soap cleansers for oil. Also use Malin + Goetz SPF moisturizer for my face after washing. First SPF anything that doesn’t cause my face to break out like crazy.

  66. June 21st, 2011 at 8:52 am

    [...] at night (because I have combination skin). Both are free of the waxes and junk you’ll find in Cetaphil, which I plan to lambast soon. The goal is not a dry tight feeling when you wash; it’s the opposite. Sometimes I do like a [...]

  67. June 29th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    i thin k what some people forget is that our skin is on the surface and having a strong surface immunity is key to healthy, vital and radiant skin. Whether or not ingredients penetrate the skin, which they do, it is important to understand that using a product that strips the surface of its protective barrier, i.e. oils, leaves your skin exposed to harsh external elements and as well is the reason so many people find themselves with “sensitive” skin. I say the skin is sensitized after repeated stripping. A protective barrier is key for healthy skin immunity and when you use products (plural guys because lets face it, if you use cleansers like cetaphil most likely your moisturizers, eye creams, shampoos, body washes, toners, shaving creams and sunscreens are also filled with sensitizing ingredients) like this every day and 2-3 times per day, your skin will be unhealthy and this is when your organs begin to malfunction. Our skin protects us systemically and as well our skin regulate sour temperature and our endocrine functioning. i would make sure to keep it is as nourished topically as possible and the way to do this is to eliminate harsh products. after washing the face or body, it should never feel chapped or dry. stay soft guys:)

  68. July 12th, 2011 at 12:50 am

    After a eight months or so of Cetaphil use I developed severe eczema on my face (due to a complete stripping away of my skin’s protective barrier). It took derms MONTHS to figure this out – the entire time completely refusing to acknowledge cetaphil as the potential culprit. I took it upon myself to eliminate Cetaphil from my regimen after everything else seemed to fail. My eczema improved immediately but is something I still suffer with to this day. I can now only use a cleanser that is purely shea butter and organic cotton. Literally the only two ingredients. I’m so glad for this article and I wish derms would wake up and realize how their mindless complicity with brands like Cetaphil deeply affects people’s lives.

  69. July 12th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    My dermotologist recommended Cetaphil when I was having an allergic reaction to cleansers, moisturizers, serums, just about everything was irritating my face. He said to stop using everything & just wash my face with Cetaphil. I tried it & then I read what was in it, I couldn’t believe he had recommended it to me. I through it out immediately. What garbage!

  70. July 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    [...] ingredient lists of anything but the 100% Organic Argan Oil. Several months ago, I discovered the terrors of Cetaphil, which unfortunately I had been using my entire life on my sensitive skin. In the past and lately [...]

  71. September 3rd, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    [...] dissolving the cell membranes of your skin cells” makes me wish I hadn’t used generic Cetaphil for so many years… (some good comments on that post, by the way!) Readers, I’m all [...]

  72. October 19th, 2011 at 1:42 am

    The information about your skin and absorption of anything put on it is true. My husband is a Neurologist and has verified this. I was an RVP with Arbonne until I resigned from the company this year. I tried products from NYR Organic (all CERTIFIED organic, formulated and made in the UK) and could not believe the difference. I’m not saying Arbonne is bad, but I don’t believe them to be the purest, safest or most beneficial. They do have alot of chemicals. Probably better than most on the market, but I found NYR to be better – and, oh yeah, 1/3 of the cost! Try it – you’ll be surprised.

  73. November 14th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I hear all of you loud and clear. I am in a very small part of the population whose skin is so sensitive that I react to everything. If the product says for sensitive skin, then you ladies will not have a problem with it. For me, I could end up with a red, swollen, rashy face or eyes. You are correct, when you say all of the ingredients are man-made. I cannot use “natural,” plant-based products because I will break out. I cannot wear fur or wool. So thank God for synthetic fabrics or I couldn’t wear a winter coat made out of thick fabric. Getting back to Cetaphil. Everytime I use a facial wash, even a dermatologist recommended one that requires the use of water or scrubbing, I break out. With Cetaphil, no water is required and it does not irritate my skin. I would love to use a product that made my skin look better or gets rid of dead skin cells, but in the end, it never works for me. Unfortunately, Cetaphil is all I have.

  74. November 23rd, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I have used cetaphil for years. I used to use a couple of versions of it made by dermatologists but they stopped making it and I don’t remember what their ingredients were now. I am not happy about the ingredients in cetaphil, however, I don’t know what else to use. I also cannot tolerate essential oils, oil and fragrances. I develop eye and skin irritations and acne from these, so I’m at a loss as to what else to use. I need fragrance free products without oils for the most part. Why can’t someone produce more of these for those of us with that type of sensitivity? I’m working on making my own now. I can’t use soaps on my face at all either. I tried switching to a fragrance free goat milk soap but I had a reaction to that with eye irritation and acne.

  75. November 30th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    [...] I'm sure there are better ones out there if you want to spend more than a minute researching it. http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2010/0…n-any-favors/# As for the salicylic acid – I hadn't heard you weren't supposed to use it in pregnancy! Thanks for [...]

  76. December 7th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    [...] the internet recently, I ran across an article that exposed my favorite skin cleanser as a “toxic sludge.” I was shocked. But more than that, I was angry. My dermatologist had recommended the [...]

  77. January 4th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    One of my children has suffered all his life with severe eczema and skin allergies. All of the Doctor’s we have seen have recommended Cetaphil (among others). I don’t believe any of them are well educated about toxicity and the skin. We all must know what we are putting on our skin and in our mouthes. It matters.

  78. February 9th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    [...] my friends also suffered from similar fates and turned to pills and the popular doctor recommended Cetaphil, a cleanser that is supposed to be less harsh.  I, however, didn’t resort to drugs.  Even [...]

  79. February 19th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    To all those people who think this is a scare tactic or don’t think that anything you put on your skin goes into your skin then you are sooo wrong. I know for a fact that it takes less than 3 seconds for anything you put onto your skin to go into your skin. I know a mother who has a child who is diabetic, and when her child would have really low blood sugar or have a fit, she would take sugar and rub it on his gums, within minutes it gets into the blood stream. There is actually alot of research on this topic and science to back it up, you just need to be opened minded and look for it.

  80. May 9th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Wow! So I just read every comment.. As a Holistic Esthetician, When a new client comes to me, and I ask them “what are you currently using as your cleanser & moisturizer?” a good majority of them respond with Cetaphil.. I cringe, as I hear the same sentence, over and over… “but my mom used it and always said how good it was and all the magazines say it’s the best one recommended by Dermatologists.” UGH! Any Dermatologist who knows skincare and is looking after your well-being would not be telling you to go buy a mass made store product that is a thick White water based Cream full of “potentially harmful” man made chemicals and parabins. Yes it’s overwelming for many people. But If you take the time, and educate yourself on what is actually going on your skin, and YES being absorbed into your pores immediatly…you might just get inspired to change your habbits and switch to a better/healthier alternative. Look for skin nourishing “food”. Organic oils, Shea butter, coconut oil, Jojoba is great and the closest oil to your skins natural sebum. I love using a raw creamy honey as a cleanser, your skin will love it, and it makes you glow! Ok, I’m sure you get the point :). Love yourself enough to put the best things on your skin. It’s the only body we are gonna have, You Deserve it! Xo

  81. June 14th, 2012 at 3:03 am

    You have absolutely no scientific evidence to any of your claims here.

    First off Propylene glycol is a common ingredient used as a base in almost ALL cosmetics. Even in derma-pharmacology, all your prescription strength acne creams are held together with this ingredient.

    Secondly, sodium laureth/lauyrl sulfate is another ingerdient commonly used in ALL soap based products. Any cleaner is going to have this ingerdient because it is a good surfactant.

    thirdly, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that proves that parebens can cause cancer. The only tests were those that were done on rats. No evidence of it what so ever that it has harm to humans. Yes you should avoid it in that all possiblity it does cause something bad, but it is FDA approved.

    Finally, a cleanser is NOT absorbed into your bloodstream. It penetrates your pores, and then washes out. Very little of the cleanser is actually absorbed by your body. Anything that you wash off immediately, you dont have to worry about parabens or toxicity with. Overall cetaphil is a very good and gentle cleanser.

  82. June 26th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    [...] All but the water are chemically manufactured (let’s hope), and propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and the three parabens have a seat on the dirty dozen, a list of cosmetic ingredients to avoid as potentially toxic.” -Well and Good NYC (Check out the full article on their website: Well and Good NYC) [...]

  83. June 29th, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Superb effort with this amazing posting. I plan to come back to be able to read way
    more of the blogposts..

  84. July 3rd, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Thank you for this fantastic article! after spending my life suffering from terrible eczema and very sensitive skin I have found out about a few years ago that majority of my skin conditions are actually caused by chemicals with in the skin products that I buy and have even been recommended by doctors. After alot of research I have realised that these irritants where not just in everything I was using but where in nearly every skin product available to purchase. I now make all my own soaps, moisturisers, scrubs e.t.c and my mother is starting to open her own bussiness selling her own soaps and body products which are all natural and have helped alot of people with all manor or skin conditions. Perhaps people suffering from sensitive skin or simply want to go natural could try and make there own products, that way they know EXACTLY what is going on there skin and can avoid the heavy costs that comes with buying organic skin care products.

  85. July 7th, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you so much! I recently started using Cetaphil because I’m very fragrance sensitive below the belt. I was using Nutrogena original soap but it went so fast. I decided to try Cetaphil to save $ and it was on the list my gyno gave me. I just noticed I’ve been getting a lot of irritation now. Didnt have that problem with the Nutrogena. This article helped me a lot.

  86. September 6th, 2012 at 6:31 am

    [...] you have a little dietary secret, and is it called Diet Coke? Cetaphil: Why the popular cleanser isn’t doing your skin any favors Are sugar substitutes hiding in your food? AKPC_IDS += [...]

  87. September 6th, 2012 at 7:35 am

    [...] you have a little dietary secret, and is it called Diet Coke? Cetaphil: Why the popular cleanser isn’t doing your skin any favors Are sugar substitutes hiding in your [...]

  88. September 6th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    [...] Cetaphil: Why the popular cleanser isn’t doing your skin any favors [...]

  89. September 8th, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Don’t read this crap. It is making unsubstantiated claims.
    Read The Beauty Brains. It is written by an industrial chemist and actually has honest to goodness facts (that is, references to studies, not just vague concerns over the horror of “chemicals”).

  90. October 30th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with Catherine and Claudia, the last poster Liam, and the various others who have noticed the lack of peer-reviewed documentation in this article.
    I went through a period in my twenties in which I wouldn’t touch my face with anything which wasn’t 100% natural. It was costly and my complexion looked/felt no different at all. Sometimes it even looked worse.
    I’ve used Cetaphil for years now; I’m a middle-aged woman with skin that is, frankly, enviable.
    I saw in one comment that it is animal tested. I hadn’t known that before and I’ll look it up. If it’s true, then THAT is what will cause me to stop using it, because the best beauty treatment in the entire world is kindess.

  91. November 8th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I’m an Esthetician and yes this is one of many products I never suggest using! Ingredients are awful! Remember what goes on the skin, does indeed go into your body. I love Arbonne and their prices are actually comparable to dept store prices. You get what you pay for, but with Arbonne, it’s direct to you so that’s why prices are much better! It’s science and nature but in the purest, safest and most beneficial way! http://www.facebook.com/MarlissaTutaj.esthetician.Arbonneconsultant

  92. November 11th, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    [...] really great face cream. I used to use Cetaphil to moisturize my face until I realized that it was chock full of nasty and harmful ingredients. I have normal to dry skin but in the colder months my skin switches over to more dry and I [...]

  93. November 14th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Interesting! I was always recommended by my dermatologist to use Cetaphil as he said it was so “gentle”. Time to look for a new face wash!

  94. November 16th, 2012 at 3:08 am

    [...] you using products you think are good for your skin, but really aren’t? Cleansers, lotions, or cosmetics can be wrecking havoc on skin. If you don’t know where to [...]

  95. December 20th, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    my skin is combined…..fair…..can I use citaphil cleanser or moisture……..plz reply…

  96. January 11th, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I used to like Cetaphil, mainly because I never use soap on my face and felt like cetaphil was a good cleanser since it’s “soap-free” (and called itself non-comedogenic). I stopped using it because I got lazy, then a few months later randomly decided to look at the ingredients and totally freaked. Like, what the hell have I been putting on my skin all this time. Great article :)

  97. January 22nd, 2013 at 5:11 am

    I’ve been using cetaphil for 7 years now I hadnt experienced any problems until the last 4 months Where I’ve had reoccurring pimples on my jawline and I’ve changed makup… Maybe it’s time to give cetaphil a break…

  98. February 21st, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    [...] Cetaphil: Why the popular cleanser isn’t doing any favors for your skin [...]

  99. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    The amount of people that come to me after using Cetaphil and now have severely dry, cracked skin astounds me. The fact that their doctors and derms recommends it to them is the worst part. Thank goodness for this article, I will be sharing it with anybody who asks me why I am against Cetaphil.

  100. March 22nd, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    News alert – everything is a chemical, whether it is natural or not.

    The Environmental Working Group is hardly a credible source of scientific knowledge. There big scare on lead in lipstick and yet when the lipsticks they endorsed where tested they also contained lead. Guess they didn’t publish that though did they!!

    Why?

    Because all pigments contains lead. You can’t make one without it.

    As far as products entering your bloodstream. What a load of bollocks. They don’t. If they did they would be considered a drug.

    If all you had to do was put something on your skin and it was absorbed why bother drinking. Why not just put your finger in a glass of water and wella your thirst is gone.

    The reality is that the skin is a relatively impermeable barrier. Propylene Glycol is not industrial anti-freeze. Another myth perpetuated.

    One another note cosmetic grade and industrial grade are not the same thing.

    Ok I am off my soap box

  101. April 5th, 2013 at 4:08 pm
  102. June 24th, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    [...] Why Cetaphil isn’t doing your skin any favors [...]

  103. July 15th, 2013 at 11:40 am

    [...] just stumbled upon this article on Well+Good NYC about Cetaphil. I’ve been using it for years and for the exact reasons [...]

  104. July 16th, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    [...] brands with less toxins. I started with face wash and next came shampoo. But reading yesterday’s article that I posted was eye-opening for me. I’ve been Googling all day and finding some interesting [...]

  105. August 2nd, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    My esthetician found out I was using this cleanser. Then she threatened to drop me as a client if I didn’t stop using it. I did. She said the wax in this cleanser would defeat the purpose of getting a deep pore acne facial.

    jinelleloves.com

  106. August 12th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    [...] brands with less toxins. I started with face wash and next came shampoo. But reading yesterday’s article that I posted was eye-opening for me. I’ve been Googling all day and finding some interesting [...]

  107. August 12th, 2013 at 10:20 am

    [...] just stumbled upon this article on Well+Good NYC about Cetaphil. I’ve been using it for years and for the exact reasons [...]

  108. August 15th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Another reason I formulate the skin care products we offer to our clients at our skin care clinic “glow Luxe.” It’s too bad dermatologists and doctors continue to recommend such terrible products.

  109. November 7th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    PLEASE READ FOR INFORMATION THAT MAY BE HELPFUL BELOW:
    I have had bouts of atopic dermatitis, it first started on my lips, long story short i went and saw my dr. I was using burts bees lip balm, i had used it for a year and then one day I had a reaction. He told me to use aquaphor. WORKS! so happy. At times i randomly got small hard bumps in patches on my face or back of my neck that at times itched and were clear liquid filled, I had NO idea what they were. I figured it out on my own that it was the same thing that was going on with my lips. So I did some research about the alkaline levels, etc. If a product is to alkaline it can cause many skin problems, I have learned that sodium lauryl sulfate is harmful and will strip the acid mantle layer (i was using products that contained this and had issues such as axe body wash for women and clean and clear refreshing exfoliating face wash-both contained the sulfate ingredient). That is also in the gentle cleanser in cetaphil. I avoid using that, but instead use the cetaphil dermacontrol oil control foam wash with the dermacontrol oil control moisturizer(I know dimthicone is bad for hair so I may switch to a different moisturizer) and I also use the cetaphil restoraderm restoring body wash, Let me tell you, My skin is sensitive(gets irritated easily if something repeatedly rubs on it, also get atopic dermatitis and Very small red rash like patches). Those small skin colored bumps started around my eyes and got worse and then spread to my ears, it started to hurt. That is when I did some research, I found out about PH levels and how your skin should maintain about a 5.5 ph level(slightly acidic) Cetaphil ranks about 6.7, it is recommended to use 5.5-6.5 ph level skin products. Higher alkaline products cause skin to become irritated and cause other problems(http://www.beautymagonline.com/index.php/sample-pages/1205-ph-cleansers-3)
    I used to suffer from mederate to slighty severe acne and used proactiv and I got compliments on how well my skin looked, it also did a great job clearing up 98% of my acne. All 3 cetaphil products that I use seem to have cleared up 100% of the bumps(which I figure to be atopic dermatitis)has made most of my acne dissappear(which suprised me) and made my skin SOFT, I have only tried for a week and am very impressed! I Hope this will help tame my skins sensitivity. NOT ALL PRODUCTS WILL WORK THE SAME FOR EVERYONE, you just have to find what works for you, and slowly eliminate the products/ingredients that are irritating your skin till you find what works for you, I figured out that my lip break outs seemed to be linked with lanolin as that was the ingredient in every lip balm that made me break out, same thing with my face and body wash all contained sodium lauryl sulfate, that stuff is in everything it seems and chose Cetaphil that did not contain those ingredients(which has improved my skin!). Using Cetaphil was a choice and was not recommended by any doctor. If you want to get in contact with me for my experience or questions [email protected].
    I am but an average consumer with intentions to do whatever i can to keep myself healthy and the earth. I am no dermatologist, professional in the healthcare field, just speak from my experiences.

    AND let me add something about harmful chemicals entering the bloodstream, I could not tell you how true or untrue that is but let me add this article and then PLEASE explain to me how if everything gets absorbed into the bloodstream within 30 seconds, how is this women NOT dead or on the verge of dying
    http://blog.al.com/scenesource/2011/08/birmingham_woman_who_likes_to.html

  110. November 14th, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I bought one before i read this post and so far i used it twice. it is already giving me irritation like burning and dry. what natural product do you recommend? i have oily T-zone and pretty normal to slight dry side cheek.

  111. November 14th, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    And she is credible because….?

  112. November 18th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    It Works Global has an all natural skin care line. Ingredients are plant based non-gmo only. Fantastic products. Let me know if interested.

  113. December 11th, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Great article promoting the truth about this deceptive product.

    I had eczema all my life and back when I wasn’t an educated consumer I believed Cetaphil’s gentle positioning. However my skin was feeling dry & itchy from all their products.

    I am now formulating my own line of products and there are FAR better ingredients available albeit more expensive.

    Foe example SLS can be replaced by Decyl Glucoside, a lot milder. Propylene glycol can be replaced by a multitude of humectants like glycerin, sorbitol or sodium lactate/pca.

    The 3 parabens can be replaced with all natural broad spectrum preservatives such as Leucidal.

    It angers me at how deliberately deceptive companies like Cetaphil are being. Damaging eczema, psoriasis, sensitive and baby skin when there are far better products that are as effective if not more so than the cheap chemicals they use.

  114. December 16th, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Working in dermatology I would be so happy if anything put on the skin would be absorbed in less than 30 seconds! Can you imagine than we would be able to treat all skin problems if active substances were absorbed as easily as some of you mentioned? No it is in fact quite difficult to force substances to pass skin. So Cetaphil ingredients are not in the bloodstream; otherwise it would not be a cosmetic anymore. And I can tell you that Cetaphil products are not tested on animals as this is banned for all cosmetics! Concerning parabens, just follow scientific research on the topic instead of non scientific disucssion and you will find that parabens are far less carcinogenic that many other ingredients you use daily, even natural!! And having only 8 ingredients is quite better that having a long list of ingredients that can be at higher risk. You may not like Cetaphil Gentle skin cleanser but it remains a very good cleanser for millions of people without any risk of cancer. Running weekly outside among cars and in cities expose you to a higher risk of cancer than using Cetaphil products

  115. January 6th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I really like this product and have been using it for over 5+ years. I have tried many other products such as neutrogena or any common products found at the drug store.The problem with these other products is all the ingredients they put in it. Cetaphil has very few ingredients unlike other products. Oils and plant extracts it what makes my face break out. I can’t just use water to scrub off make up. Choosing a man made product over one is the only way to go for me. Suffering from acne has been extremely hard especially spending hundreds and hundreds on products that make your face break out even more. With this on mind I love cetaphil lotion and facial cleanser it has significantly reduced my acne over 70%. I will never use any thing else and even if it has toxins in it check out everything you do during the day. This product along with every other thing in this world may or may not bad for you. pick your own battles and do what’s best for you.

  116. January 7th, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Even reading this I’m not going to stop using Cetaphil until I find a better alternative. Cetaphil is the only face wash I have ever used that I do not have an allergic reaction to or doesn’t irritate my skin to the point I have to take pain relievers. I continuously try different products as I’ve have this sensitive skin since birth(I was actually allergic to most soaps as a baby) and I always go back to Cetaphil because it doesn’t hurt my face and it cleanses my skin with out stripping it. In fact, several doctors from different states have told me to use Cetaphil because it won’t irritate my skin and my eczema cream for my body is Cetaphil too and I’ve been using that for 18 years. Out of everything I’ve tested, Cetaphil is the only thing that works for me. Yes, I have tried some organic stuff and hated it.

  117. January 11th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    […] washing with Cetaphil. If you happen to still be using Cetaphil, I recommend that you read this article. Scary stuff, […]

  118. January 25th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks. I’ve been looking for information about what’s actually in this product. I used it for a over a year and it did wonders for my skin. It’s as clear as it ever has been! But recently I had an allergic reaction which I traced back to this product. I was worried because it’s supposedly a product which prides itself on being sensitive. My eyes were swollen and bloodshot (even though I didn’t get it in/near my eyes). I stopped using the product and my eyes cleared up slightly. However, they still swell up and are red frequently. I’m worried that using the product has triggered some sensitivity of some kind. Now I can’t even wear eye makeup because they ache and swell up. I’m now going to go through any other products I use to check for the same ingredients. I’m so glad I found this article though. Wish I’d known this before I used cetaphil on my face.

  119. February 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I wonder if and when all of the non-GMO/all-organic/fermented food … etc … fads will finally fade away? Maybe never, if the hipsters and other traditional allies have any say in the matter.

    Some of my family actually got into this stuff way back in the 1950s, when it was a much more esoteric hobby. Fads come and go, but then, as now, the outrageous and unsubstantiated claims were capable of raising eyebrows. You know – unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contained the power of thousands of apples, thanks to the slimy “mother” lurking at the bottom of the bottle. Among other things, apparently it could “soften arteries.” Rigorous inquiry eventually found that ACV is just vinegar made from apples, and lacking the massive stores of potassium that proponents claimed. One thing we DID learn however, is that unpasteurized ACV is a good source of E. coli bacteria.

    And now Cetaphil, an easy target. This is a well-tested, simple, and gentle cleaner that works well for millions of people, who really don’t need their intelligence insulted by conspiracy theorists (IT’S IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM WITHIN 30 SECONDS, JIM! QUICK, TAKE A SPOONFUL OF SWEDISH BITTERS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE)

  120. March 6th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I was directed here from the NYTimes article and am stunned by how anti-intellectual these pieces are. This is the third one I’ve read.

    For example, that these ingredients are “proven to cause cancer” is not Spirit’s opinion as the authors declare, it’s an assertion- a bold assertion that is sorely lacking in the evidence department. Come on! Let’s not tear down the readers who ask for the data that back up these claims.

    Further, that an ingredient is a chemical is not prima facie evidence of its carcinogenic status. Y’all do know that ALL soap is made with the caustic chemical lye right? This is high school level chemistry. Try making a simple soap at home in your Tribeca apartment and you’ll see just how powerful- yet completely “natural”- the chemicals are.

  121. March 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I dont use the cleanser but I do use the body lotion. Same issues?

  122. March 7th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Ugh! Wish this article came out just a couple weeks ago. I have been on the lookout for a great face cleanser but budget friendly. I was using Boscias Oil Cleanser and loved it but though maybe I could find something cheaper and spend more on lotions and eye creams. First week using this was okay – then I noticed that my face was VERY dry and had dry patches around my mouth, chin and under my nose. Week after that I broke out so badly I almost cried. So I stopped using it immediately and am waiting for my Boscia to be delivered. In the meantime, I have been using my dove body soap and it has done wonders to clear up the acne and hasn’t dried my face out at all! Go figure!!

  123. April 11th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    You people are all hooped.

  124. April 14th, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Really? I would love to see the research for this article too, please. I have tried 1000′s of over priced cleansers that have a whole lot more in their list of ingredients…I have done my own research after reading this hype, the concern is about the moisturiser, and not the cleanser….

  125. April 27th, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    What about acne? I thought that in order to clean your skin of any oils, impurities etc. you have to use something that is going to be a little bit harsh on your skin, or it’s not going to do anything.

  126. May 1st, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Ugh I am just using cetaphil because my mom bought it for me.. I don’t know what else to use?! I’m 13

  127. May 4th, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Our skin absorbs whatever we put on it in 26 seconds. This product is harmful to us and harmful to the environment. Stop using it. End of story.

  128. May 4th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    If you want a great product use Arbonne products. They are the best on the planet, hands down.

  129. May 6th, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Yeah but for some of us we CAN’T. use alot of the products out there that claim to help oily/dry skin. Like me. I have oily skin. You can look at me and tell. But after washing my face it becomes dry. Soon after oily again. So I need something that fights oil residue without drying my skin out right after washing it. Any suggestions. I have used quiet a few over the counter stuff. Don’t even recommend anything overpriced. Wall mart is too expensive at times.

  130. May 17th, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    do your own homework, research the ingredients individually (and not from people who are trying to sell them to you), and then make an educated guess instead of talking out of your butt. this article is very accurate. it is not for you to “buy” the facts discussed,they are there; if you are too arrogant and ignorant to research this and educate yourself, well, the good thing is-no one gives a crap about your health and longevity. good luck. to the author-thank you. keep it up. sooner or later people will catch on…and the stupid ones will just die out.

  131. May 30th, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    As a health & wellness advocate, I have very thorough understanding of the sometimes confusing ingredients listed on some of our favorite commercial beauty care products. The unfortunate truth is that many “natural” products are actually quite deceiving therefore using EWG’s skin deep database is a very useful resource when selecting safer cosmetics. Some brands I suggest are Kiss My Face and my favorite facial cleanser brand is Dr. Woods.
    As for Arbonne, in clear green washing form, the products that I’ve seen (and actually managed to obtain the unlisted ingredients from as they are not made available on packaging…which in itself causes immediate suspicion), yes the Arbonne products I’ve had the chance to evaluate and even test tend to offer positive results and contain “natural” botanical ingredients. The unfortunate truth is pure botanical ingredients will not mask the unfortunate amount of questionable ingredients. Arbonne is by no means certified organic and although they claim to be paraben-free, any naturopathic medical professional will strongly debate that claim when evaluating the ingredients.

  132. June 27th, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Just for the record, Arbonne products are not all natural and are not free from harmful ingredients. I am a licensed esthetician and used Arbonne once for a week to prove to a GM of popular resort in CA. that it was indeed problematic. I have skin of steel and in 2 days I had acne beginning all over my face, I have never had acne in my entire life and I am 50. Unless you are trained in deciphering ingredients/chemical names that change on a daily basis you won’t be able to understand the differences.

  133. June 27th, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I’m more worried about all the chemicals in our food.

  134. July 6th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    i have researched each of the ingredients and not all of them are considered toxic. :)

  135. July 6th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    and also. now a days not a single thing is considered 100% safe. nothing is natural unless you use something fresh from a tree. if a mild cleanser had these “not surely toxic” substances what more to others.

  136. July 8th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Honestly it’s really not that big of a deal. The air we freaking breath is killing us. Radiation is killing us. The so called healthy food is killing us. So what’s new in the end we are all going to die so we might as well enjoy beauty while we still can. We could die tommorow and never get to experience clear skin. Live life while you can.

  137. October 13th, 2014 at 10:50 am

    This article is about Cetaphil skin cleanser. There is aCetaphil product that is just for the face. I’ve looked at the ingredients and a couple are the same but most are different. I’d be curious to know about the facial cleanser. Also agree with many that using a scare tactics to sell your ow natural skin care products is not a great way to gain business. How bout telling us about the being it’s of your product?

  138. October 17th, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I have a terrible allergy to Cetaphil. I developed an awful sunburn-like irritation all over that lasted a week, and I had to sleep with Aquaphor on my face while it recovered.

  139. December 12th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Calling attention to something as a chemical is so very silly, because everything is a chemical. There are different levels of toxicity depending on what the chemical is. If you actually look up molecular structures, something like ethanol is much simpler looking than the antioxidants so touted as being a godsend in skincare. Simplicity isn’t always better.

    Also, whoever the hell thinks that it takes 30 seconds for EVERYTHING to absorb through the skin needs to legit do research. Things absorb at different rates based on the molecule size, charge, shape, etc. Also. the skin isn’t this big gaping hole that lets everything absorb in to the body. The whole purpose of the skin is to KEEP things OUT, so thinking everything will just instantly go in and destroy your insides is hilarious. Please, please, please read up on the biology of the skin before going around calling everyone names who says otherwise.

  140. I believe in science
    December 12th, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    This article is irresponsible journalism at it’s absolute worst.

    Perpetuating unsubstantuated myths is not ok, speaking to qualified experts and presenting both sides of the story is fair and rational reporting. I’m disappointed W&G actually chose to publish this poor piece of writing, or even paid someone for this sensationalist, opinion-based crap.

    I would much rather put the health of my skin in the hands of a medical professional than a glorified beautician; I believe in science.

  141. Lauri Shea
    December 13th, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I love everything about this article! So, so true.

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