Stay moisturized without feeling sticky, slippery, or like you're covered in chemicals with these natural lotion options

Non-Toxic Body Lotion Roundup


Colder weather is coming, which means so is dry skin. Ugh! Usually we'd just grab whatever is on sale at the drugstore, but all body lotion is not created equal. In fact, traditional body lotions can contains some harmful chemicals that could be absorbed through your skin. Many lotions also contain petroleum products, which is something we also like to steer clear of. That's why we did the research and found you the best non-toxic body moisturizers and lotions that are well reviewed and readily available.

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The Dangers of Skin Lightening Products

How they can harm your skin and what to do instead

Everyone uses personal care products, but did you know that certain beauty products can be a greater source of toxic chemical exposure than others? One widely used beauty product, in particular, has grown to become a hidden global health hazard. Known by many names—skin lightening, skin whitening, skin bleaching, or skin brightening—these products come in the form of creams, ointments, solutions, and gels with the purported promise of lightening one's skin (2-5). Although they may sound harmless, many of these products actually contain highly toxic active ingredients like hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury, and with prolonged use have been linked to detrimental skin, kidney, and nervous system complications (6-8). The issues with skin lightening creams also go much further than the physical product—it has strong ties to racial prejudice, classism, and colonialism.

Read more to find out what chemicals go into skin lightening products and to learn more about the historical roots of racism and white privilege that lead to their continued use.

So, What's Inside?

Since skin lightening products often face inadequate regulation in many countries, this often allows manufacturers to include any ingredient they believe will improve the effectiveness of their product regardless of the potential health effects to the user (2,5,6,9,11). The globalization and weak regulatory scrutiny of these products are a few of the reasons why it is so difficult to determine a product's safety, especially since many products may not even contain an ingredients label or place of manufacture (11).

Well-known toxic ingredients in skin lightening products include hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury. Hydroquinone, one of the primary active ingredients in skin lightening products, has been shown to lead to permanent brown-black skin discoloration, partial or total loss of skin pigmentation, and damage or dysfunction of nerves when used extensively (6,11). Corticosteroids, another frequently used active ingredient, can cause skin fragility, thinning and wrinkling of the skin, abnormal hair growth over the body, and small blood vessel dilation when used for a prolonged period (6,7). Mercury, already an established and known cumulative toxin, is often still included in skin lightening products due to its ability to suppress and inhibit melanin production (6). Depending on the frequency of use and percentage of mercury content, it can lead to mercury toxicity and cause kidney, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system problems (10).

A Problem that Goes Beyond the Ingredient List

The practice of skin lightening has historic roots in colorism, classism, colonialism, racial prejudice, and white privilege and is common in most African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American countries as well as communities of color in the US and Europe (1-13). Although individuals with fair skin do use lightening products, especially for localized pigmentation, the majority of lightening products are intended for non-Caucasian consumers (2). For those that use these products, there is usually a cultural and historical perspective associating fairer skin with beauty, virtue, and privilege, as well as the belief that the fairer your skin, the greater your social advantage (8,12,13). The perceived benefits of having a lighter skin tone include enhanced marital prospects, job prospects, social status, and earning potential (12). The media and beauty industry have also been influential in reinforcing and perpetuating these beauty standards globally (6,8,13,14).

Due to the pervasiveness of these products, skin lightening has become a global public health hazard. To help combat this issue, scientists have called for more thorough safety evaluations of cosmetic products and the strict prohibition of mercury within them (9,10). However, banning an ingredient may not be enough, since there is evidence that hydroquinone is still found in skin lightening products despite it being banned in numerous countries (6). Scientists have also discovered products that contain toxic ingredients not listed on the packaging, such as mercury (6). This highlights the importance of not only better regulation of the manufacture and import of products, but also the need to increase public awareness about the dangers of toxic skin lightening and beauty product ingredients (6).

The disproportionate impact of these products on communities of color also makes this an important public health issue. According to numerous scientific studies looking at the environmental health and justice impacts of beauty products, its overall use is an understudied source of environmental chemical exposure, especially for women of color (1). A study in 2017 stated that women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related environmental chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, independent of socioeconomic status (1). Recognizing and challenging the historical roots of colorism, classism, colonialism, and racial prejudice are just as important to discontinuing the use of skin lightening creams as better regulation.

Alternatives to Skin Lightening Creams

To promote good skin health, it's recommended to wear sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun's UVB rays (15). We also recommend embracing your natural skin tone, since that is what makes you beautiful and unique! If you would still like to naturally brighten or even out your skin complexion in a safe and healthy way, we recommend gentle exfoliation and natural skin brightening options like Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), and glycolic acid instead of the other toxic ingredients mentioned above (16). If possible, we also recommend purchasing clean beauty products free of toxic or potentially harmful ingredients. Sephora and Target have both launched clean beauty categories for skincare and makeup, and other brands and retailers such as Credo Beauty, Detox Market, and Follain focus exclusively on natural and clean beauty products.

All in all, we believe that there is beauty in all skin tones and want to empower you to feel beautiful and to know what's inside your beauty products so that you can make the best decisions for your skin, body, and health!


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Who can resist Target? It's our one stop shop for all things home, beauty, baby, snacks... basically everything! But Target is a huge store that carries thousands of different items; how do you know what are the best non-toxic picks? That's where we come in! We did the research and found the best non-toxic personal care items. All these items have been vetted by us and are readily available both online and in stores.

Everyone Meyer Lemon Mandarin Hand Soap
versed brilliance brightening serum
cocokind Mymatcha All Over Moisturizer Stick
e.l.f. Holy Hydration Face Cream Fragrance Free
Dr. Bronner's All-One Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Bar Soap
Tenoverten Nail polish
Hello activated charcoal toothpaste
Honest Lip Crayon
Herbal Essences Bio Renew Sulfate Free Shampoo
Welada Skin Food


Our Non-Toxic Baby Item Picks at Target

The best healthy items for your little one

Who can resist Target? It's our one stop shop for all things home, beauty, baby, snacks... basically everything! But Target is a huge store that carries thousands of different items; how do you know what are the best non-toxic picks? That's where we come in! We did the research and found the best non-toxic baby items. All these items have been vetted by us and are readily available both online and in stores.

Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream
Itzy Ritzy Ring Rattle and Teether
Babyletto Modo Crib
Silicone Panda Shaped Plate
Phillips Avent Glass Baby Bottle
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Shampoo and Wash
Cloud Island Silicone Bib
Pampers Pure Diapers
Wet Wipes
Honest Organic Crib Sheet
Lullaby Earth Crib Mattress


Non-Toxic Face Creams

Keep your skin happy and healthy!

Whether you're a die-hard skincare aficionado with a 10-step routine or just like the bare necessities, chances are you use a face cream. Along with keeping your skin moisturized, face creams are key for soothing irritation, banishing dry flakes, and giving you that "just got back from vacation" glow. But many face creams are packed with harmful chemicals like parabens and fragrance. That's where our non-toxic face cream roundup comes in! We searched high and low to bring you the safest, most effective products possible. These face creams are all widely available at different price points. Check them out below!

a) Mad Hippie Face Cream

b) Burt's Bees Daily Face Moisturizer Cream for Sensitive Skin

c) Weleda Soothing Facial Cream, Almond

d)Pai Anthemis Calm Soothing Moisturizer

e) Acure Seriously Soothing Day Cream

f) Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

g) Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream

h) Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream


Non-Toxic Hand Cream

Keep your hands and your health protected this winter!

We're right in the middle of cold and flu season, which means we'll try anything to avoid getting sick. The most effective way to stop the spread of viruses is to wash your hands, which is why we're constantly washing our hands this time of year! All of that soap and hot water can leave your hands dry and cracked, so we rounded up our favorite non-toxic hand creams. These creams will keep your hands moisturized and protect them from the elements.

a) Andalou Naturals Clementine Hand Cream
b) ATTITUDE Sensitive Skin Hypoallergenic Hand Cream
c) Honest Company All Purpose Balm
d) Grown Alchemist Intensive Hand Cream
e) Burt's Bees Hand Salve
f) Olio E Osso Hand Cream
g) Badger Hardworking Hands Healing Balm

We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, GoodGuide, and Made Safe in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products at major retailers to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.

*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

When it comes to fragrance, we always say that the safest option is to look for products that are completely fragrance free. Choosing to go fragrance-free is a great way to avoid chemicals that may be harmful to your health. Plus, does everything we own really need to smell like cotton candy?! In case you haven't heard why fragrance is so problematic, we break it down below.

What's Actually in Fragrance?

One of the big problems with fragrance is that there are so many different chemicals that can be added to a product. According to the International Fragrance Association's Transparency List, there are approximately 3,000 fragrance ingredients that can be used in consumer goods worldwide (1). And since the FDA does not require approval before a chemical goes onto the market, it's impossible to say that all of these fragrance ingredients are safe to use. The chemical that's making your house smell like clean laundry or a cinnamon apple might also secretly be toxic.

Even though there are a lot of untested chemicals, we do know that some fragrance ingredients are definitely harmful to human health. Many fragrance ingredients can be allergens that cause headaches, runny noses, sneezing, or coughing (2). Allergens are probably the reason you have to stand two feet away from that one coworker who wears a super strong perfume.

Phthalates are widely used in as a solvent or fixative in perfume, shampoo, lotion, and nail polish even though they're endocrine disrupting chemicals. Fragrance found in candles has been shown to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), both of which can cause short-term health effects like irritation, and long-term health effects like cancer (3, 4).

To make matters worse, companies don't even have to tell you all the ingredients they use in their fragrance! Trade secret laws keep companies from disclosing proprietary fragrance blends, but that means we don't actually know what's in our products. There could be 10 ingredients that go into the "fragrance" listed on your body lotion, or there could be 500! And if we don't know what all of these ingredients are, how do we adequately protect our health?

When in Doubt, Go With Fragrance Free

Like we mentioned before, the best bet is to purchase products that are free from all fragrance. Only look for labels that say "contains no added fragrance"... some products labeled as "unscented" may still contain fragrance as a way to hide ingredients that naturally have an unpleasant smell (2). If you really can't live without a fragranced product, go for something that only uses essential oils (although they have their own pros and cons as well).

It’s super easy to switch to a non-toxic lotion alternative! Ingredients like shea butter, coco butter, and sweet almond oil all have awesome moisturizing properties all while being completely natural. Plus, everyone will be super impressed by your DIY beauty skills. Link in bio for more! ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ ⠀ ⠀
Want an easy way to live healthier?
Sign up for our newsletter! Curated environmental health news delivered to your inbox every three weeks.
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