What's In Your Soap? Cetaphil


by Ashley Rodriguez September 27, 2016

Ingredients in Cetaphil

If you have sensitive skin, chances are Cetaphil has been recommended to you at some point. Many dermatologists promote this brand as the best gentle and non-irritating facial cleanser. It contains no fragrances, and is only made of eight ingredients.


Only eight ingredients? That sounds great, right? Well, that’s not the case. Besides water, the ingredients list consists of potentially toxic manufactured chemicals. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser contains: water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

“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.” - Spirit Demerson


“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.” Spirit Demerson, who analyzes skin-care ingredients for Spirit Beauty Lounge, told Well and Good.


Let’s go a little more in depth and discuss the manufactured ingredients, shall we?


Cetyl Alcohol and Stearyl Alcohol

Work as emollients, emulsifiers, thickeners and carrying agents for other ingredients contained in a cosmetic solution. Both ingredients help keep the oil and water parts of an emulsion from separating. These ingredients are used in a wide range of personal care products such as moisturizer, face cream, shampoo/conditioner, anti-aging treatment, hair dye, sunscreen, cleanser and lipstick.


Medical experts believe that fatty alcohols, like cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, have the ability to altercate the lipid bilayer of the epidermis (protective barrier) and cause allergic dermal reactions in some people with sensitive skin.


Propylene Glycol

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. This ingredient is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products.


Propylene glycol is also used in cosmetics as a humectant, which means it helps the skin to absorb moisture. Its property of absorbing moisture allows it to do this. Propylene glycol is also known to enhance product and chemical penetration into the skin and blood stream.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent, and skin and eye irritant, that disturbs the healthy lipid barrier of the skin. It is an ingredient linked to skin irritations and allergic reactions, like eczematous dermatitis, leaving sensitive skin damaged and irritated.


In addition to this, ethylene oxide is often added to sodium lauryl sulfate in order to make the chemical less irritating to a person’s skin. The mixture of these two ingredients creates a byproduct called 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen featured in California’s Proposition 65 List of Carcinogens. Exposure to this carcinogen can be toxic to the brain, liver and kidneys.


Parabens (Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben)

Parabens are known to cause endocrine disruption and have been linked to breast cancer. Propylparaben and butylparaben both scored a high overall hazard score of 7 on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, while methylparaben scored a moderate overall hazard rating of 4.

Parabens have a tendency to mimic hormones, disrupting the function of hormones naturally found in your body.



Your skin is your biggest organ, and an average American woman could absorb up to 5 lbs of chemicals a year from body care and cosmetic products alone. Let’s think about it for a second, if you wash your face twice a day, you will be applying these chemicals to your skin 3,650 times over the span of 5 years!


In addition to these potentially toxic chemicals, Cetaphil does not contain ingredients that help nurture skin. According to Well and Good, Cetaphil contains “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.”







Ashley Rodriguez
Ashley Rodriguez

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