Kiehl’s for a Cause? It’s for a cause all right.

Note about the usage of the word “chemicals” on my blog:

To clarify out of respect for chemists and for readers who are really into science (the way I am not), I am not saying “chemicals” to mean EVERYTHING (water, salt, whatever).

I am talking about the kinds of chemicals that are untested for long-term human consumption and usage, that do not feel or seem natural, that are being slathered and put on our bodies, washed down the drains, harming ourselves and animals when we could just as easily switch to a greener alternative.

I am also not trying to turn everyone against man-made chemicals or that I think they’re ALL bad.

I don’t think that at all. Heck, I still wear contacts and need to wash them with that totally chemical solution, don’t I?

I am just becoming more aware of everything, not to mention, more eco-conscious, and you don’t have to do what I’m doing, but this is my blog, so I’m going to (obviously) tell you what I think.

This chemical-free journey is something I have been embarking on since January 1st 2009, and I am finding out a lot of things I am not happy with (be it for the environment, or just for the health of my body in general) and I am sharing on my blog in case you were wondering.

I am also NOT claiming to be a scientist. When I read ingredients, I Google them just to find out what they are, because I can barely even pronounce them, and sometimes I am surprised and other times.. not so much.

The Scoop about:


Thanks to Ginger for favouriting this from Lipstick & Paint in my Google Reader Shared items, I now have an opportunity to tell those of you out there who are starting to be, or trying to be eco-conscious, to be careful about what you read. 

I was SO EXCITED when I heard that they were coming out with something like this.

Then I went to their site.. and what I do want to point out, is that as is with everything companies try to sell us, we should always read the fine print and not take their words for granted.

To get a couple of things out of the way:

1. I am not really into celebrities, but I can see how having a name like Brad Pitt adds cache, especially with his involvement with Angelina Jolie, the do-gooder of the world.

2. I LOVE that the profits are going to “JPF ECO SYSTEMS”, “a charitable partnership created by Kiehl’s and Brad Pitt to maximize awareness of environmental sustainability”.

And I think in theory, it’s a great reason and cause to buy the product.

…But they are playing with the names of the ingredients to mislead customers

If they were going to really raise awareness about the environment, maybe they should have taken a closer look at the ingredients they are putting in the bottle instead.

I feel like what Kiehl’s is trying to market, this 100% eco-friendly, green thing, is a two-faced lie.

The major problem I have with it, is that it is not SLS-free.

What is SLS and why is it bad?


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (or SLFS): SLS and SLFS are eye and skin irritants. Infants and children, whose eyes are developing at a more rapid pace than adults, are more susceptible to accumulation of SLS in eye tissues. Exposure to SLS causes improper eye development in children, since it is absorbed systemically through skin. 

SLS is lethal to fresh water fish at 7ppm and does not break down well in the environment.

Materials Safety Data Sheets caution workers to avoid body contact with SLS.

However, this same chemical is actively put into body care and hair products. SLS and SLFS are both found in shampoo’s, toothpaste, dishwashing liquids, soaps, actually, anything that produces a rich and foamy lather.

If this information isn’t enough, research has shown that both of these substances may cause carcinogenic nitrates, NDELA, and dioxins to form when combined with commonly used ingredients in a single bottle of shampoo.

Large amounts of nitrates, aking to eating a full pound of nitrate-laden bacon, would then be assimilated into the body with just one shampooing–(from a 1978 FDA report).

Source: Kids Organics

If you want to read more, Wise Geek posted more about SLS doing nasty things to your body, namely:

Besides subjecting human and animal test subjects to different degrees of discomfort, critics claim that sodium lauryl sulfate is retained in the long run in organ tissues like the heart, liver, and brain. 

In lab animals, testing has been blamed for causing mutagenic effects. If they remain in the eyes for too long, they may also lead to the development of cataracts.

Because sodium lauryl sulfate is corrosive by nature, it can dry out skin by stripping the protective lipids from the surface of the skin, weakening the body’s natural moisture regulation mechanisms. If it eats away at the follicle, hair loss may also be induced.

And yet another site, here from Organic Health Issues about SLS.

Look, aren’t you just being a wee bit paranoid, FB?

Yeah probably.

But didn’t I cross that line a long time ago, with telling you to be careful with your email address, your credit card info, your birthday, Social security or Social insurance numbers, and basic information about yourself on Facebook without setting the proper privacy settings?

I’m paranoid all right. But at least I’m consistent, and I am not turning into some person who thinks the world is one big fat conspiracy. I just want to be safe and healthy, albeit a bit cautious.

It could very well turn out to bite me in the ass, and it ends up that SLS and its derivatives SAVE the environment and have actually increased life expectancy.

But for now, if I can avoid putting that stuff on my body, whether the research out there is real, confirmed or not, then I’m going to do my best to just .. stay natural.

Better safe than sorry.

If anything, I’d like to really do my part to save the delicious, yummy fishes in the ocean, so that we can all continue to eat them and their families for many years to come.

Or, to save other species of fish we love to make movies about, like the real life Nemo look-alikes (clownfishes), to the left.

Won’t you?.. Want to save a Nemo too?

Let’s start with the list of ingredients, shall we?

(How nice, they made it so hard to read, so sorry for any misspellings below)

Again. NOT trying to make you scared of your body cleansers or shampoo bottles, I just am a bit irritated that Kiehl’s is playing with the words in their marketing, parrotting that it is SLS free, when it clearly isn’t — not in the way I had imagined it to be.

The ingredients bolded in red are to me, red flags, and a couple out of that list, ain’t bad but it sure as hell is NOT perfect.

  • Aqua/Water
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate (Exactly the same as SLS, as they’re both primarily C-12. See: Beauty Brains)
  • Coco-Glucoside (Product obtained by the condensation of coconut alcohol with glucose See: Skin Deep)
  • Glycerin (Moisturizing agent)
  • Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrances? Generally, they’re considered bad for the environment)
  • Citric Acid (Vitamin C)
  • Sodium Chloride (Salt)
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe)
  • Sodium Benzoate (white crystalline salt used as a food preservative and antiseptic See: Google)
  • Potassium Sorbate (potassium salt of sorbic acid, used as a food preservative, and in wine See: Google)
  • Citronellol (Hazard Rating: 3, irritation, toxicity.. See: Skin Deep)
  • Geraniol (Terpene Alcohol. Hazard Rating: 5, neurotoxicity, irritant, added in food See: Skin Deep)
  • Isoeugenol (Hazard Rating: 7, possible cause of cancer, mutagenic, endocrine disruption… See: Skin Deep)
  • Sodium Citrate Fmla (salt of sodium and citric acid; used primarily as a food additive See: Google)


… is that at least it’s a step in the right direction, free of parabens at least.

And they ARE more eco-friendly than other products, like the bottle for example is made out of eco-friendly stuff, bla bla bla… but it cannot claim to be 100% green.

But based on the other ingredients, it doesn’t sound like it’s good for your body in any way.

I do find that as a general rule, the smaller the ingredient list, the healthier and more natural it is likely to be.

Some of those ingredients are probably in VERY small doses (being near the end of the label), but I am not willing to take a chance on it being so small it doesn’t harm my body over 40+ years of using it.

I’d rather just avoid it.


…. is their marketing hype about the environment, how it’s SLS free, when they are just using that word in its purest form to mean: Sodium Laurel Sulfate free.

But in its place, they have put Coco-Sulfate, which is basically the same thing as SLS.

Maybe they should have also thought about the fact that aside from everything else, even if it WAS safe for the environment with Coco-Sulfate instead, and all of those ingredients help the fish thrive and live….. it may not be safe for human usage in the long term?

Food.. er.. Body wash for thought.


If you must buy a body wash, I guess this is the best of the SLS’s. They say that Coco-Sulfate is a gentler derivative, gentler than SLS.

But if you wanted to truly avoid SLS in its entirety and all of this fancy forms, then.. this product is not for you.


You should also consider that body wash may not be necessary. 

I’m going to admit right here that I don’t use it at all, even before I got on this eco-friendly thing, and no one could tell. LOL

If you already use shampoo, just use the suds off that.

If you don’t use shampoo and are water only like me, then having a wash cloth and rubbing your skin gently under the water, is good enough to get rid of any body dirt or smells.

Or if you must use soap, use truly green soap, made simply with fat and salt (Kiss my face has a good brand, that unfragranced olive oil soap is really the simplest, greenest soap style you can buy).

It WILL be harsh on your skin however, as is most soaps.

And all that will be left is .. your smell.

Your natural, not BO-stanky, normal, human smell. We don’t all have to smell like coconuts, mangoes or flowers if we don’t want to, and choose not to.

Sometimes, just smelling like ourselves is fine.


I want to stress that I am not advocating you throw out every shampoo and cleanser bottle you’ve got in the house. In no way am I saying you should do that.

I’m just saying, don’t get sucked in by the hype about it being eco-friendly so quickly.

Be a critical consumer, and do a quick Google, do some research and make your own decisions about whether or not it’s a good product to buy based on your beliefs.

For me, it’s a big fat no. But to you, it may be the best thing you’ve found out there!

And I encourage that, considering it is a greener product overall, than some body wash cleansers I’ve read the labels of in drugstores.

I just don’t like that they are playing with the words. Technically, there is no SLS in there. But there are SLS-like properties, which.. is the same thing to me, in the end.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.