GREAT NEWS, GUYS! As of last week, triclosan is officially on the FDA “banned list” for soaps. Seeing as it’s been banned from EU formulating standards for years already, this is great news for the American personal care and cosmetics industries. We’re finally catching up!

What is Triclosan?

If you’ve ever googled “cosmetic ingredients to avoid” then you’ve undoubtedly heard of Trisoclan. (Side note: if you haven’t done that google search before, I highly suggest it!) Found in most conventional antibacterial hand soaps available today, it’s an antimicrobial chemical. It is also commonly found in dishwashing detergent and toothpaste, though the FDA hasn’t banned it from those formulations just yet. 

Why is it banned?

After years of research showing that triclosan has [potentially long-term] consequences, the FDA finally came through! These consequences range from liver and inhalation toxicity, encouraging bacterial resistance to antibiotics, hormone imbalances – particularly thryoid disruption, and water pollution since water treatment plants do not completely remove Triclosan. It really isn’t worth the risks considering an FDA advisory committee found it’s bacteria-killing properties to be no more effective than plain soap and water.

What does this mean for hand soap?

There are plenty of antimicrobial and foaming agents out there that are non-toxic. Major brands who put Triclosan in their soaps because it is a cheap and commonly used ingredient will find alternatives and reformulate with those. However, because of the FDA’s ruling, companies are now exploring the use of three new antimicrobial agents: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol. They have a year to prove that not only do these specific chemicals work to kill bacteria, but that they also are safe. In the meantime, I suggest following two general rules:

  1. The gentler the soap, the better. More lather =/= cleaner!
  2. Avoid “antibacterial” soaps altogether in favor of plain soap and water. 

Implicated Brands + Alternatives

The Bad Guys:

  • Dial® Liquid Soap
  • Softsoap® Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
  • Tea Tree Therapy™ Liquid Soap
  • Clearasil® Daily Face Wash
  • Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser
  • Dermatologica® Skin Purifying Wipes
  • CVS Antibacterial Soap

The Good Guys:


Happy shopping!