Loading... Please wait...


Blog - Check the Label

CHECK THE LABEL: Are Your Hands in Good Hands?

Posted by

Are Your Hands in Good Hands?

How confident are you with your hand soap? On one hand, are you sure that it keeps your hands clean? On the other hand, how certain are you that it does not damage your skin?

Did you know that some hand soaps contain petroleum distillates, which are hydrocarbon solvents produced from crude oil? What are hydrocarbons, you might ask? Examples of hydrocarbons are kerosene, engine oil, tiki-torch fuels, gasoline, diesel fuels, paint solvents, wood stains, wood strippers, liquid lighter fluids, and asphalt/roofing tar. So if you think your hands are in good hands with your hand soap, you might want to think again and double-check.

When it comes to petroleum distillates, there is some good news, and there is some bad news. The good news is that minor exposure to it can cause nothing more than mild skin irritation or, when ingested in small amounts, diarrhea. The bad news is that long-term exposure to petroleum distillates causes contact dermatitis, which is the cracking of the skin due to inflammation and skin dehydration. Also, petroleum distillates contain carcinogenic elements that further increase its health hazard. This is why the European Union banned its use in cosmetics and personal care products. Petroleum distillates are not just harmful to humans but animals as well. Signs of poisoning in cats and dogs include vomiting, drooling, increased breathing, skin/ eye irritation, walking drunk, and coma. If not treated immediately, it can be deadly to these pets. When inhaled in excessive amounts, petroleum distillates can cause seizures, irregular heart rhythms, and kidney/liver damage. And in worst cases, it causes pneumonia-like conditions that lead to irreversible, permanent lung damage--sometimes even death.

If you're looking for healthier alternatives, try low-solvent and solvent-free cleansers. Also, avoid hand soaps with pumice. (Pumice is a scrubber that causes micro-abrasions in the skin. It is a volcanic glass that ends up cutting your skin on a microscopic level.) Instead, look for bio-scrubbers such as walnut shells, cornmeal, and olive pit.

The next time you wash your hands, ask yourself if your cleanser contains petroleum distillates or hydrocarbons. While they might do the job and keep your hands clean, they might cause more harm than health on a level that is not just skin deep. 


Coppotelli, A. (2017). Safer Soap: A Look at Harmful Ingredients Found in Hand Cleansers -- Occupational Health & Safety. [online] Occupational Health & Safety. Available at: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2017/06/01/Safer-S... [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

Pet Poison Helpline. (2020). Petroleum Distillates Poisonous to Dogs and Cats. [online] Available at: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/petroleu... [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

UConn Health. (2020). Hydrocarbons: The Deadly Poison Found in Everyone’s Home | Connecticut Poison Control Center. [online] Available at: https://health.uconn.edu/poison-control/about-poi... [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020]. 

CHECK THE LABEL: Reservations about Preservation

Research suggests it takes 21 days to form a habit. I don’t know exactly when my wife and I have officially passed the 21-day threshold, but we are proud to say that we have successfully formed the good habit of checking the label of what we buy from the shelf. For example, when it comes to doing [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: ​Screen Your Sunscreen

Screen Your SunscreenIs it just me, or is the weather getting warmer these past few days? This means only one thing: summer is here!And when I say summer, you know I am talking about going to the beach with your family for some well-deserved R&R on the sand, listening to the calm waters lapping on the shore, and [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: ​Beauty That’s Skin Deep

Beauty That’s Skin Deep When Michael Jackson’s hit, “Black or White,” was released in 1991, it made such a big impact because, for one, its music video used what was then state-of-the-art computer graphics where each face seamlessly morphed into another belonging to a different race or color. This was made even more controversial because of the rumors surrounding MJ [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: ​“Coal Tar Ogar!”

“Coal Tar Ogar!”“Dabu.” “Lok-Tar.” Zug-zug.” If any of these phrases mean anything to you (or even seem remotely familiar), then you are a true brother or sister of The Horde.In case it wasn’t obvious from my Warcraft reference, I am a gamer. Not exactly a hardcore gamer, but a gamer nonetheless. I have been [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: P.E.G. (Penetration Enhancing Gamble)

P.E.G. (Penetration Enhancing Gamble)Ley, a common friend of ours, used to say that there are runny lotions, and there are thick lotions. While some prefer the former, our friend, Ley, prefers the latter. And this is just one of the many things we have in common—that’s why we’re friends.What makes some lotions thick is the chemical [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: ​A Pox on Borax

A Pox on BoraxI generally hate all kinds of pests, but there are a select few that really take the cake for me. In order from worse to worst, my most hated pests are: spiders, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. But there is one pest that I abhor more than a cockroach. And that is a FLYING cockroach! [...]

Read More »


BHA-bye, and No BHTs! For most people, it’s sweets. For some, it’s coffee. But for me, my guilty pleasure is chips! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have a “salty tooth” (and I’ll never tire of saying it until the end). While most people can consume bars—no, blocks—of chocolate, and some people chug mugs [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: ​Proxy for Oxy

Proxy for OxyWouldn’t it be nice to go for a swim on the beach with sky blue waters and white sand underneath your toes on a hot day of summer? Or maybe go somewhere grassy and have a picnic with your family and friends? You could play Frisbee or badminton there!There are a lot of cool and fun things [...]

Read More »

CHECK THE LABEL: Mercury Rising

Mercury RisingWhen saying goodbye to your friends, partners, kids, or parents, do you just utter the words “See you later” and then give them a wave good bye? Or do you kiss them on the cheeks and hug them first before leaving? Most people I know (including me) are guilty of doing the latter. What if I told [...]

Read More »


Recent Updates