Non-Toxic Lotions

I have a bee in my bonnet about non-toxic lotions. This is entirely due to my own search for store-bought body lotion that I am: a) willing to put on my body (remember, your skin is your largest organ and soaks up all those chemicals from your hair products, makeup, soap and lotion); and b) can find for sale either online or in a local retailer.

I had a favorite in BeeCeuticals Organics, orange and acai lotion – so much so I bought up Whole Foods‘ last several bottles before they stopped stocking it. But I’ve now run out and so took myself back over to Whole Foods to see what else they had to offer. The pickings, for my picky self, turned out to be pretty slim. Of the products that said they were all-natural or organic, or even looked to be so, I found three I would actually use: Bonny Doon, Griffin and Chandler.

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1. Bonny Doon Farm: Water, Coconut oil, vegetable derived alcohol, glycerin, lanolin oil, cocoa butter, wheat germ oil, vitamin E, oil of rose geranium.

2. Griffin Remedy: Purified water, aloe vera juice, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane, blended coconut wax, sweet almond oil, palm oil ester, vitamin C vegetable glycerin, flax seed oil, borage oil, vitamin A, vitamin D, arnica extract, chamomile extract, calendula extract, vitamin E, rose oil, Bulgarian lavender pure essential oil blend.

3. *BeeCueticals: Rooibos (from Wikipedia, “Afrikaans for “red bush”; (scientific name Aspalathus linearis) is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos.”), Darjeeling tea, aloe barbadensis gel, vegetable glycerin, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, vegetable emulsifying wax, avocado oil, cetyl alcohol, fermented sugar, vitamin E, evening primrose, calendula oil, potassium sorbate, acai, honey, Valencia orange, clove and Mandarin orange essential oils. *No longer available at the Palo Alto WF, but there are retailers nation-wide.

4. Everyday Shea: Too many ingredients to list them all, but some of the highlights are palm stearic acid and phenoxyethanol.

5. EO Products: Again, not a complete listing but includes trigyceride, sorbitan olivate, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, ethyhexyglycerin.

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6. Chandler Farm: Ingredients included caprylic or capric triglyceride and cetearyl olivate. Neither of which are bad, and they have a unique pomegranate scent. I may try this one next time.

7. One With Nature: Three of many ingredients were caprylic or capric triglyceride, stearic acid and phenoxyethanol.

8. Mountain Ocean: Of several ingredients, I noted sobitol, stearic acid, phenoxyethanol, behentrimonium, methosulfate, dimethicone, and linoleamidopropyl ogdimonium chloride phosphate.

I looked up most of the above ingredients up and found that some aren’t so bad, others I wouldn’t eat, so I won’t put them on my skin.

Next: Common ingredients and their effect, plus face lotion recipe

1. Stearic Acid:
Occurs naturally in animals and vegetables. It is made by hydrogenating the oils (in the case of vegetables) and is used, among other things, to make a pearly effect in lotions and other body products. In my opinion, not that bad, but also not necessary either.

2. Phenoxyethanol:
A glycol ether compound used as a preservative in cosmetics as an alternative to formaldahyde-based perservatives. In that sense, it’s better, but according to, this ingredient has links to cancer, allergies, skin and eye irritation, organ system toxicity and neurotoxicity. My personal choice? I’m staying away.

3. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM aka dimethyl sulfone):
From Wikipedia, “MSM is promoted as a natural source of sulfur [and is]…used industrially as a high-temperature solvent for both inorganic and organic substances. Some researchers have suggested that MSM has anti-inflammatory effects.” MSM occurs naturally in mussels. I bought Griffin Remedy lotion today and it contains MSM. Griffin’s statement, written on the bottle states “[MSM is an] organic sulfur compound known as nature’s beauty mineral; daily use leaves your skin soft and youthful.” My vote is, “okay.”

4. Triglyceride:
From Wikipedia, “Triglyceride is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids. It is the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats.” It seems to be in many lotions (although not in Griffin). I’m okay with it.

5. Dimethicone:
It’s a type of silicone and according to Cosmetic Database, it can be bioaccumulative. It’s used a lubricant and is known to make things slippery and shiny – hence its use in lotions. I’m out. I don’t feel a need to put silicone on my body.

6. Linoleamidopropyl ogdimonium chloride phosphate:
There is precious little to report on this one. The Good Guide says, “It is not on any of GoodGuide’s lists of toxic chemicals which cause suspected or recognized health effects.” Well, that’s handy! Again, think I’ll stay away until I know what it is.

7. Cetearyl olivate:
Fatty acids derived from olive oil. Fine with me.

8. Ethyhexyglycerin:
A preservative used instead of parabens. Has been found to be mildly irritating to sensitive skin in two case studies. – From Truth In Aging

For some more info on what’s in your well-known, standard lotions like Keri, Eucerin, Aveeno and Neutrogena (and how toxic they may be) check out Lotion Secrets.

I’m also perfectly content to make my own face cream – I have yet to find a body lotion recipe that is thin enough to spread all over on a daily basis, but I’ll share my homemade lavender face cream recipe here with you:

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3 Tablespoons Shea Butter
1 Tablespoon Apricot (you may use Almond, Avocado or Sesame) Oil
7-8 drops lavender (or other) essential oil*
1 Clean *** oz dark glass or plastic jar with lid, cleaned well.

Note: I actually quadruple this recipe, since I use it so often.

Warm the shea butter and apricot oil in a glass dish in the oven (those old-fashioned Pyrex dishes with the glass lid are perfect) at a low heat, about 170 degrees for about eight minutes. You just want the oils warm enough to melt and mix.

Mix your oils thoroughly and add the essential oil. Mix. Pour into your clean jar. Let set up. Use frequently. Should last several months in a temperate climate.

*You can use any essential oil you like. Test the amount by starting with 2 or 3 drops, and increasing to your personal taste.

As it turns out, in my move this weekend, my apricot oil spilled out, all but a few drops. Looks like I need to make a trip to the store and buy myself some more oils. Perhaps I need some essential rose oil too, and maybe some ylang ylang, and just in case, I should probably pick up some orange. I’m thinking maybe I also need to go back to Whole Foods and buy some of that pomegranate lotion by Chandler, just to be sure.

-Jocelyn Broyles

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Mary T
Mary T5 months ago

thanks for the lotion recipe

Julie Pham
Julie Pham10 months ago


Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay K4 years ago

Great info - thanks

Emily Drew
Emily Drew5 years ago

I use pure shea butter which I then mix with olive oil myself and it works great plus it is all natural and organic with only 2 ingredients.

KARLOLINA G6 years ago


Sandra H.
Sandra H6 years ago

grape seed oil is the closest to the skin's own natural oils, and is very light weight, fragrance free and absorbs incredibly fast!

Siti Rohana
Siti R6 years ago

coconut oil and olive oil are the cheapest, most absorbent and widely available. it is worth to note that being constant with application and not using harsh soaps and hot water too much helps.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M6 years ago


Dany S.
Dany Strakova6 years ago

cool info

Meghana A.
Meghana A.6 years ago