I couldn't help noticing the Pink Ribbon Soap on the clearance shelf at the discount store. It looked like a lovely glycerin addition to a care basket for a friend fighting cancer or personal care drawer for myself. For the clearance price, I readily snatched it up and began reading the list of ingredients on the back.
The pink soap has a pretty, floral-like smell. Listed on the back is "fragrance." When I implored the Science and Education Manager for the Breast Cancer Fund,
Connie Engel, PhD, for a short list of a few tips for anyone trying to prevent breast cancer, she made sure to tell me to avoid "fragrance" in personal care products. When I typed in "fragrance" in the Environmental Working Group's Skindeep database
, it came up an 8 rating, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest level of concern. "Fragrance" can disguise several different toxic substances that are not labeled since they are considered trade secrets.
The pink soap includes "triethanolamine" listed in its ingredients. When I entered that substance in the Skindeep database, it popped up as a 5, being in the range of a "moderate hazard." The database told me the substance was not directly linked to cancer, but rather to concerns about allergies and immunotoxicity.
The pink soap has "sodium laureth sulfate," which registers a 4 on the Skindeep database
, and which I've heard a lot of concerns and confusion about. Cancer survivor Britta Aragon does a thorough job of explaining SLS and related substances in this article
The very first ingredient listed for this pretty soap is "propylene glycol," which at the very least I find personally irritating to my skin. The list of ingredients goes on, and you get the picture that this pretty pink soap offers very little that is naturally soothing.
Yet the label notes, "10% of proceeds will directly benefit breast cancer research."
Will the color pink blind our judgment and prevent us from reading labels before we buy personal care products?
Will buying anything cure cancer?