The Crunchy Cookie

Equal parts deliciousness and hippiness

Since launching The Crunchy Cookie, I’ve received several questions from friends looking for insight into certain products or wellness topics.  With their permission, I’ll address these questions in a feature called “The Crunchy Cookie Presents”.  If you have a question, please feel free to send it to me at  I’d be thrilled to look into it for you and give you the “crunchy” perspective!

My friend Monique has a great question about a product her dermatologist recommended for her, Cetaphil.  She writes: “I was wondering what your thoughts are on Cetaphil products?  I have been using their face wash for years but now I want to make sure it’s healthy for my skin.  My dermatologist in high school also recommended it which is how I started using it.”

I love this question because it helps me expand on one of the main purposes of this blog: providing an alternative, “wellness” perspective on health and beauty.  I am not a doctor or an expert of any kind and I firmly believe that Western medicine has a lot to offer.  So when Monique says that her dermatologist recommended it for her skin, I don’t necessarily want to contradict that because I think there’s a lot to be said for finding a product that works for you.  (For the record, my grandfather is a dermatologist and has recommended Cetaphil to me in the past.)  Dermatologists generally recommend products that are fragrance-free and considered gentle on the skin, something I can definitely get behind.

But I hope the the “crunchy” perspective can come in handy, too.  For example, while the cleansers in Cetaphil may work well on your skin, Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser includes two things I try to stay away from: parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Parabens are chemical preservatives found in many cosmetics and are widely regarded as an endocrine disruptor, meaning that they affect your body’s hormones.  As far as my own health is concerned, I am most worried about parabens’ potential contribution to the  increase in the risk of blood clots.  Researchers have found that parabens mimic estrogen’s activity in the body and it’s known that estrogen absorbed through the skin, such as in the Ortho Evra birth control patch, increases the risk of blood clots in women similar to how the estrogen in oral birth control pills does.  You can check the Cosmetics Safety Database for more info on parabens’ ill effects on the body’s neurological system, their likelihood to cause irritation, and more.

SLS has also received a lot of bad press recently and you can find more and more products labeled “SLS-free” on the market.  This generally means that the ingredients do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or its cousin, sodium laureth sulfate, both of which are used as emulsifiers in cosmetics.  Emulsifiers are used to create suds and bubbles to superficially signal to users that cleansers and soaps are doing their jobs.  Both of these SLS’s, however, have been shown to cause skin irritation and organ toxicity in animal trials.  Sodium lauryl sulfate has even been linked to cancer mutations.

The good news is that if you’re using products with these ingredients in them and rinsing them off thoroughly, you probably haven’t given your skin a lot of time to absorb the chemicals.  That said, I would try to find another cleanser for your skin that works as well as Cetaphil has without these potential toxins in them.  For combination skin, I like Juice Beauty’s Organic Facial Wash ($22.00 for 4 oz) and Alba Botanica’s Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser ($12.95 for 8 oz).  A new discovery for me has been Blum Naturals Daily Combination/Oily Towelettes ($6.99 for a pack of 30), which are infused with tea tree oil and salicylic acid.  They’re perfect for travel, lazy nights when you don’t want to wash your face, and for keeping at your desk or in your gym bag when you need to freshen up.

Monique, I hope these suggestions help and that you’ll let me know what you decide to do with this info!