The Truth About Triclosan

by Valerie Bisharat

naked poppy clean makeup

You might’ve heard about triclosan on the evening news – it’s an endocrine-disrupting chemical that also causes antibacterial resistance. We know it’s a mouthful.

Below, we’ll get into what it is, why it’s commonly found in personal care products, how it affects our health, and what we can do to avoid it.

What’s triclosan?

Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical that acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It’s used mostly as a preservative in all kinds of products, including some makeup. It’s also in items like body wash, hand sanitizer, bar soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant, and mouthwash [1] – as well as paint, toys, furniture, medical devices, and cleaning products.  

How does triclosan affect our health?

Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor [2] and antimicrobial [3], which means it can negatively affect our hormones and create antibacterial resistance. Read: it can make certain antibiotics ineffective!

It’s also been linked to:

  • Acute and systemic toxicity [4]
  • Liver damage [5]
  • Skin and eye irritation [6]
  • Reproductive toxicity [7]
  • Endocrine disruption [8]
  • Altered developmental outcomes [9]
  • Alteration of the good bacteria in the gut [10]

How do I get exposed and how much exposure is harmful?

There are three ways to get exposed to triclosan: by ingesting it, inhaling it, or putting it on your skin. You can ingest it, for example, when using toothpaste. You may inhale it because triclosan is used in body sprays, household products, and even pesticides. Or you might expose your skin to triclosan when using certain lotions or deodorants.

Similar to other harmful ingredients, everyone responds differently to triclosan exposure. There isn’t a set amount that triggers a negative health impact. But overall, it’s healthier to avoid exposure to chemicals like triclosan when possible.

What impact does triclosan have on the environment?

When we rinse off makeup or other products that contains triclosan, it gets washed down the drain and into the water supply. Triclosan doesn’t break down easily in the environment, and has been shown to be toxic to aquatic life [11]. Even though water treatment plants help filter dirty water, research has shown that only a percentage of the triclosan gets removed. It then ends up in soil and surface water, affecting nature and wildlife.

You can reduce demand for items that harm the environment – buy clean alternatives to products that traditionally contain triclosan and other harmful chemicals.

Should I avoid triclosan?

Research shows that your body quickly registers any changes in the use of harmful chemicals. By reducing your use of personal care products containing problematic chemicals, you can actually lower their levels in your body in a few short days, which is great news. We’ve found that many women prefer the peace of mind that comes with using triclosan-free personal care products.

How can I tell if a product is formulated without triclosan?

The best clean beauty companies create makeup without triclosan and other harmful chemicals  so you don’t have to worry about it. If you want to take matters into your own hands, check the ingredient label. Sometimes, although not always, triclosan will be listed. If you want to get a conclusive answer, email customer service.

Doesn’t the FDA regulate triclosan and other harmful chemicals?

So far, the FDA has only banned the use of triclosan in some products. It’s banned from being used in antiseptic products [12], including over-the-counter hand washes, hand rubs, and surgical hand rubs. It’s still legal to use triclosan in personal care products, household products, and other consumer items like toys and clothing.

The last major legislation passed about cosmetics was in 1938. That was before tens of thousands of new chemicals were introduced into commerce, which the law couldn’t have accounted for. This includes triclosan, which was introduced in 1969 [13].

NakedPoppy bottom line: we avoid triclosan

We like to play it safe and use triclosan-free makeup. And we want to make it easier for you to do the same! That’s why all NakedPoppy products are formulated without triclosan, and any ingredients that are known or suspected to be harmful to our health.


  1. You can find triclosan in household products:
  2. Triclosan is an endocrine disrupter:
  3. Triclosan is antimicrobial:
  4. Linked to acute systemic toxicity:
  5. Linked to liver damage:
  6. Linked to skin and eye irritation:
  7. Linked to reproductive toxicity:
  8. Linked to endocrine disruption:
  9. Linked to altered developmental outcomes:
  10. Linked to alteration of good bacteria in gut:
  11. Triclosan doesn’t break down easily in environment and may be harmful to aquatic life:
  12. Triclosan has a calculated urinary half life of 11 hours and levels return to baseline in 8 days:
  13. Triclosan is banned from use in antiseptic products:
  14. Triclosan was introduced in 1969:

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