At Bloomi, we care about what you put on and in your body. As we help you transition to clean intimate care, we want to arm you with important terms and definitions that will help you choose items that meet the Bloomi Clean Standard as well as your own personal needs.
Even more, understanding industry lingo will make you a smarter consumer who’s capable of reading straight through marketing BS — and there’s a lot of that right now. As brands stamp “organic” and “unscented” on washes, tampons, condoms and lubricants to meet greater demand for clean items, our independent screenings show that up to 98 percent of intimate care products on the market today contain at least one toxic ingredient.
This is unacceptable, and it’s the reason why our team of experts has put together this glossary of clean intimacy language. Below, find definitions for toxic ingredients, their impact and clean industry lingo.
Terms commonly used by brands
Cruelty-free: The product was developed without any tests on animals. Cruelty-free is different from vegan.
Fragrance-free: There are no fragrance materials or masking scents used in the product. Fragrance-free is different from unscented.
Green washing: When a brand makes unsubstantiated claims to consumers that mislead them into believing the company’s products are more environmentally sound than they are.
Natural: Contains ingredients from plants and other natural sources that are minimally processed.
Naturally derived ingredient (chemically processed): Substances where the starting material is of natural mineral, plant or microbe origin but has been chemically processed, changing the molecular structure. These ingredients are generally available in a form that is allowed in certified organic and natural products.
Natural ingredient (physically processed): These are raw materials that contain ingredients from plants that are minimally physically processed (i.e. cold-pressing, fermenting, steam distillation). These ingredients are also typically available certified organic and used in organic and natural products.
Non-toxic: A product or ingredient that is not harmful to humans.
Organic: Plants produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other artificial agents.
pH balanced: A pH number measures from 0 to 14 how acidic or alkaline a product is to determine if it’s a safe option. Some manufacturers like to say their products are “pH balanced;” however, if they don’t list the range (which should be between 4.5 and 5.5. for items that touch your genital area), it may be a false claim. At Bloomi, we verify all pH levels via an independent lab and only approve products for the marketplace that are pH balanced correctly.
Plant-based: Derived from plants, not petrochemicals.
Standard: A set of rules defined by a private group or government. We have our own Bloomi Clean Standard and screen every item in the marketplace to ensure it meets that standard.
Sustainable: Ingredients and/or packaging that are not harmful to the environment or deplete natural resources.
Unscented: There is not a noticeable scent. However, in many cases these items actually contain neutralizing or masking fragrances to hide unpleasant smells from the other ingredients. Unscented is different from fragrance-free.
Vegan: The product does not include any animal-derived ingredients. Vegan is different from cruelty-free.
Terms describing how toxic ingredients impact our bodies and our planet
Carcinogen: A chemical that can cause cancer.
Environmental harm: A toxin that can harm water, air, soil, wildlife, plants and/or ecosystems.
Hormone disruption: A substance that negatively interferes with the body’s hormone system, and which can cause adverse developmental, reproductive or sexual effects.
Increased risk of STIs: A chemical that can cause microtears, which may lead to increased risk of infection transmission including chlamydia, HIV or HPV.
Other body toxin: A toxin that negatively impacts other organs/systems.
Reproductive harm: A chemical that interferes with the body’s reproductive organs including ovaries, uterus and hormones, or impacts the developing fetus. This can lead to decreased libido, irregular periods, decreased fertility as well as increased risk of miscarriages, premature birth or reproductive cancers.
Vaginal infection: A substance that causes infection or inflammation of the vagina. They disturb the body’s natural vaginal microbiome and can cause Bacterial Vaginosis, yeast infection or other health concerns.
Vulvar allergen: A chemical that irritates the vulva skin and causes an allergic response. These can cause dry skin, yeast infections or other skin disorders.
Toxic ingredients to stay away from and why
Benzethonium chloride: A preservative that may be harmful to an embryo during pregnancy. It’s often used in washes, condoms and lubricants.
Carcinogen: A chemical that can cause cancer.
Cyclic silicones: A chemical used to create “slip” in intimate care products that has been linked to reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and eco-toxicity. It’s often found in silicone lubricants.
Diazolidinyl urea: A preservative that releases formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen and may cause irritation and allergic rash. It’s often found in washes and douches.
Dioxin & furans: Contaminants in conventional pads and tampons that are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity.
DMDM hydantoin: An Ingredient that releases formaldehyde, a carcinogen, and may cause allergic rash or eczema. Sometimes found in washes and wipes.
Ethoxylated ingredients: These ingredients are used as surfactants (to make products lather) or emulsifiers (to keep products together). They may be contaminated with ethylene oxide or 1,4-dioxane, which are carcinogens. These are usually found in washes.
Formaldehyde-releasing chemicals: There are many preservatives that release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, into products. Quaternium 15 is one example. In addition to the cancer concern, these ingredients are usually irritants.
Glycerin: A naturally occurring component of many oils and waxes. While it is considered safe for use in many other consumer products, it is not great for intimate parts, as it may trigger bacterial vaginosis, pH imbalance and increase risk of STIs (when used with condoms). This ingredient is often found in washes, lubricants and moisturizers.
Methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone: Commonly used preservatives that can cause irritation or allergic rash. Typically found in washes, deodorants and anti-itch creams.
Mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum and petroleum: These ingredients can break down condoms and increase risk of pH imbalance and STIs.
Octoxynol 9: An ingredient found in lubricants and condoms. It may cause irritation, pH imbalance, potential reproductive toxicity and/or be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.
Parabens: Preservatives found in intimate washes and lubricants that have been linked to hormone disruption.
Phthalates: Plasticizers found in synthetic fragrances, plastic toys and more. Many of them remain unlisted on ingredient labels. Some phthalates are known or suspected endocrine disruptors and may be linked to reproductive toxicity, fertility issues and more. These are sometimes found in washes, wipes, lubricants, moisturizers and sex toys.
Polyethylene glycol: A solvent that is used in cosmetics, washes and moisturizers. PEG is the polymer of ethylene oxide, which is a carcinogen.
Quaternary ammonium compounds: Preservatives and disinfectants that might cause contact dermatitis, sensitization and lead to microbial resistance. It’s usually found in washes and wipes.
Synthetic dyes: Dyes that impart color. Dyed products should be avoided on mucous membranes or vagina due to possible irritation and other concerns. Bloomi prohibits dyes from all cosmetics and disposable products, but may allow dyes for sex toys and menstrual cups. This is sometimes found in washes, wipes, pads and tampons.
Synthetic fragrance: Fragrance is used to scent products. It is a mixture of undisclosed chemicals of unknown toxicity, and may contain allergens, endocrine disruptors and more. Bloomi allows essential oils and natural fragrance, but we encourage people to use simple, fragrance-free products in intimate areas. Usually found in washes, wipes, lubricants, douches, pads, tampons and moisturizers
Triclosan: Preservatives with antibacterial properties used in intimate washes and other intimate care products. They may be associated with hormone disruption.