Triclosan is a chemical used in many topical applications for its antibacterial properties. Though manufacturers who include it in their products claim that it is safe, the EPA has registered triclosan as a pesticide. Chemically, triclosan is similar to dioxin and PCBs - the most toxic chemicals on earth.

What does triclosan do?

Triclosan is an antibiotic - which means it is a poison to bacteria. It is for this reason that triclosan is found in so many consumer products - from hand soap to toothpaste. Many people have a distorted perception of what bacteria are and the role of microflora in human life. Bacteria are not all malignant. Benign bacteria inhabit the human body in the billions and play some necessary roles in physical processes. But many Americans think that all bacteria are bad and that antibiotics are the answer to this problem.

Eschewing other topical agents that kill bacteria, like tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide, instead people choose to use an antibiotic on a daily basis. This contributes to creating bacterial resistance to this antibiotic.

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Side effects of triclosan

Triclosan is a persistent organic pollutant. This means that, like pesticides, triclosan stay in the environment, stored in the fat cells of people and animals, and is nearly impossible to get rid of. The further up the food chain an animal is, the higher the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants are to be found in its tissues. Humans are at the top of the food chain - therefore, this is not a pretty proposition.

Is triclosan an effective anti acne ingredient?

Not by itself. Triclosan is an effective antibiotic, though, and could be a component of an effective anti acne formula. Considering that triclosan has not yet been thoroughly analyzed for all its environmental and health risks, do you really want to use it on a daily basis?

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