Wednesday, 28 January 2015

SLS and sulphate-free products on the high street

In light of our dedication to 'Healthy January', I wanted to share a bit about SLS-free products. As Kay has already mentioned, approximately 60% of the ingredients we slap onto our skin on a daily basis are absorbed into the bloodstream. And funnily enough, after a long time of wondering why the skin on my hands got so irritated, a doctor finally decided that I should try avoiding products with SLS. 

She had ruled out food allergies and nickel allergies, but within a week or two of avoiding SLS my hands got better. I’m not the fount of all knowledge on the subject, but here is a little bit about why you might want to consider avoiding SLS, especially if you have sensitive skin.

What does SLS stand for?

Sodium Laurel Sulphate (also Sodium Laureth Sulfate) is an inexpensive and widely used chemical found in many products we use on a daily basis: shower gel, toothpaste, shampoo etc.

What actually is it?

SLS is a detergent and a surfactant, so essentially it cleans and foams up to create the kind of lather we have come to expect from our shampoos, cleansers and shower gels. The more bubbles the better right?! Wrong. SLS can be highly irritating to the skin, scalp, gums and so on. It is a harsh chemical and therefore far better suited to cleaning your kitchen floor than your face. Go and compare the ingredients in your shower gel and floor cleaner and you’ll see what I mean! I wear gloves when I am cleaning to avoid the chemicals coming into contact with my skin, so why would I put unnecessary chemicals on my face?!

Won’t I miss the bubbles?!

Nope. We have been trained to think that bubbles equate to cleanliness, but as soon as you tell yourself that a product doesn’t need to lather up to clean effectively, you will get used to it and be pleased with the results. If you want bubbles stick to champagne.

How can I avoid SLS?

The good news is that because the world in general is starting to become more aware of the ingredients in food and beauty products, many manufacturers have started to create SLS-free items. In fact any brand worth its salt in terms of using high quality natural ingredients wouldn’t even consider using floor cleaner in its face washes! I have only tried a few items, but here are some SLS free products at high street prices worth a look:

Yes to Carrots/Cucumbers shower gels

My lovely sister bought these for me from Waitrose when she found out I was on the hunt for SLS-free products. They are fantastic, smell great and last a really long time! They are 95% natural, Petroleum, SLS and Paraben free and cruelty-free.
£7.99 for 500ml 
Find a UK stockist here.

L’oreal Ever Riche No Sulphates shampoo

Shampoo is a funny one to review as the results vary so much depending on your hair type. First and foremost it didn’t irritate my hands which is a bonus, and the first few times I used it the results were great. It is surprisingly thick and almost lathery for a sulphate-free product so a good first one to try. However, although my hair is thick in volume, the individual strands are quite fine and poker straight, therefore the heavier consistency started to weigh it down. My verdict? If you have dry, thick or course hair and like a very moisturising shampoo this might well be for you. If you have fine hair, give it a miss. Another point to consider; it may be sulphate-free but L'Oreal is never going to be a go-to brand for healthy, natural ingredients.
£5.99 for 200ml 

The Body Shop Rainforest Shine Shampoo

The Rainforest Shine Shampoo is free from silicones, sulphates, parabens and colourants. Instead it contains pracaxi oil, caméline seed oil and Community Trade olive oil, sugar, and aloe vera. This shampoo works much better for my hair type. It cleans it nicely and I then leave my hair in a towel until it is 80% dry before blow-drying with a large round bristle brush. The result? Very shiny hair and a happy scalp!
For other hair types they also do Volumising, Moisture and Radiance versions.
£2 for 60ml, £4.50 for 250ml 

Unlike other ingredients we have discussed this month, there is no scientific evidence linking SLS and cancer, so I'm not suggesting you throw all your shower gels in the bin! However, if you have any trouble with skin irritation, or simply want to lessen the amount of chemicals you are putting onto your body, SLS-free is something to consider. Especially when you can find good products on the high street. And if the result is shiny hair that needs washing less frequently, who's complaining?!

I haven't eliminated SLS from my skincare routine entirely but, if I am stressed and my skin is feeling sensitive, I keep well away and it certainly does the trick for me. Unfortunately there are still one or two products that contain SLS that I really like which leaves me in a bit of a quandary... 

For lots more information about SLS visit

Have you tried any good SLS-free products? We would love some recommendations!


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