Avoiding toxic shower and shampoo products

Friday, 9 August 2013  |  Tricia
If your skin and hair are getting dryer, and seem to have all their natural oils stripped out every time you wash them, read on…

Check out the ingredients list on your liquid soaps, shampoo and shower gels – do any of them contain SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate  and  Ammonium Laureth Sulfate?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
We have all heard about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), but what exactly is it?  SLS is a harsh detergent and surfactant cleaning product found in a surprisingly high number of personal care products (liquid soap shower gels, cleansers, toothpaste, shampoo… the list goes on), as well as in household and industrial cleaning products.  SLS is known to be very drying to the skin and can cause skin irritation, lung irritation, and eye irritation, as well as being a possible carcinogen.

SLS’ pseudo-natural cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate  and  Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Laureth Sulfate  and  Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are used in many so-called ‘natural’ and ‘eco’ personal care products, which are sold in health food shops and seem to be safe alternatives. However, these ingredients are very similar to SLS.  These substances can be derived from coconut, so pass as natural - but they go through a particular chemical process during manufacturing, which means that they can be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as dioxane.

Check out your cleaning products too?
Also check out your eco washing up liquid as these can contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. OK, you can wear rubber gloves to wash up – but remember, you’ll be eating off those plates!

If I'm not aware of any adverse effects why should I care about what I put on my skin?
It is important to be careful of what you put on your skin, because a proportion of it will be absorbed into your body. Some say that this can be as much as 60%. When toxic substances get into your body they can cause health problems. Some parts of your body are more absorbent than others, such as the face and genitalia, so you may want to be more careful with products used all over the body or face than you are with your hand wash, for example.
If you’re not buying certified natural or organic products, you might also want to look out for other ingredients that can be harmful. Pay special attention to artificial perfume, parabens and other artificial preservatives. Remember, the ingredients at the top of the list are the ones contained in the largest proportion.
So what kind of ingredients are the good ones to look for? 
There are some kinds of more mild and gentle surfactants that are truly natural and less drying. These include ingredients such as Coco Glucoside, which are derived from coconut, but not subjected to contaminating manufacturing processes, so they remain natural and pure. The following are all safe for use:
Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside
Coco Glucoside
Sodium Coco-Sulfate
Decyl Glucoside
Xanthan Gum
Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylate
The reason for some companies using harmful surfactants, instead of coco glucosides, is that the truly natural things are more expensive.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate  and  Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are much cheaper.

At Suvarna we sell products without SLS or any other similar chemicals. Here are some examples:

Gentle and truly natural shampoos
At Suvarna, we stock shampoos certified by even by the prestigious Soil Association, in the Essential Care Gentle Herb Shampoo or Gentle Herb and Tea Tree Shampoo. One of our most popular and broad selections of shampoos is the Aubrey Organics ones -  Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo and Rosa Mosqueta Shampoo are on special offer at the moment.  My favourite brand of shampoo is Logona (especially the Chamomile shampoo) - their range has 9 different options to choose from.


To choose which lovely natural shampoo will suit your hair, see our shampoo guide here…
Gentle and truly natural shower gels
Lavera shower gels are really lovely - choose from Rose Garden, Orange Feeling, or Honey Moments (which has a sweet orange scent). For something more sensitive, try Logona Aloe and Vanilla shower gel or the shower gel line of Odylique, like the Aloe Vera Gel Wash (see picture below for the whole line!).
Shower and shampoo together
Sensitive skins will also like the unscented Logona PUR Shampoo and Shower Gel. The purest possible body and hair cleanser is LavaErde Powder. This is just plain clay powder that can be mixed to a creamy paste - with no detergent whatsoever. It really does get your hair and skin clean.
Safe and healthy natural toothpaste
We have quite a few healthy toothpastes to choose from - Weleda Ratania toothpaste is for tightening gums, Lavera Organic Echinacea  and Propolis toothpaste is fresh and effective, or for something really different try an Ayurvedic Herbal Tooth Powder with no soap or detergent ingredients at all.
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