Did you realise the synthetic chemicals sodium laurel sulphate and sodium laureate sulphate are used in over 90% of products that foam?

Both are very effective foaming agents known as surfactants, used in bubble bath, washes, toothpastes and shampoos as well as detergents and soaps. They can be found in industrial cleaning products such as oven cleaners and engine degreasers. SLS and the slightly less irritating SLES are so good at removing oil and grease; they can leave the skin dehydrated.

Even thought known to be toxic, they are also the basis for washes for babies, toothpaste, shampoo, body and hand wash, bubble bath and facial cleansers. They may also be found in cake mixes and marshmallows!

Sodium lauryl sulphate can cause irritation to eyes, skin and mucous membrane. It dries the skin, so if you have a flaky scalp, it may not be dandruff, just a dry scalp from this irritating ingredient. Of course, many people will try an anti-dandruff shampoo which will invariably contain this surfactant.

Georgia Medical College indicated SLS kept young eyes developing properly by possibly denaturing the proteins and not allowing proper structural formation. This is so, even with non eye area contact. The damage is permanent.

This ingredient has shown to irritate eczema, cause mouth ulcers (yes! I did say it is in toothpaste!) Also known for liver and gastrointestinal toxicity.

It is no secret that substances we put on our skin is absorbed into the body and blood stream ( think of how HRT and nicotine patches work!) and the main effect of SLS is that it mimics the hormone Oestrogen. This could have many health implications and may be responsible for a variety of health problems. The increasing numbers of breast cancers are of concern as oestrogen levels are involved.

In 1983, a report in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology high-lighted concentrations of 10 to 30% of SLS caused severe irritation and skin corrosion. That was a few years ago, and this nasty is still widely used!

WHY? .. Because it is CHEAP!!

There are several cosmetic companies who claim not to use any ‘harsh’ chemicals in their products and some go as far as claiming to be ‘organic. But take a closer look at the ingredients label (usually in the tiny print!) and you may come across some thing like:-

Cocomidapropyl betaine (coconut) This chemical is often used a foaming agent for cleansers, washes and shampoos. The (coconut) in the brackets would have you imagining that this is a natural component when in fact it is a synthetic chemical that started out to be a natural ingredient.

The method of synthesis for this chemical is: the reaction of fatty acids with amines and monochloracetic acid. Or in laymen’s terms.. ammonia, oils and a toxic herbicide

I have seen this listed on a Baby shampoo claiming to be ‘organic’

Some tricky manufacturers are shortening the name so it reads ‘coco betaine’ on the ingredients label. By excluding the chemical sounding part of the name they try to lull consumers into a false sense of security, so they might believe that it is without a chemical process. This is the case with 2 Australian companies who claim to produce cosmetics and skin care that are ‘chemical free’

If, on the label of your product, either of these ingredients is in the first 3 or 4 from the top of the list, then it is likely it makes up 30% of the entire product … go on have a look! High levels of skin penetration may occur even in low use concentration.

Cleansers don’t need to be drying or harsh. Some formulations have added waxes to counteract the dehydrating effects of chemical cleansers. Check out the ingredients of the Miessence cleansers and compare them to the ones you are currently using.


If you have ever used an ‘anti-bacterial’ wash, chances are that you have had contact with this nasty little ingredient! It sounds like a good idea to add it to toothpastes, deodorants and soaps, but researchers warn that Tricolsan, a chemical used as an antimicrobial and preservative, acts as an endocrine disruptor.

This means it may cause breast cancer, reproductive complications and can lead to the early onset of puberty. Its’ hormone mimicking behaviour could also be responsible for harming aquatic wildlife as the chemical is invariably washed into waterways.

Triclocarben, also used as an antibacterial in cosmetics, along with Tricolsan has been included in 76% of hand washes and 29% of soaps according to a study published in 2001 by the American Journal of Infection Control which found few documented benefits of the chemical. In fact, because of the possible bacteria resistance, it would be unwise to use these products by the general public.

These chemicals can accumulate in the body and irritate organs. Check the ingredients in your products … and look to purchase cleansers and washes that don’t contain this dangerous chemical.

Consumers can send a message to manufacturers who attempt to mislead the public with their dishonest marketing practices. Check out these links for cleansers, body wash and hand wash that are synthetic chemical free and contain ingredients that improve the skin. Here is the quick link to the Moisturisers and Body Creams Report.