First, I need to stress that most cosmetics and other skin care products are perfectly adequate for the normal person. However, if like me, you suffer from eczema, dermatitis, dry sensitive skin or psoriasis, this may not be good enough. We all have different needs and what may be adequate for most people can cause irritation, contact dermatitis and an allergic reaction in those with a sensitive skin.
For most people who suffer from the above afflictions, using soaps and shower gels can be a mine-field. Even so-called ‘mild’ soaps can make your skin dry and those who use shampoos may experience an itchy scalp or stinging eyes. Shower gels can cause eczema flare-ups and the most likely culprit: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate aka SLS.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and it’s more evil twin, Sodium Laureth Sulphate is a surface-active agent or surfactant. Translation: It makes bubbles. Now bubbles don’t clean by themselves but people have been fooled into thinking that the more bubbles there are, the more ‘cleaning’ a product is. It’s also more irritating to sensitive skin.
There is a plethora of information about this on the ‘net and rumours about SLS being carcinogenic but there is no real evidence to support this. What we do know is that it is a known skin irritant. (As well being a pesticide and herbicide.)
I took a walk down the aisle of my local Dis-chem and found that most bath and shower products contain SLS. These include:
Sanex, Radox, Lux, Dettol, Palmolive, Good Stuff, Badedas, Fenjal, Nivea, Dove shower gels, Pears and the Dis-chem house brand.
SLS is also found in most shampoos and also in toothpastes, albeit in small quantities.
Even some products which claim that they are ‘natural’ contain SLS. This includes the Cetaphil range, widely advocated for use by those with a sensitive skin.
If you have eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis it’s advisable to switch to a sulphate free product. The ranges I found to be sulphate free were:
The products with an asterisk can all be found on the rather fabulous Faithful-to-nature website that has a great online store. These organic products can be rather pricey though, barring the Earthsap range which can also be found at the bigger Pick ‘n Pays, and those on a budget may be wondering where to find something sulphate free within their means. I recommend (and have been using) baby products which have cleared up my eczema as well as the patches of psoriasis on my elbows. The results were almost instantaneous.
Those with eczema and dermatitis will have made trips to their doctor without much success. Anti-histamines which make you sleepy and steroid creams will be prescribed. Anybody who has ever used a steroid cream will know that this is hardly the solution. Yes, its stops the itch but once you’ve used up the tube, the itch returns with a vengeance. Mostly because you’re still using the products that caused the itch in the first place!
Doctors and pharmacists will also tell you to use Aqueous cream for your eczema. This usually exacerbates the problem, probably due the fact that Aqueous cream contains SLS! Usually the second ingredient listed and as we all know by now, the higher an ingredient is listed the more concentrated it is in the product.
So the solution, for those whose eczema is atopic, ie caused by skin irritants, switching to a Sulphate free product may be the answer.
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