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Ingredients to Avoid in Skin, Body & Hair Care: Sulphates

Bodycare Haircare Ingredients to Avoid Nasties Skin Irritants Skincare Skincare Ingredients Sulphates

Sulphates in Shampoo To Create Lather

Acronyms & Variations:

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)

SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate)

ALS (Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate)

What are Sulphates?

Sulphates are synthetic compounds found in many personal care products such as soap, shower gel, bubble bath, shampoo, shaving foam and toothepaste. They are cheap foaming agents that the give the products their lather.

So what is the problem?

Sulphates are known irritants. They can cause irritation to the eyes, scalp, gums and skin, even at the recommended 1% maximum amount. Cleaning products often contain higher concentrations up to 30% so be extra careful not to get them onto your skin!

Sulphates strip your skin and hair of its natural oils so can cause dandruff, itchy scalp and dry skin problems. They can aggravate eczema and psoriasis, and cause dry brittle hair and split ends.

It is also thought to compromise the skins natural barrier allowing for greater absorption of other chemicals into the body. 

SLS is widely used as a marker in scientific studies when testing the safety of other ingredients. In order to establish how irritable a substance is to the skin, its effects are compared to that of SLS. So if it's a known irritant, why is it allowed in skincare products, even at low amounts?

If you have sensitive skin, there is a good chance that it will become irritated by sulphates.

Although Sulphates are not themselves carcinogenic, some products containing SLES may also contain small traces of 1,4-dioxane (formed as a by-product during production) which is classed a possible human carcinogen. Is it worth the risk using any product containing SLES? Not in my opinion. 

Good To Know

The products sourced for The Natural Beauty Box will never contain any SLS, SLES or ALS. After myself suffering from a dry itchy scalp for years, switching to a herbal sulphate free shampoo has made a huge difference. Using natural soaps in the shower in place of shower gel has also helped reduce eczema flare ups too. 

If you are looking to switch to more natural skincare and beauty products, The Natural Beauty Box subscription is a great place to start. You get to try A fantastic selection of chemical free beauty products each month for a fraction of the cost. 

Why not join our friendly, relaxed Facebook community to find out more about natural skincare and beauty and meet like minded individuals.


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  • Lynsey Clayton on

    Yes! We have been avoiding chemicals for almost 11 years now. It makes such a difference to your health.


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