Another Reason to Go Green – Striving for Better Skin & Hair Care

Renee Vailes

What are sulfates? Should I be worried? Are they bad for you?  What other chemicals are in my soaps, shampoos and other health products?  This article aims to answer these questions and explain why going ‘green’ is not always a bad thing when it comes to your personal care. Sulfates are used in everything these days and using more natural products without these chemicals is the wave of the future.  An intelligent consumer will read not only what’s on the cereal box, but what’s in the shampoo bottle!

We all love the soapy, frothy bubbles we get from bubble bath, body washes, shampoos… but, do we really understand what’s in these products?  The primary purpose of any soap or cleansing product is to clean, get rid of grime or dirt, and leave a nice smell behind.  But, most commercial products nowadays leave our clothes faded, our hair dry and brittle and our skin screaming for moisturizer.  Read below to find out why!

What are sulfates? Should I be worried?

Sulfates like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are found in almost every body cleanser in the stores today; many others contain similarly named surfactants (sudsing agents):  sodium cocoyl isetheoinate, methyl cocoyl taurate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropylamine oxide, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, and alpha olefin sulfonate.  

SLS or SLES is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, etc.). It is an inexpensive and very Sulfuric Acid Warningeffective foaming agent made by mixing sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, and sodium salt. (Wikepedia: Sodium laureth sulfate)  Although claims have been made for the last 15 years that it causes cancer, it is still under debate. It is a known fact that surfactants are irritants and strip your hair and skin of their natural oils.  That’s why your eyes burn when you get soap in your eyes and your hair and skin stay dried out!  The jury is still out on the safety of these products, but as with many chemicals in our products today, it is best to err on the side of caution whenever possible.  The less we expose ourselves to harsh cleansing agents and other chemicals, the better off we will be.  Especially choose natural products for your children.

Products commonly found to contain SLS or SLES:

Bubble bath
Washing liquid / dish soap
Laundry detergent
Childrens soaps / shampoos
Stain Remover
Carpet Cleaner
Fabric glue
Body wash
Shave cream
Skin cleanser
Moisture lotion / Moisturiser
Sun Screen

What else is in my soap or shampoo?

Shampoo and other body cleansers can contain any number of the following ingredients:

Water is usually the first or second ingredient listed on a bottle or wrapper. It dilutes the detergent and makes shampoo and body washes go farther for the buck.

Surfactants are usually next.  We covered those in the above paragraphs.

Detanglers and anti-static agents are found in some shampoos. ‘Quaternary ammonium’ compounds are common.

Humectants attract and retain water. Found most often in shampoos for dry, damaged, or chemically treated hair, the most common of these include commercially made glycerin, sorbitol, and hyaluronic acid.

Conditioners soften hair and retain moisture. Examples include amino acids, collagen, panthenol, proteins, and elastin.

Emulsifiers are thickeners give shampoos viscosity and make them easy to handle. A commonly used thickening agent is hydroxyethyl cellulose.

Volumizers help give hair more body and bounce.They contain ingredients like hydroxyethyl cellulose, gum arabic, guar, xanthan and chitin.

Preservatives prevent contamination from mold or bacteria. Search the label for methylparaben, quaternium-15, or propylparaben.  They contain ingredients like hydroxyethyl cellulose, gum arabic, guar, xanthan and chitin.

Cosmetic ingredients – and this includes hair-care products – are listed in descending order. This means a product contains most of whatever ingredient is listed first, and least of whatever ingredient is listed last.  Fragrance oils and colorants usually come last on the label.

Should I go ‘green’ with my skin care and try natural or handmade soaps?

Natural and homemade soaps and lotions can provide you with a healthful alternative to chemical cleansers.  I don’t just mean using vinegar to wash your hair or baking soda for deodorant!  Our grandmothers did that, and while they are ‘natural’ remedies, you also want something that moisturizes and smells nice.  What I’m talking about are natural and non-irritating soaps made from coconut, soybean, olive, vegetable or hempseed oils.  Stay away from ‘sodium tallowate’ as these soaps are made from animal tallow or lard. 

Natural Soaps and shampoos can also be made from goat’s milk, cow’s milk, etc. and even contain fruit zest or peels, essential oils and butters like cocoa and shea.  Many may also contain avocado oil, emu oil, etc.  Most will use small amounts of cosmetic grade fragrance or essential oils, if any.  I personally like oatmeal and natural honey for the best soaps and moisturizers.  While you may pay a little more for your ‘all natural’ soap or shampoo, the benefits far outweigh the risks.  I have found that my skin and hair retain more of its natural shine and moisture when I am using natural skin care products.  That includes doing away with commercial moisturizers!

My husband and I make an all natural bar of soap. Each bar is made from natural vegetable oils, shea butter and goat’s milk.  You can read more about Goat’s Milk here on articles base.  Just click on my name for the rest of my articles.  Look for ‘Got Goat’s Milk? You should!’  or you can read it here at You can check our soaps out at

Do not believe that just because a product is labeled as ‘natural‘  that it is free from SLS or SLES. Most common brands of ‘Natural’ or ‘Herbal‘ shampoos and cleansers still use these harmful chemicals as their main active ingredient – check your labels!  Most handmade or homemade soaps and shampoos are NOT going to contain these chemicals.   

The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes. The information contained herein is not intended to be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional or medical advice.

Article Source:

date18 Aug