Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Detoxing Your Hair And Beauty Regime

Today I have a guest post for you from Evelyn Barnard. Evelyn is a freelance writer and is going to share with you her wisdom on toxins in your beauty routine.

Detoxing Your Hair And Beauty Regime

There’s much talk within the beauty world about the safety of many products. It seems that hardly a month goes by without some kind of worry about a certain ingredient that’s within every day cosmetics, hair care and skin preparations that we use all the time and without a second thought.

Some people want to look for natural or organic alternatives in many of the different things they use in their beauty routines to not only help their skin and hair and stop them from absorbing potential “unknowns” but also to help the environment too.

The SLS Debate

One of the hottest topics for debate is on the issue of SLS in shampoos and bathing products. SLS, or to give it its full name Sodium Laureth Sulphate, is a foaming agent that is put into many skincare preparations (including toothpaste) to make them lather up quickly and efficiently. Many people believe that the more lather they can put onto their hair and skin, the cleaner of impurities it will be. This isn’t always the case at all and there are many people who report skin and scalp sensitivities due to harsh cleansing agents.

In fact, SLS is an ingredient that has been widely in use since the 1930s when it was first introduced into places like car garages to clean engine parts, or used on roads to clean up oil spills! Therefore, this gives you an idea of how strong an ingredient it is and puts forward the question “Do we really want to be putting that onto our skin?”

It’s something that divides many people and many companies have raced forward to try and discover alternatives to SLS that provide foaming qualities without the harshness. Alternatives to SLS are:

Ammonium Laureth Sulphate: A slightly more costly ingredient to use in cosmetics, but one that, depending on where it is derived from can be gentler. Some brands with use Ammonium Laureth Sulphate that is derived from coconut. The ingredient label should state this.

Sodium Lauryl Sarcosinate: A gentler cleanser that is derived from coconut and produces lighter, yet still thoroughly cleansing foam.

Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isothionate: Again, another ingredient derived from coconut that is seen to be probably one of the safest bets for the gentlest cleanse. It is recognised as so because it cannot be detected or traced in human tissue or urine even after repeated use.

Natural branding myths

Besides the issues of SLS, within the beauty industry there is a lot of controversy over what does actually constitute “natural”. As consumers we have to be really savvy and carefully check the ingredient labels to make sure that what we’re buying is indeed what it says it is.

Many products may say they are organic or natural, but if you turn to read the labels you will see they contain only minute traces of natural extracts or essential oils that are used perhaps more for fragrance than any real cosmetic benefit.

When trying to choose natural beauty products look to see when and where things like essential oils appear on the ingredient label. The higher up they appear, the more concentrated they may be and likely to have an effect.

Probably one of the better brands to make leaps forward into organic cosmetics is the Australian company A’kin, who have been in business for around fifteen years now. They have a whole product range that encompasses skin care, hair care and male grooming cosmetics that are genuinely mineral oil, SLS, DEA and Paraben free. Alongside this is a distinct lack of artificial colors and perfumes.

The products are by no means cheap, for instance, a litre of their Ylang Ylang Colour Care Shampoo comes in at just under $27, but they are richly concentrated, meaning you can halve the amount you would use with a standard shampoo or conditioner to get the same effect.

The products offer a sounds alternative to anyone who wants to try and dip their toe into the world of natural cosmetics but know they’re getting the right thing. The ingredient lists on the back of the packaging certainly make for interesting reading as most of what goes into them is recognisable as a natural extract, essential oil or gentle cleansing agent.


It really is that time of year when we’re probably all thinking about trying to eat well and sort our diets out, to get fitter and to take control of our health just that little bit more. It’s just as important to consider what we put into our bodies as well as what we use topically and detoxing the skin and hair can also be just as good a tonic as detoxing the body can too, so thinking about updating your beauty routine alongside your diet can be a really good way to go.

When we switch from products that contain things like SLS to brands that don’t, one thing that consumers may notice is that their hair or skin initially feels a little drier or in the case of their hair becomes tangled. This is generally caused by the gentler cleansing agents removing the build up of silicones and SLS which have caused dulling over time. If you continue to use the products consistently you should begin to find that your hair and skin get more used and start to look and feel healthier.

However, as with many things, it is entirely personal. There are many women out there who can have reactions to natural and organic brands as there are ones who react to standard chemist products. Patch testing with any new beauty product is essential whether it be organic or not.

Thanks Evelyn!

So, what are your thoughts on natural beauty - is it the only way to go or do you not mind a few 'toxins' in your routine. I have to confess that I am not super concerned about toxins; though I don't have sensitive skin so that might be why. However, I am totally different when it comes to my kids skin, trying to use as natural products as possible.