Know Your Ingredients: Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

ammonium-laureth-sulfate

What it is
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate is the ammonium salt of sulfated ethoxylated lauryl alcohol. It can be derived from coconut.

What it does
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate is an effective cleansing agent that remove oils and dirt from hair and skin. It produces a lot of foam and softens the skin.
It also helps to prevent an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components.

Side effects
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate can cause eye and skin irritation.

52 Comment

  1. Hi Mina Jade,

    I honestly don’t think there is much difference between the two. They are both good cleansing agent, both less harsh than Ammonium lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

  2. Does Ammonium Laureth Sulfate less harm than sodium Laureth Sulfate? is it considered to cause cancer?

    Best Wishes,
    pasta

    • Pasta, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are both derived from coconut and are considered to be gentle. I’ve never found any studies saying these ingredients can cause cancer so that’s a completely unfounded myth. These ingredients are harmful to humans. What should be avoided instead is Sodium LAURYL Sulfate as it is a strong irritant. Hope this helps.

      • You might want to consider updating your information on this site … much has been revealed in the last 3 years.

        Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

        SLS and SLES are esters of Sulphuric acid – SLS is also known as “Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt”, however there are over 150 different names by which it is known – see them here. In fact, SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.

        Although SLES is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting.

        A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous”.

        Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair. The main cause of these problems is sodium lauryl sulfate.

        http://www.natural-health-information-centre.com/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.html

        • Caryn, I agree with you that Sodium LAURYL Sulfate is very irritating and should be avoided. But that doesn’t mean that all other surfactants, including Sodium Laureth Sulfate, are bad. I’ve used SLES for years and it has never irritated my skin.

          As for the dioxane contamination, as I understand it, this chemical is present in trace amounts that aren’t harmful. It is the dose that makes the poison. Besides, surfactants are mostly used in rinse off products, so it’s unlikely they will penetrate into the skin, but will simply end up down the drain.

        • How about the Ammonium laureth sulphate? Should it be avoided and how does it compare with SLS and SLES? It is used in organic shampoos by Faith in Nature. Many thanks

          • Olga, Ammonium laureth sulphate is gentler than SLS and SLES. SLS should be avoided because it is very drying and irritating, while SLES is gentler (not as much as Ammonium laureth sulphate, though) and safe.

            However, gentler also means that it won’t clean your hair as well. If you hair isn’t oily or you don’t use any heavy styling products, then the gentlest surfactants like Ammonium laureth sulphate may work for you. Otherwise, you may be disappointed by their performance.

  3. what is the difference between ammonium LAURYL sulfate and ammonium LAURETH sulfate? Does this difference apply to sodium LAURYL sulfate and sodium LAURETH sulfate?
    Thanks!

    • Sean, the main difference is that ammonium LAURETH sulfate and sodium LAURETH sulfate are much gentler and hence less likely to cause irritations than ammonium LAURYL sulfate and sodium LAURYL sulfate.

    • Bunnysarah, Laureth-6 is not bad for you. I have never heard anything about it being bad. You can check out the cosmeticsinfo.org website for more info on this ingredient. Hope it helps.

  4. my face wash says its a soap free face wash and its ingredient has the second listed product called ammonium lauryl sulfate.What does that mean?

    • Travis, soap free is a term used to imply that the product is gentle and won’t dry out skin. But it will have to contain some form of surfactants cos that’s what cleanses skin and ammonium lauryl sulafte is considered to be a gentle one. Hope this helps.

  5. Hi, I’m not sure what you are basing this information on? Here’s the Mercola website which has referenced all the clinical trials that show evidence that all three of these additives are harmful:

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx

    It isn’t easy to find products that don’t have any of these so I’m going back to using a hemp soap or when i’m feeling a bit more flush I will be buying some Weleda shower gel because they never use these chemicals.

    • Ecopunk, I take my information from pubmed, a database of scientific studies. Thanks for the link, but honestly that Mercola guy just cannot be taken seriously! He claims that what we put on our skin is more dangerous than what we eat and claims that the sun is good when everyone knows it causes cancer! No serious doctor would ever say anything like that. He takes his information from the Environmental Working Group which is a well-meaning but unreliable organization. Whenever the EWG comes out with a report that something is dangerous, the scientific community refutes these claims as lies, exaggerations and twisted truths. Yet, when Mercola cites the study performed by Dr Green, which was abandoned because the scientist himself didn’t find SLS to be dangerous, he still claims it is toxic! In other words, Mercola twists the findings of these studies to scare consumers into buying his own products.

      To assess the safety of an ingredient you have to take into consideration how it used and in what concentration. First of all, the purpose of the skin is to keep stuff out of the body, so most of the ingredients in cosmetics can’t penetrate inside it. They just sit on the surface of the skin or at the very least penetrate into the top layers, which are made of dead skin cells. Very few ingredients can get into the blood stream and these are very strictly regulated. SLS and other surfactants are usually used in rinse-off products so they are just rinsed away. They may cause irritation to those with sensitive skin while they are in contact with the skin, but that’s all.

      Secondly, SLS and similar ingredients are used only in small concentrations in cosmetics and usually with substances that have the ability to reduce their harshness. I could go on because there are just so many things that are wrong with that article but I’ll stop here. in short, surfactants can cause irritations, but that’s it. They don’t cause cancer or other terrible illnesses, so, unless your skin is very sensitive, you can use them safely.

  6. Hi Beautiful,
    Thanks for you reply, however, everyone knows that the scientists are paid off by the big pharmaceutical companies or else pressured into silence, there are so many examples of trials that have been dismissed because their findings were not going to benefit sales. It is a tremendously corrupt industry, pharmaceutical giants often have THEIR OWN research scientists on their payroll to test their products, they in turn report to the FDA their findings and the FDA have been known to take their word for it and not do any independent research. SLS, SLES, ALS and related chemicals are used because they are so cheap to produce.
    There is an unbiased research article here:
    http://www.dweckdata.com/Research_files/SLS_compendium.pdf
    Which mentions how the limited testing (only one short-term study was available) makes it uncertain whether or not it is a carcinogen (causes cancer). It was shown however, that it caused “severe epidermal changes to the area of skin of mice to which it was applied” indicating a need for further studies to determine if it has a tumour-enhancing effect.
    According to Wikipedia, who of course will not be going against Big Pharma, but none the less state that: “Some products containing SLES have been found to also contain low[vague] levels of 1,4-dioxane, with the recommendation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that these levels be monitored.[7] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies 1,4-dioxane to be a probable human carcinogen” and although they go on to say that at low levels it is not so bad, the problem is in todays world most people use many different products, e.g. shower gel, moisturiser, deodorant etc etc, thereby adding a cocktail of hundreds of chemicals to their skins increasing the toxic load.

    As for the permeability of the skin, UV damage increases the chance of particles penetrating the skin as well as damage to the top layer of skin such as shaving or waxing. The addition of chemicals such as oleic acid increases the permeability the skin and now the “Big Pharma” companies are part of the Bio-tech industry and will be using nanoparticles in medicine and who knows what in the future.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_skin#Permeability

    Another point is that while people are being paranoid about going out in the natural sunshine – something we have been doing since time began with no adverse effects – they are seldom told about the highly toxic ingredients in their suncreams that actually cause cancer! It really is disgusting what you get told all in the name of big business while simultaneously having the truth withheld from you, but that is the world we live in, it is a time when we all have to do our own research and think for ourselves. Of course the sun is healthy and beneficial and essential for our bodies to convert cholesterol into vitamin D3. There are an increasing number of natural sunscreens on the market now so there is no need to get burnt. It is repeatedly getting burnt that causes harmful changes to our skins – think about charcoaled foods and burnt toast – it is the process of burning something that changes its composition and makes it carcinogenic (that is just my observation). Add to this a whole load of chemicals applied from head to toe and baked on in the heat of the sun all day and its no wonder people have a higher rate of skin cancer than ever before. We need to get a little sun often so our skin gets used to it slowly and we don’t burn.

    There has recently been changes to the labelling (finally) check out the new requirements:
    http://www.11alive.com/news/article/245633/40/New-FDA-Sunscreen-Labels
    And this:
    http://naturalsociety.com/sunscreen-causes-cancer-what-you-may-not-know-about-sunscreen/
    I know about the dangers of suncreen from first hand experience of having severe allergies to them myself, doctors never realised it was the sunscreen and thought it was some sort of reaction to the sun, but when i stopped using it and switched to a natural one i have never had a problem since.

    I think you are very naive if you don’t realise how much clout these companies have, pharmaceutical and biotech is a multi-billion £ industry and often people who have worked in such companies also have worked in government, for example at the FDA. If you look at Forbes.com you can see that both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are more powerful even than Microsoft! Maybe this will put things into perspective.

    • Oh please, let’s not start with these silly conspiracy theories now! Sorry for the outburst, but I’m really tired of people thinking big companies are out there to kill you. That’s simply ridiculous. Of course companies think about making a profit. How can they pay their employees and hire new ones if they don’t? How can they stay open and keep offering people their products if they don’t? How can they keep the economy going, if they don’t? If they use cheap ingredients, it is because expensive ones will increase the final cost of the product and not everyone can afford to pay a lot for a cleanser or a body wash. But that doesn’t mean that these ingredients cause cancer or are toxic. As we all know, companies want to make a profit. How the hell can they do that if they kill their customers off? Not to mention that if one of their products kills someone, they will be sued, and everyone will get scared and not buy their products anymore. In other words, it is not in their interest to put toxic stuff in cosmetics. It is simply ridiculous to believe otherwise.

      But it is in the interest of natural companies and quacks like Mercola to make naive people believe they do. Natural ingredients are very often less effective and more expensive than natural ones, which is why they need to use scare tactics and tell you that SLS and other chemicals are bad to convince you to buy their own products. And that Mercola guy also sells a lot of stuff that’s organic, plus tanning beds. Of course he will tell you that the sun is good and SLS is bad, otherwise you wouldn’t buy his products, would you? I’m really tired of people believing big corporations are killers and natural companies are angels interested in saving people’s lives. They are just as interested in selling their products with any means necessary as everyone else is and if you believe otherwise then you are the naive one.

      Yes, SLS can cause irritation. All surfactants do. Their purpose is to remove dirt from the skin and that can cause irritation. But just because something is irritating, it doesn’t mean that it is toxic or causes cancer. SLS has never been linked to cancer. No study so far has found even the remotest proof that it can cause cancer. SLS, AMS and other similar ingredients have been used for decades in beauty products. If they really were toxic, people would be dying left, right and center and instead no one has ever been ill in any way after using them. No one is dying because of what’s in personal care products.The air we breathe and the food we eat are much more dangerous.

      Of course if skin is damaged, things gets inside the body more easily, but skin shouldn’t be damaged in the first place. If it is, exercise caution when you apply or touch something. If it also written on the labels of cosmetics products that you shouldn’t apply them on damaged skin. Some ingredients can enhance penetrability but if that bothers you, avoid the products that contain them. Besides, ingredients in rinse off products don’t really penetrate the skin because they are rinsed away. And yes, it is the dose that makes the poison. Minuscule amounts aren’t dangerous and most of the chemicals we put on our bodies can’t penetrate inside and thus can’t accumulate. And if they don’t accumulate, they’re not dangerous.

      There is absolutely nothing in your sunscreen that causes cancer. The sun causes cancer. If there are a lot more people suffering from cancer now is because people live longer. In the past, people were lucky if they lived till they were 50. They didn’t have the time to get cancer. Something else killed them before this awful disease had time to develop. And a lot of people avoided the sun. People wore protective clothes, not skimpy ones like we do today. The sun is good in small doses. Unprotected sun exposure for 15/30 minutes a week is enough to get all the Vitamin D you need. If anyone tells you to spend more time in the sun unprotected or to use tanning beds, they are simply putting your health at risk. Period.

      Not all scientists work for big companies. Lots of studies are performed by independent scientists that don’t have any interest one way or the other. You’ll find them on pubmed. And when you read them, please take into consideration how they were performed. A lot of studies that claim something is toxic were done on animals so they can’t be applied to humans, or used concentrations that are way higher than any you’ll ever found in cosmetics, so again their findings can’t be applied to humans, or the ingredients were taken orally so again their findings can’t be applied to humans as we don’t eat our cosmetics.

      I agree that people have to do their own research but this research has to be based on science not pseudo-science. You believe big corporations are biased? Fine, but even natural companies are. You can never trust anyone who’s trying to sell you something, doesn’t matter how natural or safe they claim it is. If you don’t believe the one, you shouldn’t believe the other either. You should believe the studies conducted by independent scientists. Then you’ll find that quacks like Mercola are putting your life at risk and making you spend a lot more money on products that don’t work that well and aren’t any safer than synthetic ones.

  7. Hiya,

    Yes I am sure some companies that call themselves “natural” mislead customers into thinking they are more green/ethical/healthy etc … there has been a big problem with companies jumping on the band wagon and “green washing” their products to appeal to people more. This is why is important to read the ingredients and not just be taken in by the name or packaging. However, generally speaking natural is safest as plants and herbs have been used for many thousands of years and we know well which ones are safe and what they all do, as opposed to synthetic ingredients that have only been around in the last century.

    I have to ask you this – I see you have made some blanket statements such as, “there are no harmful ingredients used in cosmetics at all” and “people get cancer more now because we live longer” which makes me wonder what the point of your website is, particulary the pages on ingredients? What the point in examining them at all if they are ALL perfectly good for us? I didn’t want this to seem like an attack on you, I do think its great that anyone would take the time to consider these things at all and do any research of themselves, so nice one for that :)

    For what its worth, I don’t like any of these conspiracy things either, and I’m not saying that these companies WANT to purposely kill us all off! What seems to be the case though is that they are prepared to risk our health if it puts up their profit margins. And they also sell the medicines that are supposed to make us well again should we become ill.

    As for cancer, lots of children and young people sadly get cancer these days so it is not an age thing. Cancer is a mutation of a healthy, normal cell which is regulated by the body and serves a purpose to a cell that does not respond but continues to grow at an abnormal rate and does not function properly. It has changed from its original true nature. The amount of unnatural things these days, not only cosmetics but all manner of things, surely has an effect and we can limit this as much as possible by sticking to what has worked for hundreds of years – the more we tamper with nature, the further away from its original form we get, the more it is likely to have an unpredictable and undesirable effect. It makes sense. There are many substances allowed in skin creams etc that are thought to be endocrine disruptors, which means they alter the glands that produce hormones. This is not only sex hormones, e.g. oestrogen, but also effect other glands like the pituitary & hypothalamus (master glands in the brain which regulate all other glands and body systems including metabolism & sleep patterns) Adrenal glands (which produce adrenaline /stress hormones) thyroid, pancreas (involved in insulin production and therefore diabetes). So they have the ability to disrupt the control centre in our brains making them send out signals to other parts of the body to produce cells at an abnormal rate (i.e. causing rapid cell growth – tumours) . Some countries in the EU are encouraging companies to phase these out although L’Oreal said they would not be phasing them out. Most people would like a ban on anything suspected to be an endocrine disruptor, and I agree that if we CAN avoid any potentially harmful substances then why wouldn’t we?

    If something is an irritant then it is our body giving us a signal that it is harming us – it is saying “no more of that please!” it is trying to save us from any more damage which is why it is important to listen to our bodies. There are other options so why would we want to use known irritants that strip the skin of its natural protective oils if we can use something more gentle? We should also consider the vast quantites of these products getting washed down the plug hole and polluting our rivers and seas.

    And lastly, if the sun is the cause of cancer then why have out ancestors lived and worked out in the sun all day ever since time began without developing cancer? Why is it such a modern phenomenon?

    You clearly are very keen on your make up and cosmetics and very protective over them, but there is a wide range of really awesome make up and nail varnish available these days that is more healthy and ethical so it doesn’t mean going without.

    I will leave you with this video which is an interview with a guy that worked for Glaxosmithkline – one of the biggest pharmaceuticals companies in the world – chances are they made your toothpaste, shower gel etc and most of the things in your medicine cabinet. I found this very interesting to hear first hand about their company ethics, hope you will too even if you only watch the first 15 mins…

    • Ecopunk, I agree that it is very important to read the ingredients and not just be taken in by the name or packaging. But I don’t believe that natural ingredients are safer at all. There are lots of natural substances that are poisonous and toxic and, even those that are safe are usually contaminated with resins, pollen and other impurities that can cause irritations and allergies. For instance that are people who are allergic to natural beeswax but can use synthetic beeswax with no problems because the latter has been purified or syntethetically made in a lab and doesn’t contain any impurities. Synthetic ingredients are also made in labs under sterilized conditions and usually contain only 3 or 4 substances, whether natural ones are made up of hundreds of compounds, some of which are harmful.

      Water for instance contains lead, arsenic and mercury. Apples contain small amounts of cyanide. Pretty much any veg and fruit contains small amounts of toxic substances, including those who can disrupt hormones. If we had to follow the precautionary principle and stay away from anything that contains something toxic, we wouldn’t be able to eat anything. Instead, we can eat them safely because these toxic substances are present in such small concentrations that our kidneys can get rid of them easily. It is the same re cosmetics. Actually, most cosmetics don’t even penetrate the skin and never enter into the blood stream. Skin does a much better job that most people think at keeping stuff, including cosmetic ingredients, out of the body. There are substances that can enhance their penetration, but these aren’t many. And even if they should get in, the amount of toxins is so minuscule that our bodies will be easily able to get rid of them.

      I didn’t feel attacked or offended at all, don’t worry. These are important issues and should be freely discussed. The point of the blog is to set the record straight about cosmetic ingredients. There are lots of ingredients that are unfairly maligned, others that are harmless but just don’t do much and are used in cosmetics only as “fillers” to entice consumers to buy them (these are mostly natural substances) and others which, although aren’t toxic, are irritating or not suitable for certain skin types. I believe that by knowing exactly what products contain, everyone will be able to buy those with ingredients that best target their concerns, instead than wasting money on those not suited for their skin type that won’t therefore work well for them.

      I didn’t mean to say that only the sun causes cancer and that only old people get it. I know that cancer is a mutation of a healthy cell and that anyone can get it, but no one has as yet demonstrated that you can get it by using a cosmetic. The sun has been proven to cause cancer, as has smoking, pollution, a bad diet and I could go on and on because it seems that pretty much anything causes cancer these days. Cancer is not a modern illness. People got cancer in the past too, only that they called it by other names or just didn’t know exactly what it was. Medical science has progressed a lot in the past couple of centuries but for thousands of years medical knowledge has been pretty limited. It is also true that, although even kids can sadly get cancer, it is mostly an old people’s disease, which is why doctors recommend people to do screening tests regularly after a certain age. You can get it even if you’re young, but after a certain age your chances of developing it increase. In the past, people died sooner, which is why fewer people had cancer. Pollution, smoking and a bad diet, which are mostly modern things, have also contributed to it, but not cosmetics. If that were the case, we would know by now. Most ingredients have been used in cosmetics for decades, if someone had died because of them we would have known.

      While I agree that if something is dangerous we should avoid it, if we had to ban anything that’s potentially harmful than most plants and natural ingredients couldn’t be used in products anymore as they too can disrupt hormones and contain small amounts of toxic ingredients. I believe that ingredients that have been proven to be harmful should be banned, but we can’t ban anything that’s potentially dangerous or we would just have to ban everything. There are even people allergic to water, are we gonna ban that too? Whether a substance is harmful or not depends on its concentration and the way it is used. Applying a minuscule quantity of synthetic ingredients on the skin, knowing that they won’t be able to get inside is not dangerous. No one has ever proven otherwise.

      If you can prove to me that someone has died or fallen ill because of a cosmetic ingredient, you can rest assured that I will stop using it and warn everyone else to do the same. But I’m not about to stop using something that is safe because of a potential danger. If I did that, I would never be able to drive or cross the street or just do anything because anything can be dangerous.

      I agree that we should avoid irritating ingredients, but just because something irritates my skin, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will irritate yours. Same will allergies. Everything could potentially cause an allergy or irritation to someone, but if it doesn’t cause it to you, I don’t see why you should avoid that particular substance. We should avoid what irritates our skin and use what doesn’t, and that differs for everyone of us. I take the environmental concerns instead, a lot more seriously. If something has been proven to pollute the environment, then it would be better to avoid it, but unfortunately there is so much misinformation on this topic that you don’t always know what harms it and what doesn’t.

      I watched the interview and I’m not surprised to see that are companies with very poor ethics. But I don’t think it is fair to generalize. There are bad guys in every field that will put profits before anything else, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it. There are also honest people. There are scientists and doctors that can be bribed and others who can’t. There are lots of dermatologists for instance that give crappy advice to sell the products they are paid to promote, but there are also lots of serious professionals who would never compromise their integrity for money, which is why it is important to do your own research, so that you know when they are lying to you and who you can and can’t trust.

      I also believe that it is mostly advertisers and marketing people that are lying to us, blowing the positive effects of a product out of all proportions and ignoring its negative aspects. For instance, they may ignore the fact a gloss lasts five minutes on the lips and instead rave about its color payoff, but that doesn’t mean that it contains anything that’s toxic. Also, it is usually cosmetic chemists that decide what to include in a product, not the big corporate bosses as I doubt they know what cosmetic ingredients do and what they need to use to formulate a body wash or a lipstick. You may find this information about it interesting: http://personalcaretruth.com/2012/07/big-corporations-the-5th-horseman-of-the-apocalypse/

    • I agree with you ecopunk. I have been researching too on the same and found them to be harmful. I have stopped using them myself. When one finds out that a particular ingredient is harmful one should stop using it, instead of waiting for things to happen plus this would also eliminate the companies from using it in future someday.
      Hope people understand.

      • Vicky, I agree with you that if an ingredient is harmful it shouldn’t be used, but so far I haven’t seen any convincing proof that this particular ingredient is indeed dangerous. While I do think it is a wonderful thing that people do their own research, the internet is also full of misinformation, making it difficult to figure out what’s bad and what’s safe.

        A lot of the sites claiming ALS and other surfactants are bad use as proof studies that are flawed because they are performed by using very high concentrations of these substances, or study their effects when taken orally or injected into the body. Therefore, their findings don’t apply to these ingredients when used in cosmetics.

        If instead, you have found proof that these surfactants, in the concentrations used in cosmetics, are harmful, please show it to me and I will change my mind. But until then, I’ll keep using them.

    • @Ecopunk, looks like you’ve done your research. Any recommendations for shampoos, conditioners and creams that are safe to use. I will be very grateful for the list.

  8. Let me put this straight I am not here to prove it to u or anybody else.
    I had mentioned that hope people understand some day but your day has clearly not come.
    U use it or u dont, it’s upto u but stop misguiding people. Let them judge on their own.
    And I do not expect a reply from u either.

    • Vicky, I don’t mean to offend, but why are you here then? You have clearly stated that you believe this ingredient to be harmful and accused me of misguiding people (which is a very serious accusation), yet you refuse to provide any proof to back these statements up? Why should I believe anything you say then?

      I have always been taught to think critically, do my research, question any statement and draw up my own conclusions based on proof. Yet you expect me to believe what you, a perfect stranger, has told me, without giving me any further explanation or proof? I don’t believe you are a liar, but not knowing you and your research, I have no way of knowing if your conclusion is right or wrong. Therefore, until I see some proof, I won’t believe it.

  9. Dear Beautiful with Braijns,
    Hmm, after reading the latest banter I am feeling more confused than ever. I am training to be an aromatherapist, and wanting to sell Neals Yard Organic Remedies, as I am thinking to myself that at least no one can slate their organic, fairtrade, eco-friendly products. Am I right? I have to say that I feel that I can trust you to the degree that you do seem to take on board all the proper scientific info available, and I don’t think that anyone should run you down unless they are also able to do likewise. This should be a debating site, not a slating site. SusieD

    • SusieD, thank you so much for your kind words. It’s very appreciated. Sorry for my late reply. I’ve researched the company as I haven’t tried anything from them yet and it seems like a good and solid line. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to sell a line that will avoid criticism because you never know what ingredients may be accused of being harmful next, and besides, everyone has their own definition of organic, so for some, this line may not be pure enough. Having said that, although the company uses the occasional synthetic substance, most of the ingredients are organic. In this, it is actually one of the best lines, as too often companies that claim to be organic rely too heavily on synthetic ingredients.

      And I wish you all the best in your future career.

  10. Dear Beautiful with Brains

    Thank you very much for your reply about Neal’s Yard. Another company that I am very interested in for it’s principles and use of bio-farmed ingredients is Dr. Hauschka. I don’t doubt their integrity, but do you think that their products really are superior, and have more efficacy than some others? I would really appreciate your views on this.

    SusieD

    • SusieD, Dr. Hauschka line is one of the purest too. But whether it’s one of the most effective is another matter entirely. The problem with organic ingredients and plant extracts is that, although they have their benefits and can moisturize skin, they very often don’t work as well as synthetic ingredients at treating more serious skin conditions like hyperpigmentation for instance. Plus, Dr Hauscka also doesn’t make any sunscreens, which are the most effective treatments at preventing premature aging.

      Of course the same considerations apply to Neal Yard’s. In a nutshell, there are ingredients that work better than others regardless of their origin, and when you decide to use only a type of them (in this case only organic one), you’ll also miss out on a lot of good substances that can address specific problems. Organic products have their limitations, but they can still, when properly formulated, work very well for people without serous skincare concerns. Hope this helps.

  11. Dear beautifulwithbrains

    Thank you for taking the time out answer my second question to you about Dr Hauschka.

    As you know, I am training to be an Aromatherapist and I have always been interested in natural and organic solutions to nutrition, health and skincare. I too have read up quite a lot of bumph over the years. I have to say that a lot of synthetic products used on the skin can actually cause more problems in the long term than they resolve. Recently I treated my stepfather for Rosacea. He has suffered with this for years, and no one was able to provide him with a remedial skin cream that actually worked – until I came up with a skincare regime as follows: Clean night and morning with gentle Chamomile Cleanser (organic – Neals Yard), then, at night-time, apply an organic oil mix (almond oil, wheatgerm oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, with 1% myrrh, 1% roman blue chamomile, and 0,5% frankincense essential oils. In the morning, after cleansing, applying Neals Yard organic Wild Rose Day cream, and if going out in the sun, also applying Neals Yard organic SPF 15 Lemongrass cream (reapplying every 2 hours). The dryness of the skin began to improve literally overnight, and only 2 weeks later his skin has reduced in redness so much, that you wouldn’t actually guess that he has rosacea now. After years of trying different things, none of us could truly believe the results. We are going to carry on with this regime for 3 months to ensure efficacy of the treatment long term.

    I do appreciate that you are giving up your time to answer people’s questions on the internet, but I do also think that you should really study natural and organic approaches to skincare, including organic healthy nutrition – afterall we are what we eat. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised how natural is best – it has to be if you think about it – because that is what we are made of – natural stuff. If you start patching up the body with unnatural stuff, you just end up with cancer, inevitably. It is just a question of finding the right organic stuff. You need to make sure that the company you buy from has integrity, and that organic means organic (soil association accredited), and not just 1 or 2% organic added to natural or otherwise main ingredients (such as I discovered with Dr Organics! – bit naughty with a name like that!). You will also find that a lot of remedies, even prescription ones are largely based on natural remedies – such as some cancer treatments, and also for example treatment for IBS – strong peppermint capsules. I am not saying that sometimes we don’t need to take allopathic medicines to save our lives – because we do – ie anti-biotics being a perfect example – but even that was discovered due to natural mould, and, if we all lived more organically and naturally and weren’t exposed to petrochemicals via car fumes and pesticides etc, we would be generally much more healthy anyway, and less likely to develop cancers and other nasties. Florence Nightingale is a perfect example – she advocated hand washing so as not to spread infection, and discovered that putting neat lavender oil directly onto burns was the best way to prevent infection developing in them, and to heal them.

    I am also a fitness instructor, and can say with confidence, that moderate exercise and a healthy, balanced diet (including the avoidance of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine) is the best thing in the world to treat depression (you will find huge amounts of clinical evidence to support this), and also to stave off most diseases such as diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease etc etc – the list is endless, and the more wholegrain and organic you can go – the more likely you are to stay in tip top health. The skin being the largest organ in the body is also included in this. So, following the above advice is the best way to achieve healthy skin, plus then only applying natural, organic substances from the outside in.

    This is absolutely not meant to be a criticism of you in any way – I am just trying to get the message across to as many people as possible that the only way for a truly Good Life is organic and natural, rather than an unhealthy, synthetic life, which is then patched up with more unhealthy, synthetic choices – it just can’t work without problems cropping up.

    All the best,

    SusieD

    • SusieD, you’re welcome. And thank you for your long comment. I agree with almost everything you said.

      I know that I can sometimes sound like I prefer synthetic ingredients to natural ones, but that’s not true. I prefer ingredients that work to those that don’t, regardless of their origin. I love shea butter to moisturize my body, olive oil to remove makeup and tea tree oil for zits for example. If I sound, at times, sceptical of natural ingredients is because a lot of them haven’t been properly studied yet, and so there is very little, if any, scientific evidence to support the cosmetic claims they make. Of course in the future science may confirm they work as well as they promise to, but in the meantime I’m hesitant to tell my readers to buy something that has only anecdotal evidence to support its claims, especially if it is expensive, when there are other scientifically-proven-to-work options.

      In addition, even those natural ingredients that are proven to work are very often used in such small concentrations that they don’t really do anything for the skin. If you want to go down the organic route, you definitely have to research every company and product carefully to find something that really works and is not just hyped up. On that, I completely agree with you.

      Another important thing to consider is that, as you justly said, a lot of synthetic stuff is derived from natural substances and that, in my opinion, often makes it safer. Plant extracts are often made up of tens of compounds, some of which are good, and others not so much and can, for instance, cause irritation. When you use plant extracts, you slather both the good and the bad components on your skin, while the synthetic compound contains only the good components extracted from the plant. Of course you can never generalize. There are plants that are good, don’t contain irritants and are very beneficial for the skin, which is why it’s important to do your research so you’ll be able to use products that contain only the best, safest, most effective natural ingredients. Your stepfather’s experience with Neal Yard products (thanks for sharing it with us and I’m glad he has found something that works for him) proves that sometimes natural is best than synthetic. So my point is, that there’s no synthetic=bad, natural=good, but it just depends on the ingredient. Each one is different, has different pros and cons, and we should use the ones that work best for us. The only way to do that is to do your research and sadly so far not enough studies on natural plants have been done. At least not on how they work in skincare.

      I completely agree with you that we should lead as healthy a life as possible (balanced diet, exercise, no alcohol, no smoking etc), but I don’t think we should worry about synthetic cosmetic ingredients giving us cancer. When it comes to food, plenty of fruits and vegs rather than processed food are way better for you, but what we put on our skin rarely penetrates inside. It simply stays on the surface so it won’t really harm us.

      I also wish you all the best in your career. You are a very committed lady and your clients will be lucky to have someone who does so much research on this topic.

  12. Dear Beautiful with Brains,

    Many thanks once again for your full response. I think that it is very healthy to have such debates on such an open forum as yours. I have to say, however, that I do stick by my thoughts that synthetic is bad for you, and that the “average” woman ingests (through her skin) approximately 4lbs of products through her skin each year. Do you remember that everyone used to eat margerine as it was hailed as this low-saturated fat aid to slimming and health, and it is now proven that these broken chain fatty acids do actually cause cancer, because these weak fat chains go on to form cell membranes, which in turn are weaker, and more prone to mutation, leading to cancer cells developing. I can’t see that it is any different for skin. I do understand that the top layer of skin is dead, squamous epithelia, but it is not totally impervious to products, otherwise such things as topical pain relief wouldn’t work when rubbed into the affected area. Apart from the immediate danger to human health, there is also the argument that organic and bio-farmed products are better for the fields they are grown in, and better for the water course that they are then washed away into. Also, anything with soil association accreditation is assured to be ethically sourced, and with thought to the local environment and it’s inhabitants.

    Honestly, I am not after an argument here, but I just think so deeply about human health and the impact that we are making on our planet, for our present, and for the future.

    Thank you for you kind comments about me as a therapist. That was very generous of you. I just feel that integrity is the key word.

    Best wishes

    SusieD

    • SusieD, you’re welcome and I agree that it’s important to debate important issues such as this.

      However, I don’t believe that synthetic cosmetic ingredients are harmful when topically applied because they very rarely penetrate the skin. The purpose of the skin is to keep things out of the body after all and it does a great job at that. It’s true that some ingredients can still penetrate inside. You made a great example with topical pain relief treatments, but have you noticed how few medicines can be taken topically? In most cases, you have to swallow a pill, drink a syrup or have an injection to treat illness and that’s because very few substances can actually penetrate skin. If a cream worked just as well, don’t you think they would have replaced injections?

      Most cosmetic ingredients have molecules that are too big to penetrate the skin and remain on the surface. There are some that can get inside the body but these are very strictly regulated. The real concern with synthetic ingredients, and the best reason to switch to organic is, imo, that we don’t know how they impact the environment. These ingredients may remain on the surface of the skin, but when you cleanse it, they end up down the drain and into the environment. And unfortunately not many studies have been done on the effects they have on the water supply, the soil etc. Some of these substances may not pose a threat even then, but others might.

      Unfortunately, switching to organic is not easy for a lot of women. Most companies that claim to be organic aren’t, and those that are may be too expensive for many women or not easily available in their area. I do hope, though, that in the future these issues will be addressed, that scientists will study this subject more throughoutly, and that companies will come out with products that are safe not just for us, but also for the environment, as it is in that way that ultimately synthetic stuff could have bad effects on our health.

  13. Dear Beautiful with Brains,

    Thank you so much for your reply. It seems as though we are singing from the same hymnsheet afterall! You obviously do know your stuff. Yes, “organic” can be misleading, I absolutely agree with you. I am setting up a retail business alongside my aromatherapy, in which I will only sell Soil Association Certified products, which are also only 100% organic. Thus, doing the homework for everyone. It is a minefield out there, trying to buy 100% organic products for body, skin, and household cleaning without having to scour the internet endlessly, and spending a lot of p&p on different websites. I will let you know my webname(company name) when set up!

    Thank you for all of your debating, and I do have respect for you as a well-read individual.

    All the best.

    SusieD

    • SusieD,

      I think so too. Personally, I don’t mind much about the origin of ingredients, whether they are natural or synthetic, but I do care that what we use is safe both for us and for the environment. And I hope that this recent organic craze will lead scientists to study not just the impact ingredients have on our bodies, but also on the environment, and that companies will put those findings to good use to make safer products.

      And I wish you all the best with your business endeavours. I think it’s wonderful that you are creating a company that sells only certified products. It’s not an easy task but with your dedication and determination I’m sure you will succeed. And yes, please, let me know when the business is set up so that I can share it with my readers.

  14. How’s your take on Yves Rocher? scale of 1 to 10……..10 being best? Btw I quite reading the novel above lol…..How do you do it girl?????????

    • Debbie, it’s difficult to give it a rating because I find Yves Rocher is one of those brands that is very hit and miss. Also, while some of their products are completely natural, others contain quite a few synthetic ingredients. This doesn’t necessarily compromise the efficacy of the products, but if you’re into organic skincare, you may want to read the ingredient lists carefully to avoid those that contain synthetic substances.

  15. Dear BWB,
    I just brought Image Skin Care into my studio and I’m wondering about the quality compared to some of the other great lines such as Environ or skincueticals.
    You’re only as beautiful as the products applied to your skin.
    Thanks

    • All about skin care, I had never heard of this line before. Judging from what I’ve seen on their website, their products seem good. I like for instance, that the Vitamin C serum contains 15% L-ascorbic acid. So many Vitamin C products contain amounts that are too small to work. But I wish they paid more attention to the packaging. Some of their antiaging products are packed in jars which will reduce the effectiveness of the antioxidants overtime. This brand doesn’t really offer anything that other brands like skinceuticals aren’t offering either though, so in the end the main deciding factor may be the price. I don’t know how much Image Skin Care products cost, but Skinceuticals’ ones, though effective, are often overpriced.

    • Ali, there really isn’t much difference between Ammonium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. They work pretty much the same. It’s Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate that should be avoided because they are much harsher.

      • hi beautifulwithbrains,
        I have been skimming through all these comments and I wonder what your thoughts are on Nu Skin? The Galvanic Spa which is a hand held device with mild currents to carry the cleanser and moisturiser deep to the dermis. It is definitely not natural but scientifically proven for anti-aging results/rosecea and sun damage. I wonder if you have heard of it?
        Thanks

        • Dearne, hi. Honestly, I’m not a fan of this product. I’ve seen some rave reviews online, so it may work for some people but the gels, which you need to repurchase every month, just contain a bunch of ingredients that create a film on your skin and plant extracts that don’t do much. Besides, this type of product could easily irritate sensitive skin. Frankly, I’d just rather invest in a good moisturizer chock full of retinoids and antioxidants than this.

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