Tag Archives: sodium laureth sulfate

Why is my skin so dry?

Image Source: ensacarmexico.com
Image Source: ensacarmexico.com

Customers are always asking me, “Dahlia, why is my skin so dry? What can I do?”

Every single person deals with dry, itchy, tight or scaling skin at one time or another. Why does this happen? What are ways to reduce the effects of dry skin? Here are some answers. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing dry skin. Here are the more common reasons:


HOT SHOWERS: If you read the post READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 1] The Purpose of Your Skin, then you’ll have an understanding of the sebum or natural oil our body produces that not only hydrates but protects the epidermis from environmental exposure. This sebum helps keep our skin stay hydrated and healthy. Hot baths and showers actually remove the sebum; stripping your skin of moisture, and thus, causes dryness, itchy and flaky skin.

SOAP & SHOWER GEL: This is mostly true for soaps and shower gels containing a synthetic lathering ingredient known as sodium laurel/ethyl/laureth sulfate (SLS)  and ammonium laurel sulfate (ALS). These types of products encourage sebum removal and are one of the primary contributors to the dry skin, eczema, itchy skin epidemic. Antibacterial soaps and leave-on products can also cause the pH of the skin to become imbalanced, causing more dryness.

Try changing your store-bought products and transitioning to an oil-based bar soap that’s super hydrating. Stop using anti-bacterial products. There’s actually insufficient evidence that these products are useful anyway. (An article to come later.)

Something else to consider. If you’re experiencing weird breakouts or rashes, this is often attributed to synthetic soaps.

TOO MANY SHOWERS: You know, back in the day, taking a shower every day was unheard of, mostly for water conservation/availability/difficulty heating. But today, many of us are taking 1-2 showers a day! If you’re suffering from dry skin, consider limiting how many showers you take to every other day. If you are an athlete and get super stinky, consider using soap only after the workout, and room temp/warm water and no soap for your second shower. Further, consider only applying soap to the areas where body parts touch, under arms, etc. Give the skin a chance for sebum to build up again.

A SCRUB DOWN: Are you using a loofah or some other abrasive cloth during your shower? These can actually be very good to help exfoliate dead skin. But remember, we’re losing 30-40 thousand dead skin cells every minute by doing nothing at all. Excessive exfoliation can cause the skin to become sensitive and doesn’t allow the skin to cycle properly. Use a softer wash cloth, and save the more abrasive scrubbing accessories to use 2-3x a week.

WEATHER CONDITIONS: In winter, keep your skin covered, and ALWAYS hydrate every part of your body. The best way to hydrate for winter is applying a natural oil to your damp skin right after a shower. Good ones are coconut, grapeseed, almond, sesame or olive oil. Avoid using synthetic moisturizers as many contain ingredients that can actually contribute to dry skin. In summer, avoid sun exposure and take cool showers.

DIET: The way your skin looks and feels is often highly attributed to what you feed your body. If you’re suffering from dry skin, drink plenty of water or coconut water, and if you can stomach it, occasionally drink aloe vera juice which is also great for the stomach. (Avoid aloe vera juice if pregnant.)  Don’t forget, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and your organs need water to function properly.

Also, mineral and fatty acid deficiencies contribute to skin problems including eczema, psoriasis, dry, itchy and flaking skin. For example, zinc deficiency is often linked to eczema. Consider taking omega 3-6-9 supplements which also encourage collagen and conditioning of the skin. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Please share some techniques you’ve used to combat dry skin.

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READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 6] Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

I decided to start with this ingredient because I recently met a lady who’s blood work showed she was allergic to this ingredient. The information presented is based on lots of research hours, and I’m breaking it down so it’s easy to digest. Hope you pay attention!

What is sodium laurel/ethyl/laureth sulfate (SLS)  and ammonium laurel sulfate (ALS)?  It’s artificial soap. (I can get technical, but what’s the point?)

babyshampooWhere you’ll find it:

  • detergents & dish soap
  • body soap
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • face wash
  • medical ointments
  • bubble baths
  • children’s soaps/shampoos
  • hair dyes
  • flea/tick repellent
  • food additives
  • stain removers
  • carpet cleaners
  • fabric glues
  • shaving creams
  • mascara
  • mouthwash
  • lotions/creams

What are the effects of exposure?
SLS/ALS is a molecule that attaches to estrogen receptors, mimicking the effects of this hormone throughout the body. What happens next is hormonal chaos, to the point where the body can no longer control or recognize its own estrogen levels (both males and females have estrogen). When this happens, your body’s endocrine (hormonal) functions go wacky.

Here are some findings based on toxicology data and research studies. SLS/ALS:

  • Cannot be metabolized by the liver
  • Causes eye irritation (potential corneal damage/eye deformities)
  • Scalp irritation/hair follicle damage
  • effects estrogen levels (PMS, menopause, male fertility, increase risk of female cancer, breast cancer)
  • It’s a mutagen (mutates your genes)
  • Potential organ damage

A recent study by the non-profit, Environmental Working Group, showed that many cosmetic products, including more than half of all baby soaps, contained a carcinogenic chemical.

The Hidden Foaming Agent not Required to be Listed by the FDA
There’s a chemical called 1,4-dioxane that is created as a bi product (during manufacturing process) of creating chemicals such as SLS/ALS, and in anything that says “PEG,” “xynol, “ceteareth,” and “oleth.”

Basically, it’s another foaming agent, that too, is a cancer-causing chemical. Sadly, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does NOT require this ingredient to be listed on products. The Environmental Working Group found that 22% of all cosmetic and skin care products, of some 25,000, may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.

Where you’ll find 1,4-dioxane:

  • 97% hair relaxers
  • 82% hair dyes and bleaching
  • 66% hair removers
  • 57% baby soap
  • 45% sunless tanning products
  • 43% body firming lotion
  • 36% hormonal creams
  • 36% facial moisturizers
  • 35% anti-aging products
  • 34% body lotions
  • 33% eye creams

Avoid using artificial soaps. You’ll usually find SLS/ALS (spelled out) in the ingredients list. It typically appears as the second item on the list, next to water. Try natural bar soaps (cold-processed made with lye) or castile soap.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from my presentation “READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural and Organic Skin Care.”

Written by Dahlia Kelada, from her presentation READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural & Organic Skin Care  © 2013 All Rights Reserved

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READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 4] Is your shower killing you?

Source: www.unionhardwaredc.com
Source: unionhardwaredc.com

Okay, don’t freak out. But at the same time, this is important wisdom that you will never forget after reading this post. Please share this information with your family and friends.

First, we’ll talk about the four things to consider about chemical absorption, and then we’ll talk about your daily shower.

Chemical Absorption

1 – Method of consumption: If you read [PART 2] of my READ THE LABEL series, you’ll know there are four methods of consumption. Meaning, things enter your body through 1) digestion; 2) inhalation; 3) injection; and 4) through the skin. How you are exposing yourself to a product may increase the chance of absorption. In other words, drinking hair gel will have a different toxic affect and absorption in your body compared to using it in your hair.

2 – Concentration: How much of that product we are putting, and at what concentration. Is that chemical being diluted, or is it being applied/inhaled/digested/injected at 100% concentration?

3 – Time: This is so important, how long you allow a chemical to stay on or in your body increases the toxic absorption. The example I give here is using bleach cleaner. If you mop your floor with bleach, you should be diluting it per the instructions on the container. So what if you accidentally splash your leg while mopping the floor? Well you should immediately go wash your legs. If you wait to wash your leg till after you’re done mopping the kitchen, the longer time that chemical has had to absorb through your skin, breaking the sebum layer, and entering into the blood stream.

Now, think about the same scenario happening if the bleach wasn’t diluted. What if it got into your eyes? Have you stopped to consider the vapor from bleach, and that you’re inhaling it the entire time/and post cleaning?

What if you’re not using a chemical as strong as bleach? What if it’s your favorite lemony scented wood cleaner or window cleaner … often times, we over look the fact that many of these products have a “fragrance” or “scent” (which by the way is almost always petroleum based) that creates fumes that we inhale and that irritate our eyes.

4 – Frequency: How often you are exposing your body to those chemicals. Is it daily, hourly, monthly?

The combination of these four factors will determine how much absorption you’ll experience with the chemicals to which you are exposed. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that this method of evaluation is used in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and assessments of chemicals and their safe use, even in industrial applications.

Your Daily Shower
Hopefully everyone is staying clean, but let’s be clean without putting our health in danger. In an average shower we use shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, shaving gel, etc. Think about how many ingredients are used to make up each of those products. Stop reading this and go read your labels. Meet me back here when you’re done!

Okay, so each product probably has 10+ ingredients, many of them you know, most you have no clue, right? In my upcoming posts, I’ll talk about some of these ingredients individually. But for now, the point you need to know is, if you’re exposing yourself to these products daily (frequency) for 15 minutes (time) and applied on body/hair (method of consumption) but don’t forget, the hot water creates a vapor for these chemicals (method of consumption). That’s 5475 minutes a year you are spending putting chemicals on your body. AND THAT’S JUST THE SHOWER! And how many chemicals did you count again??

This is your intervention. Take steps to eliminate exposure to these chemicals by stopping them cold turkey. It’s like going on a permanent product diet. Be smart, this is your family we’re talking about.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from my presentation “READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural and Organic Skin Care.”

Written by Dahlia Kelada, from her presentation READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural & Organic Skin Care  © 2013 All Rights Reserved

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Clay as an Alternative to Sulfate Shampoo?

Clays have been used around the world for centuries as cosmetic tools as well as medicinal aids. As of late, research has shown the effectiveness of clay making it increasingly popular for health, skin-care and scalp conditions. Clays are used to absorb excess dirt, oil and toxins from the skin while simultaneously exfoliating and improving skin circulation.

For the hair and scalp, clays remove dirt, oil and build-up with out stripping the hair. It also provides moisture removing the need to add a conditioner. Some clays, such as bentonite, can even be ingested internally to help detoxify the body of harsh chemicals and provide calcium to the bones. Still not sold on using clays in your hair? Well let’s talk about that ordinary store-bought shampoo you’re currently using and just how dangerous it may be to your health.

shampoo-bottle-labelingTraditionally, we have been taught to wash with shampoo, condition and style. You receive great satisfaction piling your hair on top of your head and allowing those white suds to strip away dirt, oil and sweat. But what if I told you that your glorified shampoo over time would cause more harm than good? Drying out your hair, causing it to become dry, brittle, weak and ultimately damaged over prolonged use. What if I told you that the same shampoo is not only responsible for damaging your hair but also has the capabilities to cause skin and eye damage, immunological problems and the risk for potential cancer related issues.

Back to the Basics: What is Shampoo and How does it Work?
Shampoos typically include surfactants that are effective at stripping away oil. This is their main and only purpose. Some of the most common surfactants found in shampoo are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). Actually, these 3 ingredients can be found in a multitude of every day products such as shampoos, scalp treatments, hair dyes and hair bleach, tooth-paste, body washes, liquid make-up foundation, hand soap, laundry detergent and house-hold cleansing products. These surfactants are harsh on the hair because they possess an alkaline pH balance as well as a negative charge. It opens the cuticle of the hair, which causes your hair to be dry after washing.

Why You Should Avoid Sulfates in Your Shampoo
There are chemicals in every product that sits on a store shelf. Whenever you apply anything to your body, face or hair, it is immediately absorbed into your bloodstream and filtered to your organs, accumulating over time because our bodies lack the necessary enzymes to break down foreign chemicals. (a)  Recent studies suggest that SLS, SLES and ALS are not harmful to the body. However, keep in mind that these are not the only chemicals found in your products. Every product that you use contains at least 10 chemicals. Check the ingredients label of your facial soap, tooth-paste, shampoo, body wash and make-up. Notice how many different chemicals are entering your body on a daily basis. The average person consumes 5+ lbs of toxins per year just using cosmetic products alone. (b)  Though this may not seem like a large number, think about how long you’ve been using these products. That number could be much greater.

Based on the book, “Beauty to Die For,” by Judi Vance, (c)  research studies on SLS have shown links to:

  • Irritation to the skin and eyes
  • Organ toxicity
  • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
  • Neurotoxcity
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Eco-toxicology
  • Biochemical and cellular changes
  • Possible mutations

Why do Companies Use Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodum Lauyrl Sulfate and Ammoinum Laurel Sulfate?
It’s simple. If there is one word that you will find heavily saturated in the cosmetic industry but you never hear anyone say is CHEAP. As a consumer we are anxious to buy things off the shelf that include fancy labels appealing to our frustrations of dry hair, dry skin, hyper-pigmentation etc. But for companies, the bottom line is profit. They want to use the cheapest available ingredients, mark up the product and make a tremendous profit at the sake of your health. Ingredients like SLS, SLES and ALS are relatively cheap for companies to modify allowing it to give us that sudsy cleaning foam that we all have been conditioned to look for.

Using Clay as a Chemical-Free Shampoo
There are a multitude of organic and natural alternatives such as castile soap, shampoo bars, sulfate-free shampoos and some of my personal favorites – clays. Clays are great because they have a multitude of conditioning & cleansing properties. They are also great for the face and body.  They contain occurring nutrients such as calcium and vitamin’s A and E. The following are just as effective for cleansing the hair and scalp without causing the hair to become dry and brittle over time. In fact, the following clays will actually improve the health of your hair which is something we all want.

  • Bentonite Clay – Bentonite Clay has a high negative charge, and therefore a strong attraction to heavy metals and toxins that it comes in contact with. With this stronger charge, it is able to pull in more unwanted toxins from the hair, thoroughly cleansing the hair by removing product buildup allowing for better moisture. Bentonite clay also has amazing conditioning properties. No conditioners are needed applying rinsing this clay out.
  • Rhassoul Clay – When applied to the face Rhassoul clay removes oil, dirt and pollutants from the skin that the ordinary cleanser cannot reach. When applied to the hair and scalp, it will cleanse, provide moisture, detangle and provide shine in ways that your ordinary shampoo simply can’t.

Step-by-Step: How to Make Your Own Clay Shampoo
I have very curly and textured hair that is prone to dryness and breakage. I use the following recipe to cleanse and condition my hair after a long week of yoga and workouts. Depending on the length and texture of your hair, this will vary. If you have fine hair or oily hair, you may want to cut back on the oils, or remove them altogether. If you do not like olive oil or tea tree oil, feel free to add some alternatives like rosemary, neem, grape seed, or almond. This recipe is completely customizable to your needs and hair type. **Please note: If this is your first time using clay as shampoo, be cautious as this can be a messy process. Wear an old t-shirt and use newspaper if you have carpet** All of the products in this recipe can be found in local food stores such as H-E-B, Trader Joes or Whole Foods in the health section.

Here is what you need:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a glass bowl using a wooden spoon. It’s very important that you do not use metal as it will contaminate your mixture. You should end up with what appears to be wet mud. If you need to add more apple cider vinegar do so. If you find that your mixture is too watery, add more clay.

Begin applying the clay mixture to your scalp (the key to healthy hair is a healthy scalp. Your scalp should always be your primary focus) and work your way down the shaft of the hair. I typically have just enough left over to make my own mask. I apply the remaining mixture to my face. After about 10 minutes, I hop in the shower and rinse my face and hair simultaneously. Do not allow the clay mixture to get hard while it is in your hair. If you find that you have small bits of clay left in your hair add a dab of olive oil to the area and rinse.

We want to hear from you! Have you tried clays for cleansing? Share your recipes. What natural alternatives have you tried for you hair and scalp?

Written by: Tamala Freeman

(a) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx
(b) http://www.cncahealth.com/health-info/general/cosmetics-dangerous-toxins.htm
(c) http://www.health-report.co.uk/sodium_lauryl_sulphate.html


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