Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

I am not a fan of urban legends about toxic chemicals in cosmetics. People pass them on and they become accepted as true without the underlying facts every coming to light. I guess it is more fun to scare the pants off each other than to weigh the evidence. I wrote about it in this article on cosmetic safety.

However, Science Daily does not publish scare stories. So I pay attention when they report that the most popular eczema cream can actually make eczema worse.

… the cream contains a detergent, called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which can increase the permeability of the skin barrier and cause irritation.

The study found that when healthy volunteers applied the cream to their forearms daily for a period of four weeks, the thickness of the stratum corneum was reduced by more than ten per cent.

The researchers anticipate that using this cream would have an even more dramatic effect on damaged skin such as that found in eczema.

I am an advocate of organic, plant-based moisturizers for dry skin. I find they work better than synthetic dry skin products. They support and complement the skin’s moisture barrier. And clearly, the wrong kinds of synthetic products can do more harm than good.

Richard Guy, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University and Project Supervisor, explained: “The skin has a protective barrier layer of lipids, around one eighth the thickness of a sheet of paper, that stops chemicals from getting into the body and keeps moisture in.

SLS is a detergent used to mix oils into water-based moisturisation creams to give a nice creamy texture. It’s also used widely in shower gels and other cosmetics. Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals.”

Even organic products can cause reactions in some people. The key is to try out different products until you find one that gives you the best results. There is no one-size-fits-all. But I am confident that once you find an organic moisturizer that is right for your skin, you will not look back.

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