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Sulphates: the Truth Behind Harsh Cleansing Agents and Why We Don't Use Them

 Sulphates: the Truth Behind Harsh Cleansing Agents

In the world of skincare, where everyone wants beautiful and healthy skin, there's a word that's causing worry: sulphates. These are in things like shampoos, body washes, and face cleansers, and people are concerned they might be bad for our skin and health.

What Are Sulphates and How They Are Made

Sulfates are synthetic detergents that belong to the family of surfactants. Two of the most widely recognised sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These compounds possess strong foaming and cleansing properties, making them popular choices for creating rich lathers in various personal care products. But, underneath the bubbly lather, there's a hidden truth about how they affect our skin. 

They are typically derived from petroleum or natural sources like coconut or palm oil. Here's how sulphates are made:

  • Starting Materials: The production of sulphates begins with starting materials such as fatty acids from coconut or palm oil. These fatty acids are essential building blocks used in various chemical processes.
  • Sulfonation: The next step involves sulfonation, where the fatty acids are reacted with sulfuric acid or sulfur trioxide. This process results in the creation of sulfonic acids, which are the main components of sulphates.
  • Neutralisation: The sulfonic acids are then neutralised with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) or another alkali compound. This neutralisation reaction produces the sodium salts of these sulfonic acids, which are the sulphates used in various products.
  • Purification and Processing: The resulting sodium sulphate is further processed to remove impurities and ensure its quality and stability. The final sulphate compound is a white crystalline powder that can be easily incorporated into formulations.
  • Formulation: Manufacturers use these sulfate compounds in various products, including shampoos, body washes, detergents, and more. Sulphates are added to these formulations to create the characteristic foaming and cleansing action that consumers often associate with effective cleaning.

 The Potential Danger of Sulphates in Skincare

The intense cleansing and foaming abilities of sulphates make them attractive to manufacturers aiming to create products with luxurious lathers. People usually think that lots of bubbles mean a product is really good at cleaning. But, this idea can trick us. Sulphates make lots of bubbles, but they can be too rough and cause problems for our skin and hair. So, even though we might think big bubbles are great, they can actually be bad for us. They can strip the skin of its natural oils, disrupting the delicate balance that maintains skin hydration and protection. This harsh removal of oils can leave the skin dry, irritated, and susceptible to damage.

The potential risks associated with sulphates are significant:

  • Skin Irritation: Sulphates are strong cleansers that can strip away the skin's natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. This is especially concerning for people with sensitive or dry skin types.

  • Allergic Reactions: Sulphates have the potential to trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Skin itching, redness, and inflammation are common symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and distressing.

  • Eye Irritation: Products containing sulphates, especially those meant for facial cleansing, can cause stinging and irritation if they come into contact with the eyes. This can be particularly uncomfortable for people who wear contact lenses.

  • Disruption of Natural Barrier: Sulphates can disrupt the skin's natural protective barrier, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. This disruption can make the skin more vulnerable to external aggressors and environmental pollutants.

  • Acne Aggravation: For people with acne-prone skin, sulphates can worsen the condition by overly drying the skin and triggering increased oil production as the skin tries to compensate for the dryness.

  • Long-Term Effects: Continuous exposure to sulphates over a long period of time can lead to chronic skin dryness, sensitivity, and a compromised skin barrier. This can contribute to premature ageing and overall skin discomfort.

  • Environmental Impact: Sulfates are known to be non-biodegradable and can potentially accumulate in water bodies, harming aquatic life and ecosystems.

  • Endocrine Disruption: Some research suggests that certain sulphate compounds might have endocrine-disrupting effects, potentially affecting hormone balance in the body. However, more research is needed to fully understand this aspect.

  • Potential Carcinogenicity: There have been debates about whether sulphates can form potentially harmful byproducts when they interact with other chemicals, leading to concerns about their safety over extended periods.

Natural Alternatives To Sulphates In Skincare Products

  • Coco-Glucoside: This gentle surfactant is derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. It creates a mild lather and effectively cleanses the skin without stripping its natural oils.

  • Decyl Glucoside: Another plant-derived surfactant, decyl glucoside, is made from coconut and corn. It's suitable for sensitive skin and helps maintain the skin's natural pH balance.

  • Castile Soap: Castile soap, often made from olive oil, is a natural and gentle cleanser that can be used in various skincare products, including body washes and cleansers.

  • Saponins: Saponins are natural compounds found in plants like soapnuts and quinoa. They have natural foaming properties and can be used as a mild cleanser.

  • Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera gel is a soothing and hydrating natural alternative that can be used in cleansing and foaming products. It's especially suitable for sensitive skin.

  • Yucca Root Extract: Yucca root extract contains natural saponins and can be used to create a mild foaming action in skincare products.

  • Soapwort Extract: Soapwort is a plant rich in saponins, making it a natural and gentle cleanser for the skin.

  • Rhassoul Clay: Rhassoul clay, also known as Moroccan clay, can be used as a natural cleanser and exfoliant in skincare products. It helps remove impurities without over-drying the skin.

These natural alternatives are effective at cleansing the skin without the harshness associated with sulphates. They are suitable for people with sensitive skin or those who prefer to use natural and eco-friendly skincare products.

    The Sulphate-Free Approach

    At LIZA VETA, we focus on creating skincare products that are good for your skin and overall wellbeing. That's why we choose not to add sulphates in our hand and body washes. Instead, we use gentle, naturally-derived cleansing agents that effectively cleanse without causing harm. Our sulphate-free hand and body washes cleanse without stripping the skin's natural oils, ensuring that your skin stays clean, moisturised, nourished, and comfortable.

    Choose between our natural Neroli Hand and Body Wash to improve your energy and focus; calming Lavender Hand and Body Wash to relax and prepare for better sleep; and sensual Jasmine Hand and Body Wash for mood boosting.

    luxury body and hand washes and lotions

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