What is SLS and why we should switch to gentler alternatives #cleanerbeauty

SLS free beauty Weleda

As part of the Weleda Cleaner beauty campaign today I am tackling the topic of SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, what is it and do we need it in our skincare routines? Sulphates are a group of ingredients that create bubbles and foam and are adding to everyday household products such as hand-wash, washing up liquid, shower gels and face washes. Sulphates are detergents, known in the industry as surfactants and they are very effective at cleaning and removing oils, I would say a little too effective for them to be included in skincare.

There are different types of surfactants you will find on the ingredients list of your personal care products, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) is the most common, but other similar ingredients are SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate), ALS (Ammonium Lauryl sulphate) and Sodium coco sulphate. All of these are slightly different variations, but they ultimately have the same function, which is adding a foaming action to a product.

So why so much controversy about these ingredients? SLS (Sodium Lauryl sulphate) has been found to be drying on the skin, especially if you are already suffering from a skin condition affecting its function, such as eczema or psoriasis. SLS is also often found in toothpastes and there is a link between mouth ulcers and the use of SLS.

Do we need all of our products to foam? I would argue that actually we really don’t! Our skin is our biggest organ, it has a valuable function of protecting us from the world, keeping it as healthy as it can be should be our main priority. Our skin has it’s own little eco-system, packed with different kinds of bacteria that are actually essential for it to function properly. When you consistently use products that strip the skin of that natural bacteria and oils it opens the doors for other, not so friendly bacteria to get in. Although some people seem to tolerate products with SLS in them relatively well, others are sensitive to this ingredient even at small concentrations. If you are experiencing dry, itchy and unhappy skin, then changing up some of your products could really make a positive difference.

So what to use instead? Here are some of my favourite Weleda products that are all sulphate free and formulated to be gentle. As well as avoiding some of the harsher surfactants for gentler plant based ones, Weleda also add lots of wonderfully moisturising ingredients in, so they will help repair the damage done by a harsh routine.

SLS free cleansers Weleda

Cleansing – I believe in cleansing twice a day, to remove dirt and grime, it is the most important part of any skincare routine. Getting it right is important and over the years I have become more and more strict about avoiding any cleansers that leave the skin feeling tight or uncomfortable. All the Weleda cleansers are SLS free, I personally favour a creamy cleanser so my favourite is the Almond soothing cleansing lotion, ideal for skin that is easily sensitised and one of my most repurchased skincare products. For make up removal the Almond soothing facial oil is brilliant, if you are wearing a lot of make up take a damp cotton pad and add a few drops, it will remove even stubborn mascara. If my skin is particularly dry I add a few drops of the almond oil to the almond cleanser, they are both essential oil free and so soothing.

For those of you with more combination skin that enjoy a more traditional face wash, Weleda have just launched their new Gentle cleansing foam. The foaming action comes from the pump dispenser rather than adding lots of harsh surfactants, the ingredients Weleda have chosen are ultra mild. I have been testing this one for a few weeks and I really like it for the warmer months, it is lovely and refreshing on the skin, perfect in the mornings. Weleda have also added marshmallow which is soothing and witch hazel which is balancing.

Weleda bodywash - SLS free

Body wash – For years I have been saying how much I love the Weleda body washes, the formula in my opinion is one of the best on the market. Not only do they not add harsh surfactants, opting for gentler alternatives but the creamy body washes are also packed with sesame oil which gives them a really beautiful moisturising texture. If you use them with a Konjac sponge or shower puff you get a lovely lather with none of the drying ingredients.

There is a scent for every mood or occasion! My personal favourite is the pomegranate, which is a warm fruity scent, but I also love the gentle scent of the almond which I reached for a lot when I was pregnant as it felt very comforting on the skin. The children’s 2in1 shampoo and body washes are a total household staple, I have lost track of how many bottles I have bought and my kids love the scents! If you are looking to cut back on your packaging waste, you can opt for the fantastic bar soaps which I think are very underrated.

These are just a few suggestions to help you make the transition to SLS free products. Have you got any favourites? Let me know in the comments below! Find all the products mentioned at www.weleda.co.uk.

I am proud to be a Weleda Cleaner beauty ambassador and advisor, spreading the word about cleaner beauty. Post contains some PR samples and also products purchased by me.
Ana Green

Written by Ana – A beauty industry professional who is passionate about product and helping people navigate the marketing hype in the beauty industry.