Sunday, 15 November 2009


Not the girl group, alas. But the stuff. I've had an ongoing battle with it - well, with the ubiquitousness of the ingredient sodium lauryl sulphate in particular. Since childhood I've suffered from extremely dry, sensitive skin (it can crack and bleed of its own accord if I don't moisturise - quite the incentive!) and from eczema. I've also had a horribly itchy, flaky scalp that is prone to sores and bleeding (sometimes so much so I can barely put my head on the pillow). Sorry for the gruesome detail!

The funny thing is, that when I've been to the GP about my scalp I've always been prescribed incredibly harsh dandruff shampoos that have further stripped my scalp and made the condition worse. Excuse the pun, but it left me and my GP scratching our heads in puzzlement.

Until I read about SLS when I started to get interested in natural skincare. This foaming agent is in most shampoos, body washes and (yuck!) toothpastes. It doesn't do anything except create lather - which we psychologically associate with cleanliness. And it is a known skin irritant.

Since I've opted for shampoos free of SLS and its milder derivative sodium laureth sulphate my scalp has been sooo much happier, I can't tell you how different it is. I can't believe I've had this scalp problem for years and years and all this time it was my shampoo that was causing it. I'm pretty horrified that even many BABY shampoos (including Johnsons & Johnsons!) contain these two ingredients. I also try to avoid it in shower gels now too - and my skin has felt much less itchy as a result. The difference in both makes me realise what toxic ingredients they really are. I've also read the SLS in toothpastes can give people mouth ulcers which I also suffer from, so I'm considering changing that too.

However, the unfortunate thing is that a lot of SLS-free shampoos are very drying on the hair, and mine is long and very thick so it needs a decent, moisturising shampoo and an ultra rich conditioner to stop it being a tangled mess with lots of split ends (though I think those have also reduced remarkably since I switched - and I blowdry my hair every time I wash it). I've gone through quite a few by now with varying degrees of success, so I thought I'd give a lowdown of the ones I've tried so far:

Lavera Almond Milk Shampoo for Sensitive Scalps:

This is a special "natural" brand. This smelt like marzipan, but in a sickly cyanidey way. It was also quite drying on the hair. I felt no desire to rebuy. And the lime green old fashioned packaging's hideous too. I'm superficial, it's true.

Vo5 Soothe and Shine:

This was so cheap at £1.15 and was up until recently easy to find on the high street. This has ammonium lauryl sulphate in, which can also irritate, but I had a good run with this until it was discontinued :( Recently my final remaining bottle has been irritating my scalp, though, so I guess it is time to move on, but what I loved was that my hair was indeed very shiny after using this, and very soft too.

Daniel Galvin Junior Kids's Shampoo in Watermelon:

A great everyday shampoo with a yummy watermelon scent that makes me think of NERD sweets we had as kids. Not drying, and reasonably prices at £3. I'd buy this again if I could find it! I think larger branches of Waitrose stock DGJ but I rarely can get to one.

Danier Galvin Junior Hair Rescue Shampoo with Lavender:

Very very soothing when my scalp is extra-stressed (usually when the rest of me is!) It is rich and non-drying. I really rate this range.

Trilogy Smoothe and Shine:

The priciest I've tried at £11. This has ALS in it like the V05 Soothe and Shine, which narks me a bit given its "luxury naturals" price tag. But it doesn't irritate and it makes my hair look and feel fantastic (it has a really noticeable straightening and de-fuzzing effect!) Though I'm not commenting on the corresponding conditioners, I have to say the Smoothe and Shine conditioner is my HG conditioner - my hair has never felt so soft. I just wish it didn't cost £22 for the two!

Dr Organic Honey Shampoo:
This is £5 and part of Holland & Barrett's new own-brand line of bodycare, all of which is SLS and paraben free. There are tons of products (body washes, lotions, butters, toothpastes and deodorants) and several ranges (Pomegranate, Tea Tree, Lavender and Vitamin E) to choose from. This looked like the most moisturising bar the Vit E (but I'm a sucker for honey scents and so bought this instead!) In hindsight perhaps I should've opted for Vit E as this had the unfortunate effect of drying out my hair and making it greasy quickly at the same time. I also had some scalp itchiness which I was not pleased with! I'm using it up as a shower gel right now. The positive thing about it is that you can actually feel the honey content in it - it's kinda gluey and sticky to the touch! But not sure you really want that in a shampoo!

As my scalp is stressed right now I've bought a new one to try today: Waitrose's own brand Organic Moisturising shampoo. Incidentally, Waitrose's baby shampoo and body washes do not hav SLS or sodium laureth sulphate in them, and they stock a wide veriety of "natural" bodycare ranges including Neal's Yard, Weleda and Burt's Bees. My shampoo was £3.90 and I'm hoping it'll be good. Fingers crossed!


  1. Good luck with the new shampoos. I can't believe they put these ingrediants into baby products, its so scary. x

  2. OH SISTER I FEEL YOUR ITCHY FLAKY PAIN. Ahem. I went to a dermatologist in SA years ago for a bumper consultation on Allergies England has Given Me, and my scalp was one of them. He prescribed nice soothing stuff which sort of worked. I've been using Allergenics Gentle Medicated Shampoo (get it at my reflexologist's place, ahem, but I've seen it in health shops) for a while now, and except when I'm stressed, overhistamined, or eating too much ice-cream, it's pretty good. Smells delicious; don't know about the drying effects as I slap masses of Aussie Long-Locks on afterwards, which would moisturise the Sahara... I'm going to try some of your list though! Daniel Galvin and Trilogy want to be my friends!

  3. Hey Nazneen, I have the exact same problem you do with SLS - I have very fine flyaway/frizzy curly hair though so probably need moisture but not weight.

    The best shampoo I can find it Australian Organics Moisturising Shampoo (around £3.99-£4.00 depending on where you get it). Their conditioners are also good. You could also try Weleda (more expensive but good and gentle), or if you can get hold of it Urtekram shampoos are lovely.

    Funnily enough, I tried the Waitrose one recently too but have an irrational dislike of the scent!


  4. Another SLS-averse individual here - I've been through a lot and I'm also not good with essential oils, so I have to be careful. Here's what I've found:

    *Louise Galvin Sacred Locks range is good but not exceptional, something I'd also say about the Duchy ones (which are quite heavily scented)
    *Avalon is in my experience rubbish as is Jason Organics
    *Burt's Bees shampoos are grand and smell yummy but the conditioners give patchy results - I'm using the Green Tea and Fennel one at the moment and the conditioner isn't quite moisturising enough for me
    *A'Kin is worth seeking out - I've used the unscented one with great success, but it can be hard to find
    *Green People is expensive but lasts a long time - however, the aloe vera one smells of washing up liquid which is quite offputting
    *One of my friends swears by Faith in Nature but I can't use ALS unfortunately