SOAP, SLS & SLES - How & Why We Avoid These

Soap can be in the form of a solid bar or a liquid and has a high pH (9.5-10) which indicates that it can be irritating to the skin. Soap-free washes are usually pH balanced (closer to your skins natural pH), so they are generally gentler on the skin, however, Soap-Free Washes may still contain “harsh” surface acting agents (surfactants) which act as foaming agents and target oils and dirt. There are many surfactants but sulphated surfactants, especially SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) are described as “harsh” because they are known skin irritants, which strip the natural oils from your skin.

Our skin is a protective barrier which contains natural oils to keep our body healthy, so removing the oils from your skin will leave it unprotected and dry. Everyone's skin is different, but if you have sensitive skin—then SLS and even the gentler SLES can dry out and irritate your skin, further exacerbating dry skin or other skin concerns. SLS and SLES are fairly similar, the biggest difference is in the way they are made and level of irritation. SLES are a lesser irritant than SLS, and while some washes make the claim “SLS free” they still contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate and are therefore not SLES free.

When we use soap or a body wash, we expect them to foam and we associate the foaming effect with the clean feeling we experience afterwards. The bubbles are not actually necessary to get our skin clean and can be associated with removing the skin’s natural oils. Removing dirt and impurities can be achieved without the lather. So, if you have normal to dry skin, or you have sensitive skin and don't want to risk the effects of SLS and SLES, it is best to avoid these chemicals. The good news is that you can get clean without the bubbles!

Cream cleansers use emollients to clean the skin. An emollient is an oily component that is softening or soothing to the skin. An emollient-rich cleanser means that the cleanser does not contain any detergents but contains emulsifiers which are able to remove impurities (like dirt and pollens etc). Emulsifiers do this by breaking the sebum into small droplets which are easily dispersed into the large cream base of the cleanser so that the oil and dirt are swept away quickly and efficiently.

Many people prefer emollient-rich cleansers because they tend to be milder and more moisturising. They replace lost oils and inject nourishing properties into the skin, leaving a thin moisturising film behind on the skin, so that your skin feels soft and smooth, and dry skin loves it!

If you have skin prone to eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis or other chronic dry skin conditions then your skin will lose water and natural oils more easily. This can be further aggravated by soaps and sulphate surfactants, so using an emollient-rich cleanser is your best choice.

So, what options are there?

NS Soap-Free Wash does not contain Soap, SLS or SLES and uses gentle, naturally derived surfactants (e.g. Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate) so you can be sure that you are using a pH balanced wash, that is free of soap and harsh surfactants.NS Soap-Free Wash also contains Aloe Vera, Calendula and Chamomile to soothe and calm dry and sensitive skin.

NS 21 Sensitive Skin Cleanser is an emollient-rich cleanser which does not contain soap or detergents which can irritate dry, sensitive skin and strip away natural skin oils. It is a non-foaming cream cleanser that not only cleans but also hydrates and softens your skin and helps support the skin’s natural protective barrier. It is non-greasy and won’t block pores. It contains Coconut Triglycerides, Glycerin, Soy Protein and Alllantoin to hydrate, soothe and protect against irritation and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Healthy skin is important because your skin is your largest organ and performs several functions, vital to our health, including preventing water loss and protecting us against external environmental factors which can cause disease. It also regulates temperature and insulates our body. So, keeping your skin clean and healthy is essential.