Do you know what it’s in your personal care products? They could be causing your reactions!


It’s not uncommon for women, in particular, to use over 200 chemicals on their skin in just one day[1]! So it’s not surprising that some people develop reactions to their skincare products over time.

What are the symptoms?

Reactions to the chemicals found in skin care products will vary depending on the product and the person, but may include:

  • red/itchy/flaky skin and scalp
  • hives
  • headaches
  • runny nose
  • eye irritation

These chemical ingredients may be especially problematic for people with existing allergic conditions – such as eczema, hay fever and migraines – who already suffer from increased inflammation in their bodies.

Get to know SLS

Sodium lauryl sulphate, also known as SLS, is the chemical that’s added to commercial products to help facilitate foam formation. This helps create that rich lather we’re all too familiar with, and makes the products we use more effective as cleaners. In fact, SLS is such a potent detergent that it’s also used in engine degreasers and concrete floor cleaners!

Unfortunately, SLS is also a well-known skin irritant, so, if you’re sensitive, it can spark or worsen existing allergy symptoms. Eczema suffers, in particular, almost always present with symptoms as their skin is already inflamed and irritated. Our bodies also typically lack the necessary enzymes to break down SLS, so it can build up in the body over time, which may explain why some people experience delayed reactions to certain products. SLS can also be retained by vital organs (like the brain, heart and liver), which may result in serious long-term health effects.

Where is SLS found?

It’s usually found in hair care and dental hygiene products (anything that ‘foams’ or ‘lathers’), but it can also be found in other commonly used products, such as:

  • Shaving foam
  • Petroleum based moisturisers
  • Bubble bath
  • Hand and body soaps
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washing up liquid
  • Some sunscreens
  • Cleaning products

What should you do?

The amount of SLS found in commercial products will vary, depending on the product and brand, but can range between 0.01 to 50 per cent[2]! So avoiding products that contain SLS, where possible, is always your best option. (Luckily, this has become easier over the last few years due to increasing public demand for SLS-free alternatives.)

If you can’t avoid SLS altogether, try reducing the amount you’re exposed to by getting rid of products you don’t really need. You can also try switching to brands that contain lower concentrations.

Other things to look out for …

The fun doesn’t stop at SLS. Other harmful substances are also added to some of your favourite personal care products, including nail polish remover, hand sanitisers, fake tan, acrylic nails, deodorant/perfumes (especially sprays) and air fresheners. Keep an eye out for:

  • Petroleum/paraffin/mineral oil – found in many popular moisturisers and hair care products, petroleum (also known as ‘white mineral oil’ or ‘paraffin’), is a well-known irritant that has been linked to some cancers, including lung cancer, lymphoma and leukaemia.
  • Parabens – which help prevent bacteria from growing, are found in about 85 per cent of personal care products[3] and can cause skin irritation, dermatitis and rosacea, especially in people with sensitivities. Parabens have also been linked to breast cancer, due to their ability to mimic or interfere with oestrogen in the body.
  • Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – mainly found in pesticides, dioxins, plastics, furniture and fabric dye, may to contribute to chronic disease and cancer and can even interfere with the body’s hormone and nervous systems. In fact, they’re are becoming so widespread and problematic that the Stockholm Convention’s list of POPs has to be viewed using an alphabetical listing!

Do you suffer from reactions to personal care products? Discover our natural allergy treatment!

At Health & Wellness Australia & New Zealand (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing (or kinesiology) to help identify people’s sensitivities to SLS and other common chemical irritants. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address these sensitivities using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).

PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which:

  • draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
  • aims to re-train your body
  • may reduce your body’s reactions to common chemicals that may be causing or exacerbating your symptoms.

Ensuring your body has the nutrients it needs to process chemicals it’s commonly exposed to may also help. At HWA, our naturopaths often recommend supplements – like zinc, selenium and cysteine – and herbs – such as St Mary’s thistle, turmeric and green tea – to help improve liver function and detox capacity.

Want to know if PAT is right for you? Get in touch!

Send our practitioners a question using our Ask a practitioner service, and you’ll get a call-back or reply straight to your email inbox.

You can also request an appointment with one of our experienced PAT practitioners in one our clinic locationsNorth Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Auckland – by:

  • using our Request an appointment service
  • calling our head office on 1300 853 023 (Aust) / 09 479 5997 (NZ), Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm (EST).

This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot cure allergies. It is intended to decrease your reactions and help you manage allergy-related symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.

[1] The Guardian. Not so pretty: women apply an average of 168 chemicals every day.


[3] American Chemical Society. Dirty Business.

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