With my first daughter, every night the bedtime routine included the simple pleasure of splashing around in a warm bath. Better still if it was filled with lovely potions that made the air smell deliciously sweet. For children, a cap full of bubble bath provides the much-needed incentive that turns bath time from a chore into a playground of hidden delights – hands up who’s tried the bubble beard?! The children have twenty minutes of frothy fun and then we can enjoy scooping out a child that smells as angelic as they look.
It was only when daughter number two came along that I started to question just exactly what it was I was merrily pouring into her bath. Her eczema started early in life and for the very first time I started to actually read the ingredients at the back of the bottles. Instead of sounding delicious and enticing, they read like a huge sludge of weird and, definitely not so wonderful, chemicals.
The very elements that inspire such pleasure at bath time – aroma and froth – are in fact the worst offenders when it comes to irritating the skin. One of the most common foaming agents in shampoos, soaps and bath products is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). In industry this is used as an engine degreaser, so although it gets rids of any dirt or oil on your skin, it’s no wonder that it also strips it of its natural oils, leaving it dry, irritated and more open to infection. When choosing a shampoo or body wash look instead for a mild sugar based detergent such as coco glucoside which is made from coconut oil and fruit sugars and is completely biodegradable.
Smell is hugely emotive and can often tip the balance between choosing one product over another. However fragrance is also widely recognized by dermatologists as being the number one cause of adverse skin reactions. Unfortunately even if a product is labelled “fragrance free” this simply means that there is no perceptible aroma. Even if there is no actual fragrance, more chemical ingredients can be added to mask the smell of the other offensive chemicals!
Skincare companies argue that their products contain such small amounts of all these ingredients that they are not harmful. However, as multiple chemicals are contained in many shampoos, body washes, bubble baths and soaps, we in are in fact frequently coming into contact with a myriad of chemicals in the products that we use on a daily basis. Many of these ingredients are unnecessary and simply prolong the shelf life of a product. There are natural alternatives that contain effective preservatives, such as vitamin E and rosemary extract, which can extend a products shelf life to over a year. Subtle yet amazing natural fragrances can be achieved using essential oils and floral waters and unrefined butters and cold pressed base oils which nourish and soothe delicate skin without clogging pores.
At Everything For Eczema we use Gentle Wash Shampoo. Made up of 81.8% organic ingredients, it is ideal for sensitive skin, young or old. Also check out Gentle Herb Shampoo. This is the first ever shampoo to gain Soil Association certification. I have long, thick hair and standard shampoos were starting to cause my scalp to become itchy and irritated. This is the first ever natural shampoo I’ve used which leaves my long hair incredibly soft and shiny whilst soothing my irritated scalp.
With up to 60% of what we put on our skin being absorbed into our bodies, we really need to be as diligent about our skincare as we are about the food that we eat.
When did you last check the ingredients of the products you use? It might be worth having a look!