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Deep clean

Natural soaps, shower gels and sanitisers for the whole family

Your body absorbs what you put on your skin, so using natural and organic plant extract ingredients within your toiletry products is much better for your skin,” says Leanne Stephenson, skincare consultant with Pravera. “Many natural skincare products contain nourishing antioxidant ingredients that the skin loves, rather than chemicals that can potentially cause damage and further age your skin. Natural ingredients are gentle on the skin, they help to protect against environmental influences and soothe irritated skin. In the long term your skin is going to reap the benefits of using natural skincare ingredients.”

Bars of soap
Avoid conventional:
“Traditional soap bars contain synthetic ingredients which over time can build up in water-ways and become toxic to aquatic life,” according to Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway.

“Chemicals such as antibacterial agents can disrupt your endocrine system resulting in hormonal imbalances,” says Leanne Stephenson. “Other nasty ingredients including artificial fragrance, parabens and sodium laurel sulfates can cause skin irritations and may even be linked to certain cancers.”

Choose natural: “Plant-based, natural soap and shampoo bars are made using gentle ingredients which leave skin and hair feeling clean and soft,” says Niamh larkin. “By using ingredients of natural origin, the suds and residue that gets washed down the drain are entirely biodegradable, leaving no trace and harming no ocean-dwellers. You will find that most natural soaps come wrapped in paper instead of plastic and use natural essential oils in place of synthetic fragrances. With more and more natural soap bars on the market at a range of price points, there's really no excuse not to make the switch.”

“Soap is such an important part of your daily routine, it is essential to make sure you choose a soap that is enriched with natural and organic ingredients, that will not only protect your skin but your health,” says Leanne Stephenson.

Liquid soaps
Avoid conventional:
“Many conventional liquid soaps are made with mineral oils which will dry out the hands, causing irritation and dryness,” says Leanne Stephenson.

“Conventional liquid soaps usually contain the dreaded sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate (SLS/SLES), a petroleum-based chemical often added to products to make them 'foam',” says Niamh Larkin. “This cheap ingredient is not only a skin irritant, it is essentially plastic, which is being deposited into our oceans daily.”

Choose natural: “Natural liquid soaps are formulated using plant-based alternatives to SLS/SLES, usually sourced from coconut or olive oil,” says Niamh Larkin. “When these oils are made into soaps you get the same foamy feeling, but without the chemical overload. Natural liquid soaps contain other mild ingredients to gently cleanse without stripping the skin's natural oils, and are usually fragranced with essential oils for a more natural scent.”

“Natural and organic soaps are enriched with natural and organic ingredients, such as olive oil to nourish the skin, so every time you wash your hands they do not dry out,” says Leanne Stephenson.

Antibacterial wipes
Avoid conventional:
“Antibacterial wipes usually contain a plethora of chemicals to effectively remove dirt and also disinfect,” says Niamh Larkin. “The wipes themselves are often made using polypropylene or polyester which, as derivatives of plastics, never biodegrade. The reality is that an astounding 7.6 billion pounds of wipes get thrown into landfill each year.”

Choose natural: “If you are a regular user of wipes, switching to a biodegradable alternative should be the next step you take,” says Niamh Larkin. “Natural alternatives use plant-based ingredients such as tea tree and lavender oil, aloe vera and witch hazel to cleanse, tone and disinfect the skin without leaving a trace on the planet. The wipes themselves are usually made from a sustainable plant source such as bamboo, and are compostable unlike their conventional counterparts.”

“Many natural alternatives are made from soft renewable plant fibres such as cotton and natural plant extracts to effectively remove make-up and control oil production on the skin,” says Leanne Stephenson.

Shower gel
Avoid conventional:
“Like liquid hand soaps, shower gels will usually contain SLS or similar, to create a sudsy consistency when mixed with water,” says Niamh Larkin. “They also contain artificial fragrances and colours, along with a host of unpronounceable ingredients.”

“Many conventional shower gels are laden with chemicals which can do more harm than good to your skin and health,” says Leanne Stephenson. “Conventional body washes contain ingredients which can dehydrate and irritate sensitive skin.”

Choose natural: “Natural shower gels use plant-based foaming agents to give the same foamy sensation without the need for nasties,” says Niamh Larkin. “Omitting the SLS makes their formulas gentle on the skin and on the environment. Natural shower gels usually contain several ingredients which are beneficial for the skin such as shea butter, aloe vera and coconut oil. These ingredients prevent the skin from drying out and can have a soothing effect.

Avoid conventional:
“Most conventional shampoos on the market contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a known eye and skin irritant,” says Leanne Stephenson. “SLS is used in many conventional shampoos, body washes, hand washes etc as it creates an emulsifying, lathering effect.”

Choose natural: “There are many natural and organic alternatives for shampoo on the market which work very well on the hair and scalp,” says Leanne Stephenson. “Natural shampoos use plant extracts to effectively cleanse the hair and scalp and nourish the hair from root to tip. A natural alternative to SLS is sodium coco sulfate which creates a rich foam and cleanses the hair. It is made from coconut oil.”

Hand sanitisers
Avoid conventional:
“Hand sanitisers have seen huge demand in the last few years, for obvious reasons,” says Niamh Larkin.

“Alcohol is generally the base ingredient for most of these as the antibacterial/antiviral agent. Unfortunately, most conventional hand sanitisers contain several harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances and synthetic colourants. These ingredients, when used frequently, can damage the skin's microbiome and trigger dry skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.”

“Conventional hand sanitisers can include synthetic ingredients that can be damaging to the skin barrier resulting in skin drying, itching, roughness, inflamed and rough skin,” says Leanne Stephenson.

Choose natural: “Although high-alcohol-content (65%+) sanitisers are what's being advised to keep hands clean between washing, there are also alcohol-free alternatives available which contain gentle antibacterial ingredients for sufferers of sensitive skin, and are lab-tested to be just as effective as alcohol based sanitisers,” says Niamh Larkin. “Natural alcohol-based sanitisers are also available, usually containing glycerine to combat the drying effect of the alcohol, and pleasant essential oils added for fragrance.”

“Hand sanitisers that are powered by natural essential oils and essences like witch hazel, orange peel, lavender and organic alcohol work just as well as conventional hand sanitisers,” says Leanne Stephenson. “They are kinder and gentler on the skin than conventional ones.”

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