Do we need alternatives to these popular ingredients found in conventional cleaning products?
Many conventional household cleaning products, especially laundry detergents and dish soaps, and most conventional personal care products such as shampoos, shower gels, body soaps, and facial cleansers, contain the synthetic cleansing and foaming agents Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate, or “SLS.” Both of these chemicals are known to cause skin and eye irritation and produce sensitivity in the skin. In addition, when used in toothpaste, they may also cause mouth ulcers. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10344477 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10344477#sthash.62vMO9Pp.dpuf. To date, little is known of the long-term effects of these chemicals resulting from their penetration of the layers of the skin and their deposits into the blood stream and internal organs, but the health concern is certainly there.
The amount of irritation Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate may cause also depends on the length of time the product containing one or both of these ingredients is left on the skin – thus, soaps and other cleansers containing SLS that are left on the skin for a short duration only are less irritating that lotions or other products that are left on the skin and penetrate it.
So what else can we use? And how safe are the alternatives?
Kumerahou may just be a perfect replacement, at least in skincare products. Kumerahou has been described as one of the world’s most natural soaps. Native to New Zealand, this plant has the incredible ability to produce lather simply by rubbing together in water the flowers and the leaves of the plant. The ability to produce such lather is derived from the natural surfactants called saponins that gently cleanse without the addition of any chemical and artificial ingredients and alkali (generally found in conventional soap). Kumerahou is also believed to be an antiseptic, protecting the skin from microbial attack, as well as an “alterative,” helping restore normal body functions by improving the removal of metabolic waste.
Personal care products containing Kumerahou are currently being produced by Living Nature, a certified natural skin care company in New Zealand. Kumerahou is used in the following Living Nature products: Purifying Cleanser, Vitalising Cleanser, Gentle Makeup Remover, Purifying Hand Wash, Nourishing Body Wash and Balancing Shampoo.
Read more about Kumerahou at http://www.herbs.org.nz/haw/Kumerahou.pdf