‘SLS/SLES, phthalates and paraben free’… Really? Truly?

Through the process of starting Vital Body Products, I have scrutinized many, many labels looking for a toxin free shampoo (along with many other body are products). I have lost count of the amount of times my mouth has been left hanging open, shocked at the lies that the beauty industry tells. And I thought I was across how bad it was… boy was I wrong!

I’m sorry to tell you, in short, most things that you and I have been buying, thinking we had chosen well, for example like a ‘SLS/SLES, phthalates and paraben free’, are just as toxic as everything else on the market.

And further than that, products that are ‘green washed’ by being packaged and specifically marketed as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘toxic free’ or ‘chemical free’ are sadly, usually anything but.

The revealing truth, only revealed by looking closely

I have looked more than 60 shampoo products from all over the world trying to find just ONE that is what it says it is (including even the super expensive ones where you can pay $60 USD for just a shampoo). Have a read of what was written on a website in the ‘About Us’ section of an apparently “organic and totally natural” brand that has “no nasties”.

  • We create innovative personal care products from the highest quality natural ingredients
  • Our products are free of toxic chemicals and synthetic fragrances and they are vegan and cruelty free.
  • Let’s be clear: to be truly good, products must be 100% good for our bodies and our world.
  • Our products are made from all-natural ingredients

Isn’t that just so inspiring? It made me feel healthier just imagining myself using their products!

I was excited! Maybe I had finally found the product I had been looking for!

So then I took a closer look at the ingredient list of one of their products…

  • Petrolatum
  • PEG 120
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Retinyl Palmitate

were found among them… these being

  • petroleum by-products
  • known to be contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane a known carcinogen
  • endocrine discruptors
  • toxic to human organ systems and
  • a known DNA mutator!!!

 Um, pardon??? I was so shocked at this one website that I went back and checked that I hadn’t mistaken this list of ingredients for the things THEY DON’T INCLUDE. Nope, after checking 3 times I confirmed, these WERE the ingredients they DID INCLUDE!!!

And this same scenario happened over and over and over for months… the same lie on a different label. To say I have come away from this process completely shocked is an understatement. And this process has also almost twisted my brain in a knot some nights as chemicals used in body care products can go by more than 20 different names for that same chemical. We rapidly get lost in a maze of long words that all start blurring before our eyes until we give up because it gets all too hard.

 And the worst bit that these chemicals that are hidden in so many products (including the ‘natural’ ones) are not just a bit bad for us. They are highly toxic and now research is linking them to the skyrocketing cancer rates and other illnesses and diseases that are plaguing people everywhere. It's also important to note that our skin is the largest organ of our body and it absorbs up to 80% of what is put onto it, so these chemicals don't just go down the drain, they go straight into our bodies.

How do companies get away with this?

In a nutshell, the labelling laws in Australia (and most other countries) are just a joke. As an example, do any of you remember how a few years back all of a sudden lots of processed foods that used to contain MSG were now saying ‘Does not contain MSG’? I remember thinking how strange that was because I knew in the past that they had contained MSG.

It was because there was a new product on the market called ‘Yeast Extract’ that was used instead of the MSG, even though yeast extract happens to contain over 95% MSG. But because it now called ‘Yeast Extract’ even though it was mainly MSG still, it was legal for these companies to be now stating that their products no longer contained MSG, even though they still did. THAT is how poor our labelling laws are.

The same game, different industry

So, translate this to shampoos or other body care products. In the last few years, more and more products are coming onto the market that state ‘SLS/SLES free, phthalate free, paraben free’… so everyone has thought, ‘great, a shampoo that is no longer toxic!’ If only that were true.

What I have found in my months and months of researching chemicals used in body care products is that these chemicals have either been ‘repackaged’ as something else that sounds better but is equally as dangerous or been ‘replaced’ with something that is equally as harmful but is called something else. But no-one knows what the new names are so they go under the radar.

Just one example of this ‘chemical repackaging’ is Sodium coco sulphate (SCS)

  • Often used to replace SLS/SLES especially often used in ‘natural products’.
  • Very similar to SLS just slightly less processed.
  • Contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as a predominant component, with all the concerns that are linked to that chemical.
  • Basically SCS is just another way to hide SLS in formulations with yet another name.

Natural products that are kind to your skin, and environmentally friendly, will not contain lauryl sulfate, laureth sulfate, coco sulfate or any of the long list of other synthetic detergents.  

Be wary, many natural companies are being deceptive with this ingredient. They say their formulations are SLS/SLES-Free, but if you look on their list of ingredients they are in fact using SCS or some other form of SLS/SLES like ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS), alkylphenol/nonylphenol surfactant or sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS).


Both SCS and SLS are used to produce lots of lather, so if your product bubbles and foams excessively when only a small amount is used, that should be an alarm bell that there is a toxic, synthetic detergent in it.


Is it really a problem?

Does it really matter? Well with the skyrocketing cancer rates and other illnesses and diseases that are plaguing people everywhere, in my opinion it definitely does. My life has been devastated by my beloved father passing away quite suddenly 5 years ago from brain cancer and I have also had close friends die from this hideous disease while many others are plagued with chronic illness.

While I know there is never just one factor involved in why people get sick, the fact that these chemicals we lather ourselves in every day are KNOWN to cause cancer, disrupt our hormones, contribute towards infertility and interfere with our nervous systems and brains says to me that they don’t belong anywhere near me or my family. (Especially because the TGA, who is supposed to police what is allowed to be sold in products, knows all of this and allows it anyway.) So if this shocks you, I’m kind of glad. It is meant to. Because the truth is shocking sometimes.

So, my quest to finding a truly TOXIN FREE shampoo (along with all other body care products) has been very, very difficult and exceptionally time consuming. And not only did they have to be TRULY toxin free, but they had to be excellent as well! I have discovered there are quite a lot of genuinely natural products on the market, however unfortunately many of them don’t work very well. And during this process, I knew that I wasn’t alone. I knew there were many of you out there trying (often unsuccessfully) to find similar products. It has been through this struggle and with this realisation that Vital Body Products has come to life.

I have spent months scouring labels, learning all kinds of things about chemicals, and figuring out how to decipher and make sense of all the lies on the market. Here at Vital Body Products I am passionate about doing the in depth research to bring you products to you that are TRULY toxin free. These are all excellent products that work beautifully and add to the health of you, your family and the planet. If I wouldn’t use it on myself or my family, you won’t find it at Vital Body Products… coming soon, Tues 30th July to be exact.