Lush? Why Not?
I remember being in awe of Lush in the early days, back in the UK. LUSH, Fresh Handmade Products, 100% vegetarian, except that many of their products including shampoo bars contain SLS, Sodium Laurel Sulphate, and here is what they say about SLS on their Facebook page:
Shampoo bars are a good alternative for sensitive scalps, mainly because of the way they are used. A single shampoo bar is the equivalent to three 200ml bottles of liquid shampoo, so although they contain a very high concentration of SLS — up to 90% — the risk of irritation is very low because only the foam is applied to the hair and scalp.
“This is quite a dramatic difference,” explains Lush co-founder Mark Constantine. “When you use a liquid shampoo you apply the neat material to your scalp, but you don’t get that with a shampoo bar — you only get the foam that comes off the material, which means that even people with the most sensitive scalps can use it.”
Not only that, the brand new Jason And The Argan Oil shampoo bar is made with agar agar, which means it contains 23% less SLS.
So what’s the fuss about?
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has been used as a shampoo ingredient since the 1930s, when it was introduced as an alternative to soap. It works as a surfactant, trapping oil-based dirt from the hair so that it can be rinsed away with water. It’s also an effective foaming agent, creating the rich lather that most of us expect, and enjoy, when we’re washing our hair.
Sounds reasonable, puts you at ease? Okay, now then, this is what SLS really is
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate was developed in the 1930’s as an industrial garage floor cleaner and still use today on garage floors to remove oil and grease. The problem with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is that when it cleans your hair, it really cleans your hair. It strips away any trace of the natural oils (sebum) your scalp produces to keep your hair in “good order.” Ever try not conditioning post-shampoo hair? It’s almost impossible to get a comb through. This is why. Without natural oils, your hair will dry out quicker – and the big names in shampoo will tell you to buy their “moisturizing shampoo.” If it contains SLS, it will still strip your hair. It will dry it out so please don't let smart marketing convince you otherwise. As for the moisturizing element of these magical cure-all shampoos – including conditioners – they coat your hair with more chemicals to give the illusion of soft, lustrous hair.
Here is another thing that SLS will do. Obviously when you shampoo, you are coming into contact with your scalp. The SLS assists in lifting all the oil off your head, drying out your scalp (wonder where dandruff comes from?). Because the oils in your scalp and hair have been completely removed your body knows it needs to compensate for what’s been lost and produces more sebum than it needs. This throws off any homeostasis you may have achieved after puberty.
As for your skin, increased oil clogs your pores and the result is acne, so you reach for that pretty bar of commercial soap, which will do the same thing to your body as the shampoo did to your head. Overstimulate the production of sebum, and the cycle continues.
Big Name body care products have trapped us in our own quest for cleanliness, and beautiful hair persuading us to pour tons of money into their product which in reality is no different than the store brand.
“We believe in making effective products made from fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics.” Quotes LUSH. This is a wonderful idea, but the value of the fresh, organic goodies is diminished by coloring additives, chemicals that are known skin irritants, preservatives, among other things. For a company that takes pride in their fresh ingredients, should know a thing or two about what is actually GOOD for the customer.
A friend of mine ended up buying a LUSH shampoo bar, in the Godiva variety, months ago. It smelt simply divine, she told me but every time she used it, it made her hair very dry and a real pain to comb. But it cost her $12 after shipping, so use it she did.