Understanding the potential impact of the ingredients listed in personal care and cleaning products can be a difficult task.

A variety of conditions can be caused or aggravated by various additives:

– eczema, acne, dermatitis and rashes

– asthma

– headaches and migraines

– sinus problems including itchy, burning or runny nose

– sore, itchy or watery eyes

– fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)

– nausea

Some tips on what to avoid:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – a foaming agent commonly used in a variety of cleaning and personal care products which is a known irritant. It is dangerous to the eyes (leading to the development of cataracts) and also seems to sensitize individuals to other irritants. As public awareness grows many derivatives are entering th market which are just as bad or worse. Some others that should be avoided by sensitive individuas include Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), Ammonium lauryl sulfate, Sodium C12-16 olefin sulfonate.

Some ingredients that read similar but are safe options are Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate and Behentrimonium metosulfate.

Fragrances – a mixture of any of 5000 chemicals (approx. 1500 of which have actually been tested for safety). Under trade secret laws only ‘fragrance’ need be put on the label instead of a complete chemical listing  Many are petroleum derived including known toxins that can cause cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.

Phthalates – used often as solvents in scented products these chemicals are hormone disruptors that adversely affect reproductive health of males and females. Phthalates such as DBP and DEHP have been banned in cosmetics in Europe since 2003 but continue to be used in Australia

Other Hazardous Ingredients to be Avoided – Parabens, Benzaldehyde, Benzyl alcohol and  Butylphenol.

Purchasing Tips:

look for the most natural and safest products

– Don’t buy anything that lists ‘fragrance’ ‘perfum’ or ‘parfum’. Some products that contain a low level of fragrance are not required to list it on the label… if in doubt choose another brand.

– for products that smell nice consider those scented with essential oils (many of these products also contain artificial fragrance so be careful)

Safe Products

Akin – have a range of personal care products that are safe to be used by most people who are sensitive to fragrance and other chemicals

Herbon – make a variety of laundry and cleaning products that are low allergenic and grey water safe

Further Information


Nothing contained in this service is intended to be or should be taken for medical advice. Information and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always seek the guidance of your health practitioner.

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