; une tasse: a beauty and casual fashion blog: Holland & Barrett paraben and SLS free awareness drive + Dr Organic xmas giveaway

Holland & Barrett paraben and SLS free awareness drive + Dr Organic xmas giveaway

Holland & Barrett has made the decision to reformulate all of their beauty products to be paraben and SLS free, and in future will no longer stock brands containing these ingredients. Earlier this year, they launched Dr Organics, the first natural, organic, paraben and SLS free range of beauty products from a high street store.

Although I have briefly touched on the subject of paraben and SLS free products before, I have never been fully informed and found this editorial to be an interesting read.

Controversial chemicals
Whilst all chemicals must be approved by the EU to be used in cosmetics, there is emerging evidence[1] to suggest some of these chemicals are harmful and may be linked with breast cancer[2]. And there are two particularly controversial chemicals commonly found in cosmetics: parabens and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS).
What are parabens used for?
Parabens are added to everything from food to skin care to deodorants. They come in different types and are essentially preservatives to give products a longer shelf life.
What do they do?
In 2004 a study in the UK found that when applied to the skin (as opposed to eaten) parabens may seep in and accumulate in the body’s tissue. This is significant when you consider that in the same study, 19 out of the 20 cancerous breast tumours examined contained parabens[3].
Dr Phillipa Darbre, who led the study, said “This is the first study to show their accumulation in human tissues. It demonstrates that if people are exposed to these chemicals (parabens), then the chemicals will accumulate in their bodies."
"Detection (of parabens) in human breast tumours is of concern, since parabens have been shown to be able to mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen."
Oestrogen is thought to stimulate the growth of most breast cancer tumours[4] and so any chemical that acts like the female hormone may increase the chances of developing breast cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
What is SLS used for?
SLS is a harsh detergent first used as an industrial degreasant to clean garage floors but is now found in most shampoos and toothpastes.
What does it do?
SLS strips the oil layer off skin; irritating and eroding, leaving skin rough and pitted. In fact, the chemical is often used in clinical studies to deliberately irritate the skin so that the effects of other substances can be tested[5].
SLS has a low molecular weight and is easily absorbed by the body. It builds up in the heart, liver and brain and can cause major problems in those areas[6].

[1] Hand et Al, Toxicology. 2006 Oct 3;227(1-2):62-72. Epub 2006 Jul 28 ‘Methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes’
Philip W. Harvey* and David J. Everett, Significance of the Detection of Esters of p-Hydroxybenzoic Acid (Parabens) in Human Breast Tumours, JOURNAL OF APPLIED TOXICOLOGY J. Appl. Toxicol. 24, 1–4 (2004)
[2] Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, et al. (2004). Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxicol, 24:5-13.
[3] Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, et al. (2004). Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxicol, 24:5-13.
[4] Cancer Research UK (2009). Types of treatment for Breast Cancer. http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/breast-cancer/treatment/which-treatment-for-breast-cancer
[5] Keith Green, PH.D., D.Sc., Medical College of Georgia: ‘Detergent Penetration into Young and Adult Eyes, Research to Prevent Blindness’ cited by the Wall Street Journal (11.01.1988)
[6] Vance J, Beauty To Die For, Promotion Publishing, 1998

What Holland & Barrett say:

More research is needed to give us conclusive evidence of the affects of these substances. But whilst the majority of retailers continue to stock products containing these chemicals, we have removed all SLS and paraben ingredients from our entire beauty range. 
As part of their awareness drive, I have been provided with a prize for one of you lovely readers!

I’ve actually been using the night cream (included in this set) over this past week and will be posting my review tomorrow.

Leave a comment below if you would like to be entered. I find “Enter me” comments boring so perhaps let me know your thoughts on parabens and SLS in skincare/cosmetic products? Are you aware of them? Do you actively avoid them? Or are you not convinced?

The giveaway (UK only, sorry!) will close on the 4 January 2010 at 23.00 (GMT) when I will pick someone at random. Looking forward to reading your opinions! Good luck xx


  1. Great post lovely, and enter me please!

    I've recently switched to SLS and paraben free shampoo and conditioner by the natural organics range and it has made my hair feel so much better and it holds my colour better. It's persuaded me to try out and replace everything I use- face and body wise :)

  2. Enter Me - It was really interesting to read what Parabens and SLS can do to the body... I never used to be bothered about ingredients in beauty products but have found that the more natural ones make a bigger difference! I'm trying to switch to a more organic shampoo now because I find brands like Pantene can be very harsh

    Sami xx

  3. enter me please. I'm really interested in SLS free products. I have extremely sensitive skin so SLS would further irritate it. Also i've been using the Naked range from Boots and I've noticed a difference in the condition of my hair.


Thank you for your comments, I read and appreciate every single one. If you would like a quicker reply to a question, then email me unetasse@hotmail.com :) xx