Best SLS-Free Face Wash in the UK

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If you have sensitive, reactive skin, you might find that regular face wash products packed full of artificial chemicals do more harm than good.

One particular culprit is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). SLS is a foaming agent that can irritate the skin and dry it out, which is why people with hypersensitive skin are often advised to avoid it.

In this article we’ll explain more about what SLS is and then list some of the best SLS-free face wash products available in the UK.

Why SLS-Free?

SLS stands for sodium lauryl sulphate, and is a chemical found in many soaps and cleaning products. It’s a foaming agent which helps to create a lather and break down dirt.

Most of us associate a good lather with a cleaner result, whether this is our shampoo, toothpaste, soap or face washes, but is it really a necessary ingredient?

SLS has been linked to issues such as skin breaking out with eczema or just becoming generally dry.

So why is it still used in our daily products? Even though measures have been taken to try reducing the effects of SLS by turning it into Sodium Laureth Ether Sulfate (SLES), this process (called ethoxylation) may cause further problems.

Ethoxylation actually creates 1,4-dioxane as a by-product, which could be a carcinogen, further inspiring people to opt for SLS-free products.

If you have found yourself with more dry patches on your skin than normal , then you might want to look at the ingredients list on your current face wash. Many face wash products contain harsh foaming agents and preservatives that can strip delicate skin. Trying an SLS-free option might be just what you need.

 

Best SLS-Free Face Wash in the UK

1. Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash

 

This face wash from Himalaya Herbals uses the purifying properties of neem to create a product which can help fight the causes of acne – neem helps to control the skin’s production of sebum.

Not only will it work wonders on oily skin, but it provides relief for dry skin, with its moisturising properties too!

In the form of a gel, Himalaya’s soap-free face wash is derived from natural ingredients – antibacterial neem and anti-inflammatory turmeric.

These ingredients work together to make a face wash which should leave your skin feeling nourished, soft and radiant, all while helping to combat spots and soothe sensitive skin.

Pros

  • Relatively good value
  • Phthalate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Good for oily and dry skin
  • Soap-free

Cons

  • May not suit all skin types
  • Contains Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate which may irritate some people’s skin
  • Product scent may not suit everyone
  • Consistency might not suit all

 

2. Green People Foaming Face Wash

Green People Foaming Face Wash

Despite the name, this foaming face wash from Green People does not contain SLS.

It does, however, contain lots of natural plant ingredients which all work together to form a refreshing, anti-blemish face wash.

Clary sage has antiseptic properties and could also help to fight wrinkles (larch tree helps with this too), green tea protects collagen and is a great source of antioxidants and witch hazel refines pores and helps to prevent blemishes.

This alcohol-free face wash foam is perfect for those who want to tone their skin without having to buy another product and add to the skincare routine – great for anyone who is just too busy for any more faffing!

Pros

  • Suited to sensitive skin
  • Paraben-free
  • Anti-ageing ingredients
  • Toning properties
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan-friendly

Cons

  • Expensive for size
  • Could run out quickly – more product needed than expected
  • May not be suited to all skin types
  • Consistency could be off-putting to some

 

3. PureChimp Super Cleanser

This face cleanser from matcha tea brand PureChimp is made from 100% natural and vegan ingredients, and is produced in the UK. As well as being free from SLS, it’s also free from, phthalates, parabens and petrolatum.

The ingredients include almond flour, vegetable glycerine, olive oil and natural clay.

One nice thing about this product is that it comes in a recyclable glass jar, so it will help you reduce your plastic usage.

Most people find that this face cleanser improves their skin and leaves it softer and smoother.

Pros

  • Plastic-free (comes in a recyclable glass jar)
  • Natural ingredients
  • Good for dry skin
  • Smells nice

Cons

  • Unusual consistency (thick paste), though you can add water to it

 

4. Green People Oy! Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash

Oy! Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash

This face wash from Green People is designed specifically with spotty teenagers in mind. However, it could potentially help anyone with acne-prone skin, regardless of age.

The ingredients include willow bark and tea tree oil, which are thought to control bacteria and inflammation. 90% of the ingredients are certified organic. As you’d expect from Green People, there’s no SLS, phthalates, parabens or synthetic fragrances.

People who use this face wash often find it helps reduce breakouts and clear up the complexion.

Pros

  • Gentle, mainly natural ingredients
  • Good for acne-prone skin
  • Usually leaves skin feeling refreshed

Cons

  • Relatively expensive

 

5. Burt’s Bees Deep Cleansing Cream

Burt’s Bees has developed a cleansing cream which helps to remove makeup, excess build-up and oils, so you don’t need to add an extra makeup remover to your face washing routine.

This deep cleaning is helped along by 3 main ingredients: soap bark cleanses deep down while aloe and chamomile help to keep skin soft.

The addition of menthol means that this facial cleansing cream has a cooling effect on the skin, soothing irritation and redness.

This 99.9% natural face wash will have your skin glowing and feeling smooth, soothed and fresh.

It’s not just your face that will be feeling good – Burt’s Bees supports ethical bee farms, with around half of the beeswax they use, coming from one of 60 countries with community sourcing initiatives.

Pros

  • 99.9% natural ingredients
  • Paraben-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Pleasant scent
  • Refreshing menthol effect

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Not suited to removing eye makeup
  • Non-foaming may not suit all
  • Might not be best for sensitive skin
  • Thick consistency may put some off

 

6. BeBarefaced Anti Blemish Exfoliating Face Wash

If you have acne-prone skin, then you might be interested in trying out BeBarefaced Anti-Blemish face wash, which actually has ground pumice and jojoba beads for exfoliating the skin.

This wash is made with salicylic acid to help minimise pores and clear them at the same time, by reducing shine and excess oils.

Other key ingredients include glycerin, which hydrates the skin and tea tree, which helps to calm and sanitise the skin – clearing congested areas of excess sebum and decreasing the likelihood of further breakouts.

With a handy dispenser lid, this face wash is easy to use and should have your skin glowing in no time.

Combining exfoliation with acne-reducing salicylic acid and tea tree will keep your skin as clean and clear as possible.

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Synthetic fragrance and colour free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Cruelty-free
  • Exfoliating
  • Good for acne-prone skin

Cons

  • Expensive for size
  • May not suit all skin types
  • Thin consistency might not suit everyone
  • Scent may not suit all

 

7. Saiya Daily Defence Vitamin Cleansing Facial Wash

This soap-free face wash from Saiya is full to the brim with vitamins – vitamin A for reducing acne and fine lines, vitamin B to help treat rosacea and other skin complaints, antioxidant vitamin C AND vitamin E to help lessen the effects of sun damage… phew!

That’s a lot of vitamins for one bottle and there are also tons of plant extracts.

It’s no wonder this product won The Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards for Best Buy.

Recommended for use before bedtime, so your skin can breathe overnight – Daily Defence helps to wash away the grime of the day and leave your skin sparkling clean, softer and hydrated.

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Contains vitamins A, B, C and E
  • Cruelty-free
  • Handy pump nozzle
  • Pleasant scent

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • May not suit sensitive skin types
  • Scented – may not suit all

 

SLS-Free Face Wash FAQs

Can you buy SLS-free face wash in Boots?

High-street chains such as Boots are increasingly stocking more and more natural cosmetics and personal care products. Most Boots stores should stock a few SLS-free face washes.

Look out for the brand YourGoodSkin, who have a few SLS-free face washes.

Which SLS-free face washes are also paraben free?

All of the products reviewed here are also free from parabens, so if you want a face wash without SLS or parabens, try one of these:

  • Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash
  • Green People Foaming Face Wash
  • Burt’s Bees Natural Cleanser Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream
  • BeBarefaced Anti Blemish Exfoliating Face Wash
  • Saiya Daily Defence Vitamin Cleansing Facial Wash

Are Aveeno Products SLS Free?

As far as we are aware, Aveeno products are SLS free. However, they often contain parabens.

Is Dove Soap Sulphate Free?

The Dove Original Beauty Cream Bar is sulphate free and doesn’t contain SLS. Instead, it contains Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, which is a coconut-derived surfactant that is considered very safe.

Does SLS Cause Acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition that affects up to 80% of 11-30 year-olds in the UK (source).

Acne causes spots and oily skin on the face, which can make the sufferer self-conscious and reduce their quality of life.

The main cause of acne is thought to be changes in hormone levels that occur at puberty, though it can also be brought about by hormonal changes at other times such as pregnancy.

Certain hormones cause glands in the skin to produce excess oil, leading to acne.

There is also a genetic component to acne, so if your parents have had acne you have a higher chance of suffering from it.

Since acne is mainly caused by hormonal changes, it is difficult to avoid completely if you are genetically predisposed to it.

However, certain behaviours and skincare products can exacerbate the problem.

One possible culprit in making acne worse is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). SLS is a foaming agent and detergent used in the majority of face wash products and moisturisers.

There’s no evidence linking SLS directly to acne.

SLS has been proven to be a skin irritant when applied in large amounts, but it’s highly diluted in skincare products and is only applied to your face for a brief period of time, so this particular chemical alone is unlikely to have much impact on your acne.

One of the worst things you can do if you have acne is to repeatedly touch your face, either unconsciously or to wash it and apply products to it.

The NHS recommends washing the affected area no more than twice a day and to avoid using too many cosmetic products.

Applying products that contain SLS to your skin could make your acne worse, but this is more likely to be because you are irritating your skin by touching it rather than because they contain SLS.

Touching your skin can also transfer bacteria to it, which will make skin problems worse. You should also avoid squeezing spots as this can irritate your skin further and even cause scarring.

If your acne gets worse after trying a particular skincare product you should try switching it or eliminating it altogether and seeing if your acne improves.

 

Conclusion

Depending on what you need for your skin type, there should be something in this list that sounds right for you.

BeBarefaced is well suited to those with acne-prone skin, while Green People’s Foaming Face Wash is ideal for those looking for a facewash with anti-ageing ingredients.

Removing SLS from your skincare routine could do wonders for you, especially if you suffer from dry patches.

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