Parabens, silicones and sulphates. Is the boycott justified or excessive?

You are what you eat. Many of us agree with this statement. But do we give adequate consideration to what we are putting onto our skin and what effect this has on our bodies internally as well as externally? Not to mention the environmental impact. Let’s take a look at some ingredients that occur frequently in the world of cosmetics, but which are also blacklisted by several people. And is this boycott justified or not?


A shampoo or moisturising cream with or without parabens?

Parabens are preservatives that can be found in shampoo and cosmetics as well as foods, cleaning products and medicines. These chemical substances prevent mould formation and bacterial growth, which allows products to last longer in our bathroom, fridge or kitchen cupboard.

Parabens are absorbed by our body when we use these products. This can result in allergic reactions, and furthermore they are suspected of disrupting the hormone balance in our body. This could therefore have a negative effect on the production of the female hormone oestrogen.

There are indications that certain types of paraben disrupt the hormone system and mimic the effects of the hormone oestrogen, for example. This is the reason why parabens are often mentioned in the same breath as breast cancer. But, up to now, current studies have been unable to establish a direct link between parabens and cancer. The European Union already monitors foods, medicines and cosmetics closely and prohibits any substances that are potentially harmful. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety is currently investigating a list of potential hormone disruptors, substances on which there is still insufficient information available regarding the potential long-term consequences. Today, there is still insufficient convincing evidence of the relationship between hormone-disrupting substances and an increased risk of breast cancer, for example.

Under the motto better safe than sorry, at Belène we prefer to avoid the use of such substances especially when, as you know, we can create recipes without them that have a more than adequate shelf life. That is why both our skin care and our hair care products are paraben-free.

Glossy locks thanks to silicones?

You often see this synthetic substance in hair care products, because it puts a protective and shiny film over each individual hair. But don't allow yourself to be misled, as beautiful as that may first sound, nothing could be further from the truth. Silicones can build up, making your hair heavy, dull and difficult to brush. Moreover, some silicones (the non-water-soluble varieties) are harmful to the environment because, just like plastic, they do not biodegrade easily.

Belène Hair shampoo contains a small amount of water-soluble silicone, which therefore doesn’t remain on your hair after rinsing with water. The result? A temporary glossy effect, without any build-up of silicones that damage the hair. 

The day & night cream and the serum in the Belène Skin range also contain silicones. In this case, they are not the water-soluble varieties, but they are entirely safe ingredients. Why are these added? On the one hand, to make the product easier to apply, on the other, to protect the skin against drying out. 

The oil-removing power of sulphates

Sulphates are cleansers with a degreasing effect. However, it is also true here that not all sulphates are harmful and bad. Shampoos and shower gels get their foaming effect from sulphates. Furthermore, they tackle excessive fat and styling product residues, as well as the oils and proteins that occur naturally on the scalp. This can cause the scalp and hair to dry out. Are your hair and scalp naturally on the dry side? In that case, you shouldn't use a sulphate shampoo frequently. But, if you are plagued by greasy hair and an oily scalp, you could in fact benefit from a shampoo with sulphates.

A lot of natural care products replace the synthetic sodium lauryl sulphate with natural ammonium lauryl sulphate, which is often a coconut-oil or palm-oil extract. It has the same cleansing and foaming effect, but is therefore from a natural origin and is said to cause less irritation. Belène Hair Shampoo uses this natural variant.

So far, there are also no indications that sulphates are harmful to the environment. But, I can already hear you thinking: “What about the sulphates that come from palm oil, surely they aren’t very environmentally friendly?” Well, this extraction is done sustainably, with due respect for local legislation, consideration for the environment and good working conditions. 

And with that, we are once again a little wiser. Be aware of what you are putting into and on your body!


Knowledge is power
Francis Bacon