One question we get asked a lot at Orchard Barn is what are so called ‘nasties’ in skincare products and why choose natural skincare products:

Dr. Moorcroft explains:

Most commercial cosmetics contain a wide range of chemical products, some of which have been linked in studies to different health problems. Although the skin is a protective barrier it can absorb topical applications systemically (this is why nicotine and HRT patches are effective) and if the skin is damaged or inflamed this absorption is greatly increased.

Some of the chemical ingredients which have been linked to health problems:

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – this is a detergent and foaming agent, used in 90% of products which lather ie. – shampoos, soaps, face and body washes, toothpaste, washing up and laundry detergents and industrial cleansing chemicals. There are many derivatives of SLS that can be found in commercial preparations, including sodium laureth 3 sulphate, DEA or TEA sodium lauryl sulphate. They can cause irritation, itching, inflammation and dryness.

Ammonium lauryl and laureth sulphate are milder and safer.

2- bromo-2 nitropropane 1-3 diol

An antimicrobial agent used in toiletries, it can react with secondary amines and form nitrosamines which are known carcinogens. Used at high levels it can cause irritation.


Used for pH control or as solubilizers and thickeners. The di -and tri -ethanolamines are able to form highly toxic nitrosamines, and can be irritant in high concentrations.


 This chemical is  produced as a by-product of breakdown of  some preservatives ( imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea) and is used in some nail hardeners. It is irritating to the mucous membranes and can be toxic and carcinogenic.


These are preservatives found in shampoos, moisturisers, shaving gels, gels and toothpastes. Studies have shown them to be absorbed systemically and there is some evidence to show weak oestrogenic activity which may be linked to breast cancer.

Phthalates – found in nail polish, perfumes, lotions and hair spray. Phthalates have been linked with reproductive problems such as male genital birth defects and decreased sperm counts in animal studies


Fragrance – tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage. The following scored a high hazard score in EWG (Environmental Working Group, USA) testing.

BHA                                                                                                Cyclohexanone
Dibutyl phthalate                                                                       Diethylhexyl phthalate
Hydroquinone                                                                             MIBK
Nano titanium dioxide                                                              Nano zinc oxide (20-60nm)
Octoxynol-6                                                                                 Octoxynol-7
Octoxynol-11                                                                              Octoxynol-12
Octoxynol-13                                                                              Octoxynol-16
Octoxynol-20                                                                              Octoxynol-25
Octoxynol-30                                                                              Octoxynol-33
Octoxynol-40                                                                             Octoxynol-70
PEG-3 Sorbitan oleate                                                             PEG-6 Sorbitan oleate
Resorcinol                                                                                  Styrene


Found in nail polish and hair dye. Toluenes (in particular toluene-3,4-diamine) have been found to be skin irritant, toxic to the nervous and immune system, and a  potential carcinogen.


A frequently used dispersing agent and emulsifier. It is irritant in concentration and sensitization is possible

 Products labeled “organic” or “natural” can also contain petrochemicals and may contain very little or no certified organic or natural ingredients whatsoever. Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight or volume.

People with a history of cancer, multiple chemical sensitivities, allergies, eczema dermatitis or chronic disease should all use natural skin products to reduce the toxic load on the body.

We have a wide range of natural products in our on site natural pharmacy and available through our online shop.