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Soap Ingredients - Known Irritants and Allergens

If you have sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis or any dermatological issues, you will most likely find that certain soaps and skin care products irritate your skin and exacerbate the problem. We'll take you through some common soap ingredients to avoid, that can cause irritation or allergy. If you do experience issues with contact dermatitis, stop using the product and get advice from your pharmacy or doctor.

We'll explain these ingredients and the alternatives on offer. Even if you don't experience obvious adverse effects with SLS or other synthetics, it's worth considering swapping products containing them for simpler, gentler soaps and skin care. Your skin will thank you for it.

The first thing to note is that mass produced soaps contain detergents, many of which are known irritants. Look out for these ingredients on the label and avoid them altogether. Here are the main culprits:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

SLS is a surfactant widely found in skin care and cleaning products and it is a known skin and eye irritant. The longer it's exposed to the skin or eyes, the worse the irritation. Its two main functions are trapping oil based dirt to make it easier to wash off, and creating a foamy lather. It's worth noting that although we've become accustomed to associating this lather with getting us clean, it's not necessary. It's lovely to get a creamy lather though, and soaps made the traditional way without SLS can achieve this too.

Along with oil based dirt, the SLS disrupts and removes the skin's outer layer of natural, healthy, protective oils. This can cause the skin to become dry, itchy and irritated.

SLS is not to be confused with SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate). This is less of an irritant but is still known to cause irritation in some people.


This is an extremely broad subject, as fragrance can be artificially or naturally derived. Fragrance oils are synthetically produced and essential oils are produced naturally.

In the interest of balance, it's important to note that when it comes to allergens and irritants, it's not always the case that natural necessarily means allergen or irritant free. There are some essential oils that can in rare cases cause a reaction.

Here's the list of the 26 known allergens* that are derived from both synthetic and natural fragrances. When you buy any cosmetic product, check the list of ingredients, these allergens should be listed. This doesn't mean that everyone will be affected, but these are allergens that are known to affect some people.

Alpha-isomethyl Ionone

Amyl Cinnamal

Anise Alcohol

Benzyl Alcohol

Benzyl Benzoate

Benzyl Cinnamate

Benzyl Salicylate

Butylphenyl Methylpropional


Cinnamyl Alcohol





Evernia Prunastri Extract

Evernia Furfuracea Extract



Hexyl Cinnamal


Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde (HICC)




Methyl 2-octynoate

* as classified by the European Union Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009

If you suspect that your dermatalogical issues may be related to the ingredients in the products you use, it's important to identify the source. Patch tests by a qualified dermatologist will help you establish where the issues lie. In the meantime, immediately avoiding known allergens and irritants can help your skin retain its natural balance.

As for the best ingredients for very sensitive skin, fragrance free is a safe bet. Look for skin nourishing ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, oatmeal and aloe vera.

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Spiced Orange Allergen Amendment

15.10.2023 We have amended the labelling for Wildmoor Spiced Orange soap, to include cinnamon oil allergens that were previously omitted in error. Please see the amended ingredients list below: INGRED


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