We ask Corinne Sparks from Handmade Naturals what her top three deadly synthetics to avoid are and what natural alternatives she uses instead.

Corinne was an early convert to natural products. 30 years ago while searching for a truly natural, non-toxic range of skin care, she found very few choices available. This sparked the idea to make her own.

Now the owner of Handmade Naturals in Highgate Hill in Queensland, she offers a full range of affordable non-toxic home and Body products, including her own in house Handmade Naturals skin, hair and body range.

“We are not a typical Health food shop. What makes us unique is that every single product that enters our doors has been put through a fine-tooth comb to confirm its non-toxicity and ethical production.”

Here are Corinne’s top three no no’s and what natural alternatives she uses to create her range of Handmade Naturals.


Deadlies No. 1 – Formaldehyde

What? Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant and as a synthetic preservative in cosmetics.

Where? Many synthetic preservatives release formaldehydes.  This includes all the paraben family but also Phenoxyethanol, a paraben alternative that can release formaldehyde at higher temperatures often reached during manufacturing.

Why? They can cause skin irritation, watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing and nausea and are classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Natural alternative? Grapefruit Seed Extract produced from the glycerine extraction of the pulp and seed of the grapefruit. Other natural, non-toxic preservatives available including radish root ferment and honey suckle extract.

Corinne’s TipGrapefruit seed extract is also a great product for purifying water when travelling and for treatment of Candida due to its broad spectrum anti-bacterial activity.



Deadlies No. 2 – Fragrance Oils because of the use of Phthalates

What? Phthalates (pronounced f-THAL-lates), are chemical compounds which are used to make plastics flexible and as lubricants in cosmetics.

Where? Phthalates are found in most synthetic fragrance, but they are also found in hair products, skin lotions, nail polish and in some plastics.

Why? Phthalates are now widely known to be endocrine disruptors. Hormones are the chemical messages that control many processes in our body like growth, metabolism and fertility. Phthalates are thought to mimic hormones and disrupt them. They have been linked with endometriosis, early puberty, reproductive abnormalities and reduced fertility in males.

Natural alternative? Corinne suggests only using essential oils which have the added bonus of having natural benefits beyond their beautiful smell.

Corinne’s Tip – Essential oils such as Lavender, Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang are excellent at helping to balance the skin’s sebum production. Add 1-3% to a Natural Base Cream or Shampoo Base for this added benefit. NB: Always remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and must be used with care. Generally they should never be applied directly to the skin. 


Deadlies No. 3 – Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Ammonium Laurel Sulphate

What? Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Ammonium Laurel Sulphate are both surfactants. Surfactants work by reducing the surface tension of liquid allowing the formation of foam. There are many different surfactants, naturally derived ones and synthetic.

Where? They are found in hair shampoo, body washes, soaps and detergents.

Why?  Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Ammonium Laurel Sulphate are the two most common synthetic surfactants found in commercial products due to the fact that they are cheap.  They are also the two most likely to cause skin irritation and have one of the lowest biodegradability.

Natural alternative? The glucoside family which is made from corn glucose and coconut fatty alcohols are a great natural eco-friendly, sustainable and non-toxic alternative surfactant. 

Corinne’s Tip – Castile liquid Soap which is made from saponified natural oils such as Olive oil and Coconut oil makes a great shampoo.  Simply add some essential oils and create your own unique blend. Give your hair a vinegar rinse every now and then using approximately 40ml of vinegar to 250mls of water and leave on the hair to PH balance the scalp and bring back the shine.


Import Ants loves the ethos that Corinne uses to create her Handmade Natural products. Her passion for natural alternatives and her drive to foster awareness towards a less toxic and more ethical, sustainable world is what makes us so proud to be included in the product range she sells at Handmade Naturals by Corinne