What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (commonly known as SLS) is a widely used chemical in personal hygiene products, along with Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS).
SLS is essentially a foaming agent in products such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, toothpastes and body wash along with some industrial cleaning products such as engine degreaser, floor cleaning products and car wash. It is also widely used as a skin irritant when testing products used to heal skin irritations.
Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Dangerous?
There are conflicting reports published over the years and as a result a lot of unsubstantiated claims being made about the use of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Most concerning are reports of links between Cancer and SLS.
More Than Just A Skin Irritant?
In addition to skin irritation, there are studies that point to residual levels of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in the brain, lungs, liver, and heart. These levels follow the use of SLS used externally on the scalp and skin, and in the mouth as an ingredient in toothpaste.
There are some findings that link the ingredient to a hormone imbalance. Symptoms such as PMS and PMT and menopausal symptoms are tied to hormone levels. There has been a lower rate of male fertility reported in some cases, particularly in western countries however this is as yet unsubstantiated. Because SLS mimics oestrogen, it is possible it may play a role in these types of health issues.
Which Household Products Contain SLS?
The National Institute of Health publication “Household Products Directory” lists Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as a chemical ingredient in more than 80 products! Some household soaps have a concentration measurement as high as 30 percent. This level is considered unsafe and a likely cause of skin irritation. SLS is also found in Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Makeup, body wash and shampoos.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Is one of the common ingredients used in shampoos. This makes shampoo a frequently reported product to the Food and Drug Administration. Some of the typical reports and complaints include split or fuzzy hair, swelling of the arms, face or hands, irritation of the scalp and irritation of the eyes.
SLS and Children
In children, SLS has been linked to eye irritation. Even at very low levels, the product may be absorbed through the skin and cause issues with eye health. It would seem that children’s products should be scrutinized more closely, but often they are not. A number of studies have indicated that SLS will remain in a person’s system (Brain, Heart & Liver) for up to 4-5 days which means if you are using a NON SLS free product at the same volume and same rate of application Sodium Lauryl Sulfate will remain a constant in your body.
SLS is used routinely in clinical studies. This may suggest a level of comfort, however, the way in which it is used is disturbing. Despite being the number one active ingredient in virtually all soaps, shampoos and cleansers, the sole purpose of using SLS in clinical studies is to cause skin irritation that can then be used to identify the properties of other chemicals!
Amazing isn't it? For years, we have been applying known irritants to our skin on a daily basis. To quote the ACT report "The abbreviated symbol for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used around the world in clinical studies as a skin irritant. SLS is the universal standard, by which a measured percentage is evaluated to promote a given level of irritation and reaction. By this SLS standard level of irritation, it is then possible to evaluate the healing or modifying characteristics of any ingredient or formula used on the SLS irritated skin."
So, many reasons to look for products that are SLS FREE