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      Home  >  Harmful Chemicals  > Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

      Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS ) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
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      (Already know the dangers of SLS and just want to get some products? Click the link for a complete range of SLS-Free products)

      Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to "foam up". Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

      SLS and SLES are esters of Sulphuric acid - SLS is also known as "Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt", however there are over 150 different names by which it is known - see them here. In fact, SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.

      Although SLES is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting.

      A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health "Household Products Directory" of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous".

      Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair. The main cause of these problems is sodium lauryl sulfate.

      Click here to learn of the possible health effects of SLS/SLES

      So why is a dangerous chemical like sodium lauryl sulfate used in our soaps and shampoos?

      The answer is simple - it is cheap. The sodium lauryl sulfate found in our soaps is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines.

      In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, sodium lauryl sulfate also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause a drying effect. It is also well documented that it denatures skin proteins, which causes not only irritation, but also allows environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin.

      Perhaps most worryingly, SLS is also absorbed into the body from skin application. Once it has been absorbed, one of the main effects of sodium lauryl sulfate is to mimic the activity of the hormone Oestrogen. This has many health implications and may be responsible for a variety of health problems from PMS and Menopausal symptoms to dropping male fertility and increasing female cancers such as breast cancer, where oestrogen levels are known to be involved.

      Products commonly found to contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLES

      Tooth paste
      Washing-up liquid / dish soap
      Laundry detergent
      Childrens soaps / shampoos
      Stain Remover
      Carpet Cleaner
      Fabric glue
      Body wash
      Shave cream
      Skin cleanser
      Moisture lotion / Moisturiser
      Sun Cream

      To find hair, personal and household products without ANY SLS or other harmful chemicals, please click this link - SLS-free products.

      (We are aware there are some display issues with the products below and are working to fix this :-)

      Want to find products that don't contain SLS or other nasties - check out our recommended range of SLS-free products


      Natural Soap


      Natural Shampoo

      Hair Coloring

      Natural Hair Coloring


      Organic Bath products


      Natural Cosmetics

      Cleansers and skin care

      Natural Skin Care

      Shave Cream (His n Hers!)

      Natural Shaving Products

      Mouth Care / Oral Care

      Natural Toothpaste and Mouthwash

      Home  >  Harmful Chemicals  > Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

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