๐—œ๐˜โ€™๐˜€ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ผ... ๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—œ๐˜ ๐—•๐—ฒ?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)ย is a common chemical found in shampoos, cleaning products and cosmetics.ย SLS is what's known as a โ€œsurfactant.โ€ย This means it lowers the surface tension between ingredients, which is why it's used as a cleansing and foaming agent.

According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a "moderate hazard" that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption.

In medicinal products, SLS has a number of functional uses as an emulsifying agent, modified-release agent, penetration enhancer, solubilising agent, tablet and capsule lubricant. It is not recommended for the parenteral route of administration. Authorized medical products contain SLS ranging from 0.15% (e.g. creams) to 25% (medicated shampoos).

Being derived from inexpensive coconut and palm oils, SLS is a common component of many domestic cleaning products such as handsoaps, washing-up liquid etc. Sodium coco-sulfate is essentially the same compound, but made from less purified coconut oil.

Skin sensitivity to SLS varies according to the concentration of SLS, contact time, patient population and experimental approaches. Furthermore, attempts to elucidate the skin irritation threshold in humans is found to be dependent upon the site of the application, the vehicle in which SLS is dissolved, the method of application, duration and frequency of application, the duration of the study, the presence of other skin-irritating excipients and whether the application is under occlusion.

Recommending a threshold for SLS in topical products is difficult to establish given the range of confounding factors. However, it is a known skin irritant and is used as a positive (irritant) control in the cosmetic industry. It is, therefore, proposed to have a threshold of 0% for SLS in topical medicinal products for all age groups(1)

From the research studies Iโ€™ve read, it seems that products containing SLS concentrations greater than 1% are the most likely to cause health related dangers including skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Also of concern are reported dangers of cancer from long term exposure.

๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜‚๐—บ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜†๐—น ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ?

Iโ€™m not going to state any conclusions based on the number of conflicting reports on SLS safety. However, I would say consumer awareness is important when using products containing SLS, particularly with household cleaning products which often contain SLS concentrations of as much as 50%. There are a number of shampoos, cosmetics and household cleaning products that are now available without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

As a consumer, I find myself questioning more and more the safety of many chemicals weโ€™re commonly exposed to that havenโ€™t been sufficiently studied long term. Along the lines of clean eating comes clean personal hygiene. I think the growing trend toward โ€œall naturalโ€, โ€œorganicโ€ and โ€œsulfate-freeโ€ products will continue as more studies are released on the potential dangers of long-term exposure to man-made chemicals such as SLS.

Iโ€™ve attached an article,ย click here, reviewing some top rated SLS-free shampoos if youโ€™d like to reduce you and your familyโ€™s exposure to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.


(1) European Medicines Agency. October 9, 2017
EMA/CHMP/606830/2014 corr. 1*
Committee for Medicinal Products for Human use (CHMP)

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