For those not in the know, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (commonly known as SLS) is a widely used and inexpensive chemical found in many mainstream personal hygiene products such as shampoos, bodywash, toothpastes, soaps and mouthwashes.
It’s primarily a detergent and surfactant which essentially means that it breaks surface tension and separates molecules in order to allow better interaction between the product and your hair/body. This in turn creates a lather which makes products such as shampoo and shower gel more effective cleaners. So effective and so inexpensive is SLS that it’s found in a number of industrial cleaning agents such as engine degreaser and industrial strength detergents.
Rather shockingly, it is also widely used as a skin irritant when testing products used to heal skin conditions.
So, is SLS a danger? There have been conflicting reports published over the years and as a result a lot of unsubstantiated claims are being made about the use of SLS. Most concerning are reports of links between cancer and SLS. However, at this point in time there is no scientific evidence that links the use of SLS to cancer. Just hang on to the skin irritant thought though.
As while any links to cancer are unsubstantiated, there certainly are reports of side effects that have been published. It has been found that even relatively low concentrations, less than one-half percent, might result in harmful skin irritation.
Higher concentrations were found to be responsible for severe irritation and even corrosion of the skin. It has been recommended that concentration levels should be of no more than 1% in products with prolonged use. This is disturbing when you consider a nunmber of cleaning products have levels of SLS as high as between 10-20% and in extreme cases over 30%.
In short, SLS can cause irritation of the scalp, gums and skin at just 1% and in some people the reaction will be quite strong. We recommend using an SLS-free alternative. Here at Oleo Bodycare we do not use SLS at all. Instead, our shower gels contain an ingredient called Plantacare 2000 which has excellent foaming capacity and good dermatological compatibility, causing no reported cases of skin irritation. Just see what clean lifestyle & beauty blogger Cydney from The Good Life thought of it.