Sodium Lauryl Sulfate What Is It Exactly?

Better known as SLS – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is found in a vast number of household hygiene products such as soap, shampoo and more prominently toothpaste. But what does it actually do? and should we be concerned to find this chemical in such a vast amount of personal products.

What is SLS

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant like active agent what is this you ask? To keep things simple let’s just say it breaks surface moisture tension and increases the ‘foaminess’ we associate with personal cleaning products such as toothpaste and soap. It’s also found in a number of industrial cleaning products such as industrial strength detergents, floor cleaning products and engine degreasers. This makes it relatively easy to scare consumers as who wants to use a product that contains the same chemicals as an industrial cleaner?


There is also the more serious claims that it is a cause of cancer. Let’s just nip that in the bud right away and state that even the American Cancer Council dispute this fact, and up to this point in time there is no proof in any way shape or form that can be used to strengthen this argument.

The major problem with a product being overhyped and unsubstantiated claims being made against it is the fact that while not a cause of cancer it does have some health implications all consumers should be made aware of. Particularly if you have skin that is sensitive and prone to irritation. In many cases those who suffer canker sores for instance have experienced significant improvements when switching to an SLS free alternative. Likewise with shampoos, if you have a sensitive scalp and experience irritation after washing your hair it is advised you try an SLS free alternative.

What’s the Difference?

In most cases the real difference is the amount of foam produced by the cleaner. As SLS Free products do not use a surfactant the foam is greatly reduced but in most cases the alternative product is just as effective. There is also the question of taste, as many of these products use natural organic products the taste is..let’s just say different. Some people believe it’s better, while some find it difficult to make the switch. In our testing we have found that no two SLS free products taste exactly the same, and besides taste really is only a concern when considering toothpaste for the most part.

SLS and Children?

Here’s where things can get interesting. As children have more sensitive skin to begin with and also have a penchant for putting anything in their mouths including shampoos, soaps and of course toothpaste it is recommended to use SLS free products for children. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can causes problems with children’s delicate skin and if ingested can certainly irritate the throat which can lead to respiratory issues in some cases.

Summing things Up

To set things straight, we do not believe SLS causes Cancer or anything more serious than skin irritation at this stage but that’s not to say considering an SLS free product isn’t a good idea. Ask anyone who has suffered from canker sores if they would like some relief and the answer is sure to be an enthusiastic yes. So if you are someone who suffers from skin, scalp or gum irritation it’s well worth a try, you might be surprised with the results, just don’t believe the scaremongers who will tell you it’s capable of more serious health problems.

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