What is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and why should we avoid it?When we use a wash or beauty product on our skin, it’s probably a liquid made of a water phase and an oily phase. As we know, oil and water don’t mix, so something is required to keep the ingredients together. That something is called a surfactant. A surfactant allows the oil and water molecules to bind together.
Sodium lauryl sulphate is a surfactant, and its efficacy, low cost, abundance and simplicity mean it’s used in a variety of cosmetic, dermatological and consumer products. In skincare, it’s predominantly used as a detergent to remove oils.
Our skin’s outermost layer is specially designed to keep harmful substances out, and this is where a surfactant can cause problems. Using a chemical that weakens this defence mechanism can cause harm to our skin barrier. Some surfactants are more irritating to our skin than others. For something to be harmful, irritant or allergenic, it has to fulfil two criteria; It has to have been found in studies to irritate human skin, and it has to have the ability to penetrate the skin. SLS ticks both of these boxes
Here are five reasons to avoid products containing SLS:
1. SLS is a known skin irritant.It’s not only a pore-clogging ingredient, but it’s also an irritant. When researchers conduct tests on lotions and creams and need to irritate the skin first, they often rely on SLS. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet, SLS can cause dermatitis and skin sensitisation. In particular, eczema and psoriasis sufferers should try to avoid SLS whenever possible to prevent further dryness and irritation.
2. SLS permeates the body’s tissues and organs.SLS has the power to permeate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver through the skin and can accumulate in these organs.
3. SLS helps your body absorb harmful chemicals.
SLS is a penetration enhancer, which means it decreases your skin’s resistance and increases its ability to absorb harmful chemicals. Thus, SLS makes your body’s cells more vulnerable to other toxic substances, such as parabens and artificial fragrances.
4. SLS emits toxins when heated.
Toxic Sodium Oxides and Sulfur Oxides are released when SLS is heated (something to consider this next time you are taking a hot shower or bath).
5. SLS is a known pollutant.
SLS pollutes our groundwater. It is toxic to fish and can accumulate in the bodies of fish. It also can go undetected in municipal water supplies, getting into tap water.
Avoiding SLS in your personal care products is an easy way to help protect your health and the environment. Many products that are SLS free will state it on the packaging; however, always study the ingredients on “SLS Free Products”. You’ll be surprised by what you find.