What is SLS? (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) Benefits and Side Effects

What is SLS? (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)
Are you aware of this ingredient in your beauty products ?

Many of us have heard or read that the following ingredients in our beauty products are not good and should be avoided but do we know what they are and the effects? I didn’t until I started to research them and also read a lot of papers, Yes, there is a difference between SLS AND SLeS.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLeS) – are both surfactants (compounds that lower the surface tension between liquids, gas or solids) and are added to products to increase the foaming action when the product is used. note the difference in “L.” This is done due to the widely accepted notion that foam equals product performance, this is not necessarily true but who prefers to use a soap that does not lather up ?

Both SLS and SLES are also used in a wide variety of personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, body washes, toothpastes, and many other products where you would expect to see some foaming action. These ingredients lower the surface tension of water and act as a distribution or scattering agent to properly mix the ingredients like in fragrance oils and body sprays. Due to these properties SLS & SLES are also popular in moisturizers and sun protecting creams.

ProductAverage concentration of SLS
skin cleanser1 percent
lubricant for dissolvable tablets and capsules0.5 to 2 percent
toothpaste1 to 2 percent
shampoos10 to 25 percent

So what’s the real difference between SLS and SLES? The major difference is in the manufacturing process of the two ingredients. To make SLES, SLS goes through a process called “ethoxylation(this simply is a chemical reaction in which ethylene oxide adds to a substrate) But why do this for a chemical that is very similar or appear same? While both are very similar, SLS is a skin irritant. This can cause some minor skin irritations like dry, itchy skin. SLeS is on the other hand formulated be much milder and not irritate the skin.

With this we automatically should know which ingredient is not okay to be in any of our beauty and household products but they still are although many manufacturers prefer to use SLeS rather than using SLS. If you’ve ever compared products made with SLS against those made with SLeS I’m sure you’re aware the difference is easily recognizable, there is still time to test this as we have all stacked pile on cleaning, and others products in this season of the pandemic – Corona Virus COVID-19.

Talking about SLS in relations to different people, there are many reasons why colored women require an alternative kind of shampoo and hair products, though SLS will make the regular shampoo lather up, it is not recommended for nappy hair. Caucasian hair is full of oils and most people even need to powder (talc) their hair to make it appear clean, but for us we constantly need some type of oil in our hair to enable strength, lustrous looking hair. In this case the chemical may be important to strip the excess oils off the Caucasian hair types.

Don’t worry too much about SLS, as there is also no direct evidence linking this ingredient to cancer, infertility or hindering development as may be assumed by many, the most side effect is irritation of your eyes mouth, lungs and skin, clogging the pores and causing acne breakouts because of this harshness many green beauty products have risen with SLS free formulations incorporating coconut oil and soap bark as natural surfactants for their products.

Beyond doubt it is important to choose a milder and more greener option but if this is not possiblefor you due to the cost or type of green beauty products available then a lesser vice (SLeS) can suffice.

Side effect: Dry Skin, toxicity, diarrhea, hair loss, dry scalp, eczema, dermatitis
Benefits: Biodegradable, effective in cleaning, Permeability (allowing other ingredients to pass through it)

Before getting on band wagon of avoiding this SLS check how you react to it and remember that SLS FREE shampoos are not necessarily better or more effective but can also do the job as a matter of fact you would not be happy if your shampoo does not foam in this case I recommend you opt for soap bars over liquids and natural products like the African Black Soap.

I am always glad to hear about what you are doing so please share your thoughts about this ingredients and if you tried it too.

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