Ingredient Watch List: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

hands on a white background covered with foam

Have you noticed how my products (like my Rosemary Peppermint Body Wash or Aloe-Herb Cleanser) don't foam, yet still leave you feeling fresh and clean? They don’t foam because I’ve left sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate –  this week's Ingredient Watch List Items – off my ingredient lists because I know it's possible to create effective products without putting you at  risk. Read on to find out more about this dangerous detergent and why you should avoid it.

Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate: What are they?

Both sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are an inexpensive and highly effective foaming agent. If you go to your cupboard right now you will find it in the ingredient list of many of your bath and beauty products, from toothpaste to body wash to shampoo. (Sodium laureth sulfate is just a milder form of sodium lauryl sulfate.) Many companies add one form of SLS or another to their products to make them seem more effective to the consumer. In reality, SLS causes far more harm than good. Think of it this way – not only is it used in bath and body products, it’s also used in car wash soap. Would you want to use the same products to wash your car as your body?

Dangers of sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate

Considering it’s in most of the commercial personal care products available today, you’d think that SLS (in either form) would be safe and harmless to your body. Not so fast. SLS isn’t just detergent – it is corrosive. SLS is so corrosive that it eats away at the protective barrier in our skin and exposes the fragile skin underneath, causing infections and rashes. Many studies have found a link between the use of products containing SLS and contact dermatitis – such as itchy scalps, dry skin, mouth sores, and so on. (In fact, SLS is commonly used on laboratory test subjects to irritate their skin so that products that promote healing can be tested.)

Aside from skin irritation, other troubling data emerges that shows SLS might pose more of a threat than first imagined. There have been studies that suggest that SLS deeply penetrates our skin and organs, leaving behind trace amounts in our body and causing inflammation in our skin. There are also studies that indicate that SLS mimics the effects of certain hormones in the body, causing hormone disruption and making the body produce more oestrogen (a type of estrogen) than necessary – wreaking havoc on the endocrine system.

A more frightening link – that has not been conclusively proven – is to cancer. By affecting the endocrine system, SLS use leaves the user susceptible to cancers that are directly related to oestrogen levels, such as breast and ovarian. Another concern is the nitrates used in the manufacturing of SLS entering the body and staying there, again causing harm.

The safety levels of sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are hotly debated in both the medical and health communities, so I suggest you do your own research on them to make an informed decision. Rest assured, there are no amounts of sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate in any Anmarie Skin Care products – and there never will be.

Much Love,
Annmarie Gianni
“Teaching People About Beauty From the Inside Out”

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