Lauryl Sulphate (SLS ) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES).
The Killers in your bathroom?
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and its close relative Sodium
Laureth Sulphate (SLES) are commonly used in many
soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other
products that we expect to "foam up". Both chemicals
are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as
and SLES are esters of Sulphuric acid - SLS is also known
as "Sulphuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt",
however there are over 150 different names by which it
is known - see them here.
In fact, SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, the
main ingredient of Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant
used in the Vietnam war, and a known carcinogen. World
levels of dioxane are now so high that several Governments
advise on limiting fish consumption from affected waters,
such as British coastal waters.
SLES is somewhat less irritating than SLS, it cannot be
metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore
A report published
in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in
1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause
irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion
and severe irritation. National
Institutes of Health "Household Products Directory" of
chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain
SLS. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which
the ACT report called "highly irritating and
are among the most frequently reported products to the
FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation,
tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and
split and fuzzy hair.
here to learn of the possible health effects of SLS/SLES
why is a dangerous chemical like this used in our soaps
answer is simple - it is cheap. The SLS found in our soaps
is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or
even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines.
the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines,
SLS also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause
a drying effect. It is also well documented that it denatures
skin proteins, which causes not only irritation, but also
allows environmental contaminants easier access to the
lower, sensitive layers of the skin.
most worryingly, SLS is also absorbed into the body from
skin application. Once it has been absorbed, one of the
main effects of SLS is to mimic the activity of the hormone
Oestrogen. This has many health
implications and may be responsible for a variety of
health problems from PMS and Menopausal
symptoms to dropping male fertility and
increasing female cancers such as breast
cancer, where oestrogen levels are known to be
all this is just not necessary. There have been SLS-free
care and household products
available for years, that cost no more than their poisonous
commonly found to contains SLS or SLES
Washing-up liquid / dish soap
Childrens soaps / shampoos
Moisture lotion / Moisturiser
believe that just because a product is labelled as "natural" it
is free from SLS or SLES. Most common brands of "Natural" or "Herbal" shampoos
and cleansers still use these harmful chemicals as their
main active ingredient - check your labels!
is not to say that you can't get sodium laureth sulphate-free
shampoos, soaps, detergents and toothpastes. Some highly
reputable companies have been producing such products for
years. These products not only contains no sodium laureth
sulphate, they are also free of other harmful chemical
colorings, preservatives and even flavourings.
assessing many such products, we believe that the ones offered
here represent not only the best quality but
also the safest and most economical products
products you use, it is important to make sure that when
you stop using sodium laureth sulphate (and SLS) you do
so for good and completely. Many people
change their shampoo,
but not their washing
detergent, toothpaste, dish
soap or soap
/ shower gel.
forget to take supplies on vacation or business trips.
Take our advice and make sure you replace the products
in your wash-kit as well as your bathroom. You will be
very grateful you did.
potential effects of SLS on health are discussed here and
the NLM's data on the subject is available here.
from Sodium Lauryl Sulphate to Harmful Chemicals
Effects of SLS on Health
Journal of the American
College of Toxicology Report on SLS
SLS-containing personal and household products
Politics in healing
your health in 90 day or less