Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a chemical agent commonly found in various skin and body care products. It serves as an emulsifier and surfactant, helping to stabilize products and create foam or lather. However, there are concerns about its impact on skin, hair, and overall health.
SLS is derived from petroleum and undergoes several chemical processes to become a crystalline salt. The manufacturing of petroleum and SLS can have negative environmental implications, releasing pollutants and toxic compounds.
When applied to the skin, SLS can strip away natural oils and disrupt the skin's pH balance, leading to dryness and potential irritation. It can also penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the body, accumulating in internal organs and raising concerns about long-term health effects.
Research suggests that SLS can cause skin irritation, allergies, and acne, particularly in individuals with sensitive or acne-prone skin. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned about the potential harm of SLS if swallowed and its ability to irritate the eyes, lungs, and respiratory system.
Furthermore, SLS can compromise the skin's protective barriers, making it more susceptible to bacteria and other toxins. It can also harm the lipid layers that maintain skin's smoothness and suppleness.
In terms of environmental impact, SLS is considered a pollutant and can be toxic to fish. While the concentration of SLS in water supplies from personal care products is typically low, chronic toxicity at low concentrations has been suggested.
SLS is commonly found in personal care products such as shampoo, body wash, facial cleansers, hand soaps, shaving cream, and toothpaste. It is also present in numerous household cleaning products like laundry detergent, dish soap, carpet shampoo, stain remover, and surface cleaners.
Some brands have started to offer SLS-free alternatives, utilizing gentler surfactants derived from plants. Reading product labels and choosing sulfate-free or SLS-free options can be beneficial for those seeking cleaner and safer personal care choices.
Maybe it is time we went SLS-free?