Most folks don’t think to look for Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) until they start having an issue, and then they realize it’s everywhere: soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and mouthrinses, just to name a few. While many people don’t notice the presence of these chemicals, for some it can cause significant irritation. Let’s dig deeper into SLS to see how it might be affecting you!
Sodium Lauryl Ether (Laureth) Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, both commonly referred to as SLS, act as detergents and surfactants in many toiletries. They are both excellent emulsifying, foaming agents that behave similar to soap and are cheap to produce, making SLS a go to for cosmetic manufacturers.
The properties of SLS can cause already sensitive or dry skin to itch, flake or crack more dramatically. Oral health care products that contain SLS are likely to cause cracking at the corners of the mouth and canker sores. Additionally, some findings indicate that residual SLS levels may be linked to a hormonal imbalance.
While there has been a good amount of public debate about the status of SLS as a carcinogen and its link to cancer, it’s important to note that there’s no scientific evidence to date that supports a connection between the two. This lack of evidence has been backed up by the American Cancer Council, OSHA, and the National Toxicity Program. It’s worth noting, however, that the process by which Sodium Lauryl Sulfate becomes Sodium Laureth Sulfate can produce the byproduct dioxane, which is a suspected carcinogen and believed to linger longer in our system.
SLS can be tricky to avoid; because these chemicals can be derived from coconut oil, many companies will boast “natural” and “eco-friendly” products that still contain them. The only way to be certain is to fully read the ingredient list on the product in question. For SLS-free oral health products, we recommend the following:
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