Can I Use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Without Worrying About Side Effects?

Estimated read time 3 min read

A widespread chemical in many personal care items, including shampoos, conditioners, and even cleaning supplies, sodium lauryl (or laureth) sls surfactant has likely been blamed by someone online for skin complaints or hair damage if you’ve ever done an internet search about the topic.

So, how exactly does this substance work, why is it included in so many products, and what does the research indicate about its safety?

Just why SLS?

Typically, when we apply a wash or cosmetic to our skin, it is a liquid consisting of a watery component and an oily component. Something is needed to keep the components together since oil and water do not mix.

The term for the substance is a surfactant. Soaps and detergents include surfactants, which enable the molecules of oil and water to link together, allowing us to wash greasy faces or dishes with water and get the filth to go.

Numerous cosmetic, dermatological, and consumer goods make use of sodium lauryl sulfate—a surfactant—due to its effectiveness, cheap cost, availability, and ease.

If it irritates human skin, then why don’t regulatory bodies prohibit it?

Contact with the skin for an extended duration is necessary for SLS surfactant to be deemed harmful. The assumption behind most consumer goods, like SLS-containing washes, is that they won’t remain on the skin for long. Hence, the likelihood of skin irritation is minimal. So, instead of outright banning it, authorities restrict the maximum proportion it may be used in goods.

sls surfactant

How long the substance will stay on the skin determines the cap’s size. Products intended for extended skin contact are therefore required, in the majority of nations, to contain no more than 0.05-2.5% SLS.

It is mandatory for all cosmetic and consumer product makers to test their products extensively and to mark any harmful results as warnings. Consequently, you should notice a warning label that reads: “If this product causes any skin redness or irritation, discontinue use and consult a medical practitioner” on every SLS-containing product.

To whom should SLS not apply?

It is recommended that anyone with hyperirritable skin, a history of sensitive skin, or skin diseases, including rosacea, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis (eczema), stay away from products containing SLS.

Just check the label for terms like “fatty acid alkoxylate,” “alkyl phenol ethoxylate,” or “fatty alcohol ethoxylate” to choose one of the numerous safer options.

Put an end to using the product and see your pharmacist or doctor if you suspect that SLS is the cause of any skin discomfort.

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