Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Dangers

topic posted Sat, January 5, 2008 - 9:05 AM by  Rocky
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Dangers

"Both Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and its close relative Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) 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 surfactants.

Unfortunately, both sodium laureth sulfate and its cousin are also very dangerous, highly irritating chemicals. Far from giving "healthy shining hair" and "beautiful skin", soaps and shampoos containing sodium laureth sulfate can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and even liver toxicity.

Although sodium laureth sulfate is somewhat less irritating than SLS, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting. This not only means it stays in the body tissues for longer, but much more precious energy is used getting rid of it.

A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations of SLS 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 and SLES. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous".

Shampoos 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. This is highly characteristic of sodium laureth sulfate and almost definitely directly related to its use.

Click here to learn of the possible health effects of sodium laureth sulfate

So why is a dangerous chemical like sodium laureth sulfate used in our soaps and shampoos?

The answer is simple - it is cheap. The sodium laureth sulfate 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.

In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, SLES 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.

This denaturing of skin proteins may even be implicated in skin and other cancers.

Perhaps most worryingly, sodium laureth sulfate 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 involved."


" Studies on SLS have shown that:" (Judi Vance, Beauty To Die For, Promotion Publishing, 1998)

1. "Shampoos with SLS could retard healing and keep children's eyes from developing properly. Children under six years old are especially vulnerable to improper eye development. (Summary of Report of Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. conference."

2. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate can cause cataracts in adults and delays the healing of wounds in the surface of the cornea."

3. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate has a low molecular weight and so is easily absorbed by the body. It builds up in the heart, liver and brain and can cause major problems in these areas."

4. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate causes skin to flake and to separate and causes roughness on the skin."

5. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate causes dysfunction of the biological systems of the skin."

6. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is such a caustic cleanser that it actually corrodes the hair follicle and impairs the ability to grow hair."

7. "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is routinely used in clinical studies deliberately to irritate the skin so that the effects of other substances can be tested." (Study cited by the Wall St Journal, 1st November 1998)

Ethoxylation: Ethoxylation is the process that makes degreasing agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) less abrasive and gives them enhanced foaming properties. When SLS is ethoxylated, it forms Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), a compound used in many shampoos, toothpastes, bath gels, bubble baths, and industrial degreasants. The problem is, the extremely harmful compound 1,4-dioxane may be created during the ethoxylation process, contaminating the product. 1,4-dioxane was one of the principal components of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, used to great effect by the Americans during the Vietnam War to strip off the jungle canopy to reveal their enemy. 1,4-dioxane is a hormonal disrupter believed to be the chief agent implicated in the host of cancers suffered by Vietnam military personnel after the war. It is also an oestrogen mimic thought to increase the chances of breast cancer and endometrial cancer, stress related illnesses and lower sperm counts.

Dr Samuel Epstein (Author and research Scientist) reports: "The best way to protect yourself is to recognise ingredients most likely to be contaminated with the1,4-dioxane. These include ingredients with the prefix word, or syllable PEG, Polyethylene, Polyethylene Glycol, Polyoxyethylene, eth (as in sodium laureth sulphate) or oxynol. Both polysorbate 60 and polysorbate 80 may also be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. (Epstein, Dr Samuel, Safe Shoppers Bible, P.190-191)"


" is well known in Europe that sodium laurel sulfate causes softening of the gums and leads to gingivitis. "

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    Re: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Dangers

    Sun, January 6, 2008 - 11:41 AM
    i am so glad by body already told me sls is not good for me. i am allergic to sls, and have found it is hard to find shampoo that dont contain it....even at the local co-op. i have found that jason brand and avery organics both are good shampoos that do not contains sls.

    thanks for sharing chopper22!
    • Re: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Dangers

      Sun, January 6, 2008 - 5:01 PM
      Hey, thanks for sharing. Does anybody else have issues?

      Kristine, what were your symptoms? How did you find out you were allergic?

      A 5 year old has been having issues with hand soaps - the anti-bacterial as well as any "normal" bathroom hand soaps too. The tops of his hands turn red as if irritated and inflamed. When he was using the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer at school it was causing him pain - a burning sensation. Now, it's still happening just not as bad. I've put 2 & 2 together & traced it to SLS. He may be allergic to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).

      We talked to the school about the anti-bacterial hand sanitizers but hadn't yet made the connection with ordinary hand soaps & SLS. This was discussed in the "Hand Sanitizer" thread.

      Also, I have been using "natures-gate" fluoride-free, baking soda/spearmint oil toothpaste & I've been having gum issues. I looked in the ingredients to find SLS. I sent them a message about it & will probably hear back sometime this week. I asked for the studies on Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I'm kind of pissed, to be honest.
      • Re: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Dangers

        Tue, February 5, 2008 - 8:41 AM
        A response to my e-mail:

        "Thank you for your inquiry. I apologize for the long delay responding to you.

        We are very careful to develop products that are safe and do not use any ingredients proven to be harmful or linked to cancer. There have not been any conclusive studies linking Sodium Lauryl Sulfate to cancer nor proving that it causes developmental or reproductive toxicity.

        The American Cancer Society, the Food & Drug Administration, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (an expert panel of scientists from the disciplines of dermatology, pharmacology, chemistry, and toxicology), have proclaimed SLS a safe
        ingredient in cosmetic and oral care products.

        Sodium Chloride is the chemical name for salt which is safely used in virtually all packaged and home cooked food items.

        Due to concerns expressed by many of our consumers such as yourself, we are removing this ingredient from all of our oral care products. These new formulas will be available in the second half of 2008.

        We hope this information is useful in your decision whether to continue to using Nature's Gate oral care products. We sincerely hope we can continue to service you as a loyal customer.

        Laura Setzfand
        Nature's Gate

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