What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Why Should I Avoid It?
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is an anionic surfactant – a detergent - used in many cleaning and hygiene products.
Here are few facts about the health impact of SLS
- It has not been proven to be carcinogenic when either applied directly to skin or consumed.
- It may worsen skin problems in individuals with chronic skin hypersensitivity, with some people being affected more than others.
- SLS in toothpaste may cause aphthous ulcers, commonly referred to in some countries as canker sores.
- It has also been shown to irritate the skin of the face with prolonged and constant exposure (more than an hour) in young adults. In animal studies, SLS appears to cause skin and eye irritation.
A man who was attending a conference with me made a comment about how a cold sore was starting on his lip. He said that he must not have rinsed off all the toothpaste that morning. He also mentioned that poor rinsing leaves SLS in the mouth after brushing and can be one of the causes of red, swelling gums.
SLS is a cheap product that is added to products to help clean (the detergent factor) and a small amount also generates foam. The foam itself doesn’t clean but it gives the use perception of better cleaning. Often, perception is more important than fact.
It is best to avoid all sources of SLS, especially in products used in and around the mouth. Instead of toothpaste – most of which contain SLS – use something else. Baking Soda is good, but pure soap may be even better. The Compounder offers both a solid toothsoap and a foam we make in our lab. These are made from pure, organic oils and do not contain SLS.