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 a few facts about the health impact of SLS
- It has not been proven to be carcinogenic when either applied directly to the skin or consumed.
- It may worsen skin problems in individuals with chronic skin hypersensitivity, with some people being affected more than others.
- It may cause aphthous ulcers, commonly referred to as canker sores.
- It has also been shown to irritate the skin of the face.
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 user the perception of better cleaning. In the world of product marketing, perception is often more important than fact.
It is best to avoid SLS, especially in products used in and around the mouth. Read the labels.