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Monday, August 8, 2011

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate–Chemicals to Avoid

This is part of a series on toxins to avoid. Although it is not technically a toxin it is an irritant and many people seek to avoid it. For more on other Chemicals to Avoid in your life read here


What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS)? Sometimes you will see it listed as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).  The same Sodium Lauryl Sulfate you see listed on your shampoo bottle or body wash is the same Sodium Lauryl Sulfate used  in commercial cleaners and degreasers to clean car engines and commercial kitchens. It’s primary use is to but the grease.
Why is a  chemical like sodium lauryl sulfate used in our soaps and shampoos?
The answer is simple - it is cheap. A small amount gives a lot of foam. You know that sudsing and foaming you come to recognize as a sign of a good shampoo? When you add salt (sodium) to the shampoo it thickens the shampoo and gives the illusion that the shampoo is thick and concentrated.
What is the Problem with  sodium lauryl sulfate ? i
  • Because it is a degreaser it also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause a drying effect. It also  causes skin irritation, while  allowing environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin.  In fact, sodium lauryl sulfate is used throughout the world for clinical testing as a primary skin, irritant. Not surprisingly, laboratories around the world use it to irritate the skin to test the effectiveness of healing agents.
  • May cause hair loss by attacking the follicle.
  • It is classified as a drug in bubble baths because it eats away skin protection and causes rashes and infection to occur.
  • Because it cleans by corrosion it is potentially harmful to skin and hair.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sufate has been known to  dry the skin by stripping the protective lipids from the surface so it can't effectively regulate moisture
  • Unknown to me before doing this research is that once it is absorbed by the skin it mimics  the activity of the hormone Oestrogen. This has been linked to 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.  There is antedotal evidence that it may cause hair loss by attacking the hair follicle.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate 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.
  • Studies have shown that Sodium Lauryl  Sulfate cause the skin to flake and to separate and causes roughness on the skin.
There is a silver lining to all the problems with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, if you can call it that. It is NOT recognized as a carcinogen. However, the chemical is frequently combined with TEA (triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), or MEA (monnoethanolamine), which can cause the formation of the carcinogenic substances nitrosames. Care 2  suggests that to be  on the safe side, you add antioxidant vitamins A and C to any product that contains TEA, DEA, or MEA. The addition of antioxidants will help protect against nitrosamine
What to Do If you Want to Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
There are options to mass produced shampoos and soaps. Health food stores increasingly carry brands of shampoos that use herbs and coconut oil soaps as a base. Kiss My Face, Aubrey Organics, Logona, and Real Purity, Inc. are some brands to look for. Personally I prefer to do away with these products. I like to use The ACV/Baking Soda Method of cleaning my hair. But vegetable based soaps such as Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap are a good option. I simply dilute our favorite scent with water. About 25% soap – 75% water. I keep it in a pump bottle in the shower and it can be used as a shampoo or body wash. 

If you want more reading check these sources
Care 2
 Live Strong

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