Let's Talk Sulfates

Many products that are labeled as “natural” or “organic” still contain sulfates. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are widely used, as well as inexpensive chemicals found in mainstream personal hygiene products, such as shampoos, toothpastes, mouthwashes, body wash, soaps and detergents.

SLS and SLES is a detergent and surfactant, which means it breaks surface tension and separates molecules in order to allow better interaction and creates a lather. SLS and SLES are so inexpensive and effective at cleansing that they’re found in a number of industrial cleaning agents such as engine degreaser and industrial strength detergents. SLS and SLES are widely known as skin irritants.

A report published in 1983 by the American College of Toxicology found that even relatively low concentrations, less than one-half percent, might result in harmful skin irritation. Higher concentrations were responsible for severe irritation and even corrosion of the skin. 

SLES can also be contaminated with Dioxane, a suspected carcinogen that lasts much longer in our bodies because the liver cannot metabolize it effectively. While it is less of an irritant than SLS, it still contains carcinogens and there are underlying concerns over its continued use in skin and beauty products.

There are studies that link SLES and SLS to hormone imbalance. PMS, PMT and menopausal symptoms are tied to hormone levels. Another side effect is a condition known as protein denaturing. This reduces or eliminates the cell’s ability to heal itself. Over time, the destruction of cellular tissue is irreversible.

SLS and SLES have been linked to eye irritations and poor eye development in children. Even at very low levels, the chemical may be absorbed through the skin and cause issues with eye health.

A number of studies have shown that SLS will remain in a person’s system (brain, heart and liver) for up to 4-5 days. If you’re not using SLS/SLES free products, then it will remain a constant in your body! Have you read your ingredients lately?