Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, commonly known as SLS, is something that most of you have probably heard more and more about over the past few years. Warnings not to use it and labels saying ‘does not contain SLS’ have become more prevalent in the past few years. But what is it really and why should be avoid it?

SLS is actually an organic compound that is derived from coconut and palm oils. Surprised you, didn’t I? It surprised me!

It is a surfactant – a foaming agent. So it helps give us those bubbles in our skin cleaning products that we have come to associate with cleanliness.

SLS is a very effective degreaser. It is used to clean garage floors and greasy engines. So why is it used in cosmetic products? For much the same reason – it can dissolve the oils on your skin and hair and leave them ‘clean’. A few weeks back, I wrote about your skin in one of my blogs. SLS will dry out the outer layer of your skin – that protective layer that acts as a barrier against the environment around you. Even if you discount the studies that suggest SLS can penetrate your skin and cause problems to the rest of your body, the fact that it breaks down that protective barrier against other toxins is enough to give me reason to stop and consider why it is being used in general cosmetic products. SLS is also a skin irritant. It is used for that purpose in lab tests – use an SLS agent to irritate the skin and then test formulas for healing to see how they do.

I’ve had a few discussions this past week with friends about not just accepting things because someone told you it was that way. I do believe that you should look at things from every angle and make choices for yourself. For me, there are too many things about SLS that point to its potentially harmful nature and for those reasons I have chosen to avoid it as much as I can in any product I use – either for body care or for cleaning. There are quite a few reports out there about SLS and I would invite you to do some research and judge for yourself. Here are a couple of links to get you started:

It never hurts to look at what we are putting on or in our bodies.