SLS: What Is It And Why Should I Care?

January 13, 2010 2 min read

I had a request from a reader recently to go over the details of SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate.  So here we are: SLS 101.

Most soaps (unless they’re natural), be they bar or liquid form, contain an ingredient known as SLS.  That stands for sodium lauryl sulfate which is a harsh synthetic detergent and foaming agent that ‘tears down’ tissue in order to clean it (it’s very corrosive).  SLS has been on the radar of organizations like the Environmental Working Group, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, because its been linked to a number of skin related issues from canker sores (toothpaste) to eczema (soap).

Many companies have tried to soften the effects of sodium lauryl sulfate, by a process called ethoxylationwhich changes it to sodium laureth sulfate.  The problem with this is twofold; ethoxylation generates a by-product known as 1,4 dioxane, which is a known carcinogen whose track record is much uglier than SLS.  And secondly, there are still many cases of laureth sulfates being linked to skin irritation and eczema.

Every time you wash your hands or body with a synthetic soap, you’re exposing your body to these chemicals.  This is why we believe Natural Matters in soap.  Our soaps are made with 100% natural ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, flowers such as lavender, and herbs such as sweet basil. These natural ingredients are just as effective (if not more!) as synthetic ones, and are a lot safer.  Olive Oil is a rich natural moisturizer, coconut oil creates a rich lather naturally, and all of the flowers and herbs we use have a therapeutic benefit.  So why would we choose a synthetic ingredient or product over a natural one if given the choice?  Beats me.

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