Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Written by Precious from Precious ~ Curls

What is sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate?

♥ Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant used in many cleaning and hygiene products.

♥ Sodium laureth sulfate is a detergent and surfactant also used in many personal cleaning and hygiene products.

♥ Surfactants are substances that lower the tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants act as detergents and foaming agents.

♥ The main difference between the two is their molecular formula (what they’re made up of.)

What are some other names for sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate?

♥ Some other names for sodium lauryl sulfate are sodium monododecyl sulfate, sodium monolauryl sulfate, sodium dodecanesulfate, dodecyl alcohol, hydrogen sulfate, sodium salt, n-dodecyl sulfate sodium, sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt, and SLS.

♥ Some other names for sodium laureth sulfate are sodium lauryl ether sulfate, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl ether sulphate, and SLES.

What are some other ingredients similar to sodium laurel and laureth sulfate?

♥ Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos), Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos), Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Thiosulfate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Alkyl Sodium Sulfate, Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate, TEA-Dodecylbenzene, Sodium C12-15 Alkyl Sulfate, Sodium Dodecyl Sulfonate.

What typical products contain sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfate?

♥ These are typically used in soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes, and other products that “foam” or “lather.”

Why can sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate be icky for hair?

♥ SLS and SLES are potent de-greasers, acting as surfactants, binding to the dirt and gunk on your hair and scalp. After rinsing your hair, the dirt is rinsed away with the shampoo, leaving your hair clean and dirt-free, which is what we want, right? But read on.

♥ The sodium lauryl sulfate found in our soaps is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to de-grease car engines. In the same way it dissolves the grease on car engines, sodium lauryl sulfate also dissolves the moisture and the oils on your hair, which can cause a drying effect and lead to brittleness and breakage. It is also well documented that it denatures skin proteins, which causes not only irritation, but also allows environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin.

♥ SLS and SLES are irritants, to the skin, scalp, and eyes.

♥ Sometimes, when rinsing out shampoos with these sulfates, some shampoo may remain. This left-over residue can damage your hair follicles and results in hair loss. It is extremely dangerous to hair follicles that are exposed.

♥ SLS is also absorbed into the body from skin application. Once it has been absorbed, one of the main effects of sodium lauryl sulfate is to mimic the activity of the hormone Oestrogen. This has many health implications and may be responsible for 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.

♥ Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is less harsh than SLS, but it still has very similar properties.

If sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates are so detrimental to the hair, then why are they used in so many hair products?

♥ Because they are cheap. Most cosmetics companies want to use the cheapest ingredients possible, even if they are detrimental to our hair and skin. The sulfates’ jobs are to clean – and they do. But that’s all they should do. They shouldn’t strip the hair of its natural moisture. They shouldn’t cause internal problems. They shouldn’t affect the body in any other way. Yet they do. These companies care much more about what they gain from their consumers, and not its harmfulness to their consumer’s bodies.

SLS, SLES, and other ingredients similar to these should be avoided. Try to invest in shampoos that are sulfate-free. Sulfate-free shampoos use much gentler cleansers that will not strip moisture and oils from the hair. Washing the hair with conditioner is also another way to clean the hair. Rinsing the hair with oil is a way to prevent the stripped feeling that shampoos can give the hair after rinsing. Not only are these cleansing agents bad for our hair; they can negatively affect the scalp and skin! So let’s keep away from these harsh cleansing ingredients and stick to shampoos that are sulfate-free, or use conditioners to wash the hair.

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Thank you Precious for this great article on sulfates! Check out her blog on loving and caring for natural hair here!

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