Know your ingredients: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

sodium lauryl sulfate chemical structure

What it is:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the sodium salt of lauryl sulfate.

What it does:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used as a cleansing agent in cosmetic and personal care products. It cleans the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away. It also removes sweat and styling product residue.
In addition, it is a foaming agent as it produces lather.
It is also used as a dispersal agent in bubble baths or toothpaste and products that need its components dispersed homogeneously, such as fragrance oils in body spray.

Side effects:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is irritant at concentrations of 2% and higher.
It can also dry skin, as it strips the protective lipids from the surface, weakening the body’s natural moisture regulation mechanisms.
SLS can cause breakouts.

(Source: European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2001)
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  1. Elena says

    I’m really digging these posts on product ingredients. Thank you for posting them! What sparked your interest in knowing about them?

  2. beautifulwithbrains says

    I’m really glad you like these posts Elena. My interest in cosmetic ingredients is quite recent. There are just so many products out there that claim to do great things for you but then don’t really work. Knowing about ingredients do helps you choose products that are actually effective and avoid the ones who are irritating or comedogenic. Not only this is good for your skin, but for your wallet, too.

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