Are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) dangerous?- Why porze soaps don't foam

June 10, 2018

Are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) dangerous?

There are a lot of rumours out there about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) so porze went in search of answers.

 What did we find out?

A sulfate is a salt that forms when sulfuric acid reacts with another chemical. Okay….

SLES and SLS are produced from either petroleum or plant sources such as coconut and palm oil. Petroleum sources doesn’t sound good….

Both are surfactants and are added to products to increase the foaming action when the product is used. This is done because it is widely accepted that foam equals product performance. This is so true – why do we think that?

Both are also used in a wide variety of personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, body washes, toothpastes, and numerous other products where you would expect to see foaming action. In fact, try to find one that doesn’t contain one of these!

So what’s the difference between SLS and SLES?

SLS is a skin irritant which can cause dry, itchy skin.  When many cosmetic companies need to test the healing properties of a lotion, they need to irritate the skin first. To do this – they often use SLS.

Scarily, SLS can also be found in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash soaps and is commonly used to kill plants and insects.

So, what about SLES?  SLES is formulated be much milder and gentler on the skin and hair.  To make SLES, SLS goes through a manufacturing process called ethoxylation. 

The problem is in this manufacturing process

Toxic solvents, including carcinogenic nitrates are used in the process, traces of which can remain in the finished product.  It seems ethoxylation results in SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product, which is also a leading groundwater contaminant. It is toxic to fish and other aquatic animals and has the potential for bioaccumulation (meaning it accumulates in the bodies of the fish.)  

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) take the stance that the levels of 1,4 dioxane in body care products are too low to be considered harmful.

It seems that the highest risk of using products with SLS and SLES is irritation to your eyes, skin, mouth, and lungs. For people with sensitive skin, sulfates may also clog pores and cause acne.  In addition, the longer the products stay in contact with your skin or eyes, the higher the risk of irritation. (Rinsing off the product immediately after use reduces risk of irritation).

How sulfate affects your skin may also depend on the brand and manufacturer as not all sources are the same.

Should I go sulphate free?

Going sulfate-free depends on your concerns. If you’re worried about skin irritation and know that sulfate products are the cause, you can look for products that say sulfate-free or don’t list SLS or SLES in their ingredients.

Once such product is porze soap.  Our soaps don’t foam……and now you know why!

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Thank you Hisu Lee for th photo