If you have the suspicion that washing your face is making your skin dry, or that shampooing is giving you an itchy scalp or making your eyes sting, or that cleaning your teeth is giving you mouth ulcers, sodium lauryl sulfate is the likely culprit. In studies, there are “significant correlations” (in the words of one) between SLS and contact dermatitis. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology says that it has “a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties”. The Journal adds that “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration.
Here are our top ten reasons you should not use anything containing SLS.
1. It is a known skin irritant. When cosmetic companies need to test the healing properties of a lotion, they need to irritate the skin first. What do they use to do this? SLS, of course. If you have dandruff, dermatitis, canker sores, or other irritated tissues or skin, it could be due to SLS.
2. It pollutes our groundwater. It is toxic to fish and other aquatic animals and has the potential for bio-accumulation (meaning it accumulates in the bodies of the fish.) It also is undetected in many municipal water filters, getting into the tap water that you drink.
3. It is actually a pesticide and herbicide. It is commonly used to kill plants and insects. Makers of SLS recently petitioned to have SLS listed as an approved pesticide for organic farming. The application was denied because of its polluting properties and environmental damage.
4. It emits toxic fumes when heated. Toxic Sodium Oxides and Sulfur Oxides are released when SLS is heated. Makes a hot shower with an SLS shampoo seem not quite as nice…
5. It has corrosive properties. According to the American College of Toxicity, this includes corrosion of the fats and proteins that make up skin and muscle. SLS can be found in garage floor cleaners, engine de-greasers, and car wash soaps.
6. Long-term permeation of the body’s tissues. A study from the University of Georgia Medicine showed that SLS had the power to permeate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver.
7. It’s an eye irritant. It was shown to cause cataracts in adults, and is proven to inhibit the proper formation of eyes in small children.
8. Nitrate and other solvent contamination. Toxic solvents, including carcinogenic nitrates are used in the manufacturing of SLS, traces of which can remain in the product.
9. Manufacturing process is highly polluting, emitting cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, sulfur compounds, and air particulates.
10. It helps other chemicals get into your body. SLS is a penetration enhancer, meaning that its molecules are so small they’re able to cross the membranes of your body’s cells. Once cells are compromised, they become more vulnerable to other toxic chemicals that may be with the SLS.
The Earth Life Organics Team
NewsTarget “Popular Shampoos Contain Toxic Chemicals Linked to Nerve Damage” Mike Adams, January 11, 2005
MSDS Data Sheet for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
MSDS Data Sheet for Sodium Laureth Sulfate
“OCA & Cancer Prevention Coalition Warn of Hidden Carcinogens in Baby Care” AScribe Newswire, Feb 28, 2007
“Technical Evaluation Report: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” Compiled by ICF Consulting for the USDA National Organic Program, February 10, 2006
Environmental Working Group / Skin Deep http://www.ewg.org/skindeep