sodium lauryl sulfate

Rating:
Poor
Categories:
Surfactants/Detergent Cleansing Agents , Irritants , Thickeners/Emulsifiers

Versatile ingredient composed of several non-volatile alcohols. Functions primarily as a surfactant but can also be used as a skin-conditioning agent, emulsifier, and solvent. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is one of the most irritating cleansing agents used in skin-care products. In fact, it’s considered a standard comparison substance for measuring skin irritancy of other ingredients. Thus in scientific studies, when they want to establish whether or not an ingredient is problematic for skin, they compare its effect to the results of SLS. In amounts of 2% to 5% it can cause allergic or sensitizing reactions in lots of people (Sources: European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2001, pages 416–419; American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, March 2001, pages 28–32). But irritancy is not the same as the other dire, erroneous warnings floating around the Web about this ingredient! Read on to learn more about the myths surrounding this detergent cleansing agent.

According to a Health Canada press release (February 12, 1999, www.hc-sc.gc.ca/), “A letter has been circulating [on] the Internet which claims that there is a link between cancer and sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate (SLS), an ingredient used in [cosmetics]. Health Canada has looked into the matter and has found no scientific evidence to suggest that SLS causes cancer. It has a history of safe use in Canada. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that this e-mail warning is a hoax. The letter is signed by a person at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and includes a phone number. Health Canada contacted the University of Pennsylvania Health System and found that it is not the author of the sodium laureth sulfate warning and does not endorse any link between SLS and cancer. Health Canada considers SLS safe for use in cosmetics. Therefore, you can continue to use cosmetics containing SLS without worry.” Further, according to the American Cancer Society’s Web site (www.cancer.org), “Contrary to popular rumors on the Internet, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) do not cause cancer. E-mails have been flying through cyberspace claiming SLS [and SLES] causes cancer … and is proven to cause cancer.... [Yet] A search of recognized medical journals yielded no published articles relating this substance to cancer in humans.”

According to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, “Contrary to popular rumors on the Internet, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) do not cause cancer. E-mails have been flying through cyberspace claiming SLS [and SLES] causes cancer … and is proven to cause cancer. ... [Yet] A search of recognized medical journals yielded no published articles relating this substance to cancer in humans.” See sodium laureth sulfate , surfactant

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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