Free Shipping on $50 + 3 FREE Samples on $5   Details

surfactant

Short term for surface active agent. Surfactants degrease and emulsify oils and fats and suspend soil, allowing them to be washed away. Surfactants are used in most forms of cleansers and many are considered gentle and effective for most skin types. There are several types of surfactants that can be drying and sensitizing for skin. When those are the main ingredients in a facial cleanser, body wash, or shampoo, they should be avoided; the most common among drying, sensitizing surfactants is sodium lauryl sulfate. The similar-sounding ingredient sodium laureth sulfate is fine.

References for this information:

International Journal of Toxicology, July 2010, pages 151S-161S

Journal of Cosmetic Science, March 2009, pages 143-151

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, January 2005, pages 125-132

International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 1999, pages 371-382

Back to Ingredient Dictionary

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

View Media Highlights

 

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!