sodium laureth sulfate

Sodium Laureth Sulfate at a Glance

  • Cleansing agent that produces a foaming/lathering effect
  • Commonly found in facial cleansers, body washes, and shampoos
  • Can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically
  • Recognized as gentle and safe by numerous industry experts/organizations
  • Appears as a slightly hazy or clear solution in its raw state

Sodium Laureth Sulfate Description

Sodium laureth sulfate (commonly referred to by its acronym, SLES) is a commonly used cleansing agent that can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically, although even the coconut-derived source is processed to the point where it is no longer considered natural. It is known for producing a foaming/lathering effect and is considered gentle in normal cosmetic use (typically in face/body cleansers and shampoos).

In the late 1990s an e-mail hoax surfaced claiming that sodium laureth sulfate was a dangerous ingredient. This allegation has been dispelled by numerous industry experts/organizations. For decades, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review has officially deemed sodium laureth sulfate as safe, with the latest reported use studied in up to a 50% concentration.

Despite the name similarity, sodium laureth sulfate is NOT the same as sodium lauryl sulfate, which can indeed be irritating to skin. Sodium laureth sulfate is a milder on skin due its different chemical structure.

As a raw material, sodium laureth sulfate appears as a slightly hazy or clear solution.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate References

CosmeticsInfo.org, Accessed April 2021, ePublication
International Journal of Toxicology, July 2019, pages 151S-161S
American Chemical Society, October 2017, ePublication
Contact Dermatitis, January 2003, issue 1, pages 26-32
Food and Chemical Toxicology, March 2001, pages 279-286

See surfactant

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