What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Is It Safe To Use?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is commonly used in skin care products, and you most typically will find it in body washes, cleansers, shampoos, and hand washes. It is what gives the product that foamy, bubbly consistency which you most likely associate with “getting clean”.

However, getting clean doesn’t mean the product has to produce foam. We as a society have been programmed to believe that “foam means clean” because we see it with soaps, dish washing liquids, and laundry powders. Which is why some believe we need to see it when we clean ourselves.

This has lead to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its other variations (i.e. Sodium Laureth Sulfate – SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate – ALS) to appear in our skincare products. This simply is not necessary and let us explain why.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Its Variants

The most commonly used foaming agent, SLS is produced from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or from petroleum oil. It is in fact, a surfactant, which means it acts to decrease the surface tension between ingredients. Now that is a very scientific definition, but essentially what it means is it is like “soap”, which we know dries out your skin. 

However, not like soap, SLS and its variants are less harsh meaning it wont necessarily dry out your skin. In fact, research has shown in concentrations of less that 1% it can be safe to use and that is great. BUT, as it is very common, it appears everywhere and you most likely are being exposed to too much of it.

sodium lauryl sulfate is used as a foaming agent

What Happens When I am Exposed To Too Much SLS

As mentioned above, 1% is meant to be ok, but as it is across multiple products, you are likely exposed to too much SLS. So, what does that mean for your skin? Quite a lot actually… Because your skin is the largest organ in your body, it has its main function, which is to protect your body from foreign infection and pollutants. But, as SLS can become too much for your body, it will become a pollutant and your body will react.

When your body reacts, it will show it in many different ways, and if you have sensitive skin, you most likely are very susceptible to it being an irritant. In fact, you most likely will see your body responding with nasty dermatitus, eczema, or psoriasis. In other situations, it can cause skin and eye irritation, rashes, hormonal disruptions or dizziness and headaches. And, as it can dry out the skin, you could be experiencing acne or dry and flaky skin. 

Essentially, Not everyone is the same, and so your body will react different. 

How Do You Get Relief From Eczema or Dermatitis?

As mentioned earlier, Sodium Lauryl Sulfates and its variants can encourage dry skin, irritation, eczema or dermatitis. This is because it strips your skin of its natural protecting oils which leaves it vulnerable. Therefore, you can tackle this in two different ways.

The first way, is to minimize your exposure to these chemicals by avoiding them in your cleaning and skincare products. However, to simply avoid them, means not washing or cleansing your skin, but you can’t do that as other pollutants will build up on your skin. This can lead to other skin conditions like blackheads, and acne, therefore replace your skincare products with natural skincare products. Ones that do not contain SLS and its variants.

The second way is to use a hand cream which contains vitamin E, rosehip oil and other replenishing and soothing ingredients. These will replace your natural oils that were washed away by the SLS, and will protect your skin.

Where Can You Find Natural Skincare Products

Josephina Skin Essentials offer a full range of skincare products from cleansers, to hand creams, to clay masks and more. In particular, you might want to consider adding their cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturisers to your skincare regime if you are experiencing skin irritation such as eczema or dematitis. These in combination are known to help with not only skin rejuvenation but also in helping to keep your skin stay youthful and moisturised.

An antioxidant soap-free cleanser with vitamin E that helps to refresh the skin.

After cleansing, use Josephina’s exfoliator, which can help speed up cell renewal.

A daily moisturiser to help protect your skin.

A nightly moisturiser to help repair your skin.

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