What you need to know about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is used in almost every commercial soap, shampoo, hand and face wash as a detergent and foaming agent. Sounds innocent, doesn’t it? SLS is great at cutting through oil and grease — so good that it’s used in industrial car washes, floor cleaners, and engine degreasers…

Big companies use SLS because it creates luxurious-feeling foam and it’s cheap. But, as a petroleum-based surfactant, it’s incredibly harsh — SLS isn’t good for your skin at all.


The truth might shock you…

Search the Internet, and you’ll find lots of claims that SLS is carcinogenic (causes cancer). In fact, there is no evidence that using SLS leads to cancer. However, there is a strong body of medical research that shows SLS is a definite skin irritant and an environmental toxin. SLS causes:

1. Skin irritation.

2. Degeneration of cell membranes.

3. Skin corrosion (10% – 30% SLS solution).

4. Cornea damage (10% SLS solution).

5. Hair loss.

6. Blackheads and acne (1% – 5% SLS solution).

7. Depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea, and even death in some animals (15% SLS solution).



About comedogenics.

If a product or ingredient is “comedogenic”, that means that it has a tendency to clog pores (which leads to acne). Many products recommended for people with skin concerns claim to be non-comedogenic, yet contain SLS — a proven comedogenic at just 1% concentration!

That’s why it’s so important to read the ingredients, and not just believe unregulated marketing nonsense.

SLS is more than harsh — it’s corrosive.

Perhaps what’s most disturbing about SLS is that it’s corrosive and degenerates cell membranes. Our skin is our body’s largest protective barrier against infection. Because SLS destroys protein, it causes skin to become vulnerable to penetration and absorption of foreign irritants. This is one cause of eczema and other sensitive skin problems.

What can you do?

Protect yourself from SLS.

Check the product ingredients for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate. If it contains either chemical, take action! Do yourself and your family a favour — switch to a SLS-free soap (all our soaps are SLS-free!).

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Read these abstracts from medical journals for scientific insights on SLS.

“In concentrations of 2% to 5%, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate causes irritating or sensitizing reactions in many of people” (1).

“Although Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is not carcinogenic in experimental animals, it has been shown that it causes severe epidermal changes to the area of the skin of mice to which it was applied. This study indicates a need for tumor-enhancing activity assays.

Auto radiographic studies of rat skin treated with radio-labeled Sodium Lauryl Sulfate found heavy deposition of the detergent on the skin surface and in the hair follicles; damage to the hair follicle could result from such deposition. Further, it has been reported that 1 percent and 5 percent Sodium Lauryl Sulfate produced significant number of comedones when applied to the pinna of albino rabbits. These two problems – possible hair loss and comedone* formation — along with proven irritancy, should be considered in the formulation of cosmetic products” (2).


“Sodium and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate are anionic surfactants used in cosmetics as cleansing agents. In absorption, metabolism, and excretion studies, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate had a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties. Low levels of skin penetration may occur at high use concentration.

In acute ocular tests, 10% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate caused corneal damage to the rabbits’ eyes if not irrigated, or if irrigation was delayed. A Draize test of a product containing 5.1% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate caused mild irritation, and products containing 21% detergent were severely irritating with no rinse, and mildly irritating when rinsed. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate solutions containing 1.25%-27.4% detergent showed increasing irritation with increasing concentration; rinsing decreased irritation.

Acute animal skin irritation studies of 0.5%-10% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate caused slight to moderate irritation. Applications of 10%-30% detergent caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. Solutions of 2%, 10%, and 20% Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate were highly irritating and dangerous. One percent and 5% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate produced a significant number of comedones when applied to the pinna (the outer-ear) of albino rabbits.”


(1) European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2001, pages 416-419; American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, March 2001, pages 28–32

(2) Journal of the American College of Toxicology, Volume 2, Number 7, pp. 127-181, 1983