Reading the back of a soap or detergent label can feel like you’re cracking a code with a long list of unpronounceable chemical names and acronyms. It’s important to know what ingredients you are coming into contact with. Whether you are washing your hands with them or using them to wash your clothes. Researching the ingredients in your products can seem daunting (even with the internet at your disposal). So, we thought we’d address what all the fuss about SLS is about.
What is SLS?
In many hand soaps and personal care products, even the ones that claim to be eco-friendly or gentle, one of the first ingredients you may come across is sodium lauryl sulphate (AKA SLS). SLS is a surfactant, meaning that it reduces the water surface tension, giving products that lovely foaming action when lathered. This surfactant can be plant based and derived from palm kernel oil or coconut oil, but it can also be produced from petroleum oil.
You may have also heard of the surfactant sodium laureth sulphate (SLES), which is often confused with SLS. SLES is derived from SLS and has a similar chemical formula, however it is milder and less irritating than SLS.
Personal grooming products such as: shaving cream, makeup remover, lip balm, facial cleansers and hand soap
Hair products such as: shampoo, conditioner and styling gel
Dental care products such as: toothpaste and mouthwash
Bath products such as: bubble bath, bath oils and body wash
Lotions and creams such as: hand cream, face and body masks, hair removal products and sunscreen
Why you’ll want to avoid SLS
There’s no way to sugar-coat it, SLS is known irritant, the University of Queensland shares research done on SLS on patients in Germany. If you have sensitive skin this can show up as skin rashes, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. If you are one of the lucky ones considered to have ‘normal’ skin, SLS can remove the skin’s natural oils. While it may not show visible signs of irritation, it can affect the skin’s natural ability to regulate and protect itself.
If you’ve gone through your bathroom cabinet and found that most of your personal care products contain SLS, you might be wondering what some less-irritating alternatives to the harsh surfactant may be. Look for products with sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLAS), sodium cocoyl glycinate, disodium / sodium cocoyl glutamate, decyl glucoside, and lauryl glucoside.
When coming up with our formulas we said no way to SLS. Instead, Keeper Foaming Hand Soap contains a blend of biodegradable plant based anionic and non-ionic surfactants. They are suitable for all skin types and create a lovely foam when pumped from the bottle.