You may have heard of Sodium Lauryl sulfate (Sodium Lauryl sulfate and its derivatives) and, most likely, you have used it, since it is present in most shampoos, gels and soaps that we can find in the supermarket. In this Green Ecologist article we tell you what is and how does it affect Sodium Laureth Sulfateas there are important debates about its dangers and possible solutions to stop using it.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent product that acts as a foaming agent; that is, it is the substance that is integrated into hygiene and beauty products to make foam when it comes into contact with water. It is found in a large number of personal hygiene products, approximately in 9 out of ten, especially in those of low cost that we can find in common stores. It is used often because it is cheap and effective. However, many associations have been warning for years of its dangers, for the environment and health, as well as its supposed carcinogenic effects.
Actually, there are two variants: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (Sodium Lauret Sulfate or SLES). The latter began to be incorporated more frequently into products as it had less abrasive substances for the skin. However, and although both come from coconut, the final solution resulting from the processes to which it is subjected is of an artificial chemical nature. This process causes these compounds to end up being harmful to our health and also to the environment, as we will see below.
Especially Lauryl Sulfate has abrasive properties for the skin. It is a very good degreaser to eliminate the fat that accumulates in the body, but it also destroys the natural lipids that our skin generates to defend itself naturally, so it is a substance that results irritant to human skin. Thus, many of the problems of dry skin, scalp irritation and dandruff are caused by the continued use of products with this compound.
In addition, various ecological and health organizations have classified it as harmful to some vital organs. Containing such small molecules is said to easily penetrate the blood through the skin and mucous membranes; for example, by having contact with the eyes, which can be harmful to vital organs. However, the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not accept this risk, due to its low concentration indexes, even more so if it is properly rinsed after soaping.
The so-called Sodium Laureth sulfate, although less abrasive, could contain substances that have been identified as carcinogens. Likewise, on this point there is a controversy between organizations of various kinds, due to the low content of dioxyl that would form the carcinogenic substance.
Many people are scared by these health risks, in addition to denouncing the damage that the continued use of this product causes to the environment. There is growing concern about this issue. However, why is it so present in cleaning supplies, even in well-known and highly regarded brands? The truth is that this product is not illegal, and, as we have said, its use is accepted by the US Food and Drug Administration, although the reactions they cause may be very harmful to the environment and they can even help destroy the lipids in our skin and hair, leaving it dry and irritated in the long run. Consumer advocacy groups, while not recommending its outright ban, suggest using products containing SLS with caution.
If you are one of the people who is concerned about the possible health risks that SLS can cause and you have decided to start using natural products better for your health and to minimize your ecological or environmental footprint, there are many other alternatives. As a general recommendation, it is not positive to use this product on children's skin, if it is used, it should be rinsed very well and, if you want to avoid it, it is as simple as paying a little attention to the product labels What are we going to buy. Possibly, if you go to your bathroom now and read the list of ingredients for toothpaste, regular shampoo and hand soap, you will find the words Sodium Laureth Sulfate at the top of the list. Being so cheap and not illegal, it is used very frequently.
To do this, search shampoos or gels made with essential oils (for example, Castile soap), or some that contain quinoa. They are generally more expensive and do not lather as much, but they wash skin and hair in a much more natural way and are more effective in the long run. There are also alternatives based on a similar compound that is not associated with the formation of the carcinogenic substance and is known as sodium coconut sulfate. Today, this concern has led brands to offer sulfate-free shampoos and hygiene products, such as Aveda Smooth Infusion Shampoo or the Essentials HairCare Line products. Products free of SLS and SLES can be ordered online, although they can also be found in natural stores or in some specialized stores.
Another option is to make our own soaps at home, with natural and inexpensive products. At Ecologista Verde we propose different recipes to make homemade soap without caustic soda and natural herbal soaps.
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