Many people claim that SLS is a very harmful substance. Is it really so? And why SLS must be contained in cosmetics? Or maybe this ingredient is not at all dangerous, and the stories that have grown up around it are strongly exaggerated?
What are SLS and SLES?
SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are surfactants. In cosmetics, they reduce water tension and are used as detergents. They have the ability to dissolve dirt and grease, foam well and remove all impurities. SLS and SLES can be found in cosmetics and household cleaning agents. They are in shower gels, shampoos, bath liquids, dishwashing and floor washing liquids.
Do SLS and SLES have any advantages?
It turns out that yes. Contrary to popular opinion, SLS and SLES are relatively safe, and, moreover, biodegradable and do not accumulate in living organisms and in the environment. What’s more, they are cheap and easily available.
SLS and SLES – disadvantages
The first drawback is the method of acquiring SLS and SLES. They are made from vegetable oils, including palm oil. Its extraction may raise certain doubts, which are related to the removal of rainforests, and thus the destruction of the natural environment of many animals and many social aspects (including closing down small family factories). What’s more, palm oil, which has been subjected to purification, can have a negative effect on the circulatory system and the heart. The second disadvantage is the possibility of irritation. If the SLS has long contact with the skin, it can contribute to the breakdown of the membranes of the skin cells. Although it sounds scary, in reality, it isn’t.
SLS – not as black as they paint it
SLS causes irritation at a concentration of 1% and only if it stays on the skin for a long time. Effects? Red, burning, itchy and dry skin. SLS also causes allergic reactions especially for people with atopic dermatitis. It appears after a shorter time than in people with healthy skin.
Can SLS and SLES be used?
Yes, they can be used. In products intended for cleaning the skin or cleaning the house, SLS and SLES are intended for immediate rinsing. And it does not matter that they are in a very high concentration. What counts is the fact that they stay on the skin only for a few moments. In such a short time there is no chance that they will cause any irritation.