Toxic Ingredient Spotlight- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)


Sodium Laurel Sulfate (commonly known as SLS) is a common, inexpensive additive used in most cleaning and personal care essentials. Bars of soap, hand wash, shampoo—you name it, a significant portion of household brands include SLS within it. (1)

SLS is a detergent and surfactant which basically means it reduces the surface tension between two liquids in which it is dissolved. This in turn creates a lather- foam and bubbles- which makes us perceive products such as toothpaste and shampoos to be better cleaners. (3)

So, why even use Sodium Laurel Sulfate? 

When you do the dishes, brush your teeth or wash your hair, what do you normally get? Bubbles and foam. That's what SLS gives us.

Over time bubbles and foam have some how become synonymous with clean. As a result, we have seen companies turn to artificial foaming agents that would give the consumer the sense that they were getting a 'cleaner' product they could trust.

Is Sodium Laurel Sulfate Safe?

According to The Cancer Council there is no evidence that sodium lauryl sulfate causes cancer and used in small amounts and for short periods is safe to the human body. (2)

However, the same article goes on to say that tests were conducted by the Us Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) and an ingredient alert was published that warned that SLS can irritate the eyes and skin, especially when left on the body for lengthy periods. So, the longer SLS is left on the skin the more likely it is to cause irritation. (2)

The amount of SLS found in your personal care products is limited in concentration and if it is washed off quickly then apparently it is not harmful.

However, The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews, research studies on SLS have shown links to (6):

  • Irritation of the skin and eyes
  • Organ toxicity
  • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
  • Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes
  • Possible mutations and cancer

 This brings up another question- what about the long term usage of such products that contain SLS and other suspected toxic ingredients?

According to Dr Mercola, 'It's the gradual, cumulative effects of long-term, repeated exposures that are the real concern.' (5)

He goes on to say that if you use these conventional cosmetics on a daily basis, you can absorb almost five pounds of chemicals and toxins into your body each year. Daily use of ordinary, seemingly benign personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel can easily result in exposure to thousands of chemicals, and many will make their way into your body and become "stuck" there, since you lack the means to break them down. This toxic load can become a significant contributing factor to health problems and serious diseases, especially if your diet and exercise habits are lacking. (5)

As with many ingredients, there are people who are more sensitive to its properties than others and this may be reason enough for concern.

What Should You Do?

The best advice I have come across so far is this- If you are concerned about SLS and other toxic chemicals, then it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid them altogether. 

And, with an increasing number of toxic free products appearing on the market today, it is becoming even easier to avoid them.



A Solution

One such company is the Live Clean Company- MODERE.

Modere hold themselves to a higher standard. For more than 25 years, their products have been the first choice by customers around the world. Proven, trusted, original formulas delivered to market and anchored by a simple philosophy – if it doesn’t meet their standards of safety, it will never be part of their mix.

Modere prides themselves on avoiding over 3000+ toxic chemicals. So, if you're looking for safe, non-toxic personal care, household products, cosmetics and even nutritionals, check them out, compare them and see if what they say lives up to your standard.

You only have your health and that of your family's at stake.  




1. MODERE ' Clean Products, Clean Conscience'

2. Cancer Council 'Cancer Myth:Toothpaste, Shampoo, Bodywash and Cancer'

3. Healthline 'What is Sodium Laurel Sulfate?'

4. Toxicology Data Network 'Sodium Laurel Sulfate'

5. MERCOLA 'Deadly and Dangerous Shampoos, Toothpastes, and Detergents: Could 16,000 Studies Be Wrong About SLS