What is SLS?
SLS is a chemical named Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), it is a detergent found in many personal care products and even some household cleaners (soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, shaving cream, mascara, skin cleanser, moisturiser, bubble-bath, washing-up liquid, laundry detergent, carpet cleaner, degreasing car engines etc).
Why is SLS in our products?
SLS is a popular ingredient in shampoos and the other products mentioned above for two main reasons, the first is it's low cost to produce, this makes it ideal for low cost brands. Secondly, it is a very effective foam agent, which makes it highly effective in the removal of oily stains and residues.
What effects does using SLS have?
With regular, prolonged use of shampoos containing SLS, scalp irritation and tangled, split hair can often occur. It has also been reported to have other undesirable effects on skin and the environment. In several cases, these effects can include swelling of the hands, face and arms.
If being applied directly to the skin through a body wash or moisturizer the SLS within the product acts as it does when degreasing a car engine- it dissolves the essential oils in the skin, these oils are vital in keeping skin supple and moisturised. It has been well documented that SLS dries out the proteins in the skins cells, causing irritation in the form of rashes and itching as well as opening up the lower, more sensitive layers of skin to other environmental contaminants.
Even more alarmingly, when SLS has been used in highly concentrated quantities applied to the skin the health implications become more serious. Studies have been carried out discovering SLS can mimic the activity of the hormone oestrogen. For men and women this should be a concern as it could cause bad PMS, menopausal symptoms, an increased risk to female cancers, such as breast cancer and can cause a significant drop in male fertility.
Why is using SLS-free shampoo and natural products better for you and the environment?
Aside from the obvious health benefits to using a non SLS based product the benefits to your skin and hair would become apparent. Using products with natural, organic or eco friendly ingredients allows skin to remain naturally moisturized for longer and hair's natural texture would come alive, as natural ingredients will gently cleanse without drying out natural or curly hair textures, meaning less frizz.
By reducing your personal use of SLS mass production of the chemical would become less, in turn, causing less harmful toxins to be released into the atmosphere created during the production process. When using SLS and washing it away down the drain, some of the chemical enter the rivers and oceans before it has been treated. SLS is lethal to fish at 7ppm and does not break down well in the environment. There really is no reason not to switch to non-SLS based natural beauty products.