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Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 20, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Sodium Laureth Sulfate


Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate, is considered as one of the most inexpensive foaming agents and it is commonly used as an ingredient in many personal care products such as in shampoos, soaps, detergent soaps and toothpastes. This chemical has surfactant and cleansing properties. Sodium laureth sulfate is derived from coconut oil which is considered to be an indispensable ingredient as well in many skin care and hair care products.

Sodium laureth sulfate is considered safe and easy to use. It is gentle on both a person’s skin and their hair; because of these properties, sodium laureth sulfate is used as a main ingredient in many cosmetic products as well.

History and Origin
Sodium laureth sulfate is produced through the ethoxylation of dodecyl alcohol which is derived from coconut oil. A result of this process is an ethoxylate which is converted further to become sodium laureth sulfate. This detergent chemical is also known as SLES. Sodium laureth sulfate has properties that are similar to soaps because of its cleansing and emulsifying benefits.

Ancient Uses

The use of sodium laureth sulfate was unheard of during the ancient times. However, the coconut, where the chemical is derived, was considered the tree of life during the ancient times. Ancient tribes that lived in tropical conditions used the entire coconut tree from the leaves and trunk to the fruits and the roots. The fruit in particular is a great source for fresh and delicious coconut water or juice. The flesh is eaten or included in many ancient cuisines.

Modern Uses

Sodium laureth sulfate is regarded as a safe chemical to use as an active ingredient for soaps, shampoos and many other personal care products. This chemical is also proven to be safe and gentle on skin, and it is used as an ingredient in cosmetic products.
The safety of sodium laureth sulfate was questioned way back in 1990 after an Internet rumor circulated regarding the ability of sodium laureth sulfate to cause cancer. Investigations led to the research of this chemical further and it was found out that this ingredient is not in any way responsible for cancer or organ damage as well.
After the controversy, sodium laureth sulfate has been made into an active ingredient in many other personal skin care products as well as household chemicals that are considered non-irritating to the skin yet tough on dirt. Today, sodium laureth sulfate shows more promising uses in many other industries since it is very mild and can foam-up easily because of its properties.

Side Effects

There are no side effects whatsoever from using products with sodium laureth sulfate as the main ingredient. This chemical is mild and gentle; it is even used as an ingredient in baby care products. Although there may still be a small percentage of the population that may show mild skin irritation, this chemical ingredient is still considered safe for everyday use.

If you may suffer from any skin irritation due to use of products with sodium laureth sulfate, it is recommended that you consult a dermatologist regarding the best skin care alternative to use.

Read also: Ilex Asprella Root

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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