Ingredient Watcher’s Alert: SLS (Sulfates)

Have you ever purchased a skin/hair care product of any kind and read the packaging where the products seemed to offer a variety extraordinary benefits such as… “grows hair instantly, have flawless skin overnight, soothing and calming agents that make you feel like you’re in heaven”…. and yada yada yada…. ? Well those advertising vacuums just seem to suck consumers right on in, promising to make the kinkiest of hair the silkiest overnight. Ha! I must admit, that I too have been drawn in by those illustrious words and captivating sentences when reviewing products to purchase and even in the past recommending products to others to try.

Nowadays, I skip past the obvious and I read the ingredients and I do a little research also.  That is what’s most important than the advertising promises that turn out to be fallacies. There are a lot of ingredients in products ranging from shampoos, soaps, lip glosses, and even lotions that we need to pay attention to and consider before we trot down the aisle of our favorite store and give away our precious money. 

Before writing this article, I have considered that I may still own some products of my own that contain ingredients that are not so good… I have thrown quite a bit of  my discoveries in the trash and I have been replacing those trashed items for more natural products now that I am a better and informed consumer.  In writing this article, I hope that you will also become better informed and become more aware of what’s in a product rather than falling for the hype of what the products promises to do for your hair and skin and body overall. 

As an Esthetician, I believe that wellness is the start of beauty. If you take care of your natural skin, hair, and nails… you can afford to embellish a little…. with hair extentions and cosmetics and not become a slave to it.  If you aren’t first and foremost taking care of your hair, skin and nails then you will find the NEED to NEED weaves and cosmetics to conceal what you don’t want to spend time to heal and correct. IMO! You may consider yourself healthy and you may not intentionally take drugs but some of the products we use daily may contain drugs that harm use in the long haul and we not even know it. We may not be able to totally eradicate ALL of the products from our lives that may be harmful but by becoming informed we can save money and eliminate most of them.

Over time I have purchased and reviewed lots of skin care and hair products…. I’ve been caring for my natural hair for a while now and currently I am wearing my natural tresses that God blessed me with and I have had to toss out a lot of my old shampoos and conditioners that I would generally use on my extensions. I can no longer use those products on my natural hair now.  Mostly because certain ingredients such as mineral oils, petrolium, parabens, and other sulfates are no good for natural breathing hair. One of the main ingredients I steer clear from are any products such as shampoos and conditioners that contain: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or its evil twin Sodium Laureth Sulfate better known as SLS.

Here are ten reasons why you should avoid SLS:

1. It is a known skin irritant. When cosmetic companies need to test the healing properties of a lotion, they need to irritate the skin first. What do they use to do this? SLS, of course. If you have dandruff, dermatitis, canker sores, or other irritated tissues or skin, it could be due to SLS.

2. It pollutes our groundwater.  It is toxic to fish and other aquatic animals and has the potential for bioaccumulation (meaning it accumulates in the bodies of the fish.)  It also is undetected in many municipal water filters, getting into the tap water that you drink.

3. It is actually a pesticide and herbicide.  It is commonly used to kill plants and insects. Makers of SLS recently petitioned to have SLS listed as an approved pesticide for organic farming.  The application was denied because of its polluting properties and environmental damage.  

4. It emits toxic fumes when heated. Toxic Sodium Oxides and Sulfur Oxides are released when SLS is heated.  Makes a hot shower with an SLS shampoo seem not quite as nice…

5.  It has corrosive properties.  According to the American College of Toxicity,  this includes corrosion of the fats and protiens that make up skin and muscle.  SLS can be found in garage floor cleanrs, engine degreasers, and car wash soaps.  

6.  Long-term permeation of the body’s tissues.  A study from the University of Georgia Medicine showed that SLS had the power to permeate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver.

7.  It’s an eye irritant.  It was shown to cause cataracts in adults, and is proven to inhibit the proper formation of eyes in small children.

8.  Nitrate and other solvent contamination.  Toxic solvents, including carcinogenic nitrates are used in the manufacturing of SLS, traces of which can remain in the product.

9.  Manufacturing process is highly polluting, emitting cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, sulfur compounds, and air particulates.

10.  It helps other chemicals get into your body.  SLS is a penetration enhancer, meaning that its molecules are so small they’re able to cross the membranes of your body’s cells.  Once cells are compromised, they become more vulnerable to other toxic chemicals that may be with the SLS.

Does it cause cancer?
SLS is not a recognized carcinogen itself, but there is some truth behind those internet rumors.  When SLS is mixed with triethanolamine (or T.E.A) carcinogenic substances called nitrosames can form and be released.

Natural shampoos offer you a gentle way to clean your hair but I must “warn” you: If you have been using a shampoo that contains SLS, you will find that your hair may feel a bit dry after you wash. This is because a natural shampoo will get rid of the gunk, for lack of a better word, left behind by shampoos that contain sulfates. However a chemical free shampoo will not dry out your hair as badly as one that contains sulfates. This means that you will use less hair conditioner than with an SLS shampoo.

All shampoos are drying, to a certain degree. The reason we shampoo in the first place is to cleanse the hair of dirt, grime and product build up. In the process, however, we wash away beneficial natural oils, too. This is why you must always use an “instant” conditioner immediately after shampooing, when hair is at its most fragile state.

When a company chooses to use SLS as a cost cutting alternative you can be pretty sure that it’s not the only way they’re cutting corners. Most likely, they are also using lower levels of beneficial and nourishing ingredients, if they’re using any at all. The nutritional needs of skin and hair are VERY closely related.

Stick with all natural products and you can’t go wrong.

Here are some books that provide awesome information on ingredients and the adverse affects it may have on your internal and external body. I recommend getting this book if you are a person who spends time on the cosmetic or personal care aisle looking for products for yourself or your family.

 Always. Radiant. Everyday!

:::your personal esthetician:::


Sources:
NewsTarget “Popular Shampoos Contain Toxic Chemicals Linked to Nerve Damage” Mike Adams, January 11, 2005 
MSDS Data Sheet for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
MSDS Data Sheet for Sodium Laureth Sulfate
“OCA & Cancer Prevention Coalition Warn of Hidden Carcinogens in Baby Care” AScribe Newswire, Feb 28, 2007
“Technical Evaluation Report: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” Compiled by ICF Consulting for the USDA National Organic Program, February 10, 2006
Environmental Working Group / Skin Deep http://www.ewg.org/skindeep

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