Sodium laureth sulfate (aka sodium lauryl ether sulfate) is a common detergent and solvent found in many personal care products. Look for it in products such as toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. Not be confused with the less toxic sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium laureth sulfate and the related sodium lauryl sulfate are added to personal care products because they both act as foaming agents while also acting as de-greasers.
Why is Sodium Laureth Sulfate More Toxic Than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
Sodium laureth sulfate contains a carcinogen known scientifically as 1, 4-Dioxane. This particular carcinogen is also known as ether. The main purpose of 1, 4-Dioxane was to act as a stabilizer to 1,1,1-Trichloroethane which was commonly stored and transported in aluminum containers. Without a stabilizer, 1,1,1-trichloroethane would react with the aluminum containers.
“Both our own commissioned independent laboratory testing and that of the federal government have documented ethoxylated alcohol compounds are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is carcinogenic and is listed by the federal government as a probable human carcinogen.” (Jason)
Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Safer to Use?
In short, the answer is no. Sodium lauryl sulfate is almost as dangerous to use as sodium laureth sulfate. It can cause things such as skin irritation, hormone imbalance, eye deformities in children, eye irritations, protein denaturing, and carcinogenicity. Although sodium lauryl sulfate causes skin irritations, it is used to determine how well other skin healing products work.
Hormone imbalances come into play because sodium lauryl sulfate has a tendency to mimic the estrogen hormone which then creates an estrogen hormone imbalance. The body then thinks it has higher estrogen hormone levels than it actually does, which can lead to a grand variety of health issues. Hormonal imbalances affect both men and women. Menstrual and menopausal symptoms cause problems for many women. On the other hand, men normally have low amounts of estrogen hormones. The mimicking of the estrogen hormone can cause breast enlargement and the reduction of male hormones which lead in the production of sperm count and fertility.
Sodium lauryl sulfate and its neighbor sodium laureth sulfate may potentially cause cancer because of the destruction of the protein molecule and the destruction of new cell growth.
What Products Contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
Many personal hygiene products such as soaps, shampoos, bubble baths, toothpaste and mouthwash contain either sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. Household products such as laundry detergent, stain removers, carpet cleaners and fabric glue also contain either sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. It is important to note that most laundry detergents and other various consumer products that require a foaming agent, use sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate unless otherwise stated.
What to Do When “Everything” Has SLS?
As a mother of three, I know the struggle of wanting the best for your family. It’s difficult to find hygiene products that do not contain either Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It’s even more frustrating when some of the name-brand organic products contain these ingredients. You may want to try making your own hygiene & laundry products, some of which are easier to make than you may think. Feel free to check out some of Going2Natural’s Do-It-Yourself recipes that may help you on your way to eliminating sodium laureth sulfate from your home.
Scrub-A-Dub: Homemade Baby Wash & Shampoo
DIY Anti-Fungal Powder
DIY Dry Shampoo for Oily Hair
Activated Charcoal Acne SoapEucalyptus Shower & Bath BombDIY Goat’s Milk Soap
MSC: Homemade Washing Powder
MSC: Homemade Borax Free Powdered Laundry Detergent
2 Two-Ingredient Face Washes
DIY Melt & Pour Soap
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
Remember at Going2Natural, we are for people, not profit.
Jasoncosmetics.com, *” Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in Shampoos, The Real Story”*, (May 13, 2010).
Atsdr.cdc.gov, *”ATSDR- ToxFAQs: 1, 4-Dioxane”*, (May 13, 2010).
Atsdr.cdc.gov, *”ATSDR- ToxFAQs: 1,1,1- Trichloroethane”* (May 13, 2010).
Natural-health-information-centre.com, *”Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)”* (May 13, 2010).
Natural-health-information-centre.com, *”SLS. Health implications.”* (May 13, 2010).