Our ongoing guide to the top toxic ingredients in cosmetics.
SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
What are they?
SLS and SLES are foaming agents commonly found in shampoo, shower gel, soap, bubble bath, toothpaste and other foaming products.
What’s the problem?
There is strong evidence that both SLS and SLES are irritant to skin, eyes and the respiratory tract. SLES has been found to be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.
Do we really need them?
We’ve learned to equate foaming with cleansing. In fact, these sulfates (or sulphates if you’re an English speaker!) work by stripping our skin and hair of their natural oils. We then need to replace those oils by using moisturisers and conditioners. Non-foaming shampoos and soaps may seem weird at first but they are much gentler on skin and scalp. Many people find that they need to wash their hair less often after switching.