Many commercial facial cleansers contain an ingredient called sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate, or SLS for short. This ingredient can also be found in shampoos, household cleaners, scalp treatments, hair dyes, toothpastes, body washes, make up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils. SLS has become so ubiquitous in products of this kind because it happens to be an excellent detergent and emulsifier; in other words, it breaks down dirt, grease, oil and grime quite efficiently.
Any product that foams or bubbles (think facial cleansers, laundry or dish detergents, etc) almost certainly contains SLS or some variation of it. Which is great...for your dishes. The problem is that SLS effectively emulsifies and removes ALL of the natural oils on your skin stripping your largest and most exposed organ of all of it’s protection, including the acids that maintain the pH balance, and your vital skin flora.
Many people may not be aware, but we all have a slightly acidic pH to our skin that skin scientists call the “acid mantle.” When this acid mantle has been stripped away it invites microbes to invade the skin, causes irritation, redness, and eventually results in collagen breakdown due to an ability to denature skin proteins. In fact, some researches use SLS to INDUCE skin irritation to test the effectiveness of other products! If that’s not enough, thousands of studies have also linked SLS to eye irritation, mouth sores, central nervous system problems, cellular changes in the liver and kidneys, even some cancers.
Yes, SLS has also been linked to 1, 4-dioxane which is a chemical that even the CDC says is “probably carcinogenic.” It has also been linked to ethylene oxide and nitrosamines. Ethylene oxide is regarded as highly toxic, while nitrosamines cause the body to absorb nitrates that are known cancer causing chemicals. But of course we're told not to worry because these products are for topical use only. After all, it’s not like you’re eating the stuff.
Or are we? When we eat with our mouth, our saliva and stomach enzymes help break down ingested substances before they get transported to our intestines, processed through our liver, dispersed throughout our cells and bloodstream, and eventually excreted out of our body via the colon. However, when we put something on our skin, there is no enzymatic breakdown or other digestive process. A portion of what we use on our hair, scalp, and skin is absorbed directly into our bloodstream; and since there is no dedicated process to break toxic substances down, they end up tucking themselves neatly into our organs, or fat cells, where they accumulate, year after year.
It’s safe to say that what goes on you, ends up in you.
Healthy personal care products are still one of those things that people have not quite caught onto yet. We are here to tell you that this matters, and SLS is one toxic ingredient that you could start avoiding today.