The hidden dangers in your daily care products: SLS and SLES

Two ingredients that can be found in nearly every product in your bathroom are sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES). Typically, they are the second and/or third ingredients in the list following water. These ingredients are the ones that cause shampoo, soap, bubble bath, shower gel, etc. to foam, which explains their use in these types of products. SLS and SLES are also cheap detergents that would no doubt be pleasing to company owners.

Here’s the problem:

Both SLS and SLES are anionic surfactants (anionic referring to the negative charge that both chemicals have) and they may be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. These chemicals are also very corrosive and used in car washes, as garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers because of their extreme effectiveness in removing oily stains and residues. In addition, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) classified both chemicals as moderate to server eye and skin irritants.

SLS and SLES dissolve grease on car engines in the same way that they dissolve the natural oils on your skin, leading to a drying effect. These chemicals also change the natural qualities of skin proteins, causing irritation and allowing environment contaminants easier access to the lower, more sensitive layers of the skin.