What the hell is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)?

What the hell is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)?
When a product is advertised as being ‘soap’ free, it’s often Sodium Laureth Sulfate being referred to.

Basically a detergent and surfactant commonly used in most facial washes, it helps to remove surface dirt as well as act as a foaming agent, giving a product it’s lather.

Now, the problem with this ingredient can be that it causes irritation and from my experience in cosmetics the most common ingredient that people tend to react to. It can inflame dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema as it can break down the moisture barrier on the skin and ‘dry’ it out slightly. The reaction can present itself as itching, slight patches of dryness and sometimes redness; this is only in extreme cases however.

I personally prefer washes that contain this ingredient as for an oily combination skin type, its’ absolutely perfect as it can reduce surface oil and is a very effective cleanser.

There was concern a while ago that this ingredient could be carcinogenic, but these claims appear to have been dismissed. I think we may finally be getting over the media trend that seemed to scare us weekly with a barrage of cancer causes from fruit and vegetables to Facebook. The Guardian and Daily Mail being the biggest culprits.

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  • Bare Faced Chic

    I would totally disagree with your comments about SLS/SLES. It strips all the natural oils from the skin instead of removing them gently and thus encourages the skin to produce yet more oil. Oily skin is better being cleansed with something oil based as this cleanses the skin in a way more sympathetic to its natural structure.

    Add to that the fact that by stripping the skin, SLS destroys the acid mantle and the natural protection it offers the skin, it can actually encourage the acne that these washes are often designed to “prevent”.
    ย 
    If you want a “wash” then try the Sophyto cleanser which protects the skin’s acid mantle rather than destroying it with SLS.

    SLS is totally and completely unnecessary in skincare. It may not be carcinogenic but that doesn’t mean it should be used.

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