Just say "NO" to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS + SLES)

We get asked ALL the time, "What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)." Below is a break down of the Sulfate chemical, sometimes known as SO4, as well as the explanation on why we are so passionate about creating sulfate free beauty products.

Sulfate is commonly known as SLS and SLES. Sulfate is a chemical detergent commonly found in skincare products like:

  • Shampoos
  • Conditioners
  • Bar soap
  • Bubble bath
  • Cleansers
  • Even toothpaste!

The article from Healthline briefly discusses sodium lauryl sulfate and the link to skin irritation. Sulfate is a surfactant, which helps to make things bubbly. Surfactant is a compound that lowers the surface tension between 2 ingredients. For example, adding detergent to water decreases water's surface tension and with that, you have a bubbly surfactant. The reason sulfates in shampoos and sulfates in body wash are really popular in personal care products is because they create lots of suds and lather. And Americans seem to think the greater the lather, the better the clean. But, there's actually no truth to that! Just because one body wash has a ton of suds, doesn't mean it works any better than another body wash that doesn't have any lather. At PREP, all of our products are sulfate free! And, you can even use our body wash as a sulfate free shampoo or as a sulfate free bubble bath (and yes, we've created the formula to still have bubbles!). 

You may also hear the chemical, sodium sulfate, which is an inorganic salt. According to Cosmetics Info, sodium sulfate is "used in the formulation of cleansers, bath soaps and detergents, and skin care preparations. Sodium Sulfate increases the thickness of the aqueous (water) portion of the finished product." 

In an article by the Environmental Enthusiastthey do a nice job explaining the real dirt on lather. "Most soap lather is artificially created because of customer demand, not because it is needed for cleaning. Retailers of soaps and shampoos see the opportunity to make their products look better by claiming that more lather equals cleaner body parts. It’s very inexpensive to put chemicals into soaps to make them lather unnecessarily, and the result is that we end up smearing more toxins onto our bodies than is healthy, all for the misconception of being cleaner."

Why We Don't Use Sulfates

With SLS and SLES being detergents, sulfates are really good at breaking up oil and grease. While that's great for household cleaning products, it's not okay for your body care products as these are applied to your skin. Sulfates break up the oil on your skin, even the good oil that serves as a protective layer to keep your skin from drying out. The sulfate ingredient can break your skin down and can cause irritation. And, sulfates are concerning for anyone with eczema, dry skin, or sensitive skin.

We aren't fans of the sulfate chemical because we don't like that it can cause dry and itchy skin, flare up eczema, and even interfere with acne. If you don’t have sensitive skin, sulfates may not bother you, but they likely will dry out your skin.

Wikipedia states that "Like many other detergents, SLES is an irritant. It has also been shown that SLES causes eye or skin irritation in experiments conducted on animals and humans. The related surfactant SLS is a known irritant. Some products containing SLES contain traces (up to 300 ppm) of 1,4-dioxane, which is formed as a by-product during the ethoxylation step of its production. 1,4-Dioxane is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen: possibly carcinogenic to humans."

Here at PREP, we believe everyone deserves clean beauty, and, we believe that you shouldn't have to worry about what products you're putting on your body, so we have chosen to make all of our products sulfate free. We stay away from unnecessary chemicals, especially ones that we know can cause irritation like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate! 

We hope you enjoyed learning all about sulfate, sulfates, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, SLS, SLES and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Whew, that's a lot of sulfates! Enjoy our PREP products because all of our products are sulfate free and our products will leave you squeaky clean without the itchiness or dryness. 

~the PREP team

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