Is SLS really harmful?

by Catelyn Cox

SLSAllergic sufferers as well as people having sensitive skin should pay close attention to the content of cosmetics they want to use. Naturally, there are some ingredients that may irritate. However, some of the substances are necessary because without them a product looses its properties that are typical for it. To demonstrate, a cosmetic that lacks one of the possible-to-irritate ingredients may be not able to foam or moisturise scalp any longer.

One of such ingredients is SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). Cosmetologists, beauticians, as well as pharmacy students cannot reach an agreement on the way the substance really works. Some of them state that SLS is responsible for hair dehydration or scalp irritations. The other believe that all the substance does is making a cosmetic foam.

SLS? What is this?

SLS is a chemical organic compound widely used as a kind of a detergent. When included into cosmetics, it can be tainted with carcinogenic compounds. What is more, the very ingredient is believed to irritate scalp, and skin in general, as it is a reason of many cutaneous diseases. Yes, it is believed. The other definition has it that SLS is a surface active agent, which is able to cleanse, degrease and foam. It facilitates mixing water with oil, grease and other fats. Sodium lauryl sulfate simply makes it easier for us to remove all the oily substances from our body surface. For that very reason, SLS is used only in rinse-off cosmetics, so the ones which do not hold on skin long. Wait a minute! So, if SLS is a surfactant, maybe it should be compared with a milk used for worktops and cooker clean-up? Furthermore, it is believed that SLS is added only in scant amounts to all the care products we tend to use so eagerly every day. Obviously, the further position of SLS in the composition list the better. In other words, the closest to the bottom of the list SLS is, the fewer or even none allergic reactions it triggers.

SLS – For & Against

SLS supporters claim that the substance is crucial for washing cosmetics. It provides right consistency of a cosmetic, foams and degreases (obviously, when accompanied with other ingredients). What is more, SLS-free products are not as effective as they are expected to be. They simply are not able to cleanse face, body or hair the right way. The opponents blame SLS for being the main reason of dermatological problems. According to them, sodium lauryl sulfate leads to skin dehydration, acne, rash as it disturbs work of sebaceous and sweat glands. What is more, the very substance is said to cause allergic rhinitis, eye irritations and conjunctivitis. SLS is also believed to harm liver as well as nervous and immunology system. Some people also believe that the substance is responsible for split ends and even cancer!

SLS-free cosmetics

Are there cosmetics that do not contain SLS? Yes, there are. In most cases, such cosmetics are of natural origin and are designed for newborn skin care. Basically, these products are mainly available at pharmacies’. SLS is included into composition of shampoos, liquid hand soaps and shower gels. Are they good? It all depends on your skin’s needs. And whether you decide to use such a cosmetic or not is totally up to you.

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