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Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Everything You Need To Know

Does sodium lauryl sulfate deserve its negative reputation as one of the most controversial cosmetic ingredients? 

Everyone indeed tries to avoid it in hair care products to prevent color fading, but it’s less clear how lauryl sulfate works in skincare products and what impact it could have on your face and body.

Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about lauryl sulfate!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Everything You Need To Know
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Everything You Need To Know

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

Lauryl sulfate (aka SLS) is a surfactant that has many different functions, but it acts as a cleansing agent in skincare. It’s a type of sulfate and is derived from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or petroleum oil.

It can be found most commonly in soaps, cleansers, body washes, makeup removers, toothpaste, and shampoos. 

As a foaming agent, lauryl sulfate can help a product cleanse better or more thoroughly by sudsing up and creating a foamy lather.

Benefits of sodium lauryl sulfate for skin:

Some benefits of SLS are listed down below:

  1. Lathers up.
  2. Cleans efficiently.
  3. Removes makeup.
  4. Emulsifies.
  5. Fights bacteria.

Side effects of sodium lauryl sulfate:

If you’re not going to fully wash it off your skin and there are some residues, it can be irritating and the higher the concentration, the higher the potential for irritation.

It is advised to anyone with a true allergy as well as those with sensitive skin or eczema (since it may strip a little more oil than required) to avoid using lauryl sulfate in their skincare products.

In 2013 The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a  Drug Safety Update for aqueous cream, a product long recommended by doctors for eczema, warning that if used as a leave-on moisturizer it could cause skin irritation and thinning of the skin, with SLS deemed the likely culprit.

We can say that the probability of this product causing irritation is quite significant especially if you are not informed on how to use it so read the label carefully and use it accordingly.

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Dr. DonikaAbout the Author: Dr. Donika Vata is a medical doctor from Ferizaj, Kosovo. She studied general medicine from University of Hasan Prishtina.
She has been writing about medical and skincare related issue in journals, social media websites, and books. She was working for some well reputed clinics such as Telehealth Pro- Online consultations, German Cancer Center, and AppLMD. Dr. Donika was also volunteering in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, she is working as a medical doctor and researcher in a dermatology clinic.

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