While the term SLS might not be one that we use in our daily lives, the product itself is something that is a part of our lives. This articles aims at looking at SLS, how it is a part of our lives and why we might want to consider living without it!
What is SLS?
The most basic question would be what is SLS? By definition, SLS is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a foaming agent and emulsifier, which is most commonly used in products such as hair shampoos, shower gels, bubble baths,cosmetic cleansers, toothpastes and even laundry detergents. It is interesting to note that the same SLS is also used in engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners and car-wash soaps!
SLS is known to be highly corrosive and is best used to clean extremely greasy surfaces. Even though the original elements of SLS are extracted from coconuts, when certain by products are added, the final result is one that is quite toxic.
There are certain other variations of SLS and these include:
Then there is also sodium laureth sulphate, or SLES, which even though has a higher foaming capacity, is slightly less irritating as compared to SLS. However, Ammonium lauryl sulphate or ALS is as dangerous as SLS.
Why is it used?
Now it is obvious that you would think that when SLS is so toxic, why it is still being used so extensively. The simplest answer is that it is the most cost effective solution. SLS can dissolve and remove the toughest of grease and that is why it is used to clean garages and engines. However, while the same SLS can also clean oils found on the body and scalp, it is bound to dry out the skin too. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that SLS can denature the proteins that are found in the skin and scalp. This eventually leads to irritation and can even facilitate the faster movement of environmental contaminants into the skin.
Why is it dangerous?
Here are just some of the reasons why SLS is dangerous:
However, the biggest problem with SLS is that when it reacts with certain other chemicals, it leads to the formation of nitrates, and nitrates can lead to cancer.
Why you might want to stay away from SLS?
There are also other reasons why SLS should not be used and some of the more prominent ones are mentioned here:
The actual process of manufacturing SLS is one that leads to high levels of pollution. Factories that produce SLS emit organic compounds that are highly volatile and carcinogenic. In addition, the waste from such factories is known to pollute groundwater and also harm aquatic life. The same water can then seep into the water table, leading to the pollution of drinking water as well.
There are plenty of shampoos, bubble baths and shower gels being produced these days, which have no SLS and are completely natural. So, when you head to the supermarket the next time, make sure you pick a product that does not have SLS.