What's in Your Soap?

  • By Aaron Chua
  • 11 Sep, 2017

Let me ask you this question:

What's in your soap?
Most bar soaps contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and parabens.

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)? 
Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to "foam up". Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants.

SLS and SLES are esters of Sulphuric acid - SLS is also known as "Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt", however there are over 150 different names by which it is known. In fact, SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.

Although SLES is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolised by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting.

A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health "Household Products Directory" of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain SLS. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous."

Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair. The main cause of these problems is sodium lauryl sulfate. Read more about that here.


Share by: