May Flowers Bring $10 to $50 Savings | use code MAY » May Flowers Bring $10 to $50 Savings | use code MAY »

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate is an incredibly common ingredient in hair and skin care products. The ingredient is FDA-approved, but has come under fire in recent years, leading some skin and hair care companies to discontinue the use of ingredient in their products. The ingredient has a number of alternate names, which can make it difficult for consumers to spot the chemical on ingredient lists in products. Among these other names are SLS, sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS, docetyl sulfate sodium salt, sodium lauryl sulfate ether and sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt.

Although sodium lauryl sulfate is an organic compound, it is industrially manufactured for use in hair and skin care products. To produce the ingredient, manufacturers begin by extracting lauryl alcohol from either palm oil or coconut oil. Then, the lauryl alcohol is combined with sulfur trioxide gas, a substance that is derived from a very strong acid known as sulfuric acid. The resulting substance is very acidic in nature and would cause damage to the skin if applied in its raw form, making it necessary to add sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate to neutralize the chemical, creating the finished product--sodium lauryl sulfate. In its raw form, sodium lauryl sulfate is either a fine, white powder or a tablet or pellet formed from this powder.

Sodium lauryl sulfate's primary role in hair and skin care products is that of a surfactant, an ingredient that is vital to products designed to cleanse the skin or hair, such as shampoos, facial cleansers, body washes, shower gels and soaps. The purpose of cleansing products is to remove oil and impurities from the hair and skin to keep them clean and healthy. The reason that shampoos and cleansers are necessary is that ordinarily, water does not mix with oily substances and instead, forms beads and rolls off.

As a surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate is very effective and capable of cleansing even very oily hair or skin.

The mechanism behind this phenomenon is a force known as surface tension, which helps liquids etain the shape of their droplets. Water has a lower surface tension than oily substances, and is therefore unable to disrupt the shape of their droplets to combine with them. When a surfactant like sodium lauryl sulfate is added to water, the ingredient lowers the surface tension of oils and dirt, allowing the water to mix with the substances and then wash them away.

As a surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate is very effective and capable of cleansing even very oily hair or skin. The ingredient also produces a large amount of foam and suds, which many consumers prefer. The industrial manufacturing process used to create the ingredient is rather inexpensive, which is one of the main reasons for the popularity of the use of sodium lauryl sulfate in the hair and skin care industry. By using the ingredient in their formulas, manufacturers can cut down on costs and, in turn, offer products at a cheaper price. For those looking for an inexpensive hair or skin care product, one that contains sodium lauryl sulfate offers maximum effectiveness at a more affordable price than many products that contain alternative ingredients.

One of the drawbacks to sodium lauryl sulfate is that the ingredient is a known irritant.

One of the drawbacks to sodium lauryl sulfate is that the ingredient is a known irritant. In people with sensitive skin or skin allergies, sodium lauryl sulfate has the potential to cause redness, irritation and swelling. Studies have found that sodium lauryl sulfate is most likely to cause irritation when left on the skin for an hour or longer, and as a result, it is important to thoroughly rinse the skin or hair after using a product that contains the ingredient to ensure that none of the chemical remains on the skin or scalp.

Another concern regarding sodium lauryl suflate emerged after studies found that the ingredient may have a detrimental effect upon the hair. In one such study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, samples of hair that were exposed to sodium lauryl suflate were studied under a microscope and found to have developed structural flaws in the protective coating of the hair strand, known as the cuticle. In theory, if sodium lauryl suflate is able to damage the cuticle, the ingredient could make the hair more susceptible to split ends and breakage; however, more research is needed to determine the likelihood that sodium lauryl suflate could produce this much damage to the hair.

Shop Sun Essentials » Shop Sun Essentials »

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Products

Sort results by:
Display:        
A potent night serum that help skin enter deep sleep and stimulates renewal.
$155.00
1.35 oz | BT172
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Multi-tasking shower, bath and shave gel for comfortably clean, smooth, hydrated skin.
$28.00
16 oz | PY1282
In Stock ADD TO BAG
This creamy shampoo gently cleanses hair while preserving the natural balance of the scalp and hair.
$20.00
13.4 oz | KL085
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Formulated to provide a rich texture, heavenly scent and gentle yet cleansing power.
$26.00
5.07 oz | KO276
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Each pre-moistened, textured, and non-irritating cloth effectively removes stubborn face and eye makeup.
$15.00
25 ct | KO274
In Stock ADD TO BAG
A sweet seasonal treat from philosophy, leaves skin and hair soft, silky and lightly scented.
NOW $13.50 REG $18.00
16 oz | PY1293
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Iridescent cleansing oil transforms into a very fine foam on contact with water.
$15.00
6.7 oz | NX138
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Give a holiday cheer! The award-winning formula is back to make spirits bright (and cleanse and soften the rest of you).
NOW $13.50 REG $18.00
16 oz | PY1300
No Longer Available
Wonderfully holiday scented 3-in-1 shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath.
NOW $13.50 REG $18.00
16 oz | PY1302
No Longer Available
Skin brightening cream formulated with 4% Arbutin to enhance and even your complexion.
$79.90
2 oz | OB091
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Skin brightening serum formulated with 4% Arbutin and 10% L-Ascorbic Acid to help minimize the appearance of future skin damage.
$97.33
1 oz | OB095
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Skin brightening cream formulated with 4% Arbutin and an exfoliant to help clarify and brighten skin.
$76.50
2 oz | OB092
In Stock ADD TO BAG
Display:        
FREE Spring for Firmarine Set ($165 Value). Details »
Sale — While They Last »
Smart Shopping — Beauty Center
Emblica Fruit – Key Ingredient
FREE Clarisonic Beauty Bag and FULL SIZE Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash ($44 Value). Details »
Skin Care Regimen »
2 steps to a new you — My Beauty Advisor