You may have noticed that a bunch of shampoos boast labels saying that they are SLS-free. What exactly does this mean, and how important is it?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are surfactants and detergents that can cause serious health issues, particularly in children. These surfactants are typically used in car washes, garages, car shops, and around machinery. They are also found in 90% of personal-care products.
When animals were exposed to SLS they experienced depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, and severe skin irritation. SLS can damage children’s eyes, too. SLS may also damage the skin’s natural immune system by causing layers of the epidermis to separate and become inflamed. Even worse, when SLS is combined with other chemicals, the resulting compounds could be carcinogenic nitrosamines.
I have personally found that using shampoos containing SLS, leaves my hair and scalp dry and itchy. It’s also horrible for color-treated hair because it strips the hair shaft. Since switching to SLS-free shampoos, my color stays good for so much longer. If you have any kind of straightening treatment in your hair, SLS shampoo will also strip the treatment out really quickly.
I also don’t love toothpastes that contain SLS. I tend to suffer from canker sores when I use (even a couple of times,) a toothpaste that contains SLS.
So, all in all, you are best off avoiding SLS. There are now so many shampoos that clearly state that they are both SLS and paraben-free. This is you best choice because you avoid the negative effects of SLS and the hormone disruption associated with parabens. Especially make the switch for your children.
Some great shampoo choices are: Burt’s Bees, Yes To Carrots, John Masters, and DermOrganic (many of which are now sold at major drugstores).
You also might want to look out for Shampoos that are sodium chloride free if you have either color or a keratin treatment in your hair. Much like SLS, sodium chloride will strip both treatments right out of your hair.
My toothpaste choices are: Tom’s Of Maine SLS-free whitening toothpaste, and Spry.