Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is in your shampoo and could be slowly killing you. Okay, okay… maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but there might be good reasons to avoid SLES.
There are a lot of rumors going around about this additive. It has been cited as a carcinogen, hindering eye development in children, being toxic to our organs, and is even being blamed for premature hair loss. It can be found in almost all skincare products that foam, especially shampoos and soaps, because it is incredible at creating suds and it is cheap. Are the rumors true? Could your shampoo be slowly poisoning you?
The truth is that SLES is probably not a carcinogen, and might not be anything more than and irritant. What’s really worrisome is it’s hidden ingredient. To make sodium laureth sulfate, a highly toxic and carcinogenic compound called ethylene oxide is added to sodium lauryl sulfate. “eth”, “oxane”, or “PEG”, indicates that the substance has gone through the process of ethoxylation. Through this process, 1,4-dioxane is produced and consequently contaminates SLES.
The EPA classifies 1,4-dioxane as B2, a probable human carcinogen. The EPA also lists 1,4-dioxane as having caused liver and kidney damage (humans), system toxicity (humans), impaired neurological function such as narcosis, vertigo, behavioral effects, and coma (animals), and in some cases of acute exposure: death (humans). Did I mention that 1,4-dioxane “can be absorbed through the skin easily and in toxic amounts?” .
The FDA acknowledges that 1,4-dioxane is present in trace amounts in many products available to the public, yet they have not established a specific limit on the level allowed in cosmetics and do not require testing. Products containing ingredients that are contaminated will not list 1,4-dioxane as an ingredient. I say, better safe than sorry. Even though exposure to a tiny amount might not have any immediate adverse effects, if your soap, shampoo, toothpaste, face wash, body scrub, deodorant, and lotions all contain PEG, “-eth” and/or “oxynol” chemicals, you are exposing yourself to this chemical several times a day.
I recommend only using truly all natural and organic skin care products. Read the labels, just as you do for your food. Look for ingredients that you recognize such as olive oil, coconut oil, and essential oils. It’s important! Truly natural products work just as well, if not better than the potentially poisonous chemical concoctions.
About Dominique Caron
Dominique Caron is originally from Montreal, Quebec. She moved to Pennsylvania in her teen years and graduated from Temple University with an honors B.A. in Film and Television. From then on, she shot movies and docs, traveled the world (including Antarctica), and moved to NYC. Unsatisfied with her work, she decided to embark on a new, more nurturing journey. Now a graduate of the Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine, she considers herself a budding herbalist, skincare maker, and researcher. She now owns an organic handmade skincare line Caru Skincare Co and writes blog entries on research she does and DIY recipes she likes to share.
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