Modere have been all about clean label products for the last 30 years and that’s not about to change. This approach is a choice to rid products of any and all ingredients with potentially harmful effects that are unfortunately often found in mass produced day to day products. Daily means a potentially large amount of exposure so we made sure to be one of the few companies going against the tide. Modere SLS Free Products make sure sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is not on the list of ingredients so you can be comfortable knowing your product choice is safe and effective for you and your family.

What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate aka SLS?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant and detergent. Essentially this means that it breaks the surface tension and then separates the molecules to allow superior interaction between the product and your body by generating a better foam or lather. Because it is an inexpensive chemical it can be found in a lot of personal care products such as mouthwashes, toothpastes, shampoos, detergents, soaps, and body washes, along with Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
It is additionally found in a large amount of industrial cleaning products such as industrial strength detergents and engine degreasers. Interestingly it is also commonly used as a skin irritant while testing products to heal various skin conditions. Due to this, SLS is also available for sale as a raw material.
Although SLS is coconut derived, it’s commonly contaminated with a toxic by-product during it’s manufacturing. The well known Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for safety, has listed SLS as a “moderate hazard” that has been repeatedly linked to neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, cancer, endocrine disruption, and skin irritation.

Toxicity

At this point there’s no solid scientific evidence that links the use of SLS to Cancer. However, while a definitive link to Cancer is unsubstantiated there are definitely reports of side effects that have been published. A 1983 research report put out by The ACT (American College of Toxicology) showed that even low amounts of less than 0.5%, may cause harmful skin irritations.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review insists that SLS, ALS & SLES are skin irritants at a concentration of 2% or more, and suggests that cosmetic products shouldn’t have concentrations of more than 1%. Undiluted SLS can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested as well as eye and skin irritation, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Higher concentrations caused severe irritation and in some cases corrosion of skin. The International Journal of Toxicology has provided a safety assessment in regards to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and suggests a concentration level of no more than one percent in products with frequent or prolonged use. Considering there are a number of products that have levels as high as ten to twenty percent and in extreme cases over thirty percent, that’s quite disturbing.

Woman with her hands up indicating "No SLS please"

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can cause irritation of the gums and scalp and gums at just one percent and with certain individuals the reaction can be quite strong. The solution is to use an SLS free alternative.
Mercola .com reports that SLES and SLS are commonly contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, which is a byproduct picked up in the manufacturing process. It’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and might additionally cause issues in the liver, central nervous system, and kidneys according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Due to the fact that the liver can’t metabolize it effectively, Dioxane lasts a lot longer in the body.

 

And There’s More.

So we’ve seen it can cause skin irritation, but there are also studies that seem to indicate residual levels of SLS in the heart,brain, liver and lungs. These levels are found from the use of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate used on the skin and scalp as well as in the mouth from toothpaste. There’s also findings that link it to hormone imbalances, keeping in mind that menopausal symptoms as well as PMT and PMS are associated with hormone levels.
In some cases, particularly in western countries there’s been a lowered rate of male fertility reported but this is unsubstantiated by research. The thought is, because SLS mimics Oestrogen, it is very possible that it could be responsible for these types of health issues. Although it’s considered safe to use at one percent, over time residual levels in your body can be much higher.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Children

SLS has been linked to poor eye development and eye irritation in children. It can be absorbed through skin and result in eye health issues even at very low levels. Due to this you would think that children’s items should be looked at more closely, but often they aren’t. Studies have shown that SLS will stay in your system for up to five days, meaning it will likely always be in your system due to daily use of products.

SLS Structure

sls

If you are interested in the science, protein denaturing results from exposure to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Essentially a bridge between the water soluble and fat portions at the cellular level is formed by the chemical structure. This minimizes or completely eliminates the cell’s ability to heal itself and eventually the damage to the cellular tissue is irreversible. This results in existing protein damage and even new protein is affected during the construction process. With protein damage your body has to spend additional energy in an attempt to heal the distressed cells.

 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Listing Variations

SLS can also be listed as sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium salt, aquarex me, aquarex methyl or sodium dodecyl sulfate, according to the EWG.

Considerations

Due to the fact that our bodies lack the enzymes required to break down specific chemicals, they will accumulate over time. With that in mind, consumer advocacy groups such as EWG suggest using products containing SLS with caution or not at all.

What Home Products Contain SLS?

The Household Products Directory by the National Institute of Health lists SLS as an ingredient in over 80 products. Certain soaps have a concentrations of up to 30%. At that concentration the product would be considered unsafe and would most certainly be the source of skin irritations. SLS is also found in many other common and essential categories such as oral care, makeup and body wash.
It’s also a very common ingredient in shampoos, making shampoo a frequently reported product to the FDA. Typical complaints and reports include irritation of the scalp, irritation of the eyes, and swelling of the hands, arms, or face. Fortunately these side effects and other hazards can be removed by simply opting to use cleaner choices that SLS Free.
If you are concerned about the possible effects of SLS accumulation, look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products that are non-SLS version.