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What is Sodium Laureth Sulfate?

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate are cleansing and foaming agents naturally derived from coconut oil. Sodium laureth sulfate has a long history of safe use in a variety of cosmetic products. We use sodium laureth sulfate because it is gentle and effective with a documented history of safe use.

How Do We Know that Sodium Laureth Sulfate is Safe?

Persistent internet rumors, and the irresponsible advertising of a few cosmetic companies, have questioned the safety of SLES. For the record, SLES has not been found to cause cancer in any recognized scientific research studies.

Rumors suggesting a link between SLES and cancer began as an internet hoax in the 1990s and were then marketed by “natural cosmetics” companies as facts in an effort to promote their products. Claims linked SLES to cancer and organ damage have been investigated (and debunked) by numerous respected publications. The Washington Post and the Berkeley Wellness Newsletter investigated the rumors and concluded they were a “sham” and a “hoax”.

Snopes.com investigated and ruled the claims false: Read the Snopes evidence...

The Urban Legends website did likewise: Read the conclusions at Urban Legends...

Some of the rumor mongers have suggested that that SLES is used to clean garage floors, proof they claim, that it is a dangerous chemical unsuitable for contact with your skin. The scientists at thebeautybrains.com summarized:

“Sure you can wash your floors with sodium lauryl sulfate and you can wash them with ammonium lauryl sulfate. Both will work but they will provide more foam than you really want. You can also clean your floors with Johnson’s Baby shampoo if you’d like. Surfactants are a wonderful thing.”

Are There Any Known Side Effects?

Not at the levels we use in our products. At much, much higher concentrations, SLES is a potential skin irritant. There is always a tiny segment of the human population that develop rare allergic reactions to extremely safe products, such as the fluoride in US drinking water. If you experience any discomfort you should discontinue any personal care products you are using.

Paula Begoun spoke with Dr. Keith Green, the scientist whose work has been distorted to support these false rumors. Dr. Green states, “my work was completely misquoted”. To read more...