The Soap Box

April, 2010

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)   Better Living Through Chemistry? 

I was talking with a friend the other day about J.R.LIGGETT'S bar shampoos, and she commented, "You know, I've never really come across a bar shampoo that made me go, 'Wow'!  I had the thought, well, maybe we need to realize that what isn't in a bar shampoo may be just as or more important than what is in it... which brings me to what is not in J.R.LIGGETT'S line of bar shampoos.  No SLS.  No DEA.  Please, allow me to bring some clarity to the situation. SLS is defined as Sodium Laurel Sulfate, a detergent sufactant which is commonly used as a cleaning agent in all sorts of personal care products or any product that requires suds... Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Except for the fact that detergents were developed by the Navy in 1942 from petroleum based products to do one thing, strip oil! That's great if you're a battleship, last night's lasagna pan, or maybe a car engine, but hey, we're talking about your scalp here! I mean, hello, let's not go 'overboard' here... 
 
There's even more bad news when it comes to SLS... how about 'Probable Routes of Human Exposure'? (Hope you're sitting down....) Occupational exposure to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate may occur through inhalation of dust particles and dermal contact with this compound at workplaces where SLS is produced or used. The general population may be exposed through the use of food additives, and other consumer products such as detergents, shampoos, and toothpaste products containing this compound.  www.mehndiskinart.com    SLS has showed penetration into the eyes, as well as systemic tissues (brain, heart, liver, etc.)  SLS has also shown long-term retention in tissues. Because SLS and related substances are widely used in many populations on a daily basis in soaps and shampoos, there is an immediate concern relating to the penetration of these chemicals into the eyes and other tissues.  This is especially important in infants, where considerable growth is occurring, because a much greater uptake occurs by tissue of younger eyes, and SLS changes the amounts of some proteins in cells from eye tissues.  Tissue of young eyes may be more susceptible to alternation by SLS.  SLS forms nitrates, possible carcinogens, when used in shampoo and cleansers containing nitrogen based ingredients.  These nitrates can enter the blood stream in large numbers from shampooing, bubble baths, bath and shower gels, and facial cleansers. These synthetic substances are used in shampoos for their detergent and foam-building abilities. They can cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions.
 
One of the reasons that I was sold on JR's bar shampoo, was 'the fact of what it lacked'. Right off the bat, I loved the idea of no plastic container, and then, after doing some research on SLS and DEA, I became an instant convert to the idea of a shampoo that didn't contain these chemicals that are basically, harmful to my skin and most likely, internal organs.
 
And then I went a bit further and began reading about DEA. Equally frightening info here: Diethanolamine (DEA) is a chemical that is used as a wetting agent in shampoos, lotions, creams, and other cosmetics. DEA is widely used because it provides a rich lather in shampoos and keeps a favorable consistency in lotions and creams. DEA by itself is not harmful, but while sitting on the store shelves or in your cabinet at home, DEA can react with other ingredients in the cosmetic formula to form an extremely potent carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is readily absorbed through the skin and has been linked with stomach , esophagus, liver and bladder cancers. The following cosmetic ingredients are among those contaminated with DEA: Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolamine, DEA Lauryl Sulfate or Diethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate, Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolamine, Linoleamide DEA or Linoleamide Diethanolamine, Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolamine, or Any product containing TEA or Triethanolamine. www.preventcancer.com 

You know, I get a bit riled when I grab an innocent looking product off a store shelf featuring a 'green' label with photos of luscious fruit or sublime line drawings of leaves and plants, only to flip it over and read that this so-called 'natural' product contains these harmful chemicals.  What a sham! 

To be honest, I read about the danger of SLS a few years ago. I even took a quick inventory of the products I use on a daily basis and found most of them contained the dreaded SLS and some even contained DEA. I shrugged my shoulders and mentally threw up my hands, thinking, "Sure it contains harmful chemicals, but hey, I've been using (and absorbing) this for years, it's too late now to change, and what would I use instead?" Okay, Head in the Sand approach. New wiser and simpler approach: Pull head out of sand and give it a good shake, because there are products that don't contain these chemicals. There is a shampoo bar that's good for my health and hair, and it's use can elicit not only a hearty, enthusiastic, high-five 'Wow'!, but also a deep admiration for a product that in it's entirety, can give me peace of mind just by using it.  I mean, why take chances with our health when the answer is right in front of us?

 

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