The market is saturated with various kinds of soap, but many of these commercial brands are really all the same, a cheap chemical cocktail that contains a harsh detergent chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This detergent chemical is a rogue emulsifier that removes natural oils from your hair and skin. In commercial soap making, SLS is cheap to pump out, but how safe or effective is it? How does it affect your skin?
A seven-member review panel, consisting of experts in dermatology, pharmacology, chemistry and toxicology, reviewed sodium lauryl sulfate. The seven-member panel of experts makes up the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) -- a group that thoroughly reviews and assesses the safety of cosmetic ingredients. The group is independent, and their results are published in open scientific literature.
SLS causes skin irritation that increases with concentration and exposure over time
The CIR panel found that sodium lauryl sulfate causes irritation in animal experiments and in some human experiments. They also found that higher concentrations of the detergent irritate the skin more. The CIR only deemed sodium lauryl sulfate safe if concentration does not exceed 1 percent of a product's formula. How do consumers know how much SLS is used in a soap product? The quick answer is: we don't. That's why it's best to find all natural soap that doesn't include SLS on the ingredient list.
Should a skin irritant really be added to soap? Shouldn't soap replenish and heal the skin, not irritate the skin and block pores?
SLS BLOCKS PORES, CAUSES "SEVERE EPIDERMAL CHANGES"
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, Volume 2, Number 7, found sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate to be irritants in concentrations beginning at just 2 percent. The patch tests clearly showed that irritation increased as the concentration of SLS increased. The study also found that SLS becomes even more irritating when used over time.
The study also found that SLS causes"...severe epidermal changes to the area of the skin of mice to which it was applied" and the study called for further studies to assess potential tumor-enhancing activity of the chemical.
In albino rabbit studies, SLS at 5 percent caused comedones to appear on the mammals. Comedones are blocked pores and damaged hair follicles that lead to severe acne-like whiteheads or blackheads that give skin a rough texture.
With so many better ingredients on the market that nourish the skin, like honey and hemp seed oils, it is counterproductive to lather up with SLS and other sulfates that strip the skin of its natural oils.