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what is sodium lauryl sulfate and why should we avoid it?

Posted June 23, 2020

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is commonly used in skincare products such as body wash, cleansers, shampoos and hand washes. It’s the ingredient that gives these products the foamy, bubbly consistency most of us associate with a squeaky clean.

There are also other types of sulfates including Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS). Sulfates are the ingredients which make a product foam up and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the most commonly used.

SLS and SLES are produced from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or petroleum oil and you’ll find them widely used in skin and hair care products.

More skincare ingredients to avoid SLS in skincare

Why your skin needs natural ingredients

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, like the brain, liver, heart and kidneys. And just like other organs it has a specialised function:

  • It protects you from the outside world including chemicals and bacteria
  • It regulates your temperature and fluid balance in the body through the sweat and it’s also the main reservoir for Vitamin D production in the body
  • It enables you to feel heat, cold, touch, pain as well as sense the greater world around you.

This delicate yet resilient vital organ does a great job without obstruction and interference.

However, the chemicals in day-to-day skin such as SLS  have been shown to irritate the skin, causing problems such as:

  • Skin and eye irritations
  • Dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis
  • Skin rashes
  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Dizziness and headaches

Chemicals such as SLS interfere with the skin’s natural ability to regulate and protect. The result is skin that can’t do its job properly leading to the problems listed above. If you do experience skin irritation, dryness, flaking or other skin conditions, try using rosehip oil. It is incredibly effective at relieving these conditions and providing moisture back to the skin.

Need relief from eczema or dermatitis?

Using a hand cream which contains essential fatty acids, vitamin E, allantoin and rosehip oil will soothe irritation and keep your hands soft and supple.

The mind-skin connection – Psychdermatology

Yes, this link does indeed exist according to science. It’s called Psychdermatology and is the field of study that shows how your state of mind affects the quality of your skin. Many scientific studies have shown that your skin responds to your mental and emotional health.

Stress and anxiety have been shown to inflame conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Whereas inducing a state of relaxation through meditation or even a holiday break have been shown to alleviate skin conditions such as these.

With the evidence on our side, is it any surprise that skin care without additional irritants such as SLS would greatly improve your skin condition?

It’s not only the product itself, it’s also an act of great self-care when you opt for natural skin care. When the body-mind is happy, you’re happy.

Is your skin prone to acne or dry and flaky?

Kosmea's Rescue Rage is a nature’s first aid kit for the skin and will ease both mind and body for great skin.

Our products are SLS free, completely natural and enriched with healing Rosehip Oil to balance the natural oils in your skin.

By keeping a bottle in your handbag, car or your desk at work, you will always be able to find relief whenever your skin irritations arise. Plus, if your life has you regularly on the move, take a look at our Rescue Skin Collection which come in perfect travel sized bottles.

Use skincare that is naturally sulfate-free

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The difference between Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

There is a significant difference between the two sulfates. They both act as foaming and cleansing agents but SLS is more of an irritant that SLES. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) binds to proteins on the skin's surface more than sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) therefore SLS can be more irritating causing allergic reactions depending on the person’s sensitivity.

Whilst SLS/SLES can cause skin irritations, skincare products include a variety of ingredients which can leave your skin feeling dry, sore and irritated. The best solution is to understand what these ingredients are and look for skincare products which don't use them.

Why is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate so bad?

SLS strips the skin of its natural oils which causes dry skin, irritation and allergic reactions. It can also be very irritating to the eyes. Inflammatory skin reactions include itchy skin and scalp, eczema and dermatitis.

For some people, continuous use can trigger further reactions as SLS can penetrate the skin making it more vulnerable to the absorption of foreign irritants. Using these foaming products on your face can also cause the skin to become oilier as it overcompensates for the loss of natural skin oils that have been harshly stripped.

Try the Kosmea Rescue Skin Collection

The Kosmea Rescue Skin Collection is a great way to trial Kosmea’s rescue range of products. These four travel-friendly products are nature’s first aid kit for the skin, naturally soothing, repairing and protecting for all skin emergencies, including babies.

Ingredients to avoid in your skincare products Products without these ingredients

We use only plant-based foaming agents

At Kosmea, we decided at the very beginning of our business almost thirty years ago, to create natural products. Our range began as sulfate-free from the very start and has remained this way. The word Kosmea is a Greek word which means harmony and balance. Our products were created on an ethos of maintaining a natural balance with our environment. This means we do not use any ingredients in our products which create imbalance in our skin or in our environment.

Instead of using products with these harmful ingredients, we use only plant-based foaming agents that are gentle on the skin. This includes foaming agents such as sugar and coconut which are used in our Clarifying Facial Wash to give skin a safe, sulfate free clean, without drying out the skin or stripping it of its vital nutrients.

Buy natural sulfate-free products from Kosmea


The truth about skincare – find out more about harmful ingredients

Many skincare brands on the market today still use harmful ingredients which create an imbalance in the skin’s natural oils and nutrients. On a wider scale, they also harm our local environment when flushed through our waterways.

We have a responsibility to our customers to keep you up to date with skincare ingredients and how they impact your skin as well as your home and environment. Find out more about the harmful ingredients in skincare you should be avoiding here.

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Heard about the benefits of Rosehip Oil? Learn more about our highest-grade Rosehip Oil here.

Heard about the benefits of Rosehip Oil? Learn more about our highest grade Rosehip Oil here.



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