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Sodium laureth sulfate

Why doesn't Typology use sodium laureth sulfate?

Today's consumers are increasingly eager to understand the composition of the cosmetic formulas they use. Certain ingredients are suspected of being harmful to health and/or the environment. Therefore, it is natural to be concerned and wish to have more information on the subject before purchasing a product. Specifically, sulfates, particularly sodium laureth sulfate, are often under scrutiny. Why is this sulfated surfactant controversial? Should we avoid it? Are there more eco-friendly and less irritating alternatives? Let's focus.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate: A Controversial Ingredient.

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is an ionic surfactant with a powerful detergent capability. Once in contact with water, it foams and eliminates grease. It allows two immiscible substances, like oil and water, to mix together and form a stable emulsion. It is found in the majority of cleansing products, such as soaps, shower gels, and shampoos. This ingredient is controversial for two main reasons:

  1. Its polluting acquisition process:

    It is obtained by ethoxylation from the sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This chemical reaction involves ethylene oxide, a compound that is not easily degradable and harmful to the environment, especially to aquatic life. This is why SLES is banned in organic products. REACH (European Regulation on the safe production and use of chemical substances) classifies SLES as an ecotoxic species.

  2. Its potential for irritation:

    Highly detergent, sodium laureth sulfate can be drying, even irritating to the skin, mucous membranes, and can cause tingling if it comes into contact with the eyes.

blacklist of ingredients .

What are the alternatives to SLES?

There are various alternatives to sodium laureth sulfate, which are more suitable for sensitive skin, particularly that of infants. Here is a non-exhaustive list of these gentler and more environmentally friendly substitutes:

  • The caprylyl/capryl glucoside (INCI: Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside): is a natural non-ionic surfactant, derived from coconut oil, very gentle on the skin and non-irritating. It produces a less abundant foam and acts as a surfactant to help mix water with oils and dirt, thus enabling their removal. It is suitable for sensitive and dry skin.

  • The coco betaine (INCI: Coco-Betaine): is a gentle and non-polluting amphoteric surfactant, made from coconut oil derivatives. It is valued for its excellent cleansing and foaming properties, used in the production of shampoos, shower gels, and other cleansing bases. Coco betaine is very well tolerated by the most sensitive skin types and helps to prevent irritations.

  • The disodium cocoamphodiacetate(INCI: Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate): is an amphoteric surfactant of vegetable origin derived from coconut. Highly foaming, it gently cleanses and is very well tolerated by the skin and scalp. It is widely used in shampoos, facial and body cleansers, hand soaps, shaving products, etc... as a primary or secondary surfactant.

  • The coco-glucoside (INCI: Coco-Glucoside): is a non-ionic surfactant derived from fatty alcohols from coconut oil and glucose. It is among the least aggressive cleansing bases for the skin and is thus suitable for sensitive skin. Used alone, it has little foaming power. That's why it is combined with coco betaine and decyl glucoside;

  • The sodium cocoyl glutamate (INCI: Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate): is an anionic surfactant derived from coconut oil and glutamic acid (a natural amino acid obtained by fermenting sugar). It has cleansing properties and generates a fine, creamy foam. It gently cleanses the skin without drying it out. Indeed, the sodium cocoyl glutamate enhances the moisturizing effect of rinse-off products. It is very well tolerated by the skin, even the most delicate ones.

  • The decyl glucoside (INCI: Decyl Glucoside): A non-ionic co-surfactant foam booster, derived from corn glucose and fatty alcohols found in coconut oil. Also known as "sugar foam", it is often combined with coco betaine and coco-glucoside. Valued for its non-aggressive nature, it is suitable for sensitive skin;

  • The sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (INCI: Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate): is a biodegradable anionic surfactant and foam booster derived from a natural fatty acid found in coconut oil and an amino acid (sarcosine). It acts as a gentle detergent agent, non-stripping, non-drying, and non-degreasing. Therefore, it is compatible with delicate skin. In an acidic environment (around pH 5), it also has the ability to increase the viscosity of products;

  • The lauryl glucoside (INCI: Lauryl Glucoside): A biodegradable non-ionic surfactant formed from fatty alcohols derived from coconut oil and sugar from corn. It produces a light and delicate foam, ideal for gentle cleansing suitable for sensitive skin. In addition to its cleansing function, lauryl glucoside helps to thicken solutions.

In all our Typology cleansing treatments intended for the scalp, face, or body, we exclusively use gentle surfactants that are respectful to the skin.


  • HAPPLE R. & al. Profile of irritant patch testing with detergents: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and alkyl polyglucoside. Contact Dermatitis (2003).


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