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Sodium lauryl sulfate

Why doesn't Typology use sodium lauryl sulfate?

Sulfates are cosmetic ingredients commonly found in cleansing and foaming products due to their excellent detergent properties. However, they are often irritating to the skin and harmful to animals, aquatic environments, and plants. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant most often produced from palm oil. Although it is approved for organic use, it remains a subject of controversy. Why is this the case? What eco-friendly alternatives can be used to replace it?

Sodium lauryl sulfate, a controversial surfactant.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) or sodium lauryl sulfate (LSS), is a powerful detergent and a surfactant. It is found in household products for its excellent degreasing power , but also in hygiene products such as toothpastes, shampoos, shaving foams, soaps, etc... This foaming agent is now criticized for two main reasons:

  1. Its irritating effect:

    Its detergent properties can be too strong for some sensitive skin types, to the point of causing dryness. The SLS destroys the hydrolipidic film, which results in a feeling of tightness after cleansing. It also alters the proteins of the skin and eye cell membranes, leading to irritations and redness. For this reason, shower gel and bath product manufacturers are using it less and less, preferring the ethoxylated version (SLES = sodium laureth sulfate), which is less abrasive, but its manufacturing process is highly polluting. It's worth noting that SLS is still allowed in organic products, while SLES is not.

  2. Its polluting nature:
    SLS is also identified as a pollutant to the environment, animals, aquatic habitats, and even plants. REACH (European Regulation for securing the manufacture and use of chemical substances) classifies this substance as ecotoxic.

As a precautionary principle, Typology does not incorporate sulfates into its cleansing products for the face and hair. Find our blacklist of ingredientshere.

What are the alternatives to SLS?

There are various alternatives to sodium lauryl sulfate that are more suitable for sensitive skin. In this regard, here is a non-exhaustive list of non-irritating or minimally irritating cleansing agents:

  • 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 cocoamphodiacetate disodium (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.

  • 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. Appreciated for its non-aggressive nature, it is suitable for sensitive skin;

  • The sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (INCI: Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate): This 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.

Source:

  • ANDERSEN F.A & al. Final report of the amended safety assessment of sodium lauryl sulfate and related salts of sulfated ethoxylated alcohols. International Journal Toxicology (2010).

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