Why This Dad Despises Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

13 months.

Just for the record, I similarly loathe high-fructose corn syrup too!

Here’s a new concept: When we put any substance on or in our bodies, it is ultimately the same as digesting it.

So what about the shampoo, soap, deodorant, and toothpaste we use? What’s actually in that stuff? Check your labels and I’m pretty sure you’ll find the ever-popular and uber-mysterious ingredient known “sodium lauryl sulfate.”

Basically, it’s made by scientifically mutating the fatty acids of coconut and/or palm kernel oil. (Either I’m really smart or I went to Wikipedia for that.)

I have to be honest; I always feel uneasy when we start talking about mutating the cells of anything, because really, that’s what cancer is: mutated cells.

Well, I would be able to look past that part if it weren’t for one little thing: products with sodium lauryl sulfate always cause my skin to break out. Therefore, I have to buy most of my hygiene products at Whole Foods, where sodium lauryl sulfate will not be listed in the ingredients list.

It would be one thing if this only happened to me, along with thousands of other people who have suffered irritation, but it also has the same effect on my 13 month-old son.

My wife and I were using a popular brand-name, “organic” baby soap for him in the bath tub. After a few days, we noticed the same eczema-looking rash I used to get. I looked at the back label of the soap and sure enough, there it was:

Sodium lauryl sulfate.

Man, companies can be tricky these days, wanting to slip that stuff in all their products. I see it as the hygiene equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup; the cheap, low-grade, Frankenstein-corn-derived sweetener found in most processed foods, thanks to the folks at Monsanto, who bully corn farmers into growing their copyrighted corn. (I learned that by watching Food Inc. on Netflix. I’m one cultured dude.)

So yeah, I have to pay a little more for toiletries that are made from natural ingredients, for both my son and myself. But on the bright side, my toothpaste flavor is “tea tree oil with fennel and anise.” Seriously, how cool am I? My breath smells like anise.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right…

For more on sodium lauryl sulfate, check out the Wikipedia link I went to for further research:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_lauryl_sulfate

Image: Dental brush with tooth paste, via Shutterstock.


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  1. by Motivated In Ohio

    On February 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I stopped using sodium lauryl sulfate in my personal hygiene products a while ago. I had severe skin problems. I started making soap out of desperation. My skin is now fine. I found it in my toothpaste, so now I use a SLS free toothpaste. Now I find out it is in our food (cake mixes, etc). This is ridiculous.

  2. by Nick Shell

    On February 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Yeah, angel food cake has SLS. So weird! Toothpaste can be tricky. Even Tom’s brand has it in several of their toothpastes. What do you make your soap out of?