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Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Benefits: Cleansing
Categories: Cleansing Agent

  • Cleansing agent that produces a foaming/lathering effect
  • Commonly found in facial cleansers, body washes, and shampoos
  • Can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically
  • Recognized as gentle and safe by numerous industry experts/organizations
  • Appears as a slightly hazy or clear solution in its raw state

Sodium laureth sulfate (commonly referred to by its acronym, SLES) is a commonly used cleansing agent that can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically, although even the coconut-derived source is processed to the point where it is no longer considered natural. It is known for producing a foaming/lathering effect and is considered gentle in normal cosmetic use (typically in face/body cleansers and shampoos).

In the late 1990s an e-mail hoax surfaced claiming that sodium laureth sulfate was a dangerous ingredient. This allegation has been dispelled by numerous industry experts/organizations. For decades, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review has officially deemed sodium laureth sulfate as safe, with the latest reported use studied in up to a 50% concentration.

Despite the name similarity, sodium laureth sulfate is NOT the same as sodium lauryl sulfate, which can indeed be irritating to skin. Sodium laureth sulfate is a milder on skin due its different chemical structure.

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