What’s The Difference Between Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate?
After the questions about palm oil, our second most common set of questions is concerning Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate(SLES). So as usual, to help alleviate your concerns, I would like to help you to understand what they are and the difference between the two, with this short explanation.
Why Are SLS and SLES Added To Personal Care Products?
It is widely believed that personal care products work much better when they ‘foam up’ and consequently, don’t work very well at all when there is very little or no foam at all.
This is where Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) come into play. They are each a surfactant, used to extend the foaming action of a multitude of products. e.g. soaps, shower gels, tubes of toothpaste, shampoos, etc.
Both SLS and SLES work by reducing the surface tension of water and acting as a dispersion agent to enable the rest of the ingredients to combine correctly. Due to these characteristics, SLS & SLES are also commonly found in moisturising creams and lotions as well as sunscreens.
So what’s the difference between SLS and SLES?
While both are very similar, SLS is a skin irritant. This can cause some minor skin irritations like dry, itchy skin. SLES is created by putting SLS through a process called “ethoxylation.” which formulates it to be much milder and not irritate the skin.
More manufacturers are showing a preference for using SLES rather than using SLS these days because SLES is gentler on the skin and hair! You can actually feel the difference when you use and compare similar products made with SLS versus those made with SLES.
Was SLS or SLES a concern for you? Has the above helped you gain a better understanding of the two? If you have any comments, please leave them below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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