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Alert-Cosmetic Ingredient Review 1983

Sodium Laureth Sulfate and SLS

Information circulating around the Internet has raised questions about the safety of Sodium Laureth Sulfate. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has fully assessed the safety of this ingredient and found it to be safe, but has indicated a need for more assay studies for final determination on its safety.. CIR is an independent organization established to thoroughly review and assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased and expert manner, and to publish the results in the open scientific literature. CIR has established a seven-member Expert Panel comprised of individuals expert in dermatology, pharmacology, chemistry, and toxicology - these independent scientists and physicians perform the reviews.

The following information is provided from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review safety assessments of both Sodium Laureth Sulfate and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate).

Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate 

Published in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, Volume 2, Number 5, pp. 1-34, 1983.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are cosmetic detergents that exert emulsifying action, thereby removing oil and soil from the hair and skin. The Panel wishes to point out that these two ingredients produce eye and/or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects; irritation may occur in some users of cosmetic formulations containing the ingredients under consideration. The irritant effects are similar to those produced by other detergents, and the severity of the irritation appears to increase directly with concentration. However, Sodium and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate have not evoked adverse responses in any other toxicologic testing.


It is recognized that Sodium and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate may induce eye and skin irritation. However, on the basis of the available information, the Panel concludes that Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are  not as safe as presently used in cosmetic products in amounts over 2%.. Most consumer products contain more than 20% of sls.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS)and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

Published in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, Volume 2, Number 7, pp. 127-181, 1983.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate are irritants in patch testing at concentrations of 2 percent and greater, and that irritation increases with ingredient concentration. In some cosmetic formulations, however, that irritant property is attenuated. The longer these ingredients stay in contact with the skin, the greater the likelihood of irritation, which may or may not be evident to the user.

Although Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is not carcinogenic in experimental animals, it has been shown that it causes severe epidermal changes to the area of the skin of mice to which it was applied. This study indicates a need for tumor-enhancing activity assays.

Autoradiographic studies of rat skin treated with radiolabelled Sodium Lauryl Sulfate found heavy deposition of the detergent on the skin surface and in the hair follicles; damage to the hair follicle could result from such deposition. Further, it has been reported that 1 percent and 5 percent Sodium Lauryl Sulfate produced significant number of comedones when applied to the pinna of albino rabbits. These two problems - possible hair loss and comedone formation - along with proven irritancy, should be considered in the formulation of cosmetic products.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate appear to pose less potential hazard when in products designed for brief, discontinuous use, following which they are thoroughly rinsed from the surface of the skin. However, consumers who use these products daily and are exposed at much higher rates, thus increasing the cumulative effect of using these chemicals.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate appear not to be safe in formulations designed for continuous, use.. In products intended for prolonged contact with skin, concentrations should not exceed 1-2%. However, some  shampoos, body gels, creams, lotions have over 10-20%.

There is other research and studies done on SLS and SLES, and the reports also are in agreement that this is a chemical that should be reduced, reformulated or taken out of the products in public consumption products.

More research about the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate Most dangerous


  1. ^ Kazuyoshi Watanabe, Shuntaro Imai and Yasuhiko H. Mori. Surfactant effects on hydrate formation in an unstirred gas/liquid system: An experimental study using HFC-32 and sodium dodecyl sulfate. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Keio University, 3-14-1 Hiyoshi, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama 223-8522. Japan.Chemical Engineering Science. Volume 60, Issue 17, September 2005, Pages 4846-4857. Abstract
  2. ^ Agner T. Susceptibility of atopic dermatitis patients to irritant dermatitis caused by sodium lauryl sulphate. Acta Derm Venereol. 1991;71(4):296-300. PMID 1681644
  3. ^ A. Nassif, S. C. Chan, F. J. Storrs and J. M. Hanifin. Abstract: Abnormal skin irritancy in atopic dermatitis and in atopy without dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. November 1994;130(11):1402. Abstract
  4. ^ a b Marrakchi S, Maibach HI. Sodium lauryl sulfate-induced irritation in the human face: regional and age-related differences. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2006;19(3):177-80. Epub 2006 May 4. PMID 16679819
  5. ^ CIR publication. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. 1983 Vol. 2 (No. 7) pages 127-181.
  6. ^ Loffler H, Effendy I. Skin susceptibility of atopic individuals. Department of Dermatology, University of Marburg, Germany. Contact Dermatitis. 1999 May;40(5):239-42. PMID 10344477
  7. ^ Chahine L, Sempson N, Wagoner C. The effect of sodium lauryl sulfate on recurrent aphthous ulcers: a clinical study. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 1997 Dec;18(12):1238-40. PMID 9656847
  8. ^ Herlofson BB, Barkvoll P. The effect of two toothpaste detergents on the frequency of recurrent aphthous ulcers. Acta Odontol Scand. 1996 Jun;54(3):150-3. PMID 8811135
  9. ^ Debunking the Myth. American Cancer Society. 1998/09/23. Article
  10. ^ Skin Deep Report. Environmental Working Group. Revised October 1995. SLS Rating
  11. ^ Barney L. Bales, Luis Messina, Arwen Vidal, Miroslav Peric, and Otaciro Rangel Nascimento. Precision Relative Aggregation Number Determinations of SDS Micelles Using a Spin Probe. A Model of Micelle Surface Hydration. J. Phys. Chem. B. 1998 102(50)10347-10358. Abstract

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate by David Steinman

Hidden Dangers Lurking in Shampoo


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