What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Chemical Free Living
What is sodium lauryl sulfate?
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a denaturant and surfactant. It is the sodium salt of lauryl sulfate used as a cleaning agent that produces foam in a variety of household and personal care products . Sodium lauryl sulfate is used to increase cleaning power by increasing a cleaner’s foaming power .
What products is sodium lauryl sulfate in?
Sodium lauryl sulfate is found in household cleaners, toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergents. It is also used as a food additive   .
How to tell if a product has sodium lauryl sulfate
Products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate may list this ingredient using different names. Synonyms for sodium lauryl sulfate include the following:
sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt; sodium lauryl sulfate; monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid; sodium dodecyl sulfate; sodium dodecyl sulphate; sodium salt sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester; sulfic acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt; AI3-00356; akyposal sds; aquarex me; aquarex methyl .
Risks associated with sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate can cause irritation to the eyes, lungs, and skin if it comes into direct contact with them  , so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to see if rinsing or other mitigation measures are required. Aerosolized products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate or that are applied around the eyes and skin have been classified as human irritants by Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments .
The CDC lists several negative health effects that can occur as a result of exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate depending on the type of exposure. If high enough concentrations are inhaled, it can cause coughing and a sore throat . Direct contact with the skin or eyes can cause redness or pain . Ingesting sodium lauryl sulfate can lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea .
How to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate
It is possible to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate and find toxic chemical free household cleaners and personal care products that are just as effective. There are shampoos and toothpaste formulations that are free of sodium lauryl sulfate . Look at the ingredient labels to avoid this ingredient in products that could come into direct with skin or eyes, or risk inhalation contact. Look for these ingredients on the label:
sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt; sodium lauryl sulfate sodium lauryl sulfate; monododecyl ester sodium salt sulfuric acid; sodium salt sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester; sulfic acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt; AI3-00356; akyposal sds; aquarex me; aquarex methyl .
In personal care products, do your own research on a product’s ingredients by using a resource such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep product database.
Note that many so-called “natural” cleaning products contain sodium lauryl sulfate because there are no federal standards dictating what makes a cleaning product natural. Remember that cleaning product manufacturers do not have to list all the product’s ingredients on their labels, so this ingredient may not even be listed. To be safe when buying cleaning products, choose toxic chemical free alternatives with safe natural ingredients.
 EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (2007-2017). Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Available online: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706110/SODIUM_LAURYL_SULFATE/ January 28, 2017.
 SaferChemicals.org (2010). Toxic Beauty. Available online: http://saferchemicals.org/2010/01/18/toxic-beauty/ January 28, 2017.
 Healthy Child, Healthy World (2013). Skip Products Made with SLES (And SLS, Too!). Available online: http://www.healthychild.org/easy-steps/skip-products-made-with-sles-and-sls-too/ January 28, 2017.
 CDC: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2015). Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0502.html January 28, 2017.