What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Used For And Why You Should Avoid It

We keep seeing this ingredient in our personal care products, but what exactly is Sodium Lauryl, and is it good for our bodies? Time to find out, Mamas!

Another day, another ingredient to scrutinize. What they don’t usually tell you about pregnancy and motherhood is that it will drive you to review everything you put in your body. And we totally get it! When a life forming inside you is on the line, every minor detail matters, right? 

So, for now, let’s look at Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and why we keep seeing it on the label of the many products we use to take care of ourselves and our babies-to-be.

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is commonly known as SLS. You have probably seen a barrage of advertisements for SLS-free products. If you haven’t yet, you will notice them now that we have mentioned them. 

There’s a good reason why companies create products without this ingredient, but before that, let’s first identify what SLS is.


SLS is a popular “surfactant.” This basically means that it directly affects any surface it touches. Most, if not all, of our personal care and cleaning products, are a mixture of various oils and water. It’s common knowledge that oil and water don’t mix well on their own. That is why a surfactant like SLS is used to bring these two crucial ingredients together. 

Aside from that, SLS is also an excellent foaming agent that provides that satisfying foaming action when we use cleansers. 

4 Reasons to Avoid SLS

SLS is inexpensive and very easy to make. For years, companies have used this in creating many of the household products we all love and use, such as body wash, hand soap, facial cleaner, toothpaste, and shampoo.

All is good, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Some studies have shown concern over SLS and its effects on our bodies. Here are some reasons that might make you want to say goodbye to SLS.

1. It can irritate your skin


Studies have shown that exposure to SLS can cause eyes, skin, and lungs. The longer the product stays on your skin, the higher the probability of irritation. When it comes to cleaning products where SLS is at a higher concentration and the risk of lung irritation is a concern, it is even recommended to keep the windows open to protect yourself. 

2. It can cause breakouts

In the same article, Healthline suggests that people with sensitive skin are more prone to getting clogged pores and acne when using products with SLS.

3. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea


Although SLS has been approved by the FDA as a food additive, studies from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show that SLS can be linked to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested. 

4. SLS can contribute to the development of cancer

Depending on manufacturing processes, SLS may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has marked ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. While there is still no definitive link between cancer and SLS, there are numerous ongoing studies to prove and disprove this out of concern for consumers like us. 

The SLS-Free Alternative

SLS comes with many red flags. There is no denying that. However, since most of the concerns over SLS are yet to be proven, the choice is yours to shift to a lifestyle that is completely free from SLS. But if you ask us, we won’t risk it. Especially if there are SLS-free alternatives that are just as (if not more) effective in keeping our bodies clean and beautiful.


One product to go SLS-free is toothpaste. Imagine putting a chemical suspected of causing issues regularly ingested into your mouth. It’s not a risk you should be taking, especially if you are a mama-to-be. When there is a lot to worry about, leave the toothpaste to us. 

Mama’s Choice Non-Fluoride Toothpaste is formulated to gently clean your mouth without potentially harmful ingredients that may negatively affect you and your little ones. It comes with primarily natural ingredients so that Mamas can have peace of mind and fresh breath every single day. 

SLS-free shampoos are also great alternatives, especially for pregnant women and mamas. Your hair will still be healthy and fragrant without exposing yourself to a possible irritant close to your eyes and mouth. Aside from that, the SLS-infused product will run through your body when you rinse, and this might affect your kids who spend a lot of time close to you…especially when you are breastfeeding.


At the end of the day, no one can force you to avoid certain chemicals. But when it comes to SLS, we believe that Mama’s should play it safe and opt for alternatives that can do the same job without posing any possible risk. But what about you? What do you think? 

Author Mama's Choice Team

Mama's Choice Team

A team of passionate writers, young mamas, and creative superheroes who help mamas face motherhood one educational article at a time!


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