The Case Against Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Narelle Chenery (pictured right), Director of Research and Development for Miessence and formulator of the world’s first certified organic skin and body care products, and member of the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists looks at the much maligned and often misunderstood chemical, sodium laureth sulfate.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a chemical used universally in cosmetics, personal care and skin care products. Whilst SLES is often claimed to be natural because it can be derived from coconut oil, it is the manufacturing process that bears looking into.
Ethoxylation is a process that uses ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, to manufacture ‘milder’ surfactants like SLES. Ethoxylated surfactants may be contaminated with 1,4- Dioxane (dioxane), an un-wanted by product of the manufacturing process.
Ethoxylated ingredients, including detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and certain solvents are identifiable by the phrase “PEG,” “Polyethylene,” “Polyethylene glycol,” “Polyoxyethylene,” “-eth-,” or “-oxynol-.”
Exposure to large amounts of dioxane can cause kidney and liver damage. Accidental worker exposure to large amounts of dioxane has resulted in several deaths. Symptoms associated with these industrial deaths suggest dioxane causes adverse nervous system effects. Laboratory studies show that exposure to dioxane over a lifetime causes cancer in animals. Dioxane may likewise cause cancer in humans.
My philosophy is if it is possible to create a product without the use of any harmful, or even potentially harmful, chemicals then do it! And it is certainly possible: the Miessence certified organic product range is living proof that skincare can be made with only beneficial 100% natural and organic ingredients.
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Prohibited Ingredients and Related Safety Issues. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Cosmetics Fact Sheet, March 30, 2000.
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Fact Sheet 1,4-Dioxane – Emerging Contaminant of Concern http://www.ocwd.com/_assets/_pdfs/1,4-Dioxane_Fact_Sheet.pdf
Scorecard Summary o 1,4-Dioxane http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id=123-91-1