Lauryl & Laureth: the evil fraternal twins


No, not Julius & Vincent! I’m talking about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).

Head over to your bathroom and check a few labels for me and then come back and report back to me how many of these products you use list “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” or “Sodium Laureth Sulfate” in their ingredients.

Bar Soap
Tooth paste
Body wash
Shave cream or gel
Skin cleanser
Lotion or Moisturizer
Sun screen

How many did you have on your list? Mine was 4. See! Even this green guide has some work to do!

As a kid growing up and into part of my adult life, I was always plagued with canker sores in my mouth. Not cold sores and not caused by a virus. Not contagious and not something that anyone else could see. They were just annoying and I could never figure out what they were from! It didn’t matter what I ate or what vitamins I took. Stress didn’t seem to play a factor either. I tried prescribed ointments, rinses and even antibiotics. It was a mystery that even doctors couldn’t find an answer for!

With the influx of the internet into our lives as I got older, I was able to do a bit more research into possible causes of these annoying and painful ulcers. I finally figured out after reading online that products that contain SLS as an ingredient could be a contributing factor. I was desperate to try anything at this point so I started my search to find SLS-free toothpaste. Well that was easier said than done. There was only one brand in the entire oral care aisle of the supermarket that had an ingredient list free of SLS or SLES!


So what the heck is this SLS and SLES, why is it in nearly EVERY toothpaste (not to mention countless other personal care products) and why do we need it!?

In today’s society, people are psychologically addicted and have their mind set on one very simple factor of one simple word. Clean. The simple factor is that our minds are trained to think that in order for something to be clean, we need some foamy sudsy action to be going on! When we see or even feel that foamy sudsiness, we associate that with being clean. In our minds, no foamy sudsiness = not clean. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are the key ingredients to creating this foamy sudsiness.


Lauryl & Laureth as I like to call them, are very close relatives of each other (fraternal twins shall we say?) and you often will find one or the other in any product that foams. Both SLS and SLES are chemical additives known as “Surfactants.” Both are esters of Sulphuric acid. Yep. An ACID! Even worse, SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen. Yep. You are putting acid and carcinogens in your mouth all for one effect: sudsy foam.

SLES tends to be the lesser of the two evils, but SLS cannot be metabolized by the liver and its effects are therefore much longer-lasting. Seriously, the health effects list is a mile long. It’s too much to list it all here, but it includes Skin Irritation, Hormone Imbalance, Eye Irritation / eye deformities in children and more. To read more about the health implications of these evil twins, click here.

These twins are commonly referred to as “hormone disruptors.” This means that once they are absorbed into the body, via the skin in this case, they mimic the hormone Estrogen. Too much Estrogen in a lady’s body and looooook out! Increased PMS, menstrual and menopausal issues and female cancers. And it’s not just with the ladies. Men, it can lead to increased male infertility too when the balance of testosterone and estrogen is thrown off in a man’s body. Breast cancer in men is becoming more and more common these days as well. I’m no expert but I do tons of research on this kind of stuff and my crazy mind leads me to believe that common chemicals cause common cancers. Just a hunch.

For a list of healthier SLS-free and SLES-free product options, there is a great list that can be found here. Make the change today and ditch the foam! Something doesn’t need to be sudsy foamy to be working!

Oh, and once I switched to SLS-free toothpaste, canker sores were thankfully a thing of the paste. Unless I drink too much of those “zero calorie” drinks…but that’s a topic for a different post!



4 thoughts on “Lauryl & Laureth: the evil fraternal twins

  1. wow thats great to know, i need to check our stuff, i know the kids stuff is natural but i have slcked big time n that factor for things for myself.

  2. We just bought sulfate free shampoo for my twins. It’s hard to find some that isn’t crazy priced, and is extremely gentle for their little scalps!

  3. I stopped using those two things in my shampoo but for a different reason…they strip your hair of natural oils. Now I use a conditioner that doesn’t cause build-up and only shampoo once a month (with a SLS/SLES-free shampoo). Nice to know I’m avoiding carcinogens, too!

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