If you’ve read any of our blogs, you might have already picked up on the fact that we’ve got an axe to grind when it comes to harmful skincare ingredients. Skin is the body’s largest organ, and what we apply to it matters. SLS, or sodium lauryl sulphate, is one of those ingredients we went out of our way to avoid when creating Pure Shave Shaving Cream. So, here’s what you need to know about SLS, including why we don’t use it in our products and where it might already be lurking in your home.
What Is SLS?
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a water and oil-soluble surfactant. Surfactants lessen surface tension, allowing dirt and grease to be easily washed away. While this makes it a great option for cleaning (and why it’s used in most liquid detergents), it also strips the beneficial natural oils from both skin and hair.
Unless you’re already consciously avoiding SLS, you’ll probably be surprised at just how many products in your home contain the stuff. It’s a staple in household cleaners and shampoo, but also in less obvious products too, such as some toothpastes, lip balms, styling gels and, yes, shaving creams.
Why Avoid SLS?
Unfortunately, what makes SLS great at cleaning is also its downfall when it comes to skincare. SLS is incredibly drying for skin, something you may have experienced firsthand if you’ve been using a hand soap that contains it during lockdown. Without those natural oils, skin and hair both rapidly lose moisture, becoming dry and brittle. While this can be counteracted in part by applying a moisturiser or conditioner after use, we advocate avoiding SLS altogether, particularly if you already suffer from skin complaints such as eczema or psoriasis.
Another reason we avoid SLS is that palm oil is used in its manufacture. As palm oil is a major contributor to deforestation, and sustainable palm oil is incredibly difficult to trace, we prefer to use more eco-friendly alternatives.
Alternatives To SLS
Thanks to advances in technology, there are a range of surfactants that are much gentler on the skin and kinder to the planet. A few of the most commonly used alternatives to SLS are:
- SCS (Sodium coco sulfate)
- SLSA (Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate)
- SCG (Sodium cocoyl glycinate)
At Pure Shave, we use a combination of disodium lauryl succinate and sodium lauryl sulfodiacteate . These ingredients are non-irritating yet effective at foaming and cleansing, making them ideal substitutes for harsh sulfates. Together, they offer gentle results for even the most reactive of skin.
We champion skin-friendly formulations and eco-friendly ingredients and we challenge you to do the same. Take five minutes to scan the ingredients lists of your skin and hair care products and note which might be doing more harm than good.