What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
SLS and its cousin, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are ingredients that can be found in everyday products around your home or for your body. You’ll find SLS in lotions, liquid soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent, body wash, shampoo, facial cleansers, bath bombs, and even toothpaste. It’s often added as a foaming agent to make bubbles and lather.
Sodium lauryl sulfate can be created from petroleum, but more often it is made from plant sources such as coconut oil or palm oil. Although it comes from natural sources, it is converted from fatty acids into a crystalline salt using a chemical manufacturing process.
SLS is approved for use as a food additive by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services states that SLS is safe for use in oral care products. SLS is also permitted for use in the European Union. You’ll find SLS in some foods such as marshmallows where it is added as a thickener or as an emulsifier to keep oils mixed with other ingredients.