And what of the ingredients that are used as an alternative to SLS and are at least as bad for your scalp and hair, or even worse? Is there any way an alternative to SLS that you can use safely?
What is SLS?
The abbreviation SLS stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Or in Dutch also called sodium lauryl sulfate.
It is a substance that is made by isolating the fatty acid, lauric acid from palm oil or coconut oil, changing it to lauryl alcohol and then processing it with sulfuric acid and finally neutralizing it with salt.
You can also find this in the name: sodium = salt, lauryl = lauric acid / lauryl alcohol and sulphate = salt / ester of sulfuric acid.
Why is SLS so bad for your hair and scalp?
SLS is one of the most offensive ingredients that can be found in cosmetic products. It is best known for its cleansing effect; it can dissolve fats. It even cleanses so powerfully that it is used in products such as garage floor cleaner and for cleaning engine blocks.
In addition to the cleaning effect, SLS also ensures that the shampoo is foamy and more comfortable to distribute.
Harmful to your hair and scalp
Because the fats can dissolve, it strips your skin and hair from its natural oils. This makes your hair and scalp dry out enormously. Your scalp will then compensate for the dryness by making more sebum, and your hair will become greasy faster.
Sulfates also disrupt the pH of your scalp and hair. They increase the acidity. This leads, among other things, to scales opening more and therefore breaking off more efficiently so that less moisture can be kept in and out of your hair.
Several studies show that washing with SLS shampoo is one of the biggest causes of damage to the hair. If you often wash with SLS shampoos, hair loss can even occur.
Cause of eye problems, skin allergies, and internal problems
SLS is also known to cause eye irritation, eye damage, and skin allergies. That is why you often see that non-stinging shampoos, especially for children, are free from SLS.
And if all of that is not enough, SLS can enter the bloodstream through our pores and also cause damage in our bodies.
What other names does SLS hide?
Another commonly used name for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate.
What are harmful alternatives to SLS?
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – This is slightly milder than SLS
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) – This sulfate has a much stronger effect than SLS.
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES) – is a watered-down version of ALS.
Magnesium Lauryl Sulfate (MLS) – Similar to SLS.
Sodium Oleic Sulfate (SOS) – This is not lauric acid, but oleic acid used to create this ingredient.
Sodium Olefin Sulfonate – Unjustly labeled by many as a mild ingredient, as it is just as aggressive as SLS. Olefin is also another word for an alkane. Some examples of alkanes are methane, ethane, and propane.
What are good alternatives to SLS?
Sodium Coco-Sulfate (SCS) – This is also an ingredient that has a lot of hassle about it because SLS is made in a similar way to SCS. However, in SCS non-isolated fatty acids from coconut oil serve as the basis as with SLS, but coconut oil itself. This makes it a much softer cleaner. Also, the molecular structure of SCS is much larger than that of SLS, which means that it cannot penetrate the skin, causing any irritation and not entering the bloodstream.
Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate – Trendy ingredient with natural brands such as Weleda. Is one of the mildest ingredients that can be used for cleaning, product distribution, and foam, and is made from coconut oil and fermented sugar. It is approved by NaTrue, an organization whose quality mark is only given to natural cosmetics.
( Cocamidopropyl betaine – This is a doubt. Although it is an unusually mild cleanser that also softens the skin, it causes allergic reactions in quite a few people.)
Decyl polyglucoside – Is also a very gentle cleanser that also foams and also cares for the skin.
So many ingredients, how do I know which part and which product I can use with confidence?
There are many surfactants and tensides: ingredients that can be used in cosmetics to ensure cleaning and foam. One milder than the other. It is almost impossible to list them all, so use common sense. Do you suffer from scalp problems, fast oily hair, dry hair, fluff, tangles, and other hair problems? That could be a sign that your shampoo uses too aggressive ingredients.
I recommend choosing products with ‘natural quality marks’ such as NaTrue and BIDH. Then you know that you have mild products.