Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) is a key shampoo ingredient and has been used in shampoos as a replacement for soap for many years. SLS is a surfactant, which means it works by lifting oil-based dirt from the hair so it can be removed with water. It is also a foaming-agent so creates the mountain of bubbles we all love!

Despite a lot of scaremongering out there, there has been no proven link between SLS and cancer. Neither the European Commission, nor its scientific advisory committee, SCCP (the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products), nor any individual Member State has questioned the safety of SLS. It has never been found to be carcinogenic despite many investigations around the world. It is widely used in low concentrations in cosmetics because it combines safety with efficacy. There is also misinformation about SLS being extremely irritating. There is minimal risk of skin irritation when it’s used in shampoo. In fact, as shampoo is a rinse off product, SLS has very little contact time with your scalp and if any remains on the scalp it is very minimal (if any!). So most people can continue to use products with sulphates without worrying about skin/scalp irritation. SLS can be drying but shampoo formulas often contain moisturising ingredients to counter-act this. You can find milder surfactants in products but they don’t always cleanse as well.

There are so many different products on the shelves, it’s all about finding the right formula that cleanses well and leaves your hair moisturised. We have quite a few shampoo reviews on the blog but if there is a particular formula you would like to know about, just ask!


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