There has been a great of misinformation about sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) being circulated on the Internet. Used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent SLS can be derived from coconut. Although it is a potent skin irritant it is not toxic or dangerous for skin. In concentrations of 2% to 5%, SLS can cause allergic or sensitizing reactions in lots of people. It is used as a standard in scientific studies to establish irritancy or sensitizing properties of other ingredients (Sources: European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2001, pages 416Ã¢â‚¬â€œ419; American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, March 2001, pages 28Ã¢â‚¬â€œ32; and Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, September-October 2000, pages 246Ã¢â‚¬â€œ257). Being a skin irritant, however, is not the same as a link to cancer, which is what erroneous warnings on the Internet are falsely claiming about this ingredient!
According to Health Canada, in a press release of February 12, 1999 (www.hc-sc.gc.ca/), Ã¢â‚¬Å“A letter has been circulating the Internet which claims that there is a link between cancer and sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate (SLS), an ingredient used in [cosmetics]. Health Canada has looked into the matter and has found no scientific evidence to suggest that SLS causes cancer. It has a history of safe use in Canada. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that this e-mail warning is a hoax. The letter is signed by a person at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and includes a phone number. Health Canada contacted the University of Pennsylvania Health System and found that it is not the author of the sodium laureth sulfate warning and does not endorse any link between SLS and cancer. Health Canada considers SLS safe for use in cosmetics. Therefore, you can continue to use cosmetics containing SLS without worry.Ã¢â‚¬? Further, according to the American Cancer SocietyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Web site (www.cancer.org), Ã¢â‚¬Å“Contrary to popular rumors on the Internet, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) do not cause cancer. E-mails have been flying through cyberspace claiming SLS [and SLES] causes cancer Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and is proven to cause cancer.... [Yet] A search of recognized medical journals yielded no published articles relating this substance to cancer in humans.Ã¢â‚¬? See surfactant.