What are dangers of sodium laureth sulfate?

Written by shawnte pierce
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What are dangers of sodium laureth sulfate?
Sodium laureth sulphate is a common surfactant found in personal cleansing products. (suds image by saied shahinkiya from Fotolia.com)

The dangers of sodium laureth sulphate are made known by many retailers who sell sulphate-free products. This chemical, found in most personal care products, became notorious after a warning sent via e-mail by an unknown author advising consumers that sodium laureth sulphate is "proven to cause cancer in the long run." Is sodium laureth sulphate as dangerous as the warning e-mail suggests?

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Definition

Sodium laureth sulphate is a chemical that acts as a detergent (cleansing agent), emulsifier (dissolving agent) and surfactant (wetting and foaming agent).

Dangers

According to Northwestern Health Sciences University, sodium laureth sulphate can alter the structure of the skin, allowing chemicals to penetrate it, with the possibility of chemicals reaching the bloodstream. Sodium laureth sulphate causes skin irritation and dryness in some consumers due to its ability to dissolve oil from the skin, allowing it (oil) to be rinsed away.

What are dangers of sodium laureth sulfate?
Sodium laureth sulphate can cause dry, tight, itchy skin in some consumers. (skin image by Robert Kelly from Fotolia.com)

Myths

The biggest myth surrounding sodium laureth sulphate began with a hoax e-mail that claimed the chemical was a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. The American Cancer Society says sodium laureth sulphate is "a known irritant, not a known carcinogen."

What are dangers of sodium laureth sulfate?
An Internet e-mail hoax is responsible for the toxic reputation sodium laureth sulphate has. (poison symbol image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com)

Uses

Sodium laureth sulphate, according to CosmeticsInfo.org, is used in personal care products, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, mascara, toothpaste and perfume (as an emulsifier).

What are dangers of sodium laureth sulfate?
Sodium laureth sulphate is found in common personal care items such as toothpaste. (clean wirg toothpaste image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com)

Considerations

If you experience skin irritation such as excessive dryness, rash, itchiness or hives from a product containing sodium laureth sulphate, discontinue use of the product immediately. For those with concerns about using products containing this chemical, there are personal care products available that do not contain sodium laureth sulphate.

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