soapSODIUM lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in hundreds of cosmetic products and household cleaners. According to the Environment Working Group’s ‘Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews’, research has shown links between SLS and its derivatives to skin and eye irritation, organ toxicity, biochemical or cellular changes, nerve toxicity and even possible mutations and cancer.

This information isn’t new: a report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. The National Institutes of Health’s Household Products Directory of chemical ingredients lists lots of products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called highly irritating and dangerous. So, unless you use organic, chemical-free shampoo and soap, you are immersing your hair, skin and nails in this and other toxic compounds every day.

The only way to know what is in the products you are using is to read the list of ingredients on the packaging of everything you use on your skin, including make-up and toothpaste. If it reads like a laboratory check-list – and if you’re buying it at a supermarket or on the High Street, you can be pretty sure that it will –  you can easily find pure, natural, chemical-free alternatives online.