Saturday, February 25, 2012

SLS -- they call it the poison in our products

SLS stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. There is also SLES which is the abbreviation for Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

These are foaming agents, and they are in most of your soaps, shampoos, and other personal care products.

There are many claims and many arguments out there about the relative safety and danger of these products, as you will find if you do a quick Google search on the terms. I do not know what is true and what is false, so I am not going to make any brash statements about, for instance, whether these things cause cancer, or whether they are toxins that our livers cannot break down, which thus linger in our systems. Maybe, maybe not.


I have tried to minimize the SLS containing products in our bathroom, and the results have been good.

Experience Number 1

My husband was plagued with horrific canker sores his entire life. Often, he could barely talk because of a huge, gaping wound in his mouth. Sometimes these garish holes in his inner cheeks and gums would cause him so much pain that he got migraines from them. He tried many remedies, including taking L-Lysine, but nothing offered consistent and lasting relief.

One day I read that SLS's can cause canker sores, so I went out and found an SLS-free toothpaste. It is called Closys, and I buy it at Kinney Drug Store. Since he switched over to this toothpaste, my husband has had almost no canker sores.

I'm just saying.

This is the truth. It is our personal experience. I'm not promising it will work for you, I'm just saying it worked for him. I use Closys now, too, and although I rarely got canker sores before, I never get them now.

The huge difference this change made in my husband's mouth kind of freaked me out. How could an ingredient that did that much damage to his tissues be in all the mainstream toothpaste brands?

Then my hair started falling out. Which led to...

Experience Number 2

I tried a number of things, including shampooing only three times a week (that was torture for me, and I never got used to it).

Now I use an SLS-free shampoo. I'm not sure if it stemmed the tide of my hair loss, but I think my hair seems to be falling out more slowly. I have also noticed that when I am away from home and end up using hotel shampoo or someone else's SLS-containing shampoo, it seems that more of my hair falls out on those days than on a normal day at home.

I use Every Day Shea Lavender Shampoo, and I get it at our local Wegman's, which is very convenient.

It took my hair a little while to get used to this shampoo. I find that it works a bit differently from "normal" shampoo. I lather up my hair with it at the beginning of my shower and then leave it to soak in while I shave my legs and wash my body. I rinse it out last thing. This method seems to work very well.

I do not use conditioner. Last week I tried doing a homemade, pre-shampoo conditioning treatment with coconut oil, castor oil and molasses (which is supposed to be very strengthening). It took three days for my hair to stop looking wet (greasy) and stringy, but since then it's been quite lovely.

I also take biotin and saw palmetto to try to beef up my hair, as well as a multi-vitamin and fish oil.

In particular though, I'm pretty happy with the shampoo I'm using, and I have to admit that the few times I've substituted a regular shampoo, the results have been much worse than on the days when -- for instance --I forget to take one of my supplements.

So I think there might be some reasons to avoid SLS's, whether or not we're talking about "poison".

Experience Number 3

I stopped using SLS products on my face and body.

The results have been downright remarkable.

First, I started the oil cleansing method. This has been lovely for my face.

When I need an acne treatment for my face, I use about 1/4 tsp. of castor oil in the center of the palm of my hand, drop in 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, stir it up with my finger and massage it into my face. Ta-da.

Sometimes in the morning, instead of just rinsing my face, I wash it with raw honey
or a mixture of raw honey and nutmeg
or a mixture of raw honey, nutmeg and plain yogurt.
(You only need 1/2 tsp. or less of each, and you can leave it on as a mask, too, if you're into that.)

This is fun, and tasty if it gets into your mouth by mistake. I don't know if it is much more effective than the oil cleansing method by itself, but it certainly doesn't seem to do any harm.

I cannot even tell you how much nicer my skin is than only a few months ago when I was using commercial products. I never would have believed that my skin could look this happy. I think the difference is the lack of SLS-containing products which seem to work against your skin instead of with it.

It reminds me of a friend who had a beautiful lawn. He said, "The secret is to fertilize and water and grow a really healthy lawn. You don't have to fight the weeds nearly as hard if you have great, healthy grass." I think skin issues are similar. SLS-containing skin care products are like weed-killing poison. They'll attack your skin issues, but they attack your skin at the same time. If you use the right products on your face, you can nourish your skin and make it more resistant to problems.

Of course, skin issues are always deeper than the skin itself, and proper nutrition and hydration are of the utmost importance, as well as hormone balance. So eat right, drink a lot of pure water, cut out sugar and increase your Omega-3's (take fish oil).

Along with cutting out SLS's on my face, I've cut them out of the soaps I use on my body. Guess what? This has reduced my "winter itch" like nobody's business.

My favorite soaps were some pricey handmade olive oil soaps from an Etsy shop. But if you are on a budget and still want to go SLS-free, you can get...

Kirk's Castille Soap. I actually love this stuff. It is very mild, with a soft, almost unscented kind of scent. It is about $1.50 per bar at my local Wegman's, no shipping and handling!

And the best of all, amazingly...

Yardley Soap. I can get this at Wegman's, a 2-pack of their more basic soaps for $1.99. My husband loves the Lavender and the Oatmeal and Almond one. AND I just discovered that you can get additional varieties of Yardley at (you'd never guess...) the Dollar Store for (of course) $1 per bar.

If you are one of those blessed people who float through life with beautiful skin and hair, no rashes, no itches, no split ends... well, those people probably stopped reading a long time ago. If you struggle with skin, hair and body issues, I'd challenge you to try getting the SLS's out of your bathroom and see if things don't improve.


Hope T. said...

After I read this I went to my bathroom to check out my soaps and toothpastes. My soap and shampoo are Desert Essence and have no SLS but I was very disappointed to see SLS in my "natural" toothpaste. Maybe I should go back to pain baking soda. I used that for about a year but became concerned that it was too harsh.

Thanks so much for the shampoo recommendation. I like my shampoo (I also use Shikai, in addition to Desert Essence) but my hair is still falling out, also. I am definitely going to pick up some of the kind you mention here, if our Wegmans carries it.

Ruth said...

I used to use a baking soda toothpaste, but it was definitely too harsh. Although I loved how smooth it made my teeth, I have been doing much better sensitivity-wise by not using it.

My dental hygienist told me that I should never use baking soda more than once a week.

We've been using Closys for a couple of years now. It is expensive (a little over $10 per tube), but it lasts quite a long time, at least two months, I'd say. And that is with my husband and me sharing a tube. He takes it with him on business trips, and then I use Aim like the kids do, but I can never wait for him to get home! The last time he was away, I went out and bought my own tube, so it will be interesting to see how long it lasts when we have two tubes going instead of just one.

The shampoo took some getting used to, but I love it now.