SLS - Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a surfactant or foaming agent.

It is what makes the bubbles in most commonly available shampoos, shower gels, bubbles baths and toothpaste. SLS is a cheap ingredient, but that does not mean that it is restricted to only lower end products. It is found in every price range from the cheapest to the most expensive.

SLS is probably the main ingredient that most consumers looking to change to more natural toiletries are seeking to avoid. It is commonly featured in the press among the most undesirable ingredients that have no place in cosmetics.

There is a huge ongoing debate about SLS, and this has led to a lot of misinformation and scare stories proliferating. One commonly held belief is that SLS is related to cancer.

As far as we are aware, there is currently no evidence to support that claim. It does no good to scare monger or perpetuate myths about ingredients, however, although it has not proven to be a cancer risk, SLS is considered to be very irritating to the skin in comparison with other surfactants that can be used.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is also considered to be a penetration enhancer. According to the Environmental Working Group it "alter(s) skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin, increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream". Obviously this is undesirable if other suspect ingredients such as parabens are also included in the formulation.

Many people now suffer from sensitive skin and eczema, and people regularly develop intolerances to products that they have used for many years.

There is no need to expose oneself to unnecessary risks and irritations. There are lots of companies working very hard to produce safe and effective cosmetic products without the use of SLS. The good news is it is possible to make and buy products that we commonly use without these ingredients.