Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Naturally-derived/synthetic Detergents in Cosmetics and Cleaning Supplies (All Natural Cosmetics/Herbal Natural Cleaning)

What is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and is it really "derived from coconut oil"?

In my opinion, the phase "SLS derived from coconut oil" or most detergents "derived from coconut oil" in cosmetics is basically a marketing scam from companies to claim that their products are natural. Once upon a time ago most SLS was derived from coconut oil, but it was so processed, it could never be considered natural since the oil underwent so many chemical changes (hence becoming detergent). Nowadays, from my understanding, most SLS is derived from the Ziegler process--synthetic synthesis--and not from coconuts.

That said, there is a fine line about what is considered natural and what's not. For example, most "natural" liquid dish soap and laundry detergents are made from "naturally derived"/synthetic detergents and most people accept them as natural (since the product contains nothing but the detergent, essential oil, and maybe a bit of preservative and color, so no bleach and other toxic and irritating chemicals). It depends on how you define natural, as there is no set standard on the definition, and everyone has their own interpretations on what's natural.

I personally do not like ANY naturally derived/synthetic detegents in cosmetics (even the mild ones and non-toxic ones like coco polyglucose) because a) I've found that most naturally-derived/synthetic detergents remove too much of the natural oils from my skin and hair (much more than natural soap) and I have dehydrated skin and hair so that is a concern for me, b) some like SLS are irritants (when I use a "natural" toothpaste with SLS my gums bleed), and c) I'm just too anal in wanting to use and make all natural cosmetics or as natural as I can get. ;) (Though toothpaste is my bane, as nearly all brands have some form of naturally-derived/synthetic detergent, and the ones that don't seem to be too abrasive for my teeth to use on a regular basis).

I do use "natural" dish and laundry detergent though--the dish detergent cleans better than most natural liquid soaps I've tried (though I tend to wash my crafting dishes with liquid castille, which works fine for that), and natural laundry detergent doesn't leave my clothes feeling stiff or affect the color of my clothes (though some brands I've tried do). And most natural brands are biodegradable :) (though be sure to read the label as many synthetic detergents are made from petrochemicals, are not very biodegradable, and are pollutants).

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