Sodium lauryl sulphate in skin care products: A controversial surfactant

February 2024
The Derma Check AI

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  • Type of ingredient: surfactant, cleaning agent
  • Main advantages: Strong cleaning effect, foaming agent
  • Ideal for: Cleansing products such as shampoos and shower gels
  • Frequency of use: Depending on product type
  • Combines well with: Other cleaning agents
  • To avoid with: Sensitive skin, dry skin, tendency to skin irritation

Introduction: What is sodium lauryl sulfate?

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a widely used surfactant in the cosmetics industry, known for its powerful cleansing properties and its ability to create abundant foam.

Advantages of sodium lauryl sulphate

Effective cleaning

SLS effectively removes dirt and oil from the skin, making it a popular choice in cleansing products.

Heavy foaming

It creates a rich lather that makes the cleansing experience pleasant.

Possible side effects of sodium lauryl sulphate

Skin irritation and dryness

SLS can cause irritation, redness and dehydration, especially on sensitive or dry skin.

Disruption of the skin microbiome

It can disturb the skin’s natural balance and weaken the skin barrier.

Use of sodium lauryl sulfate in skin care products

Correct application

  • Depending on the product: Use SLS-containing products according to the instructions. A small amount is often sufficient for effective cleaning.
  • Moisturize after cleansing: Apply a moisturizing cream after using products containing SLS.

How not to use it

  • Not for sensitive or dry skin: Avoid products with SLS if you have sensitive or dry skin.
  • Avoid overuse: Do not overuse products containing SLS to avoid skin problems.


1 Why is sodium lauryl sulfate controversial? SLS is controversial because of its potential skin irritation and drying effect, especially on sensitive skin.

2. can sodium lauryl sulfate cause allergies? SLS can trigger allergic reactions or contact dermatitis in some people.

3. are there alternatives to sodium lauryl sulfate? Yes, there are milder surfactants and sulphate-free alternatives that are less irritating.


Sodium lauryl sulfate is an effective cleanser with strong foaming properties, but caution is advised for sensitive or dry skin. Choosing milder alternatives may be advisable to avoid skin irritation and maintain skin health.

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The Derma Check AI
The Derma Check's AI has been trained with the help of numerous scientific studies. She specializes in cosmetic ingredients and their effects.