Trying to decode an ingredients list is usually daunting. Most of the words just sound like mumbo-jumbo. And I think this is the main reason Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) gets a bad rap. (The other reason springs from people intentionally disseminating misinformation, but I won’t open that can of beans in this post.)
It’s easily confused with an ingredient that rightfully has a bad rap: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Despite sounding identical, these ingredients aren’t.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a comparatively gentle cleansing agent. Admittedly, in high concentrations, it can cause irritation. But the concentrations you find in most products is low enough to be gentle yet effective. Conversely, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is one of the most irritating cleaning agents you can put on your skin.
The trick I use to remember which ingredient is ok and which to avoid is that the “yl” in Sodium Lauryl Sulfate sounds like “ill”–you’d be “ill”-advised to use it on your skin. I know, it’s corny…but effective!
So the next time you’re looking for a face cleanser or body wash, just double-check that it doesn’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
Be bright, be beautiful!