Sodium laureth sulfate

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Sodium laureth sulfate
ECHA InfoCard Lua error in Module:Wikidata at line 879: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). Lua error in Module:Wikidata at line 879: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
Molar mass around 420 g/mol
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). It is an inexpensive and very effective foamer.

Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)10CH2(OCH2CH2)nOSO3Na. Sometimes the number represented by "n" is specified in the name, for example laureth-2 sulfate. The commercial product is heterogeneous, both in the length of the alkyl chain (12 being the mode of the number of carbon atoms), and in the number of ethoxyl groups, where n is the mean. n=3 is common in commercial products. SLES can be derived from ethoxylation of SDS.

Sodium dodecyl sulfate (also known as sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) are commonly used alternatives to SLES in consumer products.[1]

While SLS is a known irritant,[2][3] some evidence and research suggest that SLES can also cause irritation after extended exposure.[4][5]

Effects on sensitive skin

Products containing these substances can affect those prone to eczema and other irritants. These substances provide a foaming quality to the product, allowing for better distribution of the product while washing hair or skin and while brushing teeth. When rinsed off, the product will have cleaned the area but will have taken moisture from the top layers of skin. In people with sensitive skin (prone to dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis and chemical sensitivity), the drying property of these type of detergents can cause flare-ups of skin conditions or may worsen existing conditions.[4][5]

Health concerns

The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) and the American Cancer Society stated that the common belief that SLES is a carcinogen is an urban legend.[6] However, the Environmental Working Group has claimed in their Skin Deep Report that SLES may possibly be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.[7] SLES and SLS have been known to become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.[8] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers 1,4-dioxane to be a probable carcinogen.[9] While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration encourages manufacturers to remove this contaminant, it is not currently required by federal law.[10]

Alternative names

  • Sodium Alkyl ether sulfate
  • Sodium POE(2) lauryl ether sulfate
  • Sodium diethylene glycol lauryl ether sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl ether sulfate
  • Sodium 2-(2-dodecyloxyethoxy) ethyl sulfate


  1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate POE(2). Chemical Land 21, Seoul, Korea. Product Identification
  2. Agner T. Susceptibility of atopic dermatitis patients to irritant dermatitis caused by sodium lauryl sulphate. Acta Derm Venereol. 1991;71(4):296-300. Abstract
  3. A. Nassif, S. C. Chan, F. J. Storrs and J. M. Hanifin. Abstract: Abnormal skin irritancy in atopic dermatitis and in atopy without dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. November 1994;130(11):1402. Abstract
  4. 4.0 4.1 Magnusson B, Gilje O. Allergic contact dermatitis from a dish-washing liquid containing lauryl ether sulphate. Acta Derm Venereol. 1973;53(2):136-40. Abstract
  5. 5.0 5.1 Van Haute N, Dooms-Goossens A. Shampoo dermatitis due to cocobetaine and sodium lauryl ether sulphate. Contact Dermatitis. 1983 Mar;9(2):169. Abstract
  6. Rumor: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Causes Cancer. The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association. 13, October 2000. Consumer Information
  7. Skin Deep Report. Environmental Working Group. Revised October 1995. SLES Rating
  8. Roderick E. Black, Fred J. Hurley, Donald C. Havery. Occurrence of 1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetic Raw Materials and Finished Cosmetic Products. Journal of AOAC International.2001 May;84(3):666-670. Abstract
  9. 1,4-Dioxane (1,4-Diethyleneoxide). Hazard Summary. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Created in April 1992; Revised in January 2000. Fact Sheet
  10. FDA/CFSAN--Cosmetics Handbook Part 3: Cosmetic Product-Related Regulatory Requirements and Health Hazard Issues. Prohibited Ingredients and other Hazardous Substances: 9. Dioxane

See also

External links

de:Natriumdodecylpoly(oxyethylen)sulfat nl:Natriumlaurylethersulfaat