Toxic Chemical Load #3: Sodium Laurel Sulfate

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Toxic Chemical Load #3: Sodium Laurel Sulfate
April 17, 2023 

I recall a time when my friend asked me “Do you know what sodium laurel sulfate [SLS] is?” while we grocery shopped in Chicago. Naturally I answered “No, I don’t”. “Well, it’s a chemical in shampoo that builds up in your body as formaldehyde; ya know, the stuff they embalm people with” she responded. “That is so gross!” I was stunned.

It was 2008 and I had already begun my “clean eating” journey. Having my friend explain this to me was not a surprise, but startling none the same. I didn’t even question if she was right. I was just determined to AVOID SLS at every turn. Since then, I have been adamant to choose skin and body care that does not have toxic ingredients in them. Though usually a costly and inconvenient endeavor, I believe the health benefits will be worth it for life.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to not take someone’s word as truth and authority. I suppose it’s part of maturing and realizing we can all get it wrong, even on a subject we are deemed an “expert” on. As someone who values truth and integrity above all else, I try to devote more time to making sure what I have adopted as truth is actually TRUE. It’s a journey!

So, does SLS become formaldehyde in our bodies… I don’t think so. BUT I discovered there is no way of knowing how the SLS is preserved before it is added to products. They are not required to put that on the label. And it does appear that most SLS is preserved with formaldehyde. So maybe my friend was right after all?

So, what is Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)?

It is a surfactant that helps oil and water mix. It is used in products to make them sudsy and to clean better. Think liquid dish soap, liquid hand soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. It’s also put in food items like marshmallows.

SLS is known for drying out skin by breaking down the epidermis layer. Regulations state it must be under 1% of a product and should not stay ON the skin for any length of time. For example, washing your hands with a SLS product is less irritating than using a lotion with SLS.

SLS is used in a lot of lab tests because of its surfactant nature. Therefore, we do have a lot of scientific data on it.

SLS does not sound that harmful to our bodies when it is diluted properly and only briefly in contact with the skin. That said, it does dry out our skin, which is our biggest organ and part of our immune system.

The problem with SLS seems to arise by what it is preserved with.

There is no evidence that SLS is carcinogenic or that it causes hair loss. Sometimes “lack of evidence” just means they haven’t researched it enough. Due to the abundant lab tests utilizing SLS it does appear that SLS on its own is not carcinogenic. The jury is still out on hair loss. Again, it’s not just about the SLS, it’s about the unknown, carcinogenic preservatives it’s mixed with. Formaldehyde, for instance, is carcinogenic.

The moral of the story is that it’s our responsibility to be informed consumers. Corporations and manufacturers do not have our best interests in mind. They want to make money. Often, shortcuts are made, and cheap toxic chemicals are used to increase profit.

I recommend reading labels and researching the words you do not understand. You will be very enlightened. Many body care products use naturally derived forms of SLS. They are supposed to be healthier options. I’m not sure if that means they are preserved with something less toxic.

Please dive into the research below to learn more.


Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or one of its cousins like Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), is the main cleaning agent and second-largest ingredient after water in most regular brands of shampoo, shower creams, liquid soap, toothpaste, shaving gel, bubble baths, etc.”

The fact that SLS, or its more common name in science, the reason SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) is found in so many studies is the same reason why you find it in a lot of cosmetics, household and industrial cleaners – it is cheap! SLS is a cheap surfactant, commonly used in scientific labs to dissolve other molecules, for analytical studies, for toxicological studies and for any other application that does not require more natural conditions such as preserving the 3D-structure and activity of proteins. That is the downside of this very cheap surfactant, it damages protein structures or, correctly expressed, denatures the proteins, and thereby they lose both shape and function. In fact, one of the most used laboratory analytical methods for proteins is based on the ability of SLS to denature proteins (SDS-PAGE).”

Does SLS Cause Blackheads?
Yes, SLS is most likely comedogenic. It has scored positive in the classical rabbit’s ear assay [4]. In spite of that, it is regrettably often found in acne cosmetics.

Can SLS Cause Hair Loss?
SLS has been found accumulated in hair follicles [4, 5, 18] but so far there is no study that supports that SLS could cause increased hair loss.

Does SLS Cause Dry Hair and Split Ends?
Yes, SLS damages the outer surface of the hair strands, the cuticle, resulting in loss of shine, a rougher surface and split ends [19-21]. Even though all anionic surfactants to some extent damage the hair surface compared to only using water, SLS is harsher than all other surfactants used in skin care products[20].

SLS is an anionic surfactant commonly used in consumer household cleaning products. For decades, this chemical has been developing a negative reputation with consumers because of inaccurate interpretations of the scientific literature and confusion between SLS and chemicals with similar names. Here, we review the human and environmental toxicity profiles of SLS and demonstrate that it is safe for use in consumer household cleaning products.

“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laurilsulfate or sodium dodecyl sulfate, is an anionic surfactant commonly used as an emulsifying cleaning agent in household cleaning products (laundry detergents, spray cleaners, and dishwasher detergents). The concentration of SLS found in consumer products varies by product and manufacturer but typically ranges from 0.01% to 50% in cosmetic products1,2 and 1% to 30% in cleaning products.3,4 SLS can be synthetic or naturally derived. This chemical is synthesized by reacting lauryl alcohol from a petroleum or plant source with sulfur trioxide to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate, which is then neutralized with sodium carbonate to produce SLS.5”

“Down-the-drain cleaning products release SLS into the environment via household wastewater systems. In the environment, >99% of SLS readily biodegrades into nontoxic components per the OECD 301 standard.7”

“Dermal toxicity studies demonstrate that 24-hour exposure to a 1–2% (w/w) solution of SLS can increase the transepidermal water loss of the stratum corneum – the outer most layer of the skin – and cause mild yet reversible skin inflammation.”

“There is no scientific evidence supporting that SLS is a carcinogen.33,34 SLS is not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); U.S. National Toxicology Program; California Proposition 65 list of carcinogens; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the European Union. In 1998, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article attempting to correct the public’s misconception of SLS.”

“If you are concerned about the possible effects of SLS accumulation, look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products marked “SLS free.” According to Mother Nature Network, a related product known as sodium coco sulfate, which is also a coconut derivative, may be less irritating than SLS or SLES. Look for shampoos made with essential oils, or wash your hair with baking soda.”

“Some products containing SLS include a brief warning somewhere stating that there’s a chance the product could cause skin irritation, dryness or redness on sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, always read ingredient labels carefully, and opt for natural skin care products as much as possible, including those that are homemade or store-bought but labeled hypoallergenic and organic.
If you are going to use products containing SLS, try to avoid heating them and mixing them with very warm water, since this can open up the skin’s pores and lead to worsened reactions. One study found that warmer water caused SLS to lead to more skin irritation.
When it comes to avoiding it in foods, your best bet is to limit consumption of processed foods (such as bottled juices, frozen meals and liquid eggs) and read ingredient labels.”

https://www.ewg.org/

Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.

Toxic Chemical Load #2: Phthalates

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Toxic Chemical Load #2: Phthalates
March 7, 2023 

Sometimes I wish I had not failed chemistry. I was great at math, I liked science, but for some reason, my seventeen-year-old brain did not want to comprehend chemistry. The more I discover how products are made with health compromising chemicals, I wonder if chemistry would help me make sense of it all?

I express gratitude every day for the privileges of living in a world with electricity, modern plumbing, HVAC and vehicles. I understand how sanitation and modern appliances create a hygienic and convenient lifestyle. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to these modern perks. So many products and services are created with toxic materials or are filled with them.

As a millennial, I grew up in a world of plastic, fast-food, tv and pop-tarts. My parents were raised with less and higher quality (usually American made) goods. There was a simplicity and minimalism that required patience. If you wanted something, you had to save for it. Once you could afford it you would go to a physical store and buy it. Our generation is spoiled with LOTS of things that can be acquired on a low budget or with credit cards. We are completely disconnected from the supply chain and the true cost of things.

Our blind consumption of stuff and busy lifestyle habits leave us susceptible to encounter a wide range of toxins. Our air, water, food and habitats are filled with toxic chemicals. We really cannot avoid all of them. We do have some control though. We can choose products with less toxins and we can slow our lives down to detox. We must become educated consumers if we hope to steward healthy lifestyles for our families.

Today, we are highlighting another chemical and showing how to make simple changes to prevent toxic overload in your life.

 


 

What: Phthalates (ortho-phthalates) – commonly used in plastics (to make it soft) and used as “fragrance” and “parfum” in personal care products and home goods like air fresheners. Also found in vinyl flooring and other home finishes.

 

Research Blurb:

“One of their common uses is to soften vinyl plastic. Things like shower curtains, boots, and IV tubing are made from that same hard white plastic that a plumber would use, but when you add about 30% by weight to it of a specific phthalate, you get soft pliable vinyl plastic. Phthalates are also used in many personal care products such as colognes, perfumes, soaps, and shampoos, in the coatings of some medications, and in vinyl tubing used for food processing. I would estimate that phthalates are used in many hundreds if not thousands of different products.

One primary way that people can be exposed to phthalates is through diet. For example, it’s been shown that these chemicals can leach into food from vinyl plastic equipment and materials, food preparation gloves, and food packaging materials. Phthalates can also migrate into indoor air and household dust from products like vinyl flooring and wall coverings.” (1)

 

Health Concerns: Known to disrupt hormones, especially testosterone in males and carcinogenic.

 

Research Blurb:

“PVC can contain as much as 57% chlorine. Carbon—derived from petroleum products—is also often used in its manufacture. Due to the toxins that can potentially be released during manufacture, when exposed to fire, or as it decomposes in landfills, PVC has been dubbed by some medical researchers and environmentalists as the “poison plastic.”
PVC-related health concerns are as yet to be statistically proven, however, these toxins have been linked to conditions that include but are not limited to cancer, fetal developmental setbacks, endocrine disruption, asthma, and diminished lung function. While manufacturers point to PVC’s high salt content as being natural and relatively harmless, science suggests that sodium—along with the release of dioxin and phthalate—are in fact potential contributing factors to the environmental and health hazards PVC pose.” (2)

Where: In ALL types of plastic, hygiene products, home goods and home finishes.

 

Research Blurb:

“How can I reduce my exposure to these phthalates?
• Avoid plastics known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl (with recycle code 3).
• Choose personal care products that are identified as “phthalate-free” or “fragrance-free.”
• Prior to undergoing medical procedures (especially recurring ones, like dialysis) plan ahead by requesting medical devices or equipment that do not contain DEHP. This is especially important for protecting boys from the reproductive effects of DEHP (during pregnancy, in infancy, and around the time of puberty).
• Minimize exposure to dust, which can contain some of the phthalates listed above.
o Wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently, especially before preparing food, and before eating.
o Clean floors regularly, using a wet mop or a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if possible.
o Wipe up dust regularly, using a damp cloth.
• Eat more fresh food, and less processed and packaged food.” (8)

 

Suggested Changes to Make:

Clean your house more often (with natural products of course!) because dust contains phthalates.

DO NOT drink water out of plastic and avoid pre-packaged food. Use a glass or (lead free) stainless steel water bottle.

Consume purified water.

Upgrade food storage containers and serve ware to glass, ceramic, wood and (lead free) stainless steel.

READ LABELS. Replace ALL products with “fragrance” and “parfum”. This includes shampoo, soap, cologne, lotion, air fresheners, and cleaning products. There are plenty of items available without phthalates. You made need to find a health food store or search online.

AVOID all plastic numbers 3, 6 and 7 (found within the arrow triangle symbol that signals how to recycle it).

Sources to learn more:

(1) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/the-big-3-why-phthalates-should-be-restricted-or-banned-from-consumer-products/
(2) https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-pvc-plastics-820366
(3) https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-plastics-820362
(4) https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-everyday-plastics-820348
(5) https://www.thoughtco.com/recycling-different-types-of-plastic-1203667
(6) https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates-cosmetics
(7) https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html
(8) https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets/phthalates
(9) https://www.thoughtco.com/is-it-safe-to-drink-hose-water-609429

It’s been a long journey for me to remove common toxic products from my life. I still have a far way to go. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when your eyes get opened. If you feel this way, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “what is one change I can make in this season?”. We are on a journey to better health.

What changes have you made or are interested in making? Leave us a comment below!


Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.

Pure and Simple

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Pure and Simple
January 9, 2023 

There are so many different resources on the internet about living a lifestyle that is family and earth friendly. The facts and opinions of so many people can be absolutely mind boggling. I like to keep things very neat and simple, I will respectfully do that here as well. I truly believe that sticking to the products that came from the earth is always the best and simplest solution. As with any chemical that you can find, natural or toxic, there will be cautions that need to be taken. Do your research for your own personal uses and adhere to the information found. That being said; I love essential oils for literally EVERYTHING! A few staple items like baking powder, white cleaning vinegar, any sort of soap (like castile) and some essential oils and you will have a power house of cleaning assortments that you can create. This is the simple and easy truth of creating your own cleaning products. There are products that have come out to completely eliminate all toxic solutions that we use to clean our homes. The norwex or e cloth was designed and I can attest to both products being very efficient. There are washable mop heads and biodegradable trash bags. The list goes on and on. The simple truth is that when we take things back to their truest form we find a much safer, cheaper and self controlled way of keeping our families and our earth healthy and happy.

Here’s an easy recipe that I found with a quick google search
1. Take the top off of an empty spray bottle, place a small funnel into the opening
and pour in 1/2 cup of white vinegar.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and wait for the foaming to subside.
3. Add in 10 drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oil.
4. Fill the rest of the bottle with water.

Doterra Recipe Link

Guide to Baking Powder and Vinegar

Norwex

I am always ready and open minded to learn more. Please feel free to
reach out to me with your knowledge
nchealthyhomecleaningservices@gmail.com

 

~Angelina