Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-based Shampoos

“Is my shampoo lathering carcinogens into my scalp every time I wash my hair if it contains sodium lauryl sulfate?” is one of the questions I am most frequently asked. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the detergent most frequently used in shampoos (and even toothpaste).

Consumer Guide Summary:
Sodium lauryl sulfate a high volume synthetic chemical used in consumer products and regulated as a pesticide. A suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, sodium lauryl sulfate can be drying and harsh for the hair and cause eye irritation, allergic reactions, and hair loss. According to the National Toxicology Program, it has shown moderate reproductive effects in experiments. It has not been tested for neurotoxicity.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is not a recognized carcinogen. However, the chemical is frequently combined with TEA (triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), or MEA (monnoethanolamine), which can cause the formation of the carcinogenic substances nitrosames. To be on the safe side, add antioxidant vitamins A and C to any product that contains TEA, DEA, or MEA.

The addition of antioxidants will help protect against nitrosamine contamination. For each 8 ounces of shampoo, add 1 teaspoon of vitamin C powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of vitamin A powder.

What should you do about buying shampoo? Most shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Choosing a soap over a detergent for shampoo is an important decision. Soap and detergent shampoos are not the same thing, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both for your hair. Soap is the purest choice next to using soapy herbs such as soap bark. However—and this is a big however—if you have hard water, soap can cause soap scum, which will dull your hair. Whatever the disadvantages of detergent shampoos, they leave the hair shiny and far from dull.

Detergents are drying to the hair, yet the drawback of using soap instead is for those who don’t like to wash their hair every couple of days: without drying detergents, the scalp’s natural oils are more present.

Here is a recipe for a Basic Herbal Shampoo and Hair Conditioner without sodium lauryl sulfate.

Health food stores increasingly carry brands of shampoos that use herbs and coconut oil soaps as a base. Kiss My Face, Aubrey Organics, Logona, and Real Purity, Inc. are some brands to look for.

By Annie B. Bond

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Ujivenelson Ujivenelson

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Ali Shafi
Ali Shafiabout a year ago


I'm looking for sulfate free hair shampoo and body wash/shower gel without perfume, color and parabens, for itchy scalp and sensitive skin.



Phillipa W.
Phillipa W.3 years ago

thanks. It's hard to know, but the ones I use say the foaming agent is from coconut, so I guess that's as good as it gets

Magyar Girl
Past Member 3 years ago


Annamarie Molloy
Anna Molloy3 years ago

SLS has been the subject of a mud-slinging campaign which was spread through the internet and alternative health outlets. It was very difficult to trace its source but it was finally tracked back to a manufacturer of a rival surfactant which shamelessly exploited people's good intentions to sell more of its stuff.

Annamarie Molloy
Anna Molloy3 years ago

Guys, check your sources before you get all hot and bothered:

Heather C.
Heather C.4 years ago

My name is Heather Cilley and I am an Independent Consultant for NYR Organic. I continue to read these articles and I'm horrified that some of my children's products contain these ingredients that i would have NEVER questioned had I not started working with organics. Even Pantene. Wow. I've used Pantene for YEARS. I know there are a lot of false claims with companies and it's difficult to discern the true from the false, however, my company is very open and is a part of many campaigns including If you are interested in knowing more about our organics (that are free of synthetics and NEVER tested on animals), you can look at my website at Thank you guys! I hope we all keep sharing because consumers need to know what they're consuming! :)

ilse D.
.4 years ago

hm I did not find it in my shampoo, but I did in a green-eco hand soap, which among shampoo and shower gell etc is one of those that I really have trouble in finding a green, non animal tested and non animal containing in. My handsoap says Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, I guess I have to google on this one. Thanks

Jon R.
Jon R.5 years ago

Sodium Laurel sulfate is a foaming cleanser that most commercial shampoos have. All sulfates are bad for the hair. I have dandruff and my hair is thinning. I am currently using regenepure DR for hair loss. The shampoo is amazing and sulfate free. You can read about all of their beneficial ingredients at Their site is informative and shows what's inside! I like to know what I am putting on my hair!

Dawn C.
Dawn C.5 years ago

If you want pure, safe & beneficial products for your skin, contact me on facebook. I'm an Arbonne Consultant & our products are a great start to a healthy body. Dawn Cyrus