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CHECK THE LABEL: Would You Lather?

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Would You Lather?

Growing up, we never had a bathtub in our bathroom. In fact, in all the apartments that we rented moving from place to place, we rarely even had a shower. This meant that we had to make do with taking a bath using water from the faucet and the good old fashioned bucket with its trusty sidekick, the dipper, on the side. Imagine my envy when I saw people taking long bubble baths in the TV or in the movies. Such a luxury was so foreign to me that I could literally only imagine what it must have felt like to pamper oneself in a bed of bubbles.

You may be one of those people who also look forward to lathering yourself in a tub of warm water after a long and tiring day at work. But after hearing the research I am about to share with you, you may want to reconsider.

Keeping it simple, chemicals that allow foam to form on water are called surfactants. They are often used as detergents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, etc. Perhaps the most widely used and inexpensive surfactants are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). They are found in practically every product found on the Cleaning Products and Health & Beauty aisles in your local grocery store: soaps, shampoos, bubble-baths, tooth paste, washing-up liquid / dish soap, laundry detergent, children’s soaps / shampoos, stain remover, carpet cleaner, fabric glue, body wash, shave cream, mascara, mouthwash, skin cleanser, moisture lotion / moisturizer, and sun cream. While this offers us so much more options when doing our weekly groceries, it is actually cause for more alarm once you hear what some research has found about SLS and SLES.

According to SmartKlean, SLS and SLES are known irritants. When the latest bottle of lotion from your favorite brand comes out, they tell you the wonders it will do to your skin once you try out their product. But what cosmetic companies do not tell you is that in order for them to test the healing properties of lotion, they will have to irritate the skin first. And guess what they use to do this. SLS. Therefore, there is a good chance that if you are having dandruff, canker sores, or other irritated tissues or skin, it could very well be due to the SLS/SLES in the contents of your products. Moreover, SLS/SLES was “shown to cause cataracts in adults, and is proven to inhibit the proper formation of eyes in small children.”

Since we’re talking about SLS/SLES getting to the eyes, both these surfactants have the power to permeate not just the eyes, but also the brain, heart, and liver, according to a study from the University of Georgia Medicine. In addition, given that SLS and SLES are penetration enhancers, once these chemicals enter our system, the cells of our bodies become more vulnerable to other toxic chemicals that may come together with SLS/SLES.

Finally, SLS and SLES are toxic, from its manufacture to its use. Again, according to SmartKlean, the process of making SLS and SLES emits “cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, sulfur compounds, and air particulates.” This includes carcinogenic nitrates, traces of which can remain in the product. It is also toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. What’s worse is that it can get into our drinking water systems undetected. It is no wonder why SLS and SLES are also commonly used as pesticides and herbicides, killing plants and insects. This, of course, pollutes our environment and all other organisms that come into contact with it. When heated, SLS releases toxic sodium oxides and sulfur oxides, which makes you think twice about taking hot showers. Lastly, according to the American College of Toxicity, SLS and SLES have corrosive properties, which include the corrosion of fats and proteins in our skin and muscles. In fact, it is so strong that it is commonly found in “garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash soaps.”

So the next time you think of soaking yourself in suds and diving into that bubble bath of bliss, you might want to steer clear of products with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) lest you want that germ-killing action to turn on you and clean you out from the inside.




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