Five Pounds of Gunk Please

Did you know that if you use conventional cosmetics daily, you can absorb almost 5 pounds of chemicals and toxins into your body each year? You may think that something so prevalent as your personal body care products can’t be all that harmful, but are they? One of the main chemicals found in cosmetics are a little thing called ‘sulfates’.
A sulfate (in universal terms) is a denaturant, surfactant cleaning agent, emulsifier and foamer. A sulfate can be any mineral salt that contains sulfur, most commonly found in the form of detergents. The two most widely used sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  Though, there is a third one that is being more commonly seen and is a derivative of SLS (Amonium Laurel Sulfate). These chemicals can be easily identified as the suds and foam that build as you wash something (like your hair).
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) was first used as an engine degreaser in World War II because the chemical was abrasive and corrosive enough to remove the toughest oils and soot. It was then brought to the United States after the second world war and until the 1950’s was used for the same purpose in the product Gunk. To this day, Gunk is still sold in auto parts stores as an engine degreaser. ‘Hey look mommy, I got Gunk in my organic Kid’s shampoo!’
Sodium lauryl sulfate is present in nearly all commercial shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleaners, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils/salts. The reason why it’s included in shampoos is to remove the naturally occurring oil produced by your hair and scalp known as sebum. Sebum with time can accumulate bacteria, which is why it needs to be washed every so often.
Sulfates, however, are a corrosive agent that not only strip away more oil than necessary but also damage the hair, destroying hairs’ protective barriers. Sulfates are even strong enough to be found in industry-strength cleaners and have been shown to cut through heavily soiled surfaces. Below is a list of the variety of synonyms that these SLS chemicals go by at your local supermarket or chemist. A fun activity for the whole family is to spot the ‘hidden’ or ‘alternative’ word for SLS in your favourite product at your local store:
• Sodium lauryl sulfate
• Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt
• Sodium dodecyl sulfate
• Dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt
• Sodium lauryl sulfate ether
• Sodium n-dodecyl sulfate
• Sodium Lauryl Sulfate• Laureth-8 carboxylic acid, sodium salt
• PEG-5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 400 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 600 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Sodium laureth 5 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 7 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 12 sulfate
• Sodium lauryl ether sulfate• Laureth-8 carboxylic acid, sodium salt
• PEG-5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 400 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 600 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Sodium laureth 5 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 7 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 12 sulfate
• Sodium lauryl ether sulfate• Laureth-8 carboxylic acid, sodium salt
• PEG-5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-8 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• PEG-12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 5 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 7 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 12 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 400 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Polyethylene glycol 600 lauryl ether sulfate sodium salt
• Sodium laureth 5 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 7 sulfate
• Sodium laureth 12 sulfate
• Sodium lauryl ether sulfate, 
  • Sodium dodecylpoly (oxyethylene) sulfate
  • • Sodium lauryl sulfate ethoxylate
• Sodium polyoxyethylene lauryl ether sulfate
• Sodium laureth-8 sulfate

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