There are a few ingredients being tossed around out there for shampoo bars that may be leaving you wondering, just what is the difference between sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate anyways and why does it even matter??
Like Palm Oil, large corporations as well as local makers use sodium lauryl sulfate due to cost. It is in comparison to ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, very cheap and therefore, desirable to those looking to turn a profit who don't really care about their customers.
This is because, unlike palm oil which does at least have some good skin properties even though it is bad for the environment due to the deforestation of the rainforest, sodium lauryl sulfate is not PH balanced.
Do I Need To Have a PH Balanced Shampoo Bar?
While this is not a must, many people use Lush shampoo and claim their hair is fine. There are some very important reasons however as to why you should choose a PH balanced bar over one that is not.
- Having a PH balanced product will reduce tangling, fizziness, reduce hair dryness, keep your natural shine, prevent breakage and keep your hair follicle sealed. And that is just the first reason!!
- Your body's natural Sebum has a PH of 4.5 - 5.5 and when you use a product with a high PH balance, you strip this sebum from the scalp. This my friends leads to flaky scalp! EW, this can get so bad that some people think they have dandruff when really they are just drying the crap out of their pour heads using a PH high product.
- Using a high PH balanced bar can lead to your hair being not only frizzy but stripped. This is do to the high alkaline (which is a high PH) increased the negative electrical charge of your hair strand surface. This increase in negative charge makes the strands rub together creating friction which causes the hair to break.
What is the PH balance of sodium lauryl sulfate vs sodium lauryl sulfoacetate?
You may be wondering why I keep saying a high PH balance. This is due to the PH balance of the sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate.
The PH of sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as SLS) is very high at 9.5 to 11. This is higher than bar soap! In fact, if my hand and body bars come in higher then a 9, I do not sell them due to they would be too harsh. This high of a PH is what some people use for aggressive laundry detergent to get mechanics type grease out of clothes - this is not for your head.
The PH of sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (also known as SLSa <- similar letters, very different product) is 6.3. This is my friends is the coveted PH of neutral - like water. This is going to give your locks a great cleanse without stripping your natural sebum, or drying out your hair and damaging your follicles.
Another fun fact about the sodium lauryl sulfoacetate that I use in all of my Woolly Bath shampoos is that it is an ECOcert product and considered readily biodegradable and green. That's right - take that bar on your vacation and use that outdoor shower! In fact, I only use biodegradable silicone replicas in my conditioners as well - but that is a whole other topic for another day!
Now you could still be wondering,
Is sodium lauryl sulfate really that bad for me?
Yes, yes it is. Now that you know that it is not PH balanced so it is over stripping your scalp and your hair, guess what? It also sucks for the environment.
WHAAAAAAAA???? But But But, that big corporation states they LOVE the environment. SURPRISE, they are full of shit.
So, lets talk about it. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, Sodium lauryl sulfate contains ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen.. .. .. KNOWN - meaning we know that is seriously bad for us because they have linked it with 0 doubts, to cause cancer. In their report they also state that it is toxic to aquatic organisms.
1,4 dioxane is a possible human carcinogen - meaning, they are pretty sure, but the large corporations are still lobbying to keep it off the list due to it being cheap and in lots of stuff. But not only that for the bad part about it - it is also what the industry calls "persistent" meaning, that shit does not break down. So this remains in the environment WAY after you rinse it down the drain. There is a way for manufacturers to remove the 1,4 dioxane, however, it is not easy and it is not available on the packaging to know if it has been done or not.
Do you need more?
According to the National Library of Medicine, sodium lauryl sulfate causes severe eye damage and even blindness <- granted, you would need to put a lot in your eye so you should be OK.
It is also toxic and manufacturers are not supposed to use it for more than 2%. Interesting though, and sadly, they tested how much is a lethal dose to kill a rat, rabbit, and fish. It only took 1-12 mg of the ingredient to kill fish in a 96 hour period. And this is going into our water table.
Some other sites claim that there is not solid proof that sodium lauryl sulfate causes cancer, and honestly, I hope it does not. What a study performed by German scientists J. Geier, W. Uter, C. Pirker, and P.J. Frosch noted was 42% out of 1600 people they tested all had an irritant reaction to sodium lauryl sulfate. These ranges from symptoms such as red, dry, scaly, itchy and sore skin.
One thing all the sites do seem to agree on is don't ingest sodium lauryl sulfate (you may want to check out your toothpaste, it is in some brands) and it definitely kills aquatic creatures which is not good cause all of this is going into the water table.
Even if you do not buy from me - do yourself and the earth a favour and look for shampoo that contains ECOcert ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate and avoid those possible cancer causing, fish killing sodium lauryl sulfate ones.