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tonedef's avatar

Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Glycerin: Anything to Fear?

Asked by tonedef (3935points) October 21st, 2008

A lot of all natural products claim that they are free of Methyl/Butylparaben, SLS, Glycerin, or other ingredients. The research seems mixed. Do you guys take your chances? Is it dumb to be afraid of these ingredients? If you avoid them, what convinced you?

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16 Answers

shilolo's avatar

I don’t avoid them, no.

deaddolly's avatar

Most shampoos carry SLS…I tried to avoid them, but then figured I’d die of something someday anyway. I don’t think anyone ever died because of using these things…even in a combination.
Remember the RED DYE scare? And all the other additives? Seems like they’re in the news for awhile, then go away…we’d go insane and have to live on an island to get away from everything. And then, we die from skin cancer, due to the sun.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I wouldn’t use a shaving cream that didn’t contain glycerin.

As for sodium laureth sulfate its every where so I would think avoiding it totally.

Parabens have been found to cause allergies in some people (but hell what hasn’t) but there’s little other evidence that they are risky.

To be honest I reckon that some people are making a fortune out of health scares like this without any real hard evidence.

jvgr's avatar

Many “natural” products make claims based on rumours about specific ingredients in order to sell their products

Most online personal care products, especially those purporting to be “natural” do not list the ingredients in conformance with regulatory labeling requirements, and actually do use ingredients they say are “bad” but mislabel them to mislead.

There are some ingredients that have been proven to be causally linked to such things like cancer, and should definitely be avoided if regulatory agencies haven’t done their job.

If you believed all of the claims by “natural” products manufacturers, you would be limited to using oil and water for all your personal care needs.

There was another thread about parabens HERE

Most of these “natural” products are promoting herbal ingredients, many of which have been proven to be ineffective and of those that are effective, the quantities of herbal material is so small it won’t provide any benefits.

If you are concerned about any specific ingredient you should investigate it by trying to find scientific studies about the ingredient and avoid the hype.

The rumours about glycerine are truly confounding to me.
Described as skin drying: glycerine is a humectant, it attracts moisture. If the relative humidity of the atmosphere is greater than the humidity of your skin, it will draw moisture from the atmosphere. If the rh is very dry, it will draw moisture from your skin (this is what happens anyway, glycerine or not)
Described as a promoter of bacterial growth: Any water soluble compound will do this if it doesn’t contain anti-bacterial ingredients, the primary role of preservatives in skin care products.

Spargett's avatar

They’re using SLS as a shark repelant. Apparently the foaming action temporarily clogs the shark’s gills.

You’re not a shark are you?

tonedef's avatar

@jvgr, I tagged this “chemistry” in hopes of getting an answer from you. Thank you! :D

asmonet's avatar

@Dead: Are you talking about RED 40? Cause, that’s actually pretty shitty for you. It’s banned like everywhere but here pretty much.

jvgr's avatar

@Spargett “They’re using SLS as a shark repelant. Apparently the foaming action temporarily clogs the shark’s gills. You’re not a shark are you?”

Water is used in the production of many toxic substances. There are, in fact, documented cases of people who died from an “overdose” of water – not by drowning or from any toxic substances in the water, but simply by drinking it. Is water bad? The fact that a compound is used for things other than personal care products does not make the compound bad.

@tonedef:I’m no chemist (but I’ve found I needed to learn more about it than I ever thought I wanted to). It was the question that showed up and caused me to jump in. Thanks.

Spargett's avatar

I never said SLS was “bad”. I just thought it was an interesting fact to share about it. Besides, I was obviously talking about sharks.

Another interesting fact about SLS is that it binds to the sweet receptors in your tongue. It being the foaming agent in 95% of toothpastes is the reason OJ tastes so terrible after your brush your teeth. Because your tongue is only picking up the bitter and sour notes.

Viva la SLS~!

aanuszek1's avatar

I once saw Glycerin under the ingredients on a box of chocolate chip cookies. I was scared shitless.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

If nothing bad happens to you when you use products that contain these compounds then don’t worry about it!

I don’t think most of these products are aimed at the average person. I think they’re mostly marketed to people who need them.

Some people have sensitive skin, like me. If I use a body wash that contains frangrances, sodium laurel sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, my skin will have a reaction to it, and I’ll get dermatitis (for me, this means patches of redness and dryness, often on my torso).

So if that doesn’t happen to you, then yeah it might be “stupid” for you to be “afraid” of these products, but it would be stupid for me to not avoid them.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Yes I stay as far away from all of this crap as possible. I always read ingredients and if it has something I don’t like, I get something else or make my own. I do not think it is dumb to be afraid of these ingredients.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has been shown to cause neurotoxicity at moderate doses (RTECS®- Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, Scientific), positive mutation results on mammalian cells AKA cancer (RTECS®- Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology), developmental and reproductive toxicity (RTECS®- Kenkyu Nenpo-Tokyo-toritsu Eisei Kenkyusho), ecotoxicity (Environment Canada Domestic Substance List), biochemical changes (RTECS®- JAT, Journal of Applied Toxicology 1987) and endocrine disruption (RTECS®- BIOFAX Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories, Inc), as well as being a strong human skin irritant. However, I assume most of these tests were done on small mammals.

Meythlparaben has many of the same results as well as strong evidence for a human skin toxicant (Nagel JE, Fuscaldo JT, Fireman P), strong evidence for being a human endocrine disruptor (European Commission on Endocrine Disruption), and that it interferes with gene expression (Pugazhendhi D, Sadler AJ, Darbre PD, 2007).

Butylparaben: strong evidence for human endocrine discuption as well as significant wildlife and environmental disruption (European Commission on Endocrine Disruption), strong evidence for human skin toxicant (Harvell, J, 1994), developmental and reproductive toxicity at low levels (Oishi S, 2002), neurotoxicity, cancer, interfering with gene expression, organ toxicity, etc, etc.

My elbow is starting to hurt from typing this out, but you get the idea. And yes, glycerin did get a lot of these same results as well but it is ranked much lower as a hazard than the others. Butylparaben was ranked the highest. There were multiple studies done for most of these results, I just posted the first reference I saw.

Better safe than sorry.

Nullo's avatar

SLS has been linked to painful mouth sores.

Coloma's avatar

I fear nothing. haha

Look at it this way, our parents and grandparents ( depending on your age) wallowed in DDT soaked veggies, smoked and drank like fish, ate all sorts of nitrate loaded meats,sucked up Saccharine like there was no tomorrow, drove cars without airbags, child safety seats and smog requirements.
On & on….and, most of us 50–80 something folks are still alive and kicking and doing just fine.

Everything is a potential scare in these times…pick your poison and realize that not all supposed poisons really are as toxic as ‘they’ claim.

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