Sodium Laureth Sulfate


Cleansing Agent

No known benefits

Sodium Laureth Sulfate at a glance

  • Cleansing agent that produces a foaming/lathering effect
  • Commonly found in facial cleansers, body washes, and shampoos
  • Can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically
  • Recognised as gentle and safe by numerous industry experts/organizations
  • Appears as a slightly hazy or clear solution in its raw state

Sodium Laureth Sulfate description

Sodium laureth sulfate (commonly referred to by its acronym, SLES) is a commonly used cleansing agent that can be derived from coconut or produced synthetically, although even the coconut-derived source is processed to the point where it is no longer considered natural. It is known for producing a foaming/lathering effect and is considered gentle in normal cosmetic use (typically in face/body cleansers and shampoos).In the late 1990s an e-mail hoax surfaced claiming that sodium laureth sulfate was a dangerous ingredient. This allegation has been dispelled by numerous industry experts/organizations. For decades, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review has officially deemed sodium laureth sulfate as safe, with the latest reported use studied in up to a 50% concentration.Despite the name similarity, sodium laureth sulfate is NOT the same as sodium lauryl sulfate, which can indeed be irritating to skin. Sodium laureth sulfate is a milder on skin due its different chemical structure.As a raw material, sodium laureth sulfate appears as a slightly hazy or clear solution.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate references

  •, Accessed April 2021, ePublication
  • International Journal of Toxicology, July 2019, pages 151S-161S
  • American Chemical Society, October 2017, ePublication
  • Contact Dermatitis, January 2003, issue 1, pages 26-32
  • Food and Chemical Toxicology, March 2001, pages 279-286

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated