Recent years has seen a dramatic increase in online searches for SLS free toothpaste due to much media focus on the potential health hazards of sodium lauryl sulfate. In an effort to give consumers an alternative to regular toothpaste, some manufacturers produce and market milder forms of toothpaste that don’t contain SLS.

What is sodium lauryl sulfate and is it really harmful?

Sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS for short, is a chemical compound prepared by sulfation of lauryl alcohol and neutralized with sodium carbonate, it is also commonly known as Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Sodium lauryl sulfate belongs to a group of chemical compounds called surfactants that are commonly used as detergents, wetting ingredients, thickeners, and emulsifiers. SLS is extensively used in household cleaning products as well as a whole range of personal care products such as soap, shampoo, moisturizers, bath products, shaving products, toothpaste, and mouthwash. About 85% of toothpaste contains SLS as a surfactant ingredient for the simple reason it is cheap and very effective. Despite its popularity with toothpaste manufacturers, SLS has gained a negative reputation as a harmful chemical that should not be allowed anywhere near your teeth, hair or skin. The truth is that although sodium lauryl sulfate is by no means the perfect ingredient and there are certain shortcomings that consumers should be aware of, most of the hazard claims are completely unfounded.

Popular viral claims regarding SLS include

Skin and eye irritant –true

Causes cancer –false

Causes hair loss –false

SLS can be absorbed into the bloodstream – true

Organ toxic –false

Neurotoxic – false

Reproductive toxic – false

Harmful to the environment – true



  • SLS is a harsh detergent that will come in contact with your delicate mouth lining twice a day 365 days a year. By switching to an SLS free toothpaste, you will reduce your chemical exposure.
  • If you are prone to canker sores, replacing your regular toothpaste with an SLS free alternative could decrease discomfort and quicken recovery time.
  • If you have gum disease, switching to a milder or more natural toothpaste can help to avoid exasperating your already inflamed gum tissue.
  • If you suffer from sensitive teeth swapping SLS toothpaste for non-SLS toothpaste can help reduce sensitivity pain. Imagine if you had a paper cut on your finger and you rubbed detergent into it, it would sting! Brushing SLS onto sensitive teeth, infected gums or canker sores can have the exact same effect.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) has been shown to reduce the anti-cavity effectiveness of fluoride on teeth enamel. By using an SLS free toothpaste you can gain the maximum benefit from its fluoride active ingredient.
  • It is common for manufacturers of SLS free toothpaste to be more socially and environmentally aware. Companies like Green People and Dr. Bronner’s are committed to sourcing natural, sustainable and fair trade ingredients.



  • SLS is very effective at what it does. It has excellent foaming and cleaning properties that leave the teeth feeling very fresh and clean. Some SLS free toothpastes do not have a comparable surfactant system and as a result, do not leave the teeth feeling quite as clean. This doesn’t mean the teeth aren’t clean, they just feel different and this can be disconcerting for some users.
  • SLS is an excellent foaming agent that makes it very easy to brush toothpaste into all areas of the mouth. By contrast, some SLS free toothpastes are very low foaming, weak and watery. This can make it more difficult to clean teeth since it doesn’t have the same heavy consistency.
  • One reason for Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) being such a popular ingredient with manufacturers is that it is cheap to produce. Alternative SLS free toothpaste formulations can be more expensive to produce and often retail at a higher cost to the consumer.
  • Often, the more “natural toothpastes” that don’t contain SLS also lack the preserving qualities of more synthetic toothpaste and as a result, have a shorter shelf live.
  • Some alternative surfactants that are used instead of SLS have a very unpleasant taste, as a result manufacturers often resort to using very strong flavorings just to make to toothpaste seem more pleasant. Some of these flavorings can be too harsh for people with sensitive mouths.



Read more:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WhatsApp chat