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How Safe are 'Natural' Products?

Beware of toxins in some products labeled as natural.

When you see a product such as laundry detergent with the word "Natural" on the label, what does it make you think? Safe? Good for the environment? Ecologically-friendly? Organic? Harmless? Whatever word you think of, most likely you think it is something that you and your family would buy and use.

The other day, I was in the section of my local grocery store where such products can be found. I saw a natural laundry detergent so I picked up a bottle and inspected the ingredients. One of the ingredients which caught my eye was sodium lauryl sulfate. Does this sound like a natural ingredient to you? 

So what is sodium lauryl sulfate? 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to "foam up." SLS is a foaming agent known as a surfactant. It makes products sudsy and smooth. SLS is an  ester of Sulphuric acid.  It is also known as "Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt." It is also used in engine degreasers. Now that sounds natural, doesn't it.

According to The Natural Health Information Centre, possible side effects of SLS include skin irritation, hormone imbalance, eye irritation and possbile eye deformities in children, protein denaturing, and cancer.  In fact, SLS is a known mutagen, capable of damaging the genetic material found every cell in your body. As mutagenicity has been strongly linked to cancer, this is a major concern.

Besides detergent, where else might you find SLS in your home?  Here is a partial list: 

Soaps
Shampoos
Bubble-baths
Tooth paste
Washing-up liquid / dish soap
Childrens soaps / shampoos
Stain Remover
Carpet Cleaner
Fabric glue
Body wash
Shave cream
Mascara
Mouthwash
Skin cleanser
Moisture lotion / Moisturizer
Sun Cream

Why do manufacturers use SLS in these products? The reason is simple. It's cheap. Just like High-Fructose Corn Syrup, which is very sweet and very cheap, SLS helps keep product costs down. So, as usual, the word to the wise is caveat emptor. Buyer beware!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

AJ February 28, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Great article! I agree and have stopped using shampoo and soaps with SLS a couple of years ago. It is more expensive, but I can definitely tell a difference in the outside health of my hair and skin. Coincidentally, I discovered today that a cause of my child's canker sores may be connected to the SLS in her toothpaste. I am searching for an alternative, as Tom's even has SLS in it. Until then, she has been told to not let the toothpaste sit in her mouth too long, don't "eat" toothpaste (she is young), and to rinse her mouth well. Thank you for helping to spread the word!
Robert Gray March 01, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Thanks for the comment. I know of a company that manufactures hundreds of personal card products, including toothpaste, that are free of toxins. I began using several of them and have become a distributor because I believe I can help people get their health back. Feel free to email me and I will be happy to provide you some information. rjgray49@gmail.com

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