Many people are wondering why their dry, cracked, bleeding hands get worse in the winter and why their hands are so sensitive to begin with. Some people have tried everything to cure this problem, but continue to suffer. The answer may be in the soaps, shampoos, and household cleaners that are used every day, sometimes several times a day.
When scientists want to test new products on human skin to learn the rate of absorption and any possible side effects, they use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate on the skin before testing. SLS breaks down the first layer of the skin, allowing the product being tested quick access to unprotected skin. In fact, the abbreviated symbol for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, SLS, is known around the world in clinical studies as a skin irritant.(Natural Health Information Centre) One of the main ingredients in soaps, shampoos, mouthwash, dish detergent, moisturizers, shave creams, and mascara is SLS.
SLS does more than irritate the skin, it is absorbed by the skin, where is continues to do damage to the heart, liver, and brain. Why is this harmful chemical in the products used by millions every day? It is a very good foaming agent and it is cheap. A report by the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. However, this is acceptable due to the short time it comes into contact with skin and the fact that water is generally used to dilute SLS.
What about people, especially babies and children, who have sensitive skin or a problem with dry skin? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can cause severe irritation, making dry skin much worse, often causing the skin to crack and bleed. Hands in this condition will easily absorb even more of the SLS every time hands are washed, placed in a sink of dishes with dish detergent, or used to shampoo hair.
Studies at the Georgia Medical College indicated SLS kept young eyes from developing properly by possibly denaturing the proteins and not allowing for proper structural formation. This damage was permanent. Yes, SLS is an ingredient in soaps and shampoos made especially for infants and children.
For those with irritated skin and people who wish not to be exposed to this harsh chemical, look for soaps, shampoos, and household cleansers without SLS. Harsh chemicals are often listed as ingredients that are difficult to determine as far as safety. Ask natural health shops about soaps and other products without SLS and other ingredients harmful to sensitive skin. Even the moisturizers used on dry, cracked skin can contain SLS.
Read the ingredient list on all products used for personal and household cleaning. If in doubt, call the number on the product and speak to someone at the company who is knowledgeable about the ingredients. In North Georgia, there are many stores that sell cleansers and personal products without SLS and other harsh chemicals. Natural cleansers are usually made with citrus oils that work well to clean skin and other surfaces. Homemade goat’s milk soap is excellent for babies’ tender skin and for adults with a dry skin condition.