pheebs  (avatar)
updated 3 years ago

are SLS & SLES safe?? | rosy summer evening

Three days of summer have ended LOL

I'll miss the sun for sure but the heat...not so much. πŸ˜•

Also, because there was no aircon or fan, it felt hotter than Singapore to me.

I feel like the past few days made me appreciate grey days more LOL

Hardships make you appreciate good times more? Quite likely.


I finally have access to perfumer & flavorist magazine 😭😭😭😭😭

Thank you thank you thank you

I've been contemplating for years (and bothering A with "should I?") every time I open a locked article whether to subscribe or not and was put off by the subscription fees (damn cheapskate I know)

But I finally can haz!!!!!! Free one some more! 😭

THANK YOU I LOVE YOU ❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️

In today’s post of #pheebscosmeticsguide for you lovely people on #dayrebeauty , I’m going to be answering a question in my usual geeky-cosmetic-science-vomit way. Hope this will be useful to help you understand better!

On to the question!

Are SLS & SLES safe?

This is something I’ve always wanted to write about because of all the misinformation/myths surrounding them.

@Kopitiam asked me whether sulfates were good or bad too

But first, a (not-so) brief explanation of names and terms, as per usual.

SLS: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

SLES: Sodium Laureth Sulfate

When you see the claim “no sulfates” on a bottle of shampoo, these are the two chemicals it’s referring to.

What are they?

They belong to a class of surfactants, the anionic (negative charge) surfactants.

What's a 'surfactant'?

I’ll avoid going too technical cause it might bore you (actually cause I find it boring heh 😌)

The term 'surfactant' comes from the condensation of “SURFace ACTive ageNT”. (I also don't know where the extra A come from, probably to make it look like a proper word.)

A surfactant is a molecule with both a hydrophilic (water-loving) and a lipophilic (oil-loving) portion.

How do surfactants work

When you get a mixture (can it still be called a mixture if they don’t mix?) of two immiscible liquids e.g. oil and water, the surfactant would sit on the interface between them.

The surfactants lower the surface tension of both liquids in order for them to be able to come together and be allowed to mix and mingle.

This is how detergents take away grease and oils, by solubilising (term used very loosely) them in water.

Fun fact

Micellar water is so in the rage these days, with the ever-popular but slightly pricey one from Bioderma as well as from mass market beauty brand, Garnier.

But do you know what a micelle is?

This is a micelle. The oil globule is encircled by a layer of surfactants which helps to solubilise the oil in the water.

Micelles form when the concentration of surfactants are at or above the Critical Micelle Concentration (CMC).

Micellar waters are essentially ‘concentrated’ solutions of surfactants, which is what makes them effective at cleaning up oily things, and in our case, makeup!

Point here to note tho, there are different types of surfactants so if the mixture is more oil than water and with the appropriate type of surfactant, the water would be the one in the middle of the micelle instead of oil.

I only used this as an example because oil-in-water emulsions are more common in cosmetic products!!

Why do SLS & SLES have a bad rep?

For being too good at what they do. πŸ˜‚

They are fantastic detergents (good ability to remove grease) but perhaps too fantastic cause they get blamed for stripping too much oils.

SLES is the ethoxylated cousin of SLS and this process is said to make it less harsh on the skin.

Do sulfates cause cancer?

Well nitrosamines, which are by-products of the reaction to form SLS, are carcinogenic but they are only present at a very low level. Plus, you are exposed to nitrosamines through other things such as beer, meat etc anyway.

In the ethoxylation process that results in SLES, two chemicals that are potential carcinogens (ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane) are used.

However, there is no need to fear that using SLES will cause cancer because the ethylene oxide is the limiting reagent so it gets completely used up and the 1,4-dioxane is at a very very low level and hence will not pose any threat.

SLS & SLES are safe

SLS and SLES have a proven safety record and are not restricted by the authorities in the EU.

That said, sulfates are known in the industry to be quite stripping (removes too much oil from the skin) and some people have been known to be irritated by it.

People with eczema and other skin conditions are advised not to use products containing sulfates but to use milder surfactants.

Sodium Cocoyl Sulfate

Quick word about this ingredient because I've seen it around on "natural" shampoos.

It's actually the same thing as SLS πŸ˜“ because 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil, where this was derived from (coco as in coconut), is lauric acid, which is what is used when making SLS.

Feeling a bit cheated?

Well there is a reason why they've done that.

People like foam.

Foaming has absolutely no contribution to the cleaning ability but people associate a lot of foam with good cleaning ability.

SLS and SLES are good at forming foams quickly (flash foaming) which is why they are still a mainstay in shampoos and shower gels.

This is why formulating “natural” products is difficult, there isn’t a naturally-derived material that can properly replace the sulfates.

Except for this. Because it's the same thing LOL


@eileenloves πŸ‘‹πŸ» thanks for the comment 😊

It is true that sulfates are cheaper than most other surfactants out there but it's not because it's cheap that's why they're commonly used.

Rather, it's the economies of scale that have made sulfates cheap. It's good, demand grows, make/sell in bulk cheaper.

And then it gets a bit self-fulfilling because it's cheap and good, very economical.


Perfume lovers London

At an event now! Can't wait for it to get started!!

#smellypheebs #letstalkfragrance

Lovely evening surrounded by all things rose!

It was also kind of like a showcase of aromachemicals that can be found in/are used in accords of rose.

At times like these, I feel so so so lucky to be in London 😭 thank you ❀️

I also did a really really stupid thing :(

They offered to let us take samples home and I took 4. Turns out by samples they meant one each. I was sooooooo embarrassed and paiseh 😭😭😭 feel so terrible and like damn cheapskate 😭😭😭

I'm sorry guys please don't ban me from coming next time! (Nah, they're lovely people)

Still...feeling like crap now :( scum of the earth :(

I want to rave about the samples I got but then I look at them and get reminded of how greedy I was ☹️

Since @roseberries asked, I guess I'll talk about the samples I got.

First one is this lovely tea rose from perfumer's workshop.

Fizzy & sparkling at the top, then the green comes through and brings a bit of life to the PEA. Complete with a dash of citrus (citronellol) and clove (Eugenol).

A retired perfumer whom I know from the BSP loved it! And it is gorgeous 😍

Other samples that I got but didn't take a picture of:

• Mad Madame by Juliette Has A Gun
The fruity floral is made to smell more grown up with musks and amber. It gave me this feeling of a cashmere stole wrapped around me, very warm and comforting probably also cause my mom wears fragrances in the same vein.

• Rose of No Man's Land by Byredo
Yea damn cheapskate. I talked about how much I liked it before but I really cannot start buying fragrances or I don't need to pay school fees liao. 😭

• Geranium pour Monsieur by EDP FM
Actually wanted to spritz Lipstick Rose but I got it mixed up. I don't mind it tho, because I think all EDP FM are good!

Gonna have to wash the tea rose off my hands, I accidentally sprayed on my hands twice while I was decanting.

Why am I so full of derps today :(

Day 203

Thursday, 21 Jul 2016

19 27
vanillabeam (avatar)

vanillabeam @pgtxl would like to ask if talc is safe also hahhaha

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @fictitiousdream I'll tag you when I do a post on it! I need to do some research haha

3 years ago

AhhMeow (avatar)

AhhMeow Micelle is where all the hydrophobic heads face inside and all the hydrophilic tails are outside? I hope my bio knowledge don't fail me! Hahah

3 years ago

quriousity (avatar)

quriousity I just heard Ms Tang going hydrophilic in my head LOLOLOL

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @quriousity cannot unhear LOLOL

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @bitteraloevera somewhat correct! 😁 the orientation as well as the head or tail depends on what type of surfactant it is!

3 years ago

jumpforjoy (avatar)

jumpforjoy This really satisfies my inner geek! Thanks for the explanation ☺️☺️

3 years ago

pgtxl (avatar)

pgtxl @jumpforjoy you're welcome!! 😁😁

3 years ago

sgrmse (avatar)

sgrmse Very interesting read!! Thank you for sharing. It's awesome to learn something new every day.

3 years ago

eileenloves (avatar)

eileenloves Not to mention SLS is one of the cheapest ingredients found in the market πŸ˜‚ A good way to lower the cost price while maintaining the product purpose

3 years ago

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