Sodium Laurel Sulfoaectate - how confusing can it get?

There is a lot of confusion about SLS(sodium laurel sulfate) and SLSa(sodium laurel sulfoaectate) in the marketplace, so I thought it would be helpful for me to clear up the confusion.

Our article we published about SLS can be found here:

A Closer Look:

SLSa is derived from coconut and palm oils; a safe skin friendly surfactant (foaming agent) for both skin and hair.This mild plant derived surfactant creates a rich, luxurious lather that effectively removes surface oil, dirt and bacteria, without stripping or drying sensitive skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is also hydrophilic. This means it is attracted to water, which enables it to dissolve more readily in water, thus providing superior rinseablility.

From a chemical standpoint, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate is a very unique surfactant. It demonstrates outstanding performance in cleansing, foaming, wetting, viscosity building, mildness and emulsification. This product is an excellent biodegradable surfactant for any water hardness, making it a versatile ingredient in cosmetic formulation. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate was specifically developed to be mild to the skin. It is commonly the surfactant of choice for formulators developing products that are designed for those who have sensitivity to other soaps. The sodium lauryl sulfoacetate molecule is a valuable and unique molecule that has been in use for over 30 years in cosmetics.

Some common characteristics of sodium lauryl sulfoacetate are that it is relatively non-hygroscopic (it doesn't absorb or retain moisture from the air) and is resistant to hydrolysis (it does not react with water to produce other compounds), even at high temperatures. At the common cosmetic pH range of 5.5 to 7.8, this surfactant is especially stable. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate is biodegradable and has shown in laboratory studies to undergo both primary and ultimate biodegradation. This product has a good toxicological profile, which makes it an ingredient of choice for dentifrice (toothpastes), shampoos, cleansing creams, sensitive skin soap bars and shower gels. To add to its track record, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate is registered in the United States, Japan, Canada, and Australia and is also compliant with the EU regulations.

The safety and mildness of sodium lauryl sulfoacetate lies in the absence of a sulfate ion head, which is commonly found in many other surfactants. The sulfate ion, which originates in sulfuric acid, is replaced with the more stable sulfonated ester. This sulfate-free surfactant is made with lauryl alcohol, derived from palm kernel oil, which is then condensed with a sulfonated form of acetic acid, or vinegar. It is this charged sulfonated acetate group which gives this molecule its mild surfactant properties.

Although an ingredient's name may sound similar to another, it does not mean that the molecules are similar with respect to shape, size, performance or even function. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate sounds similar to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, however, the two molecules are quite different from each other. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is a large molecule ingredient. Large molecule ingredients are considered to be mild, gentle, and non-irritating, as they cannot penetrate the skin. In contrast, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a small molecule ingredient, and is capable of penetrating the skin, which can increase the occurrence of skin irritation.

Hope this helps you determine which products you want to stay away from, and which products will be valuable in your cleaning arsenal!  Happy shopping!

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