At Truthpaste, we think it’s important to show transparency about what ingredients go into the products that you use on a daily basis. This is especially true if those products are going into your mouth! At Truthpaste we have always been honest about our ingredients. That includes what we do not use, as well as what we do. Truthpaste is an SLS free toothpaste, but what is SLS?
What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
SLS stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. In very simple terms it’s a detergent. You can find it in hair products, cleaning products and, of course, some toothpastes (not ours!).
SLS is a type of 'surfactant' - an ingredient that can reduce the surface tension or molecules and helps to trap dirt and grease, making them effective cleaners. Surfactants are also foaming agents, they break down water into foam or lather.
Good for cleaning, but for teeth and gums?
In terms of toothpaste then, it is the stuff that makes it frothy. It is worth noting that foam isn’t necessarily required for cleaning. However, since the introduction of SLS into cleaning products in the 1930s, froth and soap suds have come to be closely associated with cleanliness.
Is SLS bad for you?
Why is SLS free toothpaste important? SLS is problematic for several reasons, from its production to its effect on hair and skin and, ultimately, on our environment.
Palm oil and petroleum.
Synthetic SLS is often formulated using a by-product of either palm oil or petroleum. Whilst there are alternatives, such as coconut oil, the vast majority of SLS production is causing irreparable damage to the environment.
Health risks and irritation.
If you are prone to allergies then SLS in your toothpaste can cause swelling, ulcers, gum irritation or just make your whole mouth feel uncomfortable. A preliminary study in 1994 showed that patients with recurring ulcers were significantly affected by using a toothpaste containing SLS. This was backed up by a further study in 1997. SLS free toothpaste might be recommended by your dentist should you suffer from sensitive gums or recurring ulcers.
We don’t know the long term effects.
The full effects of SLS chemicals on our environment are still being investigated. It is considered to be toxic to aquatic life on its own. Small amounts in household products, like toothpaste or shampoo, are unlikely to cause harm when washed down a sink. However, if it is not treated or disposed of correctly during production, the effects on the environment can be potentially devastating.
Toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate
Much like titanium dioxide, we feel that SLS does not belong in Truthpaste. As our natural ingredients, such as bentonite, can remove and prevent plaque to keep our teeth and mouth clean, we are happy to leave SLS well and truly off our ingredients list. The more that consumers demand SLS-free toothpaste, the sooner the manufacturers will have to pay attention, and we a finding many other brands promoting SLS free products too.
B B Herlofson, P Barkvoll. (1994) Sodium lauryl sulfate and recurrent aphthous ulcers: A preliminary study. National library of medicine
L Chahine, N Sempson, C Wagoner (1997) The effect of sodium lauryl sulfate on recurrent aphthous ulcers: a clinical study. National library of medicine
A. Moore et al. (1983) Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. Mary Ann Leibert Publishers Inc.
Y J Shim et al. (2012) Effect of sodium lauryl sulfate on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial, (2012) Oral Diseases Vol. 18 Iss. 7.