Formaldehyde and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

We’ve been asked a lot recently about cancer and SLS and while we have written on this topic and firmly hold the view that “there is no documented proof whatsoever of a link between SLS and Cancer” the question is still asked quite often. We think it comes down to two factors:

  1. People distrust what the authorities tell them (which I completely understand).
  2. Scaremongers (of which there are many in this industry) market the loudest.

One of the primary reasons many websites online (such as this one: http://us.toluna.com/opinions/988140/Did-know-Sodium-Lauryl-Sulfate-Causes-Cancer.htm) claim SLS causes Cancer is due to the myth that SLS when used in combination with Formaldehyde produces Nitrosamines (a chemical compound known to be carcinogenic). This is entirely false as neither are capable of producing this chemical due to the fact that neither contain a nitrogen atom. This article from tree hugger explains this concept extremely well.

FormaldehydeWhat is Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a toxic substance used in industrial applications, as a disinfectant and more commonly known as an agent for embalming. Under the medical management guidelines it’s stated that a solution with only 37 percent formaldehyde can kill an adult. In short, formaldehyde is something you don’t want lying around the house.

The Link Between Formaldehyde and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

It seems that big companies have been sneaky about disclosing the use of Formaldehyde in their personal care products (and even baby products) for some time  by using the term “preservative systems”. The concept seemed to be that these chemicals, when added to water, would form small amounts of formaldehyde molecules as a preservation substance. This would extend the shelf life of their products.

There are some other “formaldehyde releasers” to look at:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Hydroxymethylglycinate

You may have noted that we used the word “seemed” because groups like EWG and others have forced the hands of these big manufacturers to stop using the releasers mentioned above.

So, the only link we found between formaldehyde and SLS is that these two substances may end up in the same shampoo bottle or toothpaste tube together, but not created by the interaction of the two substances.

Cosmetics – Chemistry and Secrecy

Products such as mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorants, baby powder, shampoo, soap, and other common items are classified as cosmetics. Anything we apply to our body.

The skin is the biggest living organ of the body. The skin absorbs substances through a marvelous transport system known as pores/hair follicles. As discussed, big cosmetic manufacturers have skirted FDA regulations by masking certain chemical processes as additives. This means that an active ingredient, stated on the label, transforms into a different chemical when used. Companies are not required to disclose this in their product information sheets.

There’s also been articles written on how companies can change the molecular structure of a substance by just one or two molecules, and turn a non-compliant substance into an acceptable ingredient. It’s no wonder there’s a lot of secrecy behind the chemistry and formulas that big companies develop.

Summary – It’s Not Your Fault

So, is it any surprise that people become suspicious? And even though there isn’t a lot of data to connect formaldehyde with SLS, there’s enough skepticism to fuel articles implying, if not directly stating that formaldehyde and SLS are co-conspirators in the destruction of your health. We’re not fully convinced this is true, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide what to believe.

The Best Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free Products

Product Size 
Christina Moss ShampooChristina Moss Shampoo8 oz.Buy Now Button
Jason Sea Fresh ToothpasteJason Sea Fresh Toothpaste6 oz. Buy Now Button
Molly Suds Natural Laundry PowderMolly Suds Natural Laundry Powder120 loadsBuy Now Button
Christina Moss Naturals MoisturizerChristina Moss Moisturizer1.5 oz. Buy Now Button