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Sulfates FAQ

Good sulfates, bad sulfates


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are harsh detergents that tend to irritate and dehydrate the skin. Many typical skin care cleansers and body washes use these surfactants for the ability to produce a foaming lather. But the “squeaky-clean” feel they deliver is actually a sign that skin has been stripped of natural oils from the lipid layer. SLS and SLES dissolve oils, break down the skin’s acid mantle and denature skin proteins, damaging the skin barrier. This can cause dryness, tightness and flaking, plus make skin vulnerable to photo-aging and the environment. They can also irritate the eye, trigger rebound oil production, sensitivity and, in some cases, allergic reactions. Often times, when people switch from formulas that use these ingredients, they are surprised that their skin isn’t dry or sensitive at all!


It is important to note that not all sulfates are bad. Ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate, for example, are considered non-toxic and non-irritating.


To ensure optimal skin health, Docent refrains from using SLS and SLES in all our formulas.