Surfactants in Skin Care
At Spa-Da we tirelessly research each ingredient to verify its safety profile, but one ingredient that still confuses customers are surfactants. After talking to many of our customers, we’ve found that many people wrongly believe all surfactants are bad and this is simply not the case.
What are surfactants?
Surfactants are tough on grease, grime, and oil, but they can also disrupt your skin’s pH balance and your skin microbiome. One of the most disruptive surfactants is called SLS, a chemical that is one of the leading causes of skin irritation from personal care products like soaps, cleansers, and bubble bath.
Surfactants are popular ingredients that are used to create suds, foam, and bubbles in soaps, detergents, and bathing products. They are arguably the most important ingredient when it comes to cosmetics and they have a wide variety of applications. If you’re using a product that foams or bubbles, there’s a good chance it's because of surfactants. Furthermore, water can’t mix with oil and surfactants are present in almost all personal care products to bond water and oil.
Many surfactants have gotten bad press in recent years, but not all surfactants are bad and at Spa-Da we embrace the safest surfactants on the market. The most common forms of surfactants include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA). All of these surfactants may sound the same, but their molecular structures are quite different. Unlike SLSA, SLS and SLES molecules are small enough to penetrate hair follicles and have been linked to dry and irritated skin. SLSA is a much bigger molecule and is considered the safest surfactant because it can’t penetrate the skin.
What is SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)?
If there was a poster child for irritating skin chemicals it would be SLS. The chemical is also known for drying out the skin.
SLS is the most common surfactant used in personal care products and it is cheap and harsh. More specifically, SLS disrupts the skin microbiome and the acid mantle by stripping our skin of beneficial oils and microbes. SLS is not only a known skin irritant, but it can penetrate the skin to cause harm. Said another way, harsh surfactants like SLS are doing real harm to our skin every time we use them. SLS is found in some of the world’s most popular hand soaps, bubble baths, and shampoos, and many of these products may weaken our skin’s acid mantle and our body's defense system.
What is SLES?
SLES is less irritating than SLS, but it’s still questionable if you have sensitive skin due to its small molecular size. The Environmental Working Group gives SLSE a range of 1-3 on a scale of 10, with 1 being the best.
Bubble Bath Warning
Your kid’s skin is much thinner than yours and parents should be cautious about using baby or kid products that use SLS and SLES. If you’re finding you feel itchy after a long shower or bath you may want to check the ingredients on your personal care products. Studies have confirmed that SLS/SLES are skin irritants and these studies have also found that warm or hot water can make its skin irritant properties even worse
What is SLSA?
SLSA is made from coconut oil and/or palm and is a safer surfactant than SLS and SLES. SLSA has been proven to be safe for all skin types and because of its larger molecular size, it doesn’t cause the skin irritation that SLS and SLES do. More specifically, SLSA doesn’t penetrate the skin and is used to effectively remove bacteria, dirt, and excessive oil without drying out the skin.
Is SLSA Safe?
Yes, SLSA is made from coconut and palm oils and is considered safe due to its larger molecular size that can’t penetrate the skin. More specifically, the ingredient watchdog, Environmental Working Group has given SLSA the best score possible for environmental and health safety. Furthermore, SLSA has the ability to clean the skin without stripping the skin of natural oils and healthy microbes. At Spa-Da we use SLSA in our Kid’s Bath Sprinkles and our Shower Bomb Bar. If your kid’s are looking to add irritant free bubbles to your kid’s bath combine Kid’s Bath Bombs with Kid’s Bath Sprinkles.
Is SLSA Natural?
Yes, since SLSA is derived from either coconut oil or palm oil it can make the claim of being 100% natural.
SLSA in Bath Bombs
What does SLSA do in bath bombs? SLSA is used in bath bombs to add extra foam and soap suds to the fizzy bath bombs. At Spa-Da we don’t use SLSA in our bath bombs, but we do offer a colorful bubble bath alternative with our Kid’s Bath Sprinkles. - At Spa-Da we embrace the bubbliness of SLSA, while being cautious around alternative surfactants. If you have any more questions or feel like we left something out please reach out. firstname.lastname@example.org