Surfactants are the workhourses of cosmetics and toiletries, functioning as cleansers (in facial cleansers, shampoos and bodywashes), and emulsifiers (in face and body creams and lotions), solubilisers (for dissolving fragrance oils in water-based products, such as rose and lavender water).
Sulfates are univerally chosen by the industry due to their strong cleansing power and low cost. As a group alkyl sulfates are strong irritants. Researchers have warned that sulfates such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) may cause
- Dry itchy scalp
- Corrosion of the hair follicle leading to hair loss
- Readily absorbed by skin tissue
- Development of cataract of the eyes