What are SLS and SLES?

February 24, 2016

What are SLS and SLES?
What are SLS and SLES?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are both surfactants and foaming agents. As a surfactant, it traps oil and grease so that it is easily rinsed away with water. As a foaming agent, it creates rich lather which is widely perceived as having more cleaning power.

SLS and SLES with their rich lather unnecessarily strips off the body’s natural oil which can cause the skin to be dry, flaky and irritable. The rich lather removes our skin’s natural oil leaving our skin feeling squeaky clean. This is one of the main causes of oily hair and scalp. In order to compensate for the lack of the protective barrier of natural oil, the scalp overproduces sebum which leads to dull and lifeless hair.

Since both SLS and SLES are inexpensive and highly effective foaming agents, they are widely used in most personal care products from shampoos, body washes to toothpastes and can also be found in some industrial cleaning agents such as floor cleaners and engine degreasers.

The Olive Tree Natural Geranium Body Wash SLS SLES Free Made in Australia


SLS is a known skin irritant. As such, it is commonly used in clinical testing as a primary skin irritant to test the effectiveness of healing agents on irritated skin.

SLS also pollutes our groundwater and is harmful to fishes and other aquatic organisms. It is undetected in many municipal water filters and ends up in the tap water that is consumed.

SLES is derived from manufacturers adding ethylene oxide to SLS which results in a much milder and less irritating alternative. The drawback of the ethoxylation process in SLES is the possible contamination from the byproduct called “1,4-dioxane” which is a probable human carcinogen.

Although both SLS and SLES are primarily coconut oil derived, they have been mixed with other chemicals through an elaborate process resulting in a chemical which is highly different from the original coconut oil.

The Olive Tree Natural Skincare Made in Australia SLS SLES Sulfates Sulphate Free

At The Olive Tree, all of our natural personal care products (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, facial care and handmade soaps) are free from SLS and SLES (i.e. sulfates / sulphates) as we believe in not using harsh chemicals in our biodegradable product formulation. 

We believe in harnessing the natural goodness from mother nature to produce natural made in Australia skincare products which are vegan, safe, affordable and of the highest quality.

We have retail stores in 1 Utama, Pavilion and Sunway Nexis in Klang Valley Malaysia.

We offer refills for our shampoo, conditioner and body washes at our 1 Utama and Sunway Nexis outlets with a minimum refill quantity of 500ml and you can refill using your own containers. 

We also ship internationally including Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Hong Kong. 

Here's what our customer, Sarah Lee had to say about our relaxing Lavender Bergamot Hand & Body Wash

"It's got such a wonderful relaxing scent and my ten year old enjoys her shower time very much! Best of all as a parent I get peace of mind knowing she's not using harmful chemicals on her skin!"

So, instead of having to use a hand sanitiser to keep hands clean, gently lather up with our sulphates free hand & body wash which won't cause your skin to feel dry and irritable. 

So, why not make the switch to natural clean beauty today?


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