Did you say Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate?

We all have heard the term Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  An ingredient that is placed in our shampoos to create those fun bubbles that we all thought was keeping our hair clean. A surfactant. A detergent.  Yes, your shampoo is a foaming cocktail of ingredients that half the time you can’t pronounce. The problem is, some of the ingredients in your foaming cocktail sound harsh and all too familiar, but really are quite the opposite.

I want to talk about an ingredient called Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.  I know it seems identical and really is two words deep. Have a closer look at the third word if you will! It does not say Sulfate, it says Sulfoacetate. Close enough you say! Hardly close at all! These two ingredient couldn’t be any further apart from each other if they tried.

Let’s break these down into layman’s terms! Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the cheat detergent that is put into your shampoos to make those big bubbles. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate helps to create those big bubbles too! There’s a catch. Once is a harsh cheap chemical and the other, to your surprise is a natural ingredient. Shocking I know!

So, let’s talk more about this natural ingredient. What do we know about it? Well, it is derived from coconut and palm oils, it is completely 100% safe for our skin. This plant derived ingredient effectively helps to remove oil, dirt and bacteria, without drying or irritating even the most sensitive skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is also a hydrophilic, this means it is attracted to water which enables it to dissolve more readily in water, thus providing superior rinse ability!

To break this down even further let’s talk a little basic soap science. To make soap, you need vegetable oil or fat to be mixed with a high alkaline ingredient such as lye.  When this happens you create an product that likes oil and water.  Many soaps are anionic which means that they have a negative charge on the big soap molecule that needs to be balanced by a positive charged molecule such as sodium ion.  So to break down the ingredient Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate:

Sodium is the what is called the counter ion

Lauryl simply refers to a type of oil from the coconut that is 12 Carbon units long (olive oil is made of oleic acid that is 18 carbons long)

Sulfoacetate refers to the water loving part of the molecule.  Sulfur helps the acetate (vinegar) portion of the molecule create more stable bubbles and softer lather.

I know it’s hard to know the difference between some of the ingredients in the shampoos and conditioners out there when you can’t even pronounce half of them. So now you know the difference between Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate. Two of the most commonly confused ingredients in shampoos.

SLI Beauty stands tall behind Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate. We are a Sulfate Free- Paraben Free-Phthalate Free-Salt Free private label hair care company. Offering up a choice to consumers in the industry.

To find out more about SLI Beauty and our products please contact us;





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SLI Beauty Team

” Put your salon’s name on the most natural and organic private label hair care products possible.”

25 thoughts on “Did you say Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate?

  1. Thank you so very much for dimystifying those two products. I am new a saltbaths and soap, etc, and in my research SLS was a big do not use. Now everything is clear to me. I can rest assure that my products will be of the utmost best. Thank you again.

  2. Wow! I was looking all over the Internet to find a substitute the sodium lauryl sulfate that I never used in my soap or my shampoo for the fact Fha it is very harsh on the skin and hair until I read your article and learn about the sodium lauryl sulfoacetate which I can’t wait to order it online and use it. Thank you so much….

  3. Thanks for clarifying that for us. I just started using L’Oreal’s Everpure line which has the Acetate form and I think it is already making my hair feel softer. Good to know that that this new ingredient is better for our skin and hair.

    • Just because its DERIVED from something natural doesn’t mean it’s a natural ingredient! It not coconut oil it’s DERIVED from coconut oil. Anything that has a sodium molecule still has sodium. That’s SALT based. Who wants to clean their hair with a detergent or salt. It’s a sulfate in its simplest, least harsh, man made form.

      • Thanks for some interesting points. Perhaps a little clarification might be beneficial.

        Let’s deal with “natural” first. Despite the efforts of organizations such as Ecocert and the FDA to harmonize definitions and terminology for terms such as “natural” and “organic”, they continue to have a wide scope of applicability in the marketplace.

        A single, or at least more narrow set of definitions, would be easier for both consumers and us as manufacturers. As an organizations that serves customers all over the globe, we need to be respectful of all relevant definitions of these terms.

        In consulting with clients, we ensure that we understand their business objectives in order to provide the best formulation strategy guidance. For example, if a client wants to sell their products in Whole Food’s Premium Body Care program, we would ensure that they are able to meet the specific criteria that this vendor has for participation in this program.

        Now let’s talk about sodium. Outside of a lab, most people rarely interact with pure sodium (a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal). Common “Salt” or sodium chloride NaCl is what most non-chemists think about when they hear the term salt. However, the important concept to remember is that because molecules sound similar, does not mean they have similar chemical properties. See my response to Andrea Clunes Velásquez for more information.

        Finally, let me touch on surfactants. The term derives from the words SURface ACTing AgeNTS. This class of compounds lowers the surface tension of liquids, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid. As a result, surfactants act as detergents, foaming agents, amongst other properties. The cleaning power of detergents and flash foam are desired in shampoo, body wash and many cleansing products.

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    • While there is some similarity in the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) names for these ingredients, they are different molecules.

      Let me use an example. Think about the difference between methanol and ethanol. Things that look similar can be very different. This is true for ethanol and methanol. Not only do they sound similar, they look the same in a beaker. However, there are important differences between ethanol and methanol. Making a mistaking can be a fatal mistake.

      Methanol (“wood” alcohol) is a poisonous single carbon alcohol. Ethanol, is a 2-carbon alcohol. It’s the “alcohol” in alcoholic beverages and is rather enjoyable when consumed in moderation.

      Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, etc are all generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. No respectable manufacturer would ever use ingredients that weren’t safe. The formulation chemists’ choice is about minimizing irritation, not safety. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is classified as an irritant. As such, it can leave the skin or scalp dry, itchy and inflamed. We choose to use ingredients that are known to be much more gentle and less likely to strip the hair and cause irritation.

  5. I did a bresilian treatment, also called Keratin, and the barber told me not to use shampoo with sulfate , like sodium lauryl sulfate, its hard to find. But L’oreal just create a shampoo without SULFATE , so there is no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate but there is Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.. Do you think I can use it?

    • Yes. A product with Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate is a much better option for preserving your Brazilian hair straightening treatments. While the two names have similarities, they are quite different.

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    • If you’re making classic soap, it is not possible to avoid harsh ingredients in the manufacturing process. By definition, soaps for cleansing are obtained by treating vegetable or animal oils and fats with a strongly alkaline solution. Typically, the alkaline solution contains potassium hydroxide (KOH). You might also hear it called caustic potash or potash lye. Soapmakers also use sodium hydroxide (NaHO). You might this ingredient by names such as lye or caustic soda.

      The key is that they are both “caustic” or highly corrosive in nature. They will clean “eat” flesh right off the bones, if they are not handled properly.

      The final soap is neutralized and adjusted to a safe pH level. Natural soap has a normal pH of between 9 and 10. Dove has promoted the idea of a pH balanced (ph 7) beauty bar effectively. The truth is that the Dove bar is more likely to contribute to dry skin than natural soap. If you want to know more, please let me know.

      Most shampoos, face and body washes effectively make soap when they contact the natural fats (sebum) on your skin and hair. This is why the surfactants used in the product are so important. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is more ‘aggressive’ on a molecular level is much more likely to cause irritation and dryness than ingredients with a much more gentle disposition.

  7. sir thanks you differtiateboth the name sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate . please suggest me another herbal ingridients for shampoo and face wash .please reply soon. thank you

    • I’ll interpret your question in terms of the role that ingredient such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate have in cleansing products. They are surfactants (SURface ACTing AgeNTS).

      Surfactants lower the surface tension of a liquid, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or the interfacial between a liquid and a solid.

      What do soaps, shampoos and washes have in common? You guessed it. They are all surfactants.

      Options to replace Sodium Lauryl Sulphate are: Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Ammonium Cocoyl Isethionate, Ammonium Stearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside, Dicapryl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Lauryl Glucoside Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside. Please note that all of the above ingredients are acceptable in products that require organic certifications.

      On the herbal side, Common Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis). Crushed leaves and roots of Soapwort have been used for soap since the Renaissance. Museum conservators still use soaps made from its leaves and roots for cleaning delicate fabrics. It is also said to make a nice shampoo.

      Yucca, specifically the roots of Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata) are high in saponins (saponins are a class of chemical compounds highly regarded in soapmaking. If we remember, the official name of soapwort has the root of the word saponification) and are used for shampoo in Native American rituals.

      Please let me know how you make out.

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  9. I had a reaction to Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacatate. I broke out in open sores after a few weeks. What other alternative to Sulfates do I have?

    • I would advise consulting a physician or healthcare provider. All cleaning agents have the potential to irritate. However, what you are describing is far beyond what would be classified as irritation — typically, redness, dryness or itchiness.

      Your reaction seems to outside of the normal range for any cosmetic product. Again, your next step should be consulting with a health professional. Stop using any products that you suspect might be contributing to your open sores.

      Keep any affected area clean and dry. An alternative is to gently flush any affected area with fresh, room temperature water. Another alternative is to consider trying a product such as WEN®’s Cleansing Conditioner. They avoid traditional cleansing ingredients in this product.

      For those interested in private label hair products, talk to your project manager about “no shampoo shampoo” products. You can also reach me directly at 425-749-4163.

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  11. Thank you soooooooo much for this. I recently heard that sodium lauryl sulfate was not good for the hair and that I should pick shampoos that do not have that ingredient in it. I then bought “mixed chicks” shampoo and conditioner and saw the words sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, thinking it was sulfate. Well, the store does not except refunds, so I thought I was just stuck with this high priced item. Then, I went to a youtube page where a girl was explaining deep conditioning and a commentor talked about sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. Thanks for explaining the two.

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