What is Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate?
Sometimes, there are natural ingredients we use that are a mouthful to pronounce, sound “foreign” to the ear, and aren’t easily identifiable to most consumers. As someone who has spent the last 25 years of my life working with ingredients in the personal care space, I’m going to tell you all about Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate (SLH) and why it is literally THE BEST gentle cleansing agent out there! After reading this blog, I think you will understand why this 44-lettered ingredient is in virtually all of our gel shampoos and foaming products.
Before we go into more detail, it's informative to understand how compounds like this are named, and what those names mean. The naming convention used for the compound "Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate" follows the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) nomenclature guidelines for chemical compounds.
Let's break down the name to understand its structure and components:
1. Sodium: This indicates that the compound contains a sodium ion (Na+) as a cation.
2. Laurylglucosides: "Lauryl" refers to a specific carbon chain length (12 carbons) found in the compound. "Glucosides" refers to the presence of a glucose unit, indicating that the compound is derived from a glucose molecule.
3. Hydroxypropylsulfonate: This portion of the name describes the hydroxypropylsulfonate group, which is attached to the laurylglucosides portion of the molecule. "Hydroxypropyl" indicates the presence of a hydroxypropyl group, which consists of a propylene chain with a hydroxyl (-OH) group attached. "Sulfonate" indicates the presence of a sulfonate group, which consists of a sulfur atom bonded to three oxygen atoms.
Now that we better understand the name, let's get a good feel for the function of SLH as a cleansing agent. In chemistry terms, cleansing agents are technically called surfactants. A surfactant is a fancy word created from the root words “surface”, “active” and “agent”. A surfactant has both “oil loving” and “water loving” molecules – this makes it possible for the cleansing agent to de-grease aka clean in water. It has the power to emulsify the oils and dirt found on skin and in hair, yet is water soluble so it can effectively rinse away this grime.
The key is creating a cleansing agent that is powerful enough to clean, yet gentle to skin and eyes. There are harsher surfactants out there such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (the dreaded "SLS") , which can be irritating, especially to little kids and babies who have less robust stratum corneum’s (outmost layer of the skin). We proactively avoid using SLS in any of our products - so please read the labels of other brands you may have at home and ensure SLS is not present!
Enter Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate – my absolute favorite surfactant! This cleansing agent is made right here in the United States, in Tennessee specifically. It is a completely natural, mild cleansing agent made from an ester mix of hydroxypropyl laurylmonoglucoside and hydroxypropyl lauryldiglucoside, both mild cleansing agents and foam (lather) boosters derived from renewable resources corn and coconut.
An ester, in chemistry terms, is a compound which is formed by bonding an alcohol group to a group of organic acids. Typically, in order to create a surfactant, a chemical intermediate is needed and what makes this ingredient so revolutionary is that it utilizes a natural intermediate.
Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate is also produced in an eco-friendly manner – in fact, it was the winner of the EPA’s 2021 Green Chemistry Award! It is plant-based, biodegradable, generates no air emissions or wastewater discharges and does not contain known carcinogens (no traces of 1,4-dioxane at all) or endocrine disruptors. Compared to traditional surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it has far better environmental and regulatory profiles.
In addition to its natural roots and eco-friendly processing, this ingredient is super mild. It has no eye irritation whatsoever and no potential for dermal irritation. This is why it is recommended specifically for baby products and products designed for sensitive skin. It is the biggest reason that our Dabble & Dollop products are so mild and gentle, helping us achieve our “tear-free” claim and our claim of ultra-mild claims. We not only relied on the ingredient’s safety data, we conducted our own safety data as well.
Those are the facts. However, we received an email recently that said “I can’t believe you use a synthetic ingredient and harsh chemical like Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsufonate”. As you can see, the author of this email is lacking the facts and parroting the fear. Because of the scientific nomenclature, there is so much misunderstanding when it comes to ingredient names! The ingredient name alone may “sound like a mouthful” or like something foreign and synthetic, when in fact the opposite is the truth.
Believe me when I say that this ingredient is literally the mildest, most natural surfactant one can use in a baby product. I’m very proud that we use Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate and hope that sharing more information about its source, production and thorough testing helps alleviate any fears out there.