All you need for a gleaming, white smile!

I don’t remember much of my great-grandmother except for two things. One, she was a spirited lady and second, she lived to be a healthy 97 years old. The amazing fact is that till she breathed her last, she had all her 32 teeth intact, and gleaming white they were.

I bring this up because of an email I received today about the harmful effects of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) or its variant, Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), which are ingredients that lead to the “foaming” action in most personal care and home cleaning products. SLS is used as a surfactant in floor cleaners, car washes, carpet cleaners, stain removers, laundry detergents, dishwashing liquids and fabric glues. You might like to know that it’s also added to products such as toothpastes, shampoos, soaps, shaving creams, moisturisers and sun-creams.
Just think about it, if SLS can remove the car grease in the engines or stains in your carpets, it could have a similar abrasive and drying effect on your teeth, scalp and skin.

In fact, according to the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF TOXICOLOGY, “In absorption, metabolism and excretion studies, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate had a degenerative effect on the cell membranes because of its protein denaturing properties. High levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration. Other studies have indicated that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain from skin contact. This poses question of it being a serious potential health threat to its use in shampoos, cleansers, and tooth pastes.”

A good EcoWALK habit would be to read the various labels on everything you buy, and stay away from products which have a long list of chemicals, especially SLS. That’d be good for your skin and gums, and good for the planet, which could do with a lot less than the 100,000 or so synthetic chemicals that are lingering around. 

Some brands which you may find are SLS free are Dr. Bronner’s, Nature’s Gate, some products from Tom’s of Maine.  Of course, these products tend to be pricey. If you’re comfortable using toothpowder, there’s an Ayurvedic brand from Vicco Vajradanti.  However, their toothpaste does contain SLS, despite its claim of being “herbal.” So, watch out for the greenwash.

You could try some simple effective home made alternatives, which are light on your pocket too.

Home made toothpaste:

Here’s a recipe I simplified from www.crazy-mumma.blogspot.com
3 tbs baking soda (bi-carb soda)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs glycerine
20-30 drops peppermint extract or essential oil, like tea tree for example.

Mix the bi carb soda and salt thoroughly, then add the glycerine to form a paste. Add the peppermint or other essential oil and combine well. Store in an airtight container.

Home made shampoo:
The plain old baking powder(bicarbonate of soda) is such a handy ingredient!  Instead of shampoo, try a tablespoon baking powder with a cup of warm water to rinse your hair. If you have dandruff, then regular use of apple cedar vinegar is a good cure. Add a tablespoon of apple cedar vinegar to a cup of warm water. Apply in your hair and allow to soak for a few minutes and then rinse off.

As for my great-grandma…the secret to her gleaming white smile was a regular brushing of the teeth with the twig of Neem (Azadirachta indica). Neem is well known to have anti-bacterial properties, its fibres cleanse the teeth, and its juice works as a mouth freshener too. Now, that’s better than SLS, on any EcoWALKing day!


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Posted by on Dec 11 2008. Filed under Chemicals, Cleaning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “All you need for a gleaming, white smile!”

  1. Talking about Shampoo, Soupnut powder is the natural product for hair care. Hibiscus leaves can be ground along with Soapnut powder to form a paste to give the same effect as Shampoo.

  2. Thanks, Swarna for writing in your suggestion. I’ve come across an ayurvedic brand called ROHINI in India, which is a completely herbal hair powder to be mixed with water, and that contains soapnut. I’m trying to pick up Soap nuts in India during my holidays there..and try them out as laundry wash too.

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