Are you the type of person that looks and questions every ingredient in the products you purchase? Don’t worry, that’s a good thing! We’re happy to know people care about what they are in contact with, and we’ve definitely got a few questions about our ingredients as well. Which is why we’re here to give you the low down on our Lunette Feelbetter Cup Cleanser and the surfactant we use in it — Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ASL), and compare it the one we don’t use, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Try not to get tongue twisted ;)
What is ALS and SLS, and what is the difference between them?
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are both anionic surfactants. English, please? A surfactant is a compound that decreases the surface tension between two liquids, a solid or a liquid, or a gas and a liquid. They often act as detergents, foaming agents, and more by helping to mix water with oil and dirt so they can be washed away. Science rules. ASL and SLS have similar-sounding names but what makes them different is their molecular structure.
Are ALS and SLS safe to use?
For decades, sulphates have been in the focus of critical parties, even though they are an incredibly efficient fat remover and create a ton of foam. They are considered as environmentally friendly, as they are very quickly biodegradable and won’t typically cause any allergies. Sulfates are recognized among others by the Asthma and Allergy Society in all countries and therefore widely used in most shampoos, sanitary cleansing gels, dishwashers, etc., to dissolve fat the most effectively.
Although there have been reports that SLS is carcinogenic, there is no scientifically proven link to it. Many reports on the Internet cannot verify this argument with convincing scientific evidence. In fact, cosmetic products in the European Union must comply with strict guidelines and prove their safety before they can be sold.
The flip side of why someone would be against these surfactants is that, because of their efficacy in high concentrations, they are particularly irritating to the eyes and skin. This is being emphasized again and again by most opponents. News flash — all surfactants used are usually harmful to the eyes, whether they are SLS, ALS or other compounds. However, ALS has been found clearly milder than sodium lauryl sulfate in irritation tests.
In an article of the "Cosmetic Ingredients Review", only six complaints were reported for shampoos containing up to 31% ALS with 6.8 million units sold. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review report also states, that "Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate appear to be safe in formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by thorough rinsing from the surface of the skin.”
Usually, you only come in contact with surfactants for a short amount of time, like when you’re washing your hair or cleaning your menstrual cup. In this short contact, which is then rinsed with water, the risk of irritation is very low.
Why aren’t we using “soft” surfactants?
A current trend is to use ingredients that are made by marketing campaigns to sound "soft and gentle" and "used earlier". Therefore, in natural cosmetics, for example, glucosides are used, such as Coco Glucosides, Lauryl Glucosides, Decyl Glucosides, since glucosides have a glucose, i.e. a sugar base.
Glucosides are much weaker in foam than sulfates, and they are not as easily thickened as sulfates. You then need polymers or gums as thickeners. However, polymers are banned in natural cosmetics and substances that are permitted in natural cosmetics, such as xanthan gum, cause the gel to leave a sticky feeling on the skin.
Other alternatives, than glucosides, are weaker in foam than sulfates and harder to thicken. Therefore, cleaners containing sulfates, on the other hand, can easily be thickened to gel without the need to use thickening polymers or gums which, can easily leave a sticky feeling. You don’t want a sticky cup, right? ;)
In order to clean the Lunette Menstrual Cups thoroughly, we have chosen ALS for its effectiveness as one of the ingredients in our Feelbetter Cup Cleanser. It leaves no residue on the surface of the cup, and it is recognized by the "Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation" as an ingredient in cosmetic products. Many people still confuse it with the "infamous" Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). The second surfactant we use is called cocamidopropyl betaine. This surfactant is preferred in natural cosmetics, but it does not work well enough alone, so we paired it with the more effective ALS.
If this little science lesson has got you curious about our Lunette Feelbetter Cup Cleanser, you can buy one on our website! It doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances — instead, it’s scented with lemon and eucalyptus oil, selected for their purifying and cleansing properties!
The extremely efficient, wonderfully scented liquid soap cleanses your cup effectively but gently. You only need a drop of the soap, and our cleanser is made in Finland with the highest standards possible