Toss Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Say Goodbye to Canker Sores

I Tossed Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Said Goodbye to Canker Sores

Like puberty and taxes, for many years I thought canker sores were just an unfortunate fact of life.  I’d be chewing on a handful of popcorn one day, and with a painful bite, I’d chomp down onto an unexpected sore in my mouth.  With a yelp and a cry, I’d make a mental note to chew carefully until the spot in question had healed.

If you’re one of the blessedly unfamiliar, canker sores (also known as aphthuous ulcers) are small sores or lesions in the mouth that can affect the tongue, gums, and inside of the lips.  Different from cold sores, once they pop up, canker sores can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month to heal.

Then after years of drudging through painful canker sore encounters, a dentist recommended I use a toothpaste that was free of sodium lauryl sulfate (also called SLS), because in some people it may cause canker sores.  I had no idea that I could be suffering because of something so simple as my toothpaste!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant that is added to things like toothpaste and soap to make them foam.  I know that for many of us, it seems like a cleaning product is working better if there is some foam involved.  However, according to a study from Norway it can also cause irritation in people who are sensitive to it.

After I realized that I was sensitive to sodium lauryl sulfate, it made sense to avoid it in other body products as well.  I’d noticed that I was prone to breaking out along the hairline where shampoo touched my face, and I wondered if that could be the culprit there as well.

Sure enough, the shampoo I was using at the time also contained SLS.  Off to the grocery store!  It definitely takes some label reading to find toothpastes, shampoos, and soaps that don’t include it.  I’ve discovered that it’s easier to find those products at natural food stores.

After I stopped using toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate about ten years ago, I’ve never had another canker sore again and those hairline breakouts are a thing of the past as well.

Here are three products I use that are free from sodium lauryl sulfate:

1.  Nature’s Gate Cool Mint Natural Toothpaste

This fluoride free toothpaste is also free of sulfates, parabens, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and animal byproducts.  It leaves my mouth minty fresh and canker sore-free!

2.  Kiss My Face Big Body Shampoo

This shampoo is SLS, paraben & phthalate free.  It also contains no artificial color, fragrance, or animal ingredients.  This shampoo is perfect for my fine hair.  It keeps it clean without weighing it down.

3.  100% Pure Cocoa Kona Hydrating Body Wash

This body wash is free of artificial fragrances, detergents, synthetic chemicals, and animal ingredients.  Even without SLS, this soap has plenty of foam.

If you’d prefer to go the DIY route, with just a few ingredients you can make your own sodium lauryl sulfate-free body products.  Try making your own homemade toothpaste, homemade shampoo, or embrace your hair’s natural oils and wash less often!


Image Credit: Photo by Cadry Nelson

Written by Cadry Nelson

Hello!  I’m Cadry Nelson, a vegan food & lifestyle writer.  My aim is to help others live their most compassionate lives and dispel misconceptions about what it means to be vegan.  When I’m not in the kitchen, you’ll find me in the pottery studio making hand-built ceramics or out on the hiking trail.  Visit me at, on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, and find me at .

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