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What is sodium laureth sulfate?

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Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), an accepted contraction (Lauryl + Ether = Laureth) of sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is an anionic detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent. SLES, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS), and sodium pareth sulfate are surfactants that are used in many cosmetic products for their cleaning and emulsifying properties. They behave similarly to soap.