Q&A: How to avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

Q: I have eczema. It's not so bad when I'm in England, but when I go over to Japan in the winter, it flares up and makes me break out in welts.

I need to avoid SLS/SDS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) when I go to Japan, and I'm hoping you have recommendations, as well as places to find things like shea butter, aloe vera, etc.



Hi A, a good question, and one other readers have asked about as well.

To avoid sodium lauryl sulfate in products in Japan, you'll want to check the ingredients (成分, せいぶん, seibun) for any of the following, or a similar version:




[ナトリウム is often abbreviated to "Na" on ingredients lists.]

Also, ドデシル硫酸ナトリウム (SDS)

As for places to find products without SLS, I wrote a couple blog posts about finding natural care products, which most often do not contain SLS (though it's still good to check the ingredients just in case, as some products do still use it):

HOW TO: Find organic/natural personal care products in Japan
6 places to find organic/natural personal care products online

Depending on what part of Japan you're in, you might be able to find a lot of these types of products in local stores. I live in a smallish town and I can usually find quite a few things at one of my local daily goods stores, though the options are often better in the bigger cities. I can find pure aloe vera (and some farmer's markets also sell aloe leaves you can squeeze the aloe out of).

I haven't seen shea butter locally, but I often see olive oil (オリーブ油 orオリーブオイル). But if you check out the resources above, you should be able to find shea butter (シアバター), along with any other products you might be looking for and can't find. Or even Amazon Japan or Kenko.com.

Does anyone else have any more suggestions, tips, or advice about the accessibility of these items where you live in Japan?

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