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Sodium Coco Sulfate

Q. What is sodium coco sulfate?

-Charlotte via Facebook

A. Sodium coco sulfate is pretty similar to sodium lauryl sulfate. Basically, with sodium lauryl sulfate, they start out with an isolated fatty acid (from coconut or other oils) called lauric acid. The lauric acid is reacted with sulfuric acid, and then again with sodium carbonate to create sodium lauryl sulfate. Well, with sodium coco sulfate, instead of starting out with one fatty acid (lauric acid) they use a blend of fatty acids from the coconut oil, react them with sulfuric acid, then sodium carbonate, to create sodium coco sulfate. So, sodium coco sulfate actually is a blend of sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium caprylic sulfate, sodium capric sulfate, sodium oleic sulfate, sodium stearyl sulfate etc, and instead of naming them all out with all of the fatty acids from the coconut oil, they just call it sodium coco sulfate." It would carry the same risks of skin irritation, eye irritation, stripping hair of natural oils and forming nitrosamines in the presence of triethanolamine as SLS does.

Reader Comments (20)

I learned how to cure dandruff forever! Just rinse your hair with organic apple cider vinegar. The dandruff stopped by the 3rd rinse. It was gone by the 5th rinse! My dandruff is now all gone! Next, I will clean my body of toxins, too, by eating real food with real nutrition called, Super YASAi.

Tue, October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Stephanie, this doesn't mean that Coconut Oil is harmful in it's original form does it?

Wed, October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Digirolamo

No, not at all! There have been several chemical reactions that have to occur to first isolate the fatty acids, and then turn them in to these detergents. NO WORRIES! Coconut oil is GREAT!

Wed, October 5, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

hi there, i just stumbled across your awesome site while researching the ingredients in my shampoo. i've found so many different explanations of sodium coco sulphate (like always) and was wondering what you think of what they say in this article?

Mon, December 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaggie

@Maggie--thanks for sharing that article. They really don't have it right, though. Sodium coco sulfate contains sodium lauryl sulfate, and there really is not much difference between SLS and Sodium Coco Sulfate. Also, in their article they state that SLS refers to both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. However, this is not the case. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is referred to as SLES. Not a biggie, but thought I'd point that out.

Fri, January 4, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]


Thank you Stephanie for your review of sodium coco-sulfate! Really glad that I found your site :-)

I have read somewhere that it's the same CAS number for SLS and Sodium Coco-Sulfate but now I've found a site where one writes that it's not.

And now I wonder what to believe in?

Many thank's again :-)

Fri, March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarina

Sodium Coco-Sulfate is found in johnsons and johnsons baby shampoo. Cant be that bad.

Wed, July 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersophia

Regardless of CAS number, sodium coco sulfate *contains* sodium lauryl sulfate as a main component.

Sat, August 31, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

In reference to a previous post: "Sodium Coco-Sulfate is found in johnsons and johnsons baby shampoo. Cant be that bad."

This is a perfect example of the general public not realizing that companies will put harmful ingredients in things that shouldn't have it. Just because it's baby shampoo doesn't mean that it is safe.

Mon, October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAsha

Sodium coco sulfate is indeed RELATED to sodium lauryl sulfate, but is in no way the same thing. The process in which they are created in entirely different, and the irritation potential for both of them is vastly different, which is why you find sodium coco sulfate in baby washes and other sensitive skin washes instead of the sls. Where sodium coco sulfate is derived directly from coconuts, sls is derived from lauryl alcohol (which is derived from coconuts) so there are extra steps. In turn , sodium coco sulfate ends up being an incredibly mild product full of fatty alcohols, and sls ends up being a very harsh irritant and more of a degreaser. it's cheaper to formulate with which is why many manufacturers use it, however, sodium coco sulfate is great in a body wash as it is mild and fairly moisturizing to skin. Don't be swayed by the same. The proof is in the pudding. I break out terribly when I use sls, and I have NO ISSUES with sodium coco sulfate. I often don't even need to use lotion after I use it, and the body washes are free of PEGs and silicones so there's not much in it that would make my skin feel falsely moisturized.

Thu, December 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Hi, i was wondering what effect Sodium Coco Sulfate in toothpaste would have on teeth and general oral health?

Mon, April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

So if there is no triethanolamine it wont form Nitrosamines?

Mon, April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

"Coco Sulfate is the sulfation product of Coconut Alcohols using an SO3 process. Unlike Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Coco-Sulfate is manufactured without removal of all the higher molecular weight fatty acids that are integral to Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil. "
This means that due to its higher molecular weight it won't penetrate the hair like SLS does. Which makes it much less harsh and drying!

Mon, November 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJules

@Jules--yes and no. It depends on the concentration used in the formula. It's possible that the larger fatty acids are less penetrative, but do keep in mind that it still does contain sodium lauryl sulfate. :)

Mon, November 17, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]


Please suggest any sulfate free shampoo

Wed, July 1, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertrisha

I used Jason shampoo with coco sulphate and it made my hair look and feel like straw! It was tangled too!

Tue, August 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

In response to @Danielle and her comment about not having issues with sodium coco sulfate. I guess everyone is different. I recently started using a product with sodium coco sulfate in it as the ones with SLS & SLES in them made me break out. Having used a sodium coco sulfate product I am now back on antibiotics to clear up the latest breakout that was severely aggrivated by sodium coco sulfate. I am now trying products with NO sulfates in them at all to see how they go. As I said, everyone is different and just because one person has no reaction doesn't mean everyone is going to be the same. It also means that just because I react badly to it, doesn't mean other people will.

Wed, November 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMel

Rinse hair with organic apple cider vinegar two times and then condition with organic coconut oil.

Mon, June 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Curious to hear your take on this article discussing the same subject but offering a different perspective than your own:

Fri, July 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterM Simon

TLDR @ bottom

@M Simon - Stephanie may chime in at some point, and likely has more knowledge than me on the subject, but I did a lot of research a short while ago on the various ingredients used in health care products. For each ingredient, I checked as many sites as I could find with information on it and weighed the info against other sites, my own knowledge of biology, chemistry, and biochemistry, and the reputability of the source. I then put together a brief summary for each ingredient. Here's what I came up with for SCS:

- Both SCS and SLS use fatty acids from coconut oil, but whereas SLS is more refined and uses primarily lauric acid, SCS uses multiple fatty acids, including lauric acid (for a lower total percentage, so the SLS content is essentially diluted), which makes it less irritating due to the lower amount of SLS (and a higher average molecular weight which leads to less skin absorption). This is essentially just a simplified way to say what Stephanie and, somewhat, the article you linked to said. The difference is that the soorganic article seems to claim that the end result is a larger molecule, whereas Stephanie's explanation, and others I've read, indicate it's actually a mixture of those larger molecules as well as the smaller SLS molecules. I can't say which is true but, again, based on my own knowledge, it seems very unlikely that how soorganic is describing it is how it works. Hopefully Stephanie or someone else with more knowledge can confirm one way or the other, but for now I'm inclined to believe that article is erroneously representing the facts; whether that's intentional or not is another issue, but either way is bad. Either they're intentionally misleading consumers, which as we know companies do all the time, or they just don't know what they're talking about, which would then just be disconcerting.

- Supposedly SCS can only be made from raw coconut oil, whereas SLS can be made from many raw materials, including palm oil or even (not sure on this) petroleum.

- Some of the fatty acids that it contains may be ethoxylated (this is obviously a negative of SCS, but only vs other ingredients, not SLS).

So at the very least, SCS would appear to be significantly better than SLS, but there still appear to be better options. Unless you're especially sensitive, I would say if you can't find a product you like with better ingredients and you're trying to avoid SLS, SCS would probably be a good middle ground, especially if it's a product you don't use a lot of.


On a mostly unrelated note, I've been meaning to post something about another issue but couldn't decide where best to do so and then forgot, so since I'm posting here I'll go ahead and just put it in this comment:

I contacted Poofy Organics to ask them some questions about their products, and between how they market their products and the answers they gave me, it became very clear they have no idea what they're doing or talking about. Some examples were:

- stating their baby products are extract free, despite products in that line containing rosemary extract
- claiming they don't use detergents in their soap, despite the fact many of their products contain detergents, and that their dishwashing detergent is "dishwashing soap"
- stating they've never read about not mixing vinegar with soap (they use vinegar in their dishwashing "soap" and shampoos)
- when I pointed out their information about baby shampoo containing anaesthetics is wrong, they responded by saying that's "debatable." There's nothing debatable about it, either baby shampoo does or does not containing numbing agents, and despite the claims by many natural/organic companies and bloggers (including Stephanie, unfortunately, though I'm not seeing it on her site anymore, so she may have removed it when I pointed it out to her), it most definitely does not.

When I called him out on these things, instead of responding to clarify, defend himself, retract what he'd said, agree to look into it, etc, he simply said the conversation was over. I'll admit I could have been nicer in my reply to him, but it's not like I used foul language or was overly rude. I'd say just the right amount considering his ignorance and the resulting misleading of their customers. In any event, he chose to shut it down instead of offering any sort of explanation or justification for what he'd said. Based on the massive amount of misinformation, false advertising (maybe not legally, but it should be), and his attitude about the whole thing, I'd recommend people looking for safe and natural products to use extreme caution if/when looking at their products.

TL;DR - SCS appears to be better than SLS, probably significantly so, but not as good as other alternatives. So it's a decent middle ground ingredient. Poofy Organics' products, ethics, and knowledge are highly questionable; use caution if/when shopping with them.

Sat, September 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

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