© Compound Interest
What Makes Shampoo Foam?
The third of the ‘Everyday Compounds’ series of infographics looks at sodium lauryl sulfate – a compound the majority of us encounter in our showers every day. What’s this chemical doing in your shampoo and toothpaste, why is it also found in engine degreasers, and why could it also potentially be used as a shark repellent?
Let’s start with the more common of those uses. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a chemical you’ll probably spot in the ingredients list of your shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste or bubble bath; you might also spot sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which is commonly used as an alternative, and which has very similar properties. These compounds are the reason your shampoo (or other toiletry of choice) foams, due to their chemical characteristics.