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What is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate? Uses for Skin and Face

Have you ever sat down and tried to read the ingredients lists of the products you're using? If so, it is pretty common to not know what all (or most) of those ingredients are! This makes it hard to determine whether a product is safe for your skin. 

One of the ingredients you may have seen is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate or SLL. Despite having an intimidating name, it does provide some skincare benefits. In this article, we will give you an overview of SLL, so you can make informed decisions about whether you should include this ingredient in your skincare routine. 

Related: Hyaluronic Acid: What it Means for Skincare

Looking to improve your skin’s overall health? Check out Soteri Skin! Soteri Skin makes high-quality skincare products that balance your skin’s pH to help you achieve healthy, clear skin. 

What is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate?

Sodium lauroyl lactylate is a versatile ingredient that has many uses in cosmetic products. Sodium lauroyl lactylate is known as an enhancing ingredient. This means it improves the functioning of the active ingredients in your cosmetic products. However, its role in skincare formulations is typically as a surfactant, moisturizer, or emulsifier. 

We’ll cover each of these functions in greater detail below.


Sodium lauroyl lactylate reduces surface tension between liquids, allowing those liquids to mix evenly and eliminating greasy residue. In addition, due to SLL being a natural surfactant, it provides a light foam to products and helps remove dirt and oil from the skin. 

Its unique texture and easy solubility make it an ideal choice for shampoos, body washes, lotions, facial cleansers, and many other products that require the inclusion of a surfactant to perform their intended functions. Plus, SLL is gentle enough to be used on many skin types without drying skin out.


SLL contains the fatty acid known as lauric acid. This component helps to lubricate skin and strengthen the skin barrier, which helps skin to retain water. This helps products better moisturize skin while providing a silky feeling.

Additionally, lauric acid is effective for acne-prone skin due to its antimicrobial properties. It is able to penetrate pores without clogging them. 

This is why SLL is an excellent ingredient in facial creams and cleansers. 

Related: Xerosis Cutis: Is My Skin Too Dry?


Emulsifiers are often found in cosmetic products containing oil and water substances, and are used to improve formulation consistency.

This is because waters and oils don’t mix easily, and can lead to undesirable separation or clumping in your skincare products. SLL helps keep oils and waters blended, so that products have a desirable look and feel.




Who Can Use It?

As covered above, sodium lauroyl lactylate provides many benefits: it is a moisturizer, emulsifier, surfactant, and even enhances the efficacy of skincare actives. Thus, it is included in many different types of products, and is widely used across almost every skin type.  

Is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate Safe to Use?

Sodium laurel lactylate is generally accepted as low-risk and safe to use on most skin. However, if you have especially sensitive skin, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website provides more information about SLL’s safety rating. 

The Side Effects of Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate

Sodium lauroyl lactylate is gentler than many other surfactants which cause irritation since they strip too much moisture from the skin. SLL tends not to irritate skin as other surfactants do, while still providing the same benefits. Thus, it is often included in products for sensitive skin where a surfactant is necessary, but skin irritation is a concern. Often, sodium lauroyl lactylate is even used in skincare for those as young as six months!  

However, those allergic to lactic acid may be sensitive to sodium lauroyl lactylate. Although,  traces of lactic acid in SLL are usually extremely low and typically not a cause for concern, this may be something to pay attention to if you have that sensitivity. 


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The Best Products That Contain Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate


After learning more about sodium lauroyl lactylate, you might be be looking for a few examples of products that contain this ingredient. We’ve included some of the best SLL products below. 

SheaMoisture African Black Bodywash

Shea Moisture is a popular brand catering to the African American skincare market. Their African black body wash moisturizes and exfoliates the skin while providing antibacterial benefits. 

This body wash contains sodium lauroyl lactylate to help the vitamin E, shea butter, and aloe vera in the formulation clean and balance skin.

Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer

Those who suffer from extra dry skin will benefit the most from the Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer. You'll apply the product while in the shower or right after to help your skin retain moisture. The SLL in this formulation allows the product to better penetrate into skin and provide deep moisture while your pores are still open.

Rosen Skincare Earth Cleanser

Those with oily and acne-prone skin will enjoy using the Rosen Skincare Earth Cleanser. It removes oil and dirt without stripping moisture from the skin. Of course, you can thank the sodium lauroyl lactylate ingredient for this.

The product provides a cooling effect to help your face feel refreshed after washing. Plus, the zinc oxide and niacinamide in the formulation help calm inflammation and regulate oil production.

Related: Niacinamide Skin Benefits: Here's What You Should Know

Treat Your Skin with Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate

Sodium lauroyl lactylate helps skin retain moisture, washes away dirt and grime, and helps stabilize product formulations. This is why it appears in so many skincare products. It’s also a gentler alternative to many other surfactants.

Thus, even though it has a “scary” name that may look intimidating on ingredients labels, you shouldn’t be too quick to discount it!