Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), an accepted contraction 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. It is derived from palm kernel oil or coconut oil.
Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)11(OCH2CH2)nOSO3Na. Sometimes the number represented by n is specified in the name, for example laureth-2 sulfate. The product is heterogeneous in the number of ethoxyl groups, where n is the mean. Laureth-3 sulfate is common in commercial products.