Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is a chemical that is commonly used in shampoo, shaving cream, bath soap and other cosmetic products. It works as a surfactant, which means that it allows the oils on skin and hair to mix with water by lowering the surface tension of the oils. This makes it easier to rinse away dirt and oils, leaving the body or hair clean and shiny.
Chemically, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is a disodium salt of ethoxylated lauryl alcohol bound to sulfosuccinic acid. It is an anionic compound, which means that its molecules carry a negative charge. This negative charge is located on the sulfosuccinate portion of the molecule, and it is largely responsible for disodium laureth sulfosuccinate's action as a surfactant. In addition to allowing oils and water to mix, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is also responsible for the foaming nature of many soaps and shampoos.
According to TruthinAging.com, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate is a gentle surfactant and does not cause irritation to eyes or skin, even when used in high concentrations. TruthinAging.com acknowledges that some sources claim that disodium laureth sulfosuccinate may contribute to cancer risk because it may be contaminated with nitrosamines. However, many experts agree that it is safe when used in low concentrations, such as those found in health and beauty products.