Synthetic surfactants are widely distributed in personal care products, our environment, cleaning products (like laundry detergents), and are even used in food processing methods. They are mainly found in cheaper shampoos, detergents, skincare cleansers, hand soaps, and shower gels. Generally speaking, it is best to stay away from these ingredients as they can upset the chemistry and natural rhythm of your body.
Synthetic surfactants are used in personal care products to create a foamy lather and are used in foods to maintain a homeostatic state. For example, foods that are high in fats, such as peanut butter, can separate easily and synthetic surfactants help to prevent this. Although there are many natural ingredients that can function as surfactants, artificial ones are cheaper and more readily used.
Some common surfactants to avoid in food products are alkyl glycoside, lanolin, lecithin (including soy lecithin) and products that are packaged using ingredients made from surfynol.
When it comes to personal care products, the most damaging surfactants to avoid are benzalkonium chloride (commonly found in sun creams, some cc creams, moisturizers and after-suns), ethanolamine (commonly found in makeup), parabens, phthalates, SLS (found in cleansers and soaps), and stearin acid (commonly found in deodorants and antiperspirants).
As a general rule, consuming a diet that is rich in organic whole foods and choosing non toxic, high quality personal care products is the best choice for your long term health. To detox from chemicals like these, a clean diet is necessary. Plenty of citrus fruits, heavy metal detoxing herbs like parsley and coriander, water, fresh air, and fresh vegetables such as celery, artichoke, and peppers are all great to incorporate into your lifestyle.