Sodium lauryl sulfate is also known as sodium dodecyl
sulfate; 'lauric acid' is the old name for dodecanoic acid (CH3
-COOH). Sodium laureth
sulfate is not the same; it's an ether of sodium lauryl sulfate with poly(ethylene glycol). It's used in 'high foaming' detergents and shampoos.
Sodium lauryl sulfate has been used for some time in detergents, and is quite harmless. It's more effective than ordinary soap -- the sodium salt of a fatty acid, e.g. sodium laurate -- because the 'sulfate' part makes the polar end (the one that attracts water) more polar. Thus, SDS isn't affected by hard water as much as soap, and is generally better at cleaning things. A few years ago, there was an urban legend that SDS was carcinogenic
As Squink explained, allergy to sulfa drugs (sulfonamides) is unrelated to allergy to SDS. You'd certainly know if you were allergic to SDS -- it's everywhere
. True allergy to SDS is probably extremely rare -- if it exists at all -- though some people with very sensitive skin might find that it irritates them, especially their face. If that's the case, SDS-free facial cleansers are available and generally say they're SDS-free very clearly on the label.