What are Sulfates and Why Using a Sulfate Free Shampoo is Recommended?
Probably you’ve already heard about sulfate free shampoos. Do you know why these type of hair products become more and more popular, why sulfates should be avoided and are they really bad for hair and skin?
The sulfates - sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES) are the most commonly used surfactants in personal care products like hair shampoo, body wash, soap, toothpaste, etc.
The surfactants are those ingredients that attract the impurities and take them away from the surface while rinsing. The sulfates are widely used for this purpose as they do what they are meant to do perfectly – they have to clean and they really clean. Also, they create a lot of foam, and people like when the shampoo or the body wash makes big foam. And finally, they are cheap.
The biggest problem with the sulfates is that they really clean so very well, that even strip the natural body oils from the skin. You may think this is not a big deal, but think twice. Stripping the precious natural oils means dry, irritated scalp; dehydrated, fried looking locks; dry skin.
Dry scalp cannot nurture the hairs. This may result in hair thinning, even hair loss.
There are many controversial opinions about sulfates safety, but no one disputes that they irritate skin and eyes.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) are considered relatively safer than sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES), concerning contamination with ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE.
Some researchers link up the sulfates with hormonal imbalance, eye deformities in children, cancer, and as the scalp and skin structure is porous, carries the ingredients directly into the bloodstream. Others claim that the concentration of sulfates in most of the products is harmless and only very high concentration is toxic. Still, there isn’t a consensus so far.
We may ask why the cosmetic companies continue to use sulates as cleaning agents in personal care products. May be because they are cheap, or because they don’t care, who knows?
In my opinion, every woman with colored, permed, keratin treated, dry, damaged, curly hair should use sulfate free shampoo and will notice a big difference. The rest are free to make their own choice by personal experience and preferences.
My personal experience made me an admirer of the sulfate free products.
The sulfate free shampoos contain mild surfactants that clean without causing hair damage and skin irritation. Most of them contain natural and organic ingredients, and are free of parabens, phthalates, DEA, MEA, TEA, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes and fragrances. And this is how it should be!
I cannot say which is the best sulfate free shampoo, but below are listed some decent hair cleansers that worth trying:
Super Sleek Smoothing Shampoo by Ojon - sulfate and paraben free shampoo for frequent use, not tested on animals. Smoothes the locks, lathers well, seals in moisture. Good for all hair types, especially dry, damaged and chemically treated.
Pureology Purify Shampoo is a great natural hair product, essential for colour-treated hair maintenance. Contains extra mild cleaning agents, detoxifies hair and removes chlorine and product build-ups. Natural, sulfate and salt free.
Sexy Hair Concepts Healthy Sexy Hair Chocolate Soy Milk Shampoo - Sulfate free shampoo that gently cleanses, nourishes, doesn’t strips the color, makes hair smooth and shiny.
Ole Henriksen Natural Hair Wash w/ Sea Kelp is sulfate and paraben free. Cleans gently, doesn’t strip natural hair moisture, maintains the locks hydrated, manageable, shiny, naturally bouncing. Nourishes and soothes the scalp.
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Blonde Shampoo with Seasilk - sulfate free hair product that is specially formulated to refresh light tones and to eliminate brassiness. All Alterna hair cleansers are sulfate free and contain natural ingredients.
Abba Pure & Natural Hair Care Shampoos are 100% vegan natural cleansers for different hair types and needs – color protective, detoxifying, moisturizing, volumizing. All shampoos are sulfate, DEA and synthetic dyes free.
John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo is my favourite hair wash. It is sulfate free and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. All John Masters Organics hair products are free from sulfates, parabens, DEA, TEA.
Some other brands, producing sulfate free, natural shampoos: