Somewhere along the way in recent history, sulfate-free shampoos got sucked into the abyss of misconceptions about haircare products. Thanks to aggressive (and, dare we say greedy) marketing strategies in the ultra-competitive health, beauty and grooming industry, there is a lot of talk about real and perceived concerns in the continual search for professional hair products that are healthy for us, or at least not dangerous for us.
The misinformation about sulfates has caused many to question what type of shampoo is truly best for their hair. Like all false rumors that stick, information about sulfate-free shampoos is fueled by companies that twist science, flood the market with overcomplicated explanations, and turn what should be a simple choice about what shampoo to buy – into a confusing endeavor. Therefore, it’s only right that we delve into the world of sulfate-free shampoos and answer key questions to provide insight & education, and to debunk some of those old myths surrounding lather in shampoos.
What Are Sulfates?
In a word, sulfates (such as sodium lauryl sulfates) are compounds included in shampoo that aid in the formation of lather in your hair. Sulfates are surfactants, which are fancy names that indicate they attract dirt molecules that build up over time. These sulfates are washed away by water, leaving hair feeling squeaky clean. Isn't that fantastic? The trouble is, while sulfates' capacity to draw dirt makes them perfect for cleansing, they can also be excessively strong at times, causing damage to your hair. Because sulfates cling to buildup in your hair, they take hair oils along with it.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate are the three sulfate compounds most commonly used in the haircare industry. Each kind has a variable level of irritancy — "-eth" variants are milder than "-yl" versions, while ammonium versions are gentler than sodium versions – but they can all irritate delicate skin and hair.
According to the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, sulfates are deemed safe in quantities below 1% or when used for short periods of time, but any quantity over 2% will induce skin irritation. A sulfate shampoo, on the other hand, usually has a concentration of roughly 15%. To counteract the drying effects of detergent, most shampoos include conditioning ingredients.
Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate have been linked to contact dermatitis in certain people. People with eczema or sensitive skin may not be able to tolerate them as a result.
Can Sulfate Shampoos Cause Hair Loss?
Yes. Hair loss is usually a slow process caused by heredity. But, when it happens suddenly or progresses swiftly, that’s an entirely different topic. According to the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation (NTEF), this is most commonly caused by stress, a medical condition, or "improper usage of shampoos containing SLS.” Poor rinsing can cause hair loss by depositing SLS in hair follicles, which then penetrates the scalp and corrodes the follicle. SLS decreases new hair growth by roughly eight times slower than normal.
Why Should You Use A Sulfate-Free Shampoo?
Because sulfates are harsh cleansers, people with dry, dyed, frizzy, kinky, or otherwise fragile hair should seriously consider avoiding them. Sulfate-free shampoos and cleansers help to preserve natural oils in the hair, which helps to keep it moisturized. Avoiding sulfates may also help to alleviate scalp discomfort. If you utilize keratin treatments, three washes with a sulfate-based shampoo is all it takes to erase the effects.
Making the switch to a non-toxic, sulfate-free shampoo can, for some, be intimidating and unsettling. You may notice that sulfate-free shampoos don't lather as much as sulfate-containing shampoos, but that doesn't mean they don't clean your hair. On the contrary, you can still have that fresh feeling without causing damage to your hair.
The benefits of using a sulfate-free shampoo are many, including:
1. It's Ideal For People With Sensitive ScalpsIf your skin is more than a little sensitive, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns that sulfate-containing shampoos and other personal care items could aggravate it. If your skin is easily irritated, switching to a sulfate-free shampoo may help. However, if you're suffering from itchy, flaky scalp, or red areas, make an appointment with your dermatologist or doctor to determine what's truly going on with your scalp.
2. It Doesn't Make Your Hair Dry
Shampoos made with heavy sulfates, according to the AAD, can be drying to some hair types. If your hair has become very dry, it's time to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo.
3. It won’t irritate your eyes.
If you’ve ever gotten a sulfate shampoo in your eyes, you know it can be a painful experience. Switching to a shampoo without sulfates can help keep your eyes from becoming red and inflamed. The McGill Office for Science and Society report that many sulfates are extremely irritating to the eyes than compared to products without them. So, if you're prone to getting suds in your face or eyes and want to avoid the stinging, try a shampoo without sulfates.
5. It's a Trend You’ll Be Happy You Tried
Sulfate-free hair care products, particularly shampoos, have been a significant trend in recent years. If you are curious about the latest haircare trends, joining the sulfate-free shampoo revolution is a decision you will not regret. We are all different and our skin and hair have unique needs, so it is best to try several sulfate-free shampoos until you find the one that works best for you.
What Is The Best Way To Use A Sulfate-Free Shampoo?
Once you've made the decision to use a sulfate-free shampoo, your hair and scalp will reward you. Going sulfate-free has a lot of advantages, including less frizz and oiliness, as well as a less sensitive scalp issues. You'll be able to devote more time and money to doing what you love rather than maintaining your 'do.
But what will the process of getting sulfate-free entail? Although you are aware of the potential payoff, Rome was not built in a day. It takes time to see results! What should you expect while your hair and scalp get used to the new formula?
To begin with, using a sulfate-free solution is a unique sensory experience. You'll need to follow a few simple procedures to achieve a terrific wash with a sulfate-free product.
- Before using a sulfate-free shampoo, soak your hair with plenty of water. This is true of ordinary shampoo as well, but sulfate-free shampoo requires it even more. It's difficult to apply the product and spread it through your hair if your hair isn't totally moistened.
- Use a smaller amount of product than you believe is necessary. When sulfate-free shampoo fails to lather, most consumers use more product. It still cleans your hair even though it doesn't foam up.
- Instead of using more product, use more water. If you're having trouble getting any lather from a sulfate-free shampoo, use more water rather than more product. The shampoo will be activated and dispersed into your hair with the help of the water.
- Rinse twice with shampoo. It's tougher to get rid of dirt and grease from your hair without the foaming action. The second shampoo cleans your hair and lifts it out completely. Plus, the second shampoo will lather up faster.
- After washing, thoroughly rinse your hair. Rinse your hair well. Your hair will feel heavy if there is any residue left over from the sulfate-free shampoo.
- Apply a conditioner, like Zenore's Moisturizing Conditioner. Condition your hair down to the roots, then rinse well.
Many haircare companies that sell sulfate shampoos continue to do so simply because there is a market for it. Some are catching on to the sulfate-free trend as consumers become more educated, while others market shampoos that contain harmful detergents using creative language to disguise the fact what they are selling is actually harmful, not helpful, to your hair. If you want to clean your hair in the most healthy, organic way possible, you should avoid sulfates completely. Trust us – you’ll be glad you did!