What Are Sulfates? Are Sulfates Bad for Your Hair?

sulfates

Sulfate-free this, sulfate-free that. In today’s post, I will be speaking about the infamous (yet not that well known) ingredient that is the sulphate!

The reason I am writing this post is that there was a video that I put up on YouTube a while ago where I was reviewing a range of products catered towards women with natural hair. In it I mentioned sulfates and how long-term, prolonged use of them may lead to hair loss. Though the statements I made were not unfounded as I had done a ton of research before creating the video, I may have made it seem like “Brand ABC” causes hair loss when really, that’s not what I meant, AT ALL. A whole lot of the beauty products we use have sulfates in them and you could use them until you’re 100 years old without getting affected by them. This post is to clear all that up.

 

Please note that while sulfates are commonly found in not only shampoos but also in a number of other hygiene products, in this post I will be concentrating more on sulfates found in shampoos (I may add to this post over time, if I do so I will state it and add the word “updated” to the title of this post).

 

What Are Sulfates?

Sulfates are primarily surfactants, meaning they have the ability to attract both oil and water. They are detergents found in many household and beauty products. Because of their unique properties they allow soaps, shampoos and body washes to separate dirt and oil from your hair and help actually clean your hair. They are also the reason why shampoos and other beauty products lather when mixed with water.

 

The most common sulfates found in shampoos are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS)

 

Why do Sulfates Have Such a Bad Rep?

Firstly, sulfates do not cause cancer! I’ve heard this circulating around in the natural hair world but it has not scientifically been proven. While sulfates are extremely efficient at cleansing your hair and scalp to ensure that all the grease, gunk and oil is removed, sometimes they do too good a job at this and may end up stripping your hair of its natural oils and may end up making hair dry and brittle. Dry and brittle hair is more prone to breakage than well-moisturized hair so the resultant effect of sulfates is hair breakage and in extreme cases this damage can encourage hair loss.

 

Should I Throw My Sulfate Shampoos Away Then?

No. You do not have to throw your sulfate shampoos away. One of the reasons I say this is because sulfates are the reason why it is your hair feels so fresh and clean after a good shampoo. They help, as stated above, with cleaning your scalp and most of the shampoos out there contain sulfates, so there is no avoiding them (well, not really).

 

There are precautionary measures that can be taken to ensure that your hair stays as healthy as possible even though you make regular use of shampoos that contain sulfates in them. Over the years the effects of using sulfates in products for hair and skin have been noticed and this has ensured that beauty products are made with as low a concentration of sulfates as possible.

 

If you use a lot of hair oils and moisturizers, overtime you may subject your hair and scalp to a lot of buildup that simple co-washing may not be able to solve. Sulfate shampoos, depending on your hair habits and how easily build up occurs, may sometimes be the only answer to ensuring that your hair is properly cleansed and is back to its fresh state. It is all about frequency and moderation.

 

So How Do I Ensure I Use Sulfate Shampoos Properly?

There’s a video for that! I have plans to make easy DIY videos on how to use sulfate shampoos and not have them strip your hair of its natural moisture too much. If you would liketo watch that video please let me know in the comments section below. I also plan on shooting a video about sulfates and talk about content that I have written about in this blog post and would also like to expand on things menitoned above. Let me know if you would like that too in the comments section below.

 

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