Most individuals do not worry about the chemicals in their shampoo and conditioner.
But what if I told you that there was an ingredient in these products that could be causing some of your hair woes?
Sulfate is a type of detergent found in many shampoos and conditioners.
Their use has landed under fire in recent years for the potential negative effects on hair health.
So what are sulfates, and should you avoid them?
In this blog post, let’s learn all about shampoos with sulfate and find out if it is good for your hair.
History of shampoo
The English term shampoo originated from Hindi champo (चाँपो) and dates to 1762.
The Galician word for “head massage,” champo, comes from northwestern Spain. Also, it’s related to the French champoing (“head massage”).
Shampoos are used in India for thousands of years. The ancient Indians were the first to invent it. They boiled Sapindus (plant), dried gooseberry and herbs to make a concentrated extract.
History of shampoo in Europe?
According to early colonial merchants, Indians used natural plants for many applications.
When they returned to Europe, they introduced the newly acquired behavior.
In 1814, Sake Dean Mahomed, a trader, popularised the practice of shampooing in Britain.
It was first used as a medical treatment. Such treatment included skin irritation, body odor, and other skin conditions.
By the mid-nineteenth century, shampoo was available as a beauty product for the hair. However, the world’s first commercial “shampooing” salon was established by an Englishman named A.J. Parkes in 1856.
As they say, the rest is history!
What are the main ingredients in shampoo?
The ingredients are sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate.
A quick overview of a shampoo:
- Possible average number of chemicals:15
- Chemicals that could be harmful: sulfates, propylene glycol and methylisothiazolinone.
- It may cause symptoms like neurological damage, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption.
What are the many forms of sulfates?
Sulfates are a type of detergent found in many personal care products.
Moreover, you can find this type of detergent in shampoo, toothpaste and soap.
They are responsible for the lather that we associate with these products.
Here are 5 main types of sulfates:
1.Sodium lauryl sulfate:
SLS, they are a harsh detergent that can be irritating the skin and eyes.
2.Sodium laureth sulfate:
SLES, it’s gentler and less likely to cause irritation.
3.Ammonium laureth sulfate:
ALS allows for easier penetration throughout the hair. Resulting in a nice and clean sensation that you would get from a shampoo.
4.Sodium coco sulfate:
The debate about whether these ingredients are safe has been going on for some time now.
Companies who use them state they pose no risk, and even cite research to back up their claim.
Whereas other companies opt against synthetic because of the risks associated with skin irritation and dermatitis.
5.Ammonia lauryl sulfate:
Ammonium laureth sulfates are considered gentle on our hair and skin.
However, if used excessively, they can cause dryness in the form of dandruff or irritations that lead to patchy burns on your scalp.
For a quick reference, check out this video – “How to check shampoo for sulfates”
Different types of hair to consider
Sulfates are surfactants that lather up, making hair look and feel cleaner.
They also remove oils from the scalp and strands—but too much of this can leave hair dry and brittle in its place.
If you have dry hair, look for shampoos that are sodium lauryl sulfate free.
For oily hair
If you have oily hair, find a shampoo that includes salt laureth sulfate. In fact, it is gentler on the scalp while still removing oils.
For thick hair
Sulfates are generally a popular choice for people with thicker hair. As they have a high efficacy in removing hair oil and nutrients.
For thin hair
But, those with thinner hair should take care when using sulfates.
Because they can strip the scalp of natural oils and leave strands feeling dry and brittle.
Do sulfates cause hair loss?
Many people consider sulfates a potential cause of hair loss.
Shampoo is often blamed for scalp irritation and damaging the root. While it can lead to temporary hair loss due to traction alopecia or telogen effluvium.
However, there are no studies that link shampooing with any type of permanent hair loss.
Scientific evidence needed
In actual fact, there is no scientific evidence suggesting sulfate causes hair loss.
Nevertheless, because of popular belief, some people are looking for sulfate free shampoos. Such as soap nuts, homemade shampoo, co-washing (conditioner washing) and others.
Do not use products because of popularity. Always talk to your doctor or do your own research, before making a decision.
The conclusion is that more research focus on this topic would be useful. But so far, there are still no studies linking sulfates and hair loss to permanent hair loss.
Does sulfate shampoos remove protein from hair?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated.
Sulfates are detergents found in many shampoos and other personal care products.
They work by breaking down the surface tension of water. After which, it allows the water to cleanse the skin or hair.
It is true that sulfates are effective at removing dirt and oil from the hair. But they can also strip the hair of its natural oils and proteins.
Damaged and dyed hair
This can lead to damaged hair that is more prone to breakage and split ends.
For this reason, it is important to use a sulfate-free shampoo. If you have damaged or color-treated hair.
But, if you have very oily hair, a sulfate shampoo may be the best option. As it will be more effective at removing excess oil.
In general, it is important to use a gentle shampoo designed for your specific hair type.
If you are not sure which shampoo is best for you, consult with your hair stylist or dermatologist.
They can help identify the best shampoo for your needs, and advice on how to protect your hair from damage.
Can sulfates cause contact dermatitis?
Sulfates can cause contact dermatitis, but it’s rare.
In most cases, sulfate shampoo does not irritate or cause any problems for people.
On the other hand, some people with sensitive skin may be allergic to sulfates. They can experience a rash called dermatophytids.
This rash is often red, bumpy, and itchy.
If you are experiencing skin irritations caused by sulfate, stop using the shampoo. Next, consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist for advice.
If you have dry, frizzy hair
Supposing you have frizzy hair, beware that sulfates can strip your hair of natural oils and moisture.
This can the source of further increase in dryness.
You have dyed hair
If you have chemically treated or dyed hair, you should also avoid sulfates. The chemical processes can damage the hair, and using a sulfate shampoo could worsen it.
If you have a scalp condition
You may be surprised to learn that sulfates can irritate people with scalp conditions. Such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and others.
If you have any of these diseases, talk to your doctor or consider a sulfate free shampoo.
Are sulfate – free shampoos better?
When people turn to “organic” or “natural treatments”, they are searching for a gentler shampoo.
They believe these options will do less harm to their hair and scalp.
In reality, hair care brands often use harsh chemical compounds in place of sulfates.
These alternatives can strip hair of its natural oils and cause scalp irritation.
Sometimes, a sulfate-free shampoo does not imply it is good for your hair and scalp.
Many of these products still contain chemical compounds similar to sulfates.
Benefits and drawbacks of sulfate-free shampoo
People with sensitive skin should look for natural and sulfate-free options. Generally, such cleansing agents are not known to cause side effects
When you first start using sulfate-free shampoo, it may feel different at first.
They will likely take longer to create suds, and the lather might not be as bubbly.
But with a little experimentation, you can find a sulfate-free shampoo that works best for you.
It may take a few washes to get used to the new hair care. But your hair will likely feel softer and more manageable over time.
If hair still feels dry, try using a conditioner or hair mask to help lock in moisture after shampooing.
Long term results
- In the long run, sulfate-free shampoo is better. Since it doesn’t strip natural oils or moisture. For this reason, you will have healthier hair.
- Over time, sulfates can cause breakage if used too often.
- Sulfates can also cause scalp irritation, dandruff and other skin problems.
Best sulfate – free shampoo for every hair type
If you’re looking for a shampoo that’s gentle on your hair and skin, then use a sulfate-free shampoo.
But what are they? And which one is best for you?
There are many great sulfate-free shampoo options on the market, so you can find one that’s for your hair type.
- Aveeno, Fresh Greens Blend Sulfate-Free Shampoo with Rosemary, Peppermint & Cucumber to Thicken & Nourish, Clarifying & Volumizing Shampoo for Thin or Fine Hair, Paraben-Free, 12oz
- Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner SLS Sulfate Free Set – Best Gift for Damaged, Dry, Curly or Frizzy Hair – Thickening for Fine / Thin Hair, Safe for Color and Keratin Treated Hair
Do sulfate-free shampoos really make a difference?
There are other things you can do to help keep your hair at its best.
Consider following these 3 tips when using sulfate-free shampoo:
Wash your hair only as often as you need to.
Oily hair needs to be cleansed as often as required.
On the other hand, dry hair may only need to be washed a few times a week and shampoo less often for better results.
2. Always use conditioner:
Use conditioner every time you wash your hair.
Condition your hair after every shampoo, regardless of how often you wash it. This will help keep it healthy and hydrated.
3.No hot tools:
Ideally, try to avoid using hot tools on your hair. The heat can damage your hair and make it more susceptible to breakage.
If you must use hot tools, use a heat protectant spray first.
A good heat protectant will help shield your hair from the damaging effects of the heat. It’s a wise investment for anyone who uses hot tools often.
By following these tips, you can help keep your hair looking and feeling good. Even though if you are still using sulfate shampoo.
Although sulfates are not always human and environmental toxicity, they can be harmful to some.
As long as you have a sensitive scalp, or dry, fine, or brittle hair, it might be best to choose a sulfate free option.
Given you are unsure about the symptoms or effects of anything, see a doctor or dermatologist.
If you found this article useful, check out my other blog post!
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Disclaimer: We do not recommend or encourage you to use any of these statements as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. They are for educational purposes only. The FDA has not conducted any studies on them. If you have a medical concern, see your doctor immediately.