5 Reasons to Skip Sulfates

by | Updated: December 2nd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Is your hair looking dull, dry or damaged? That sweet-smelling, innocent-looking bottle of shampoo in your shower could be a culprit! It’s all because of a specific ingredient responsible for its satisfyingly sudsy texture: sulfates.

sulfates in shampoo

No doubt by now you’ve heard about the movement toward sulfate-free soaps, shampoos and body washes. But why all the fuss?

Sulfates are a group of detergents and surfactants that are commonly used in personal care products because they are an inexpensive way to provide foam and lather. On the label, you’re likely to see them listed as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). But why are they bad?

Here are 5 reasons to skip sulfates:

  1. Sulfates strip away natural oils from your scalp & skin. That dry, brittle feeling that’s plaguing your ‘do could be due to exposure from sulfates.
  2. Sulfates may cause irritation to skin and scalp. Sodium laureth/lauryl sulfates are known irritants, especially to the eyes and skin. If you have an additional sensitivity to sulfates, you may experience increased irritation to your skin or scalp after using a certain shampoo or body wash.
  3. Sulfates contribute to environmental pollution. After all that lather goes down the drain, it may affect aquatic organisms, as SLS and SLES can both be toxic to fish and plant life.
  4. Sulfates can cause damage and frizz, especially to color- or keratin-treated hair. Keratin-treated hair craves moisture, and because sulfates can strip away your hair’s natural oils, it’s recommended that you use sulfate-free products to cleanse and condition. The same goes for untreated hair, too – if your strands are already prone to dryness and frizz, you’ll want to steer clear of sulfates.
  5. Lastly, there are other ways to get the lather you love.
    Sure, some sulfate-free shampoos don’t have the same satisfying lather as their sulfate-filled counterparts. But there are sulfate-free alternatives that will cleanse, lather and dazzle your ‘do, using herbal extracts and coconut-based surfactants. I’ve tried many different shampoos on my lengthy locks, and my personal favorites are Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo for a little extra moisture, Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat for when my hair is experiencing well-water buildup and Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo with Green Tea and Lime for effective, everyday cleansing.