Sulfate Free Shampoo: To Use Or Not To Use That Is The Question

Sulfate Free Shampoo
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Think you’re not using a sulfate free shampoo?

Well, there is one quick way to find out. All you need to do is ask yourself does your favorite shampoo have a nice foamy, rich lather when you look at your hair in the mirror? If you can answer YES to that question, your shampoo is not sulfate free.

What does this mean for your hair? Quit simply it means that not only is your shampoo doing its job of cleaning your dirty hair, but it is doing more than you want too. Unfortunately, it stripping your hair of its natural oils and making your hair dry as a bone.

I know, I know you think that sounds bad, but the truth hurts sometimes. And the truth of the matter is sulfate is nothing more than detergent. Detergent is found in soap detergent, laundry products, liquid soaps, personal cleansing and household cleaning products.

Most sulfate-based shampoos have properties that mostly consist of surfactants. According to Michael Gordon, the creator of Purely Perfect Shampoo, shampoo’s most basic component is its foam.

These common sulfates are Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – also known as SLS, SLES, and ALS respectively. Other sulfates are TEA Lauryeth Sulfate, and Sodium Myreth Sulphate, which are also found in various personal cleansing products such as toothpastes, shaving creams, and soaps. They usually give off a great lather and wash one’s hair well.

For most people, the more lather the shampoo has, the cleaner and better the hair, however, there exists negative effects that can damage one’s scalp and hair after long term of use.

Unlike regular shampoos, non-sulfate shampoos are the kind of shampoo that cleanses your hair without the usual sulfate detergents found in sulfate-based shampoos.

Can sulfate free shampoo strengthen your hair and scalp?

Macadamia Oil Shampoo

A quick run-through of what a sulfate free shampoo can do:

(1) lessen the irritation and/or inflammation on your scalp;

(2) make your hair feel softer and not dry;

(3) maintain the applied color of your hair for a longer period of time;

(4) minimize breakage;

(5) reduce hair loss.

The chemicals found in hair products are based on sulfur – a highly used chemical. Not only are they present in personal cleansing products, but they are also in other toxic products such as car gas, fireworks, fertilizers and fumigants.

Think about this: when scientist use these type of chemicals they wear masks, gloves, and proper working attire before dealing with synthetic chemicals, even in powdered form.

synthetic chemicals

When buying these type of products, they usually come with a warning tag that states that you must limit your contact with sulfur. If you have prolonged contact with the said chemical and you notice that something is wrong, contact your physician asap. There are also warnings that state you should keep the product out of reach of children and avoid having direct contact with your eyes.

That should give you an indication of how bad sulfate can be and why you want a sulfate free shampoo!

Back in early 2004, sulfate free shampoo first made its appearance in supermarkets, organic stores, and beauty salons. At that time, there was also a study about sulfates being unsafe. The World Health Organization and the United States Food and Drug Administration state that sulfates (and parabens) can be absorbed by the liver, mimicking the behavior of the body’s estrogen, and the result of it can disrupt your body’s system.

Furthermore, it is said that these synthesized sulfates can contain, 4-dioxane, a chemical that is considered to be a carcinogen. It is reported that it has a miniscule amount of capacity to give an individual cancer.

With this, sulfates can be considered a health hazard because of its possibility of giving a strong allergic reaction to a person. Yves Lanctôt, a chemist in Laval, states that sulfates, particularly SLS and SLES, can lead to short-term symptoms such as:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Skin Dehydration

It can also give you strong skin irritation for at least fifteen minutes, which could explain why sulfate-based shampoos can irritate your scalp, even more if you have delicate skin and scalp.

When manufacturing these synthesized sulfates, a mineral oil jelly called petrolatum is used to produce these chemicals. Usually found in a product called petroleum jelly, this mineral functions as a barrier: from the scalp to the roots to the strands of your hair.

However, it also blocks the pores of the scalp, not letting the natural oils of your hair give nutrients to the strands of your hair. Again, the end result, the jelly leaves your hair dry and prone to frizz.

dry hair

As the synthesized sulfates and petrolatum work together, your hair will become prone to frequent split ends and breaking. Since there are no natural oils that would keep your hair healthy and strong, it will make your hair brittle, have weak roots, and thin your hair altogether.

In addition, it would leave your hair and scalp vulnerable to bacteria, which will result in you losing some of your hair. Not cool!

When using sulfate-based shampoo on dyed hair, the chemicals will almost immediately remove the applied color. The reason for this is sulfates consider the applied color pigmentation as dirt, and the synthesized chemicals act as a detergent.

With the petrolatum blocking the natural oils from the hair, the dye cannot hold on to your hair strands. The natural oils are the essential oils needed for the color to maintain the quality of both dye and hair.

In addition, a sulfate free shampoo does not let your scalp and hair be prone to flakes and dandruff. It is recommended for everyone – even more for individuals who have sensitive scalp and/or damaged hair. According to an interview of Dr. Milton Moore, an example of a sensitive scalp problem would be Folliculitis Induced Alopecia. It is where the individual loses her hair due to frequent inflammation of the hair follicles due to bacteria. It destroys the hair and stops it from growing back.

Another stated scalp problem by Dr. Moore would be the demodex folliculorum. It is a natural mite contaminant in the scalp; however, it has the capacity of increasing the inflammation of your hair. It can destroy the pityrosporum ovale, a micro flora hair unit, resulting in rapid hair loss. Due to these occurrences, some women have to wear wigs or hide under braids or weaves and not by choice.

In conclusion, a sulfate free shampoo is better than sulfate-based shampoos because it maintains and refines the quality of your hair and scalp. It doesn’t ruin one’s hair color and still cleans and protects your hair and scalp from bacteria.

Furthermore, sulfate free shampoo improves your hairs natural oils, which serves as the source of nutrients for you hair. It makes your hair healthier looking and definitely thicker. Finally, it also makes your hair roots stronger.

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Sherry Harris is a solopreneur at Sherry's Life. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and, if you have thoughts on this article, join the conversation on Facebook.