Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sulfates and Your Hair

In the haircare world, there's lots of terminology, no-no's, and fads flying around. One of the highly discussed terms we hear about is "Sulfates". I'm sure if you lurk on sites like Long Hair Care Forum or Hairlista you have come across this term. Let's delve a little more into this.

What are sulfates?
Sulfates are basically surfactants, the substances that decrease the surface tension of the water so that it spreads out more easily. The reason your shampoo lathers is mainly due to the sulfates in it. Because the sulfates in shampoos are so strong, they are excellent in removing dirt and grime. They allow the water stick to dirt and grime so that they can be removed from hair and scalp.

The most commonly used sulfates are Ammonium Lauren Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Sodium Laurel Sulfate (commonly known in the hair world as simply SLS)

Are they good or bad for your hair?

It's pretty much a known fact that sulfates aren't very good for your hair, or your body in general. Shampoo and other beauty product companies still continue using them regardless of their bad reputation. Why? Simple. They're cheap to make and that rich lather is very hard to imitate with other "healthier" options.

Besides shampoo, what other products use these sulfates?
Unless otherwise stated, you'll find sulfates in: toothpaste, dish washing liquid, soaps, laundry detergent, carpet cleaner, body wash, shaving cream, bubble bath, stain remover.

So...what's your opinion on sulfates?
I'm not necessarily against sulfates as a whole. I haven't seen or felt any adverse effects by using body washes, dish washing liquid, soaps, or laundry detergent. I have, however, tried a sulfate-free toothpaste and while it was hard to get used to not having bubbles, I kinda liked it.

Yeah, yeah yeah, but this is a hair blog.. How do you feel about sulfates for your hair?
I didn't have a problem with sulfate shampoos---that is until I started using SULFATE FREE shampoos. I always suffered from dry scalp and wondered why. I started hearing things about sulfate-free shampoos, and sulfates causing scalp irritation. So I said, what the heck, let me try this out. I did it.. and dandruff/dry scalp has become a thing of the past! My scalp is well moisturized, my hair is soft and is well's a win win situation. I tried going back to using sulfates to see if the sulfates really were the culprit causing my dry scalp. LOW AND BEHOLD, MY DANDRUFF CAME BACK! So now, I know the deal. I'm a sulfate-free girl, except for my clarifying or relaxer days.

Spill the beans. What sulfate-free shampoo do you use?

Final word
Ladies (and gentlemen), it's not about whether or not I use sulfates. It's not about me bashing sulfates or those that use them. I just believe we have to arm ourselves with information on the things we choose to buy/use. Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. There are thousands upon thousands of products that stare you in the face every time you go into a beauty supply, Walmart, or pharmacy. Before you reach into your pocket to spend your hard earned money, know what you're buying and know what works for you.

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