Around this site and in the Community forum you may hear
people talking about sulfate-free shampoo and questioning its necessity with hair systems. Is it
really that important to go
Well, I'll give you the facts and you can decide.
The purpose of
In a nutshell, sulfates like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are detergents that are typically used as
cleaning agents in shampoos. They are especially important in products that
require significant grease-cutting capabilities, like dish soaps and industrial
cleaners. And, just to give you that crispy clean feeling, sulfates also create
bubbles and lather. However, lather is not a necessary part of the cleaning
process, we're just conditioned to think it is.
Why they're not
always so good
The problem is those grease-cutting agents not only remove
oil, dirt and grime from your hair just like they do for your dishes, but they
also strip away good oils and moisture from your hair. That's why a conditioner
is required to replace some moisture back into your locks.
Even for some naturally growing hair, sulfates strip too
much of the oils away, causing the hair to dry out. Because the hair in
processed hair systems is already not being naturally conditioned by scalp
oils, and because the outer cuticle layers have been stripped away, sulfates
can dry the hair out even more. This
can shorten the life of the hair and contribute to breakage and shedding, as
well as trouble managing your hairstyle.
For those reasons alone, it's probably a pretty good idea to
try and find a sulfate-free shampoo that you like. It could be the thing that
helps extend the life of your hair a little or allow it to be a little more
What to look for
So when you're checking product labels, you really want to
focus on avoiding Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
for the most part. However, there are other sulfates that actually can
condition the hair. So, if you see some other sulfates further down in the
ingredients list, and they're not SLS or SLES, they're probably OK.
In the meantime, if you're looking for a recommendation,
there are a lot of sulfate-free products in our Store. Some client favorites
include products from Nearly Natural and RemySoft.
And, if you need to buy an over-the-counter shampoo in a
pinch, you'll likely find several options in a beauty supply store versus a
grocery store or local pharmacy. Lots of high quality brands carry sulfate-free
So, to answer the question as to whether or not sulfate-free
products are necessary, well I guess
the answer is no. If you're just looking for a way to clean your hair then I
guess it doesn't matter. However, if you're experiencing very dry hair,
breakage or shedding, it's probably worth going the extra mile to help your
hair stay moisturized, or at least stop intentionally drying it out. If avoiding
sulfates helps, it's something you might want to consider.
What do you think? Do you have a preference of sulfate-free vs. standard shampoo? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.