Sulfates in Shampoos — What Does it Mean?

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By now, almost all of you have probably heard about the latest buzz in the beauty business — sulfate free shampoo. But, has your stylist really explained what that means? If not, we’ve gathered another listed of the pro’s and con’s about switching to sulfate free shampoo so you can use the information provided to decide if switching to sulfate free is in your immediate future. Here they are!

First, lets talk about the Pros…

1.) Sulfate-free literally means free of ALL sulfates (yes, that’s right, it is not just one ingredient). This applies to all of these commonly used foaming agents like ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate or sodium laurel sulfate, and the list goes on… So, what do they do to your hair? They are the primary ingredients responsible for lather. Our hair, actually, does not require a “soapy” lather in order to get in clean. Mild lather is actually preferred for our hair in order to maintain natural oils in our hair and promote over-all scalp health. So, with that being that, sulfates are extremely harsh and drying to our hair AND our scalp.

2.) Well, now that you know how harsh these added foaming agents can be, it shouldn’t be hard to believe how they can add to and even cause frizz. There has been ton’s of buzz about sulfate-free shampoo bringing curly hair back to life simply by reducing frizz. If switching to sulfate-free can calm the frizz of a curly mane, imagine what it can do for all other hair types. This is why these are the preferred shampoos for all keratin treatments — not only does it increase the longevity of the treatments but it also helps keep breakthrough frizz to a minimum!

3.) So, down to the nitty gritty. Let’s start by looking at where else you can find sulfates: floor cleaners, engine cleaners, carpet cleaners, and many others. Since our head certainly does not get as much traffic and grime as our carpets and engines, I think it’s safe to say our scalps do not need to washed with something that potent! The most alarming thing it’s used for? It’s used to induce skin irritation in medical trials in order to judge the healing affects of pending topical medications. Kind of crazy right?

Now, what are the Cons?

1.) Because of it’s easy accessibility sulfate containing shampoos are everywhere! You can go to any drug store OR salon and find a shampoo containing sulfates, but it’s much harder to find sulfate-free. The other down side? There’s a MUCH larger variety of products for every hair type you can possibly think of that contain sulfates (although, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are helping the hair type they claim on the bottle)

2.) Another major factor in making the decision to switch to sulfate free that seems to hold some people back is the price. You’ll find that most sulfate-free shampoos are far more expensive than shampoos that contain sulfate. Why? Well, just like organic or “natural” produce is more expensive, the same goes for hair products. The reason? Cost of production increases and you take away the affordability and accessibility of sulfates.

3.) If you’re someone who is used to lots of lather — you will more than likely find yourself using double the amount of a sulfate free shampoo. With sulfate-containing shampoos, a little goes a long way when it comes to lathering up. However, because sulfate-free products are less likely to get a rich lather, people find themselves using more at first. However, once they have adjust and saw that their hair is still coming out clean, they found themselves back to using the same amount as they used to.


So, in my opinion? I would say despite the slight increase in price, sulfate-free is the obvious choice. The less frizz, the better!

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