4 Apr 2013

My thoughts on sulfates


If you've been paying attention to any of the curl/hair media flying around these days then you'll most likely know about the controversy over sulphates in cosmetic products. Sulphates aren't completely evil but they are not completely good for your skin, hair or nails either. Let me tell you why.....


Sulphates are cheap chemicals that are put in products as a detergent. This means it will make the product foam/bubble/lather. Products that will typically have sulphates are shampoos, face washes/cleansers, hand washes, body washes, bubble bath, washing up liquid and anything else you wash/clean with. Sulphates will pretty much strip any dirt/oil off the applied surface. This great for greasy dishes or cooking pans, but not so great on our bodies. We need our natural body oils to protect our hair and more importantly our skin. Oil acts as a natural barrier to almost anything (frizz, humidity, physical strain on skin and hair strands, and ageing) and if we are stripping our natural oils all the time then we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to the elements. Now adult skin is a bit tougher and thicker than a child's so it isn't detrimental to us, but the thought of parents using sulphate based products for their little one's bubble bath just makes shudder. Most kids have sensitive skin and come out with rashes that we think are caused by clothes, dirt or allergies when in fact sulphates could be the problem. It disgust me to see so many baby bath products with sulphates in them. It scares me to think about all those mum's that think they're doing the right thing for their child's eczema by using these products when they still might be aggravating the skin. I have to admit that baby bath products are definitely milder than normal bath products and have much lower levels of sulphates, but it still doesn't change the fact that the same chemical used do obliterate grime and dirt in a car engine is being put on my skin on a regular basis. I've noticed that cheaper products tend to be much more bubbly than other products which would mean they have more detergents. Like I said its a cheap chemical and companies who use it are obviously thinking more about the financial costs of their products rather than the quality. I think it's about time this issue was addressed. Why bother to charge me extra for a shampoo with all these exotic oils and ingredients when you're going to ruin it with a cheap detergent.


If you are having a mental heart attack right now don't worry because not all sulphates are bad for your hair. Take ammonium laureth sulphate for example, although it sounds similar it is a very different chemical and perfectly safe to use on the skin. As far as I know sodium lauryl sulfate is the demon in disguise here but I am not sure about sodium laureth sulphate.  I have to admit a big foamy bath is always fun/relaxing, and the milder sulphates are good if you want a deep cleanse (maybe for oily hair or sweaty skin after the gym) but be careful not to over-do it. Especially if you are showering/bathing everyday, this is what causes the irritation in the first place.Make sure you follow up with a good moisturiser after every wash even if you're not using sulphates (trust me it'll scare those wrinkles a decade away). However an additional problem is that most sulphate free products can be a bit more pricey than regular products but there is definitely a wide range of good quality stuff out there. After ditching the sulphates I have noticed that my hair and skin are less dry and flaky after getting out of the shower/bath.
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Personally I just stay away from them altogether as I have dry skin and hair. But do your research first before making any drastic changes. In terms of hair it is probably best to keep shampooing to a maximum of once a week. Even if it is sulphate free, any shampoo will strip your hair. I tried washing with just conditioner for one month and my scalp felt terrible, but only because I was using products that would build up on my scalp. As long as you don't over-do it on the styling products then I think it is okay to wash with just conditioners as these still have very mild cleansing properties. For a deep clean I think a sulphate based shampoo once a month (or every 2 weeks) won't kill anyone. It really depends on how much product is being left in the hair and finding the right balance of cleanliness and natural oils. I do have few exceptions which are the Dove and Palmolive products which feel much more moisturising than any other brand have come across yet they still have sulphates in them. I now use a particular brand called Halo's and Horn's which is a low price range of baby bathtime products free of sulphates and other harsh chemicals, but I will talk about that in another post.

I strongly suggest you read this website as it has some shocking facts about sulphates: