Sulfate free shampoo is gaining in popularity bit by bit. Walk around the hair shampoo section of any drug store and you will see the words sulfate free emphasized in big letters on many of the bottles.
Is this a fad or a marketing gimmick or are sulfate shampoo’s better for your hair and scalp?
The answer to this does depend a lot on everyone’s individual hair and scalp condition.
What Are Sulfates.
The quick answer is that they make products foam and lather.
Does your shampoo easily lather when you wash your hair? If so then it will certainly contain sulfates.
Sulfates are chemicals that are used in cleansing agents. Such as many of your household cleaners, grooming, dental and bath products plus of course a lot of shampoo’s.
Sulfates are synthetic surfactants which means that they attract both oil and water. So allowing you to wash away dirt and grime or dead skin very easily.
The popular ones seen on shampoo ingredients lists are Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate and Ammonium laureth sulfate.
Known as SS, SlS and ALS in their shortened forms.
Now this is where I put on my save the planet hat.
Today these ingredients are looked at as controversial because they are produced from petroleum and plant sources like Palm oil.
Petroleum based products – Increase the impact on climate change and pollution
Palm oil. – The deforestation of the tropical rain forests for palm oil plantations.
How Your Shampoo Cleanses Your Hair.
Your shampoo cleanses your hair due to a group of molecules that are termed MICELLE.
One end of these molecules is an oil loving end and is attracted to the dirt and sebum in your hair and on your scalp.
Whist the other end of the molecules is attracted to water.
When you apply the shampoo and massage this through your hair the oil loving end of the micelles are attracted to the dirt and sebum.
Then as you thoroughly rinse your hair with water. The water loving end of the micelles gets attracted and pulls the whole micelle with it. Including any oil, dirt or dead skin on your hair and scalp.
Sulfate Free Shampoos Help To Maintain Your Natural Oils.
The major plus to shampooing your hair with a sulfate free shampoo is that they are a lot milder. Because the sulfates are replaced by cleansing agents made from coconut, vegetable and fruit sugars.
Although this may mean that you will have to work a little harder to achieve a lather.
The benefits are worth it as your hair and scalps natural oils will not be over stripped.
And keeping your natural hair oils becomes more important as your hair ages. Because like your skin your hair tends to become dryer with age.
Shampoos that contain sulfates do a very good job when it comes to getting your hair clean with very little effort on your part.
In fact in some cases you could say to clean as they do strip away a lot of the sebum / natural oils from your hair and scalp. Which in turn can make your hair feel dry and brittle.
At times even naturally oily hair can become dry due to the use of sulfates in the shampoo.
If you are dealing with a oily hair and scalp. Try using a sulfate free shampoo like Holistics Degrease Moisture Control shampoo.
And you may find that by not using a strong detergent that your scalp naturally produces less oil.
4 Reasons When A Sulfate Free Shampoo Is Best For Your Hair.
Reason 1. I do recommend a sulfate free shampoo to all my clients who wash their hair every day. And you may be one of the many people who do. The reason for this is to help improve moisture retention in your hair.
Because a constant heavy stripping of your natural oils by a sulfate shampoo can leave your hair feeling rough and very dry.
Reason 2. If you have a sensitive skin, you may find that a staying away from shampoos containing sulfates is your best bet. Because sulfates are an irritant and could cause dryness or redness and an itchy feeling.
Reason 3. Maintaining as much moisture as possible is very important if you happen to have frizzy or curly hair. As a shampoo that is sulfate free will help to maintain your natural hair and scalp oils it will leave your hair with more moisture.
Reason 4. Sulfates do not work well with some chemical processes that you may have had carried out on your hair.
Keratin treatments being one. As the sulfates will undo the results of your treatment much faster.
The same can be said when caring for your hair if you have colored or bleached hair. As the harsher the shampoo the quicker you color will fade. Although it is said that this has not been scientifically proven yet.
Interestingly enough though you will find that all good shampoos that are made especially for washing colored hair are in fact sulfate free. So that must tell us something.
Sulfate Shampoo For Removing Product Build Up.
Now as for a good time to use a sulfate shampoo. I believe a good sulfate shampoo is beneficial for your hair if you happen to be a person who uses a lot of products on your hair. Such as serums, oils or a lot of styling products.
Because the harsher stripping properties of the sulfate shampoo will help to remove all of the build up from those products. Compensate for the harsh shampoo by applying a conditioner to finish.
The Best Way To Use Your Sulfate Free Shampoo.
I find one of the biggest complaints from people that have used a sulfate free shampoo is that they miss all that lather on their hair.
Psychologically building a lather as we shampoo our hair makes us feel that it is cleaner. And a lot of this thought is due to the way shampoos have been marketed.
When shampooing the hair most of us will squirt a little shampoo into our hands and then run it through the hair and scalp. Massage it around for a little while and without too much effort we see and feel lots of suds and bubbles.
The best way to achieve more suds with a shampoo that is sulfate free is to emulsify it first before applying it to your hair and scalp.
To do this put a small amount of the shampoo into your hand and add to it a little spray from the shower.
By gently rubbing your hands together you will pre lather your shampoo before applying the product to your hair.
Agreed the lather is not as much as you would get from a traditional shampoo.
But by activating it in your hands first you will get more bubbles for sure with less effort. Than if you apply the sulfate free shampoo straight onto your hair.
My Last Thoughts.
The purpose of a shampoo is to cleanse your hair and scalp with out damaging them in any way. As well to rinse out of your hair very easily.
There are two schools of thought on the use of sulfates in shampoos. One being scientists that tell us that they are not harmful. And yes they have the benefit of being less expensive.
On the other hand people are becoming far more conscious about the products they use. Wanting them to be more natural as well as less harmful to their hair and the planet.
Yes we do expect to see a lot of bubbles from a shampoo but then again this has been pushed into our minds by shampoo marketers.
More suds created by sulfates does not mean cleaner hair. Because sulfate free shampoos can do the job just as well.
Thank you for reading my post. If you think a friend would like it please share it with them.