Sulfate in Shampoo
Sulfate is a kind of surfactant or detergent used in skin and hair products. It makes your shampoo able to produce foam. Sulfate has molecules that cling to oil and water. This is how it gets rid of excess oil in scalp. It removes flakes and grime from hair too. Sulfate helps cleanse your hair better as it removes the stubborn dirt clinging to the strands.
Sulfate is made of mineral salts that contain sulfur. There are various types of sulfate including sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS. They are derived from petroleum and other natural sources like palm oil. Since sulfate gives your shampoo a rich lather, it creates the illusion that foamy shampoo cleanses well. However, just because your shampoo lathers, does not mean that it is good for your hair. Sulfate is an effective detergent, but not a good ingredient for curly and kinky hair. Curly and kinky hair are very dry and brittle. Using sulfate-infused shampoo can damage the strands and make them break. Visit the page below to see more ingredients you need to avoid if you have curly hair.
More About SLS and Its Effects on Hair
Not all types of sulfate are harmful to hair and scalp. If there is a type of sulfate you should always look out for, it’s sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is the harshest type of sulfate that can make hair dry, rough, brittle, and frizzy. If you have curly and kinky hair, you should avoid this ingredient at all costs. Below are the damaging effects of SLS on hair:
SLS Dries Your Hair
SLS removes oil and grime from hair. However, it can remove the necessary moisture from your hair too. Even low concentration of SLS in shampoos can make hair dry and rough. SLS is so harsh that it can lift up cuticles from the shaft. It allows air to pass through cuticles and swell the strands. This makes hair fly away and become frizzy.
SLS Irritates Scalp
SLS is considered an irritant. There are studies that show SLS can cause dermatitis and increase the sensitivity of scalp. Did you know that SLS releases toxins when heated? Yes, the combination of hot water and SLS-infused shampoo can irritate your scalp. SLS releases toxic fumes that can irritate scalp.
SLS Can Cause Dandruff
SLS can disrupt oil production on scalp. Using shampoos that contain SLS can make your scalp and hair dry or trigger overproduction of oils. Both of these effects can lead to dandruff. Dandruff worsens when you continue to use harsh shampoos because it can make scalp more sensitive.
SLS Increases Hair Porosity
SLS has corrosive properties that can break down your hair. It gets rid of your hair’s natural barrier. This allows the product to weaken the cuticle layers and increase the porosity of hair. SLS breaks down the protein that makes up your hair. Increased porosity means your hair is prone to breakage.
SLS Causes Hygral Fatigue and Breakage
Hygral fatigue happens when your hair switches to dry and wet fast, which makes hair less elastic. When you take a shower, your hair becomes wet. Wet hair means expanding strands. The cuticles expand to accommodate the water in your hair. When your hair dries, the cuticles contract. Moisturizing your hair throughout the day can swell the strands again. As hair switches to dry and wet state too fast, it breaks down the cuticles. It reduces elasticity and can make the strands snap. This causes breakage and split ends.
What is Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Not all sulfates are as drying as SLS. If you have curly hair, kinky hair, or damaged tresses, sulfate is a big no-no. There are gentler types of sulfate used in shampoos. But they are still considered as detergents. Since curly and kinky hair are harder to moisturize, you must avoid using SLS or high concentration of sulfate.
Sulfate in shampoos can make your hair really dry and frizzy, which makes your curls lose definition. If you want to prevent dryness and frizziness, sulfate-free shampoo is the best type of shampoo for you. Shampoo free of sulfate may contain other surfactants or not lather at all. If you are going completely sulfate-free, try to avoid the following ingredients in your shampoo:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Benefits of Using Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Sulfate-free shampoos cleanse hair gently. They do not contain sulfate, which reduces risk of hair getting dry and damaged. Most sulfate-free shampoos contain other types of surfactants that can help produce lather. These alternatives are gentler on hair. Here, you will find the various benefits of using sulfate-free shampoo.
Makes Hair Shinier and Softer
Sulfate robs hair of moisture. This leads to dry, rough, and dull hair. Sulfate-free shampoo may not lather well, but they leave your hair shinier and softer. This type of shampoo cleanses hair gently, which prevents damage to hair’s natural barrier. Since the formula does not contain ingredients that cling to hair’s natural oil, it is not drying for hair.
Sulfate-free shampoos help reinforce hair’s natural barrier, which makes it shinier and more resilient against damage. Since hair has increased moisture on hair, it feels softer to touch too.
Helps Control Frizziness
Curls go messy and frizzy when they get dry. Sulfate-free shampoos are gentle on hair and do not remove necessary moisture. In fact, they help strengthen hair’s natural barriers to prevent frizz. They smooth down the cuticles as well, to control frizz and make hair more manageable. This makes your curls more defined.
Your shampoo should contain various nourishing ingredients. Without sulfate, you are left with a nutrient-rich shampoo that can help repair and strengthen hair. Stronger hair experiences less breakage and other kinds of hair damage.
Tips for Easy Transition to Sulfate-Free Shampoo
When you use sulfate-free shampoo after years of sticking to regular shampoo, your first shower might feel uncomfortable. Without the lather and squeaky-clean feeling, you might think that sulfate-free shampoo does not cleanse your hair enough. It does! Just make sure that you are doing it right. Transition to sulfate-free can take 4 to 6 weeks depending on how well your hair adjusts. Here are some tips to guide you through the first few weeks of using sulfate-free shampoo.
- Your first wash will feel different from the usual. Sulfate-free shampoo does not create enough lather to cover entire hair. However, this does not mean that you have to cover your hair in shampoo. Just use dime-sized amount of sulfate-free shampoo and massage on scalp. There’s no need to apply shampoo directly on the tips of your hair too.
- The shampoo may feel thick and hard to wash off. Make sure that you rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly to prevent product residue. You can dilute shampoo in equal parts water to give it a thinner consistency.
- Don’t use sulfate-free shampoo every day. Make sure that your hair adjusts to the shampoo. Alternate regular shampoos with sulfate-free shampoos. Use it two or three times on the first week.
- Don’t worry if your scalp starts to get flaky. Your hair and scalp will enter a bad state at some point. This is the time when your hair and scalp adjusts to the lack of sulfate. Dandruff happens when you cut off sulfate from your hair care routine. This is because your scalp is used to the excessive production of oils as it replenishes moisture on hair.
- Your hair might feel heavy, greasy, and have that rubbery texture. This is normal because your hair is still adjusting to the lack of drying sulfate in shampoo.
- You can increase usage of sulfate-free shampoo until you hit the 6-week mark.
- You should ditch regular shampoos completely and just use sulfate-free shampoo. Using this type of shampoo can leave product build-up on hair, which is why you need to use clarifying shampoos at least twice a month.
- You will notice that your hair feels thicker and softer as weeks go by. However, if you notice increased dryness and breakage, change your shampoo to a high-quality one.
- Consider changing other hair products to get rid of sulfate completely. There are other chemicals that you should avoid aside from sulfate. These include paraben and silicone.
A squeaky-clean texture spells trouble for your hair, especially if you love your curls and tightly-coiled tresses. Help your hair stay lustrous and strong with a suitable sulfate-free shampoo. Learn how to wash your hair using products free of sulfate. Check out this blog to find more tips.