Is your hair care routine damaging your strands? Run to your bathroom or vanity real quick and check the ingredients on the back of your hair care products. Look at your shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays and gels, and any serums you may use. Do you see sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate listed? The chances are that at least one of your products, if not most of them, contain one of those ingredients. They might be doing damage to your hair.
The trend of sulfate-free products is catching on and switching out your old routine for a new sulfate-free approach can have many benefits. If you’re looking for healthier, shinier, fuller hair this article is for you. If you have sensitive skin, color treated, or curly hair, this article is for you too. Anyone looking to love their locks a little more should keep reading about the sulfate-free movement.
What Are Sulfate Hair Products?
Lots of hair products contain chemicals such as sulfates. They’re used as a cleaning agent, but shampoo isn’t the only place you’ll find them. Sulfates are present in laundry detergent, multi-purpose house cleaners, and more. If you think about it for a moment, you wouldn’t wash your hair with kitchen counter cleaner, would you?
The sulfates in shampoo are what make it lather, or or foam up as you rub it into your hair and scalp. If your shampoo creates these bubble when you’re washing, there’s a good chance that it contains sulfates. Some believe that shampoos with sulfates get your hair as clean as possible. In household cleaners they help break down oils to make the scrubbing process easier.
The Downside of Sulfate Hair Products
However, when you use sulfates in your hair they can strip your hair of the natural oils that it needs to stay healthy, shiny, and full of life. Additionally, sulfates may damage certain hair types and cause itchiness, dryness, or flaking in those with sensitive skin.
Those who are prone to breakouts or skin reactions may also notice redness on their face, neck, and shoulders after using hair care products with sulfates. You may break out in hives or notice inflammation. It makes sense–our hair touches all of these areas and when using products in the shower the water often causes the products to run off down our bodies.
Those with sensitive skin aren’t the only ones who need to worry. If you have dry hair, thinning hair, or curly hair, sulfates can leave your hair feeling brittle. The products may make your locks more prone to breakage and can cause it to look dull and lifeless. Curly hair depends on the natural oils of your scalp to maintain bounce and shape, but sulfates can strip your hair of these essentials.
If you have color treated hair, sulfates can also strip your hair of the dye faster. That’s why you’ll notice many shampoos specifically formulated to preserve color are sulfate-free. Switching to a sulfate-free shampoo can help your hair retain the color longer–which is good news for your bank account since you’ll be making fewer trips to the salon.
Sulfate-Free Hair Products
There are many benefits to using sulfate-free hair products, even if you don’t have color treated hair or sensitive skin. First, not only is there a lower chance of irritating your scalp and skin, but sulfate-free shampoos and products can actually provide a soothing effect to areas that are irritated.
If you have curly hair, sulfate-free products can help reduce frizz. It’s a common misconception that frizzy hair is the result of exposure to moisture. While you are likely to get those waves when you’re in a humid environment, it’s actually the result of having dehydrated hair. Since sulfates strip your hair of essential oils that help keep it moisturized, using products that are free of these chemicals can help.
Get Shiner, Healthy Looking Hair
When your hair is stripped of those natural oils, it can make your locks look dry and dull. When you use a sulfate-free product some of those oils are left behind, which can help your hair look glossier and more alive without that greasy feeling you may get from high-shine serums.
Help Your Hair Grow Longer
Additionally, since sulfates can damage the hair and scalp they may inhibit hair growth. If you have thinning hair or are trying to grow your hair as long as possible products that contain the chemicals aren’t helping. If you switch to a shampoo and conditioner that are sulfate-free you may see better results in a shorter amount of time.
Minimize Heat Damage
If you regularly use heating tools on your hair, such as a blow dryer, hair straightener, or curling iron, you know that your hair can take a beating. Dry, split ends, increased breakage, and more. The sulfates in many hair products can make this worse. If you do use heating tools regularly consider switching out your hair products for those that are sulfate-free. You may notice a significant difference and have an easier time repairing damaged hair.
Where to Buy Sulfate-Free Hair Products
The good news, is that sulfate-free hair products are rising in popularity, so much that you can find them almost anywhere. You can find them at the local drugstore, at the grocery store, online, and at many specialty beauty stores. Additionally, many hair salons sell specifically formulated sulfate-free shampoo for clients.
While some sulfate-free hair products are more expensive than your average shampoo, the market is becoming much more competitive. Many major brands now sell versions of their traditional products that are sulfate-free.
What to Look For
As with many other types of products, sometimes labels can be deceiving. If you see a product that is labeled “sulfate-free” on the front of the package, still check the ingredients list on the back. Look for the three main ingredients mentioned at the beginning of this article: sodium laurel sulfate, ammonium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. If you don’t see them listed, you’re good to go and you have found a true sulfate-free product.
If you have questions about a hair product you are looking to buy, you may want to check with your hair dresser or dermatologist. They will know what brands produce the best results.
In addition to sulfates, many beauty and hair products contain alcohol. Alcohol is another substance that can dry out your hair and skin, strip hair of its natural oils, damage color treated hair, and increase breakage. For products that will be gentle on your hair and scalp, as well as the rest of your body, check the ingredients list to ensure that they are alcohol-free.
More Than Shampoo
While a large focus in the beauty industry is on shampoos that contain sulfates, many more hair products do contain the chemical. If you are looking to go entirely sulfate-free you may need to switch all your products.
- Hair sprays
- Styling gels
- Hair masks
- Hair serums
- Other external hair care products
And, if you have sensitive skin, be aware that many cleansers and face washes contain sulfates as well. Additionally, you may want to check your body washes, soap, shaving creams, and laundry detergent if you are experiencing skin irritation. All of these products may contain sulfates. While the chemicals are not harmful and researchers do not believe that the pose any risk to those who use products that contain them, it is possible for them to irritate your skin.
What Do You Think?
At GR8NESS, we value the opinion and input of our readers above all else. Especially all you hair care gurus out there. Hearing your voice is what makes GR8NESS, well, GR8. We’re continuously looking to provide you with the information you care about most, and as self-care enthusiasts ourselves we’re always looking for new tips and tricks to share with our readers.
If you have an amazing hair care tip that you think the community should know about, let us know. We may cover it more in-depth on the site at a later time. Knowledge is meant to be shared and we love to know what our readers are incorporating into their beauty routines.