You like to think that when you wash your hair, that your shampoo is safe and doing the job you expect. For the most part, that's probably true. However, if you're anything like me, you want to know what you're putting on your body so it pays to do a little research into what might be lurking in your shampoo. Sulfates are one ingredient that get a lot of press time. Here's what you need to know about them so you can make an informed decision.
1. There Are Three Common Sulfates Used in Shampoo
You might have seen shampoo bottles that claim to be sulfate free. What you're actually getting is a product that may not contain one of the three most common sulfates. If you want to avoid them altogether, read the ingredients list for the following: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. If you see any of these on the ingredient list, choose something else.
2. So, What Are Sulfates?
Sulfates are a substance that can absorb both water and oil. That's helpful in shampoo because they are able to remove dirt and oil from your hair so that when you rinse, they wash down the drain. This sounds like a good thing, but sulfates may strip too much natural oil from your scalp and hair, leaving it dry and lifeless.
3. They Aren't Entirely Natural
You can tell by the chemically sounding name that sulfates aren't a naturally occurring compound. However, they are partially natural. Most sulfates are created using a mixture of sulfur and oxygen, them combining it with palm or coconut oil. You don't have to be a scientist to know that synthetic ingredients can have adverse side effects.
4. They Don't Cause Cancer
You may have heard some press that claimed that sulfates in shampoo can cause cancer. This is backed up with proof from the American Cancer Society that says that there is no evidence that this is true. If you're concerned, look for a shampoo that doesn't contain sulfates, then discuss things with your doctor.
5. They Can Dry out Your Hair
While you can be pretty sure that sulfates won't give you cancer, you may find that they do dry out your hair. Like I said before, sulfates can overstrip the natural oils from your scalp and hair, leaving it dried out and damaged. You may need to try a variety of different shampoos to find one that gives you the clean you want without drying out your hair.
6. They Can Be Very Irritating
Because sulfates are partially synthetic, they may be irritating to some people. This includes to the skin on your scalp and anywhere else that the shampoo comes into contact with your skin. At the same time, getting shampoo with sulfates in your eyes can burn very badly.
7. They're Still the Most Effective Cleanser
Because sulfates are able to separate out grime and product from your hair and get rid of it, it's still your best bet when it comes to washing your hair. If you'd still like to try something else, consider ingredients that include Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate and Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, all of which are milder alternatives for clean hair.
Are you worried about using sulfates in your hair? What other facts can you share?