We all have heard about sulfate-free shampoo and have steered clear of it, (or not), regardless of knowing why we are doing so, (or not doing so). I do a lot of things without knowing why! Currently, my mother has me taking some algae vitamin supplements and I couldn’t tell you shit about them.
Here I will attempt a simple breakdown about sulfates using the least run-on sentences I know how to write.
Note: I have always been somewhat lazy when it comes to drilling my clients toward sulfate-free products because I have an entire list of things for them to follow, and I tend to get caught up in water quality and hot tool use. (That is a great example of a classic “Caitlin” run-on sentence… (I have a habit of using parentheses a tad too much.))
(This is a sulfate.) (This is hair on sulfates.)
Alright. So sulfates are a type of surfactant which are used to separate oil and water molecules, therefore removing the oils from scalp and hair and then also adding lather. This has been used in shampoos as well as many beauty products, including mouthwash, body soap and makeup.
The Culprit: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This inexpensive and effective detergent is also used in industrial strength cleaners and even engine degreaser. Sulfates are synthetic ingredients which are derived from petroleum or other sources. The other sources are the largest part of the molecule, which comes from Lauryl alcohol that actually comes from coconut oil or other plants… Sounds great, but it mixed with sulfuric acid. Of course sulfer occurs naturally on the earth, but mostly it is produced from- you guessed it- petroleum again.
Types of Sulfates
There are 100’s of different sulfates! Ugh! However, the ones most commonly used in beauty products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) *not the hotel on La Cienega, my Angeleno blondes*, and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). More than 90% of shampoos (and body washes) contain SLS or SLES! The crazy part is that SLS is a harsher detergent than SLES, so “better” for sensitive skin, but SLES has a by-product called 1.4-dioxane which is a CARCINOGEN. Add to this that SLS has been shown in some findings to mimic estrogen. WTF. I know there are so many studies, and everyone has an agenda, but even the sustainability factor (using Lauryl alcohol from petroleum derived sources) can be a cause to start using sulfate-free products.
Sulfates and Haircolor
Not to be completely shallow, but….sulfate-free to keep HAIRCOLOR lasting longer is kind of important here at The Blondtourage. Any detergent CAN and WILL strip your hair of color. Especially toner. ESPECIALLY BLONDES. Having the pigment removed in the first place already compromises the hair itself and the hair’s cuticle. Obviously its worth it; we all know we were supposed to be born and spend our entire lives the shade of blonde we ask our colorist for. Let us give those locks a little break from the detergents and petroleum BS that is so easy to use. Let the easiness be applied to other areas of our lives. (Just sayin’.)
Soooo…. I guess I learned my lesson about being lazy when insisting on sulfate-free shampoo. I guess it’s as important as a shower filter and not using flat iron. Meh. Luckily, sulfate-free is such a huge advertising ploy, (that happens to be legit), you should be able to figure out which products are sulfate-free or not… It’s kind of like the vegan or crossfitter of shampoos…. You won’t have to ask. They will likely advertise it…ha ha ha!
Love From a Non-Petroleum Derived Girl,
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