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Many products are full of chemicals you may be unfamiliar with that do not necessarily aid in telling us what they are. Being in the dark with many of these ingredients is a pain, so we try and help whenever we can since knowledge is most often the difference between bad hair days and looking like a curly-haired goddess. 

Cleansing our hair is just as important as moisturization when it comes to curl care. While we need to do both, we often find ourselves in-between a rock and a hard place in finding products with ingredients that are capable of doing both successfully. Perro from Curly Q&A inquired about an ingredient that is found in shampoos but with a very misleading name.


Does sodium trideceth sulfate, stripped the oils of hair?


Sodium trideceth sulfate is a cleansing agent that belongs to the chemical class of alkyl ether sulfates. An ether is an organic compounds that contains an oxygen atom bound to two hydrocarbon groups. It is considered safe and has a very low concern for hazard. It is a cleansing and foaming agent that removes dirt, sweat, product, and of course oils. Will it completely strip your hair of its oil? That depends.

What is sodium trideceth sulfate?

Sodium trideceth sulfate is a sodium salt of sulfated ethoxylated tridecyl alcohol. It acts like a mild nonionic surfactant that does contain conditioning properties and when used in combination with other surfactants it creates foam and viscosity. It is used in skin, hair, shaving, and baby cleansing products because it is very low in skin irritation.

It is safe enough for babies

Yes, you read that correctly. This surfactant is found in quite a few baby cleansers including the one we all grew up on, Johnson & Johnson. Because it is low on the scale of skin irritation it is ideal for baby cleansing products, as that is important. As far as stripping the hair of oils it is a mild surfactant and it depends on the person, their scalp, hair and what other ingredients are in the product to see if that occurs.

Surfactants are for cleansing and that includes removing oils from the scalp and hair and why some curlies opt for conditioner cleansing or doing a pre-poo prior to shampooing to keep the shampoo from stripping hair of all the oils it needs. If you found a product that has sodium trideceth sulfate that you like, then enlist in a pre-poo or adding a few drops of carrier oil to your shampoo when using to help keep the hair and scalp from feeling stripped. Here are a few products with the mild surfactant sodium trideceth sulfate.


Sabrina Perkins


Sabrina, founder of and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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