washing hair with sulfates

Today, there is a growing selection of sulfate-free shampoos that are becoming available to us. But do we know why this ingredient is being purposefully left out of our hair products? And which sulfates should we avoid?

Sulfates are cleaning agents, which are not restricted to beauty products but are also found in household cleaners as well. Sulfates cause the cleanser to lather. We tend to associate lathering suds with cleansing. The lathering suds can also enhance the experience of our wash day by helping to lift dirt and build-up. However, an excessive use of sulfates can cause dryness, breakage, and scalp issues.

How do we know that our shampoo contains sulfates? Always read the ingredients on the products that you use. It’s nice to know what you’re putting on your body. Also, try to look at the ingredients of other beauty products rather than just shampoo. The first few ingredients are the main items in the product. The most common sulfates that you will see listed on shampoo bottles are listed below, from most to least harsh.

  1. Ammonia Laureth Sulphate
  2. Sodium Laureth Sulphate
  3. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

MORE: Homemade Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Why should curlies steer clear?

Sulfates strip the natural oils in your hair, which causes dryness and can potentially lead to damage. As curlies, we need to maintain as much moisture as possible to keep our curls bouncy and shiny. If you have color-treated hair, shampoos with sulfate should be eliminated from your hair regimen. Cleansing your hair with a shampoo that contains sulfates can cause the color to strip from your hair. In addition, curlies with Type 4 curl patterns are more prone to dryness, so shampoos with sulfates won’t help their manes maintain moisture. 

Also, an extended use of sulfate shampoos can trigger scalp issues, including dryness. We want to maintain a healthy scalp so we can have healthy hair. If you are a swimmer, a sulfate-free shampoo is something that you should be interested in. Swimmers constantly cleanse their hair to remove chlorine. A sulfate-free shampoo provides a better alternative without stripping the hair of natural oils so frequently. In addition, if you exercise regularly, a sulfate-free shampoo would be great to remove excess salt that is in your sweat. Not interested in a sulfate-free shampoo? Try cowashing. It will keep your curls and scalp moisturized.

MORE: Surfactants, Sulfates, and You

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