Do you ever think about salt when you think of your hair? Or if salt has anything to do with your hair care routine?
Enter sulfates. That ingredient that some say should not be in your shampoo. Is it true? Will it fade your hair color? Is it “bad”, or is it a necessary ingredient for healthy hair follicles?
“Sulfate is a salt that forms when sulfuric acid reacts with another chemical.” If you have ever taken the time to read the small print of ingredients on most shampoos or hair care products you use or shop for, you’ve probably read the words lauryl sulfate, or sodium laureth sulfate listed. Don’t feel bad if it meant nothing to you when you read it. It’s generally not a “hot term” that is included in the print in promoting a product on the front label, similar to paraben-free, or something that has been a popular talking point lately.
So...should you be using a sulfate free shampoo?
Here are some thoughts on that question and information for you to make the best decision for your scalp and hair type.
Earlier I mentioned that “salt” was a component of sulfates. More accurately, sulfates are chemicals that act as foaming or cleansing agents. Brands include them in their products, specifically shampoos, to help the product get spread through the hair and over the head better.
Not only does that make shampooing easier, it helps you not go through as much product when shampooing. If you like pricier shampoos...this is a good thing. However, some sulfates might take away too much of your healthy oils in your hair and scalp, leading to dryness or itching.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
In any research I’ve done, the reason most people would decide to steer clear of Sodium Laureth Sulfate is that over time, you may become sensitive to it and then your body might start to react or get irritated. This being said, a lot of people won’t ever experience any of this.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or sodium dodecyl sulfate, as it might also be listed as, is added to shampoo for the same reason as sodium laureth sulfate. It assists in foaming and spreading around the product. Apparently sodium lauryl sulfate foams more and is not as irritating as sodium laureth sulfate. So, there’s that.
Will it make my color fade?
Firstly, let's get the “science” out of the way. There is no real specific evidence that sulfates will strip your hair of color or make your color fade quickly. Any proof has been more anecdotal. So, it’s best to test products to see for yourself how your hair color reacts to the product.
With that being said, a lot of people seem to like using sulfate-free shampoo and are happy with the results and how it makes their hair and scalp feel. However, sulfate-free shampoos can be bad for your scalp, as they don’t have the ability to properly break down oil and build up on your scalp and hair as well, especially if you do not shampoo daily.
Reputable beauty brands that have been around for a long time have put a lot of money and research into getting the best products to salons and consumers.
So, in our opinion, it is a good choice to go with a color safe product that includes sulfates in the ingredient listing.
If color safe is not a requirement, and you are not shampooing daily, we recommend a shampoo that does include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (the more gentle sulfate).
A good practice is to do a little research on any ingredients to see if there is anything in your daily products that you personally might want to avoid.