You should observe all the ingredients used in making your shampoo, soap, facial cleanser, body wash, or toothpaste. And there is a possibility that you will see sulfate up there in this list of ingredients. When used in these products, sulfates generally take the form of either sodium Laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate.
Therefore, what exactly does sulfate mean? Summarily, sulfate is known as excellent cleansers which can easily cut through dirt and oil. The solution can be found commonly in products used on the skin and the hair. This is because it can readily attract oil and water. Because of this unique property, the sulfates can efficiently lift oil and dirt found in the human body. They are further rinsed down and drained out when they mix with water. And yes, sulfates are responsible for that fantastic foam, which gives the feeling of being so clean and fresh.
And as sulfates are effective, efficient, and safe, the sulfate-free indicator on beauty products can become misleading. However, this is because of one thing: shampoos have sulfate contents that can be too extreme when doing their work. Whereas these shampoos can be used to wash off grime and dirt, they can also wash away other essential things created in the scalp, which the scalp also needs. This loss of essential elements can cause loss of hair moisture. Therefore, free products in sulfates are known to be milder, gentler, less bubbly, and less drying options to other products containing sulfates.
Therefore, should you buy sulfate-free or sulfate product for the type of hair that you have? To know whether your hair can use a shampoo that is free from sulfate, the following five questions should be asked:
1). Do you have frizz-prone and curly hair?
If the answer to this question is yes, then you might as well choose the sulfate-free product.
If you mistakenly use a sulfate-containing shampoo on a curly hair, you could worsen the situation because sulfate lifts the hair’s cuticle. This will increase the likeliness of it to frizz all the more. Therefore, it is better to use a shampoo that does not contain any sulfate in this case. This is because it will not absorb as much moisture from the hair as the ordinary shampoos would.
2). Do you have dyed hair?
If you have dyed hair, you should protect your hair’s new color by choosing a sulfate-less shampoo. If you see any shampoo used to treat colored hair, there is a possibility that this will be free from sulfates. A dyed hair works well with a shampoo that does not contain shampoo for these two primary reasons:
1). After undergoing the hair coloring process, your hair could be drier than usual. A shampoo that is free from sulfate, on the other hand, will never make your hair dry the way a sulfate-containing shampoo would.
2). Because shampoos and conditioners which do not have sulfates are typically mild, they will not wash the dye off your hair.
3). Do you have rough hair?
People with rough hair may want to avoid the sulfate. Each time you run your fingers through your hair and appear rough and dry rather than soft and smooth, then your hair is rough. This hair type can easily benefit from a no sulfate-containing shampoo since it will never absorb all the hair’s moisture. Natural oils that are present in the head can travel downwards along the hair to hydrate the hair.
Furthermore, co-washing is a second option to using a sulfate-free shampoo. This is a technique that involves the combination of a shampoo and a conditioner to cleanse the hair.
You can also exchange between the typical, conventional, and the cleaning conditioner. This mixture will give you the two best properties, which are – clean and moisturized hair. While the cleaning conditioners cleanse the hair gently, it also helps the hair ward off frizzing through deep conditioning.
4). Do you have damaged hair?
If your hair is damaged, perhaps you may want to avoid using sulfate-containing shampoos. On the other hand, if you have damaged or fragile hair, a shampoo free from sulfate will be mild and not drain out the hair moisture.
5). Can you avoid not washing your hair every day?
Suppose your answer to this question is to choose a shampoo that is free from sulfates. You could select milder shampoo for your daily hair care routines. Furthermore, you can complement this with a cleaning conditioner. It will help give the hair the extra condition to make up for oil loss in the hair. Furthermore, to fight off oiliness, you could apply a dry shampoo to help soak up the hair roots’ grease.
However, if your answer to these questions is no, this means that you will have to purchase the regular sulfate-containing hair shampoo. However, you will have to select your hair conditioner and shampoo base on your hair’s most critical problem. If you cannot skip using shampoo for one day because your hair rapidly becomes greasy, you will have an oil problem. Whereas people who have oily hair can use a sulfate-less shampoo, a sulfate-containing product can be better at de-greasing and cleansing the hair.
Because you should avoid using sulfates products does not mean that you are at liberty to use every product out there. Shampoos that are free from sulfates have their disadvantages too.
Some problems of shampoo free from sulfates
Ever since sulfate shampoo’s harmful effects became widespread, shampoo formulas that do not contain sulfates have become increasingly popular. In the first place, they appeared like the answer to practical cleansing problems. However, there is one main problem that came with this solution: the excess grease.
Does the hair become greasy after using a shampoo that cames without sulfate?
If you feel this problem, then you are not the only one. The product makes the hair greasy immediately after wash. Most shampoos free of sulfate make the hair greasy. What is the exact reason for this? This depends on the contents of the shampoo, as well as what the hair contains.
Many shampoos free from sulfates are produced with cleaning agents that are ultra-mild such as coco glucoside or decyl glucoside. These contents are excellent for not riding the hair of hair and scalp. But this mildness is their main weakness. Because they are mild, the cleaners do not have the power to rid the hair of product build-ups.
Furthermore, the products need more work to produce the lather used to remove grease, oil, and dirt. People used to use sulfate products for their cleansing action; they may not know that they will have to work more now. This is one further reason why your hair will become greasy if you opt for sulfate-free products.
One more reason why the oiliness appears is to compensate for this weakness, a majority of product makers prefer to increase the surfactants’ concentration. This condition can make using mild cleaners useless because higher concentrations of such ingredients are more severe on the hair. The over-cleansing action leads to an overreaction of the oil glands; this spews a large amount of sebum in the scalp to re-moisturize. This is what causes the greasiness.
You might have experienced one other thing: most shampoos free from sulfate also have lots of hair conditioning ingredients. These elements are meant to produce a shampoo feeling that seems less shampooing while looking more like hair conditioning. Most of the time, this causes a crazy amount of build-up. Furthermore, we have a fourth and more evil reason also…
Shampoos that do not contain sulfate can be more severe on the hair than shampoos that contain sulfate.
Lots of people tend to think that products which are free from sulfates automatically makes the hair more gentler. However, this is not simple. A lot of shampoos which does not contain sulfates are produced from softer and milder ingredients. However, most of them do not have these properties. One popular ingredient in shampoos free from sulfate is the cleaning agent known as olefin sulfonate. The role of olefin sulfonate is to substitute the cleaning role of sulfates in standard shampoos. Thus, it is safe to say that it is very good at it.
Olefin sulfonate is such a better replacement for commonly used sulfates like Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLES. However, this is not good.
There is a clue in its name, the “eth” which means that the sodium laureth sulfate have been modified chemically. This means that it had been “ethoxylated” to become milder over the harsher sodium lauryl sulfate. This led to the whole backlash around the use of sulfate-containing products.
Olefin sulfonate has all the harsh properties of the usual sodium lauryl sulfate.
The hair does not need the amount of cleaning provided by sodium lauryl sulfate and olefin. This is despite if you apply a large amount of greasy butters and oils or difficult-to-eliminate silicones such as Cyclopentasiloxane.
The sodium Laureth sulfate can sufficiently remove all of this without totally stripping the hair. Alternatively, olefin sulfonate and sodium lauryl sulfate harshly remove grease and oil that they dig into the hair strands to do this. This leaves holes in the hair shaft.
At times, manufacturers of sulfate-free products fill up shampoos that have emollients to hide the cleansing agents’ extreme action. In some hair, the emollients can help alleviate the most adverse effects. However, on hair type with more fragility, olefin sulfonate causes dryness, length retention problems, and brittleness. These surplus ingredients also can retain waxy or oil residue in the hair, building up issues that will surface later.
And whereas all included fatty alcohols and oils can prevent the hair from becoming frazzled when you apply the olefin sulfonate containing shampoo to the hair strand, the ingredient still can do as much damage as sodium lauryl sulfate, because they both have molecules of roughly similar sizes.
Message to be noted: Even though some shampoo comes with a sulfate-free label, this does not necessarily mean that they are better or milder or gentler for the hair.
Do shampoos free from sulfate damage the hair?
Do not worry yourself; it is not the end of the world if you choose a shampoo that is free of sulfates. When you select a gentler cleanser, it is best for soft hair and suitable when you refreain from using products that need a concentrated cleanser each time the hair is washed.
Shampoos free from sulfates are available and effectively clean the hair without excessively overloading the hair with greasing or excessive cleansing.
Remember: The single method of deciding the suitability of a shampoo (whether they contain sulfate or not) for the hair is in checking the entire formulation. Minimally, what this means is to check whether a) ensure that the primary ingredients were not used; therefore, it should not have ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium chloride (salt), olefin sulfate, or sodium lauryl sulfate among the ingredients, also b) testing this out to observe its effects on the hair.
Why checking out for the formulations can work in its entirety, the correct quantity of every ingredient isn’t listed as ingredients. Therefore, it recommended that people not just depend on the “absence of harmful ingredients” when choosing this product. When you try this out, you will be able to get a feeling of the shampoo concentration.
What hair type is most suitable for shampoos that are free from sulfates?
A majority of the shampoos free from sulfates are meant for a specific type of hair; they are provided as a milder cleansing option to sulfate-containing shampoos suitable for every kind of hair. With this mentioned, there are specialist shampoos ideal for specific hair needs; some shampoos free from sulfate are meant for people whose hair are curly, or hair that have been damaged. People can also see a shampoo free from sulfates that can be used for hair growth or hair loss problems.
Shampoos free from sulfates are most excellent when you refrain from applying lots of products on the hair.
With that mentioned, some types of hair do better with shampoos that do not contain sulfate than others. Those who have oily hair frequently discover that formulas that lack sulfate are not appropriate on their hair. Also, the above comments hold for women who use lots of products for styling.
Whereas lots of shampoos that are free from sulfates contain gentle cleansing elements, these types of shampoos might be insufficient to get rid of build-ups for certain people – particularly those people who usually use many products, or certain people who use styling creams and butters, that often leave tough residues on the hair. Also, few cleansers are free from sulfate that can get rid of silicones that aren’t soluble in water.
Furthermore, due to the high concentration of conditioning elements in some shampoos that are sulfate-free and the nature of the conditioning ingredients used, this can also become challenging for certain people with low porous or oily hair. These types of ingredients can produce a large number of residues for the low porosity or the oily hair. Both the low porosity and the oil hair are further susceptible to build-ups.
Are shampoos that are free from sulfate costly?
Despite the fact when you compare sulfate-free and sulfate shampoos within a similar brand, you will notice that the formula which lacks sulfate is more expensive. This is due to the fact that the ingredients appear more costly. Furthermore, the needed effort to produce an efficient shampoo that balances practical mildness and cleansing is typically expensive. All of these factors will be added to the final price.
The shampoos free from sulfates can also come off as expensive simply because of their mild nature. This usually means that you will have to apply a generous amount of the sulfate-free shampoo to achieve similar results as effective as the sulfate shampoo.
However, for people who know how to get a suitable shampoo free from sulfate, this helps the hair maintain the right balance – this could be a worthy option.
One last thing here is to know that you need to be generally gentle; if you damage your tresses due to rough handling, the effects can be quite as severe as damage from a harsh shampoo; whether it contains sulfate or not. Use the checklist to ensure that your complete routine for washday works well with your hair’s gentle curls.