The first thing you might be thinking is “What are sulfates?”
In short, sulfates are detergents used to create that wonderful sudsy lather you get from soaps and shampoos. We have to admit, we love a good lather. It gives us the illusion that a product is working, right? The bigger the lather, the better the product. Well, we found this not to be the truth. At least it wasn’t for us.
Sulfates are detergents.
Which means they clean. For hair, maybe even too well. Yes, cleaning is good until the sulfates strip your hair from it’s natural oils and nutrients.
How can you identify sulfate ingredients on product lables?
Sulfates can be tricky when listed in the ingredient of a product. Sulfates are most commonly listed as the following:
- Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate.
- Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Xylenesulfonate
- Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
- Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate
- Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
- Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
This list probably looks overwhelming and honestly it is. When we read the ingredients of a hair product, when in doubt, we put it back on the shelf if any ingredient ends in -ate. This is a method we use just to be on the safe side.
In January of 2016, I started my transition from years of heat damage. I immeditely took to the internet to figure out what I had to do to restore my natural curls. Most of the information I received came from other curly girls on Youtube. I probably watched 100 videos, all of which said, in so many words, “stay away from sulfates”. Of course I took their advice because I wanted beautiful and healthy hair. I ditched all of those products and went out to exclusively buy sulfate-free hair products. During this time, I had never even heard of sulfates, let alone read the ingredients on the back of a product bottle.
Upon ditching the sulfates, I immediately noticed a change in my hair. My hair seemed to have an easier time retaing moisture and my scalp felt less dry.
Since then, I have converted Hannah and she now exclusively uses sulfate-free hair products.
She swears by it. So much so that she stares at her own hair in awe of how much it’s grown, how moisturized and healthy it looks and feels. She also experiences much less breakage. Before Hannah went sulfate-free, she was experiencing a lot of breakage and her blonde hair seemed to be dulled.
Why would we use a product in our hair that includes ingredients found in dish soap.
Now, it’s important for us to mention that we have nothing against sulfates in household cleaning products. They’re safe to use on your dishes and other household items.
Let’s test it out, go into your kitchen, grab your bottle of dish soap and look for any of the sulfates that we listed above.
If you transfer your dish soap into a soap dispenser, try googling the brand of dish soap you currently use and read the ingredients list. We’ve tried it and we found Ammonium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate as the 2nd and 3rd ingredients. This made us ask ourselves: “why would we want to use a product in our hair that uses the same ingredient as dish soap?” A product used to completely strip away dirt, grease and grime. To answer that question, we don’t.
If you’re currently using hair products with sulfates such as shampoo, that squeaky clean feeling you get after washing your hair may not be such a good thing after all. In our experience, if our hair feels squeaky clean, we probably just stripped our hair of it’s natural oils.
Some of the benefits of going sulfate-free.
- Moisturized hair as sulfates strip the hair of natural oils.
- Less frizziness (especially for those with curly hair).
- Less scalp dryness and irritation
- Sulfate-free hair products contain more natural oils which are beneficial for hair health.
- Color treated hair lasts longer as sulfates strip color and the outer layer of the hair.
So how can you ensure that the products you buy are sulfate-free?
It takes time to get into the habit of reading product labels, especially the ingredients. Sometimes, a product ingredient list can look like an unfamiliar language. To start, browse through the haircare aisles and check out the products that openly advertise sulfate-free on the front of the label. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure the product is free from sulfates.
If you use sulfates in your hair, that is completely fine as well. If you are looking for a change in your hair health, try going sulfate-free as a trial run. We hope you see improvements in your hair’s health and appearance like we did by going sulfate-free!
Until next time,
Ariana & Hannah