We simply love the feeling of freshly washed hair. But do we ever ponder upon the ingredients that are present in our cleansers? It is very important to check the ingredients because what you put on the skin can be more dangerous than what you eat. Putting chemicals on your skin is actually worse than eating them. When we eat something, the enzymes in the saliva and stomach help it to break down and flush it out of the body. When the chemicals are put on the skin they are absorbed straight into the bloodstream without any filtration, going directly to your delicate organs.
Talking about shampoos, the main ingredient of the shampoos are sulfates. Sulfates are the term used in chemistry to denote a salt of sulfuric acid. Sulfates go by the name sodium lauryl sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate on the ingredients label of products. The sodium lauryl sulfate is the strongest and most popular one. It is found in many cleaning and hygiene products including shampoos. The main reason why it is added to shampoos is that sulfate produces foam and is a powerful detergent.
Sulfates are what make the shampoo frothy and cause to lather up. Technically sulfates are a type of surfactant which is a term for various detergents, emulsifiers and foaming agents that attract both oil and water. Sulfates allow grime and dead skin cells to be removed from the skin and scalp and are washed away with water. The disadvantage is that they strip off the natural oils from the hair and scalp. This makes the hair dry and brittle. The scalp that is sensitive is prone to irritation like redness, dryness, and itching.
People with dry and frizzy hair should always consider a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates can zap even more moisture from already parched strands that results in dull, dry and shine less hair. Sulfate-free cleansers maintain the natural oils from the hair and the scalp, which ultimately leaves your hair with more moisture and hydration. Sulfates also cause color damage. Sulfur is harsh on the strands and the color may wear off very soon. Color-treated hair must be washed without sulfates for long-lasting color and shine.
According to research studies, sodium lauryl sulfate causes:
- Irritation to eye and skin
- Organ toxicity
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology
- Biochemical or cellular changes
- Possible mutations and cancer
The benefits of using a sulfate-free cleanser are:
- Maintain natural oil: the major advantage of sulfate free shampoos is that they clean the hair and maintain the natural shine simultaneously. The natural shine comes when all the natural oils are preserved in their strands. The sulfate-free cleansers wash the hair fibers without removing the essential oils from them.
- Locks moisture: moisture is needed in hair to prevent problems such as split ends and breakage. The sulfates strip away the moisture from the hair fibers and results into dull and frizzy. The sulfate-free shampoos help retain the natural moisture in hair.
- Reduced irritation: as sulfates are harsh chemicals they tend to dry and irritate the scalp. This can also lead to inflammation. The sulfate-free products are mild and they gently clean the hair without creating such problems.
- Color care: the sulfate free shampoo does not strip down the color thus reducing fading. The color will last much longer is a sulfate free product is used.
- Suitable for every hair type: the sulfate free cleansers are appropriate on all hair types no matter curly, straight or colored. Also, it is safe to be used on those with a sensitive scalp.
The sulfate-free shampoos do not produce foam and lather like the traditional ones, that doesn’t signify the efficiency of the products. Lathering is just used as a trick by the companies to indicate cleansing.