Sulfate-free shampoos are popping up everywhere these days. You might have even seen the claim on commercial consumer personal care products. But what exactly are sulfates and why should you want to avoid them?
Sulfates are synthetic ingredients derived from mineral or vegetable sources that are added to a variety of products such as shampoos, toothpaste, body and face soaps and more. They are powerful detergents that act as as surfactants: water- and oil-soluble compounds that, when combined with water, foam and emulsify greasy substances.
More simply, sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are added to products to strip the natural oils from the body and foam to give to the user an illusion of cleanliness.
While sulfates are considered safe by governments and industry, their widespread use in virtually all commercial care products raises questions about their effects on our health and environment. More and more consumers are choosing to go sulfate-free. Should you make the switch? Here are some good reasons to use sulfate-free shampoos:
1 - They reduce the chances of developing irritation or inflammation of the scalp
It is well known that sulfates have irritant properties. They are even used in clinical trials to irritate the skin to test the calming and soothing properties of different compounds. Is your scalp sensitive, easily itchy, or you tend to develop dandruff? Try a sulfate-free shampoo to limit inflammation and restore your scalp’s pH balance.
2 - They increase the retention of natural oils in the hair
Sulfates are used in personal care products for their detergent and drying qualities. So sulfates in shampoo remove the sebum from hair, giving an “squeaky clean” sensation. But often the scalp compensates by producing more sebum, which can lead into a vicious circle of having to wash your hair more often, only to have the hair becoming greasy quicker.
In contrast, sulfate-free shampoos are mild and leave some of the natural oils in the hair, leaving it soft and shiny. It’s a good thing for all hair types but especially for curly and wavy hair, which needs to be well hydrated to look its best.
3 - They are gentle for the eyes
We all know what it’s like to get a bit of shampoo in your eye only to experience a burning sensation. Do you know this unpleasant experience is a direct result of sulfates? They especially irritate the eyes’ sensitive tissues. Many users note that they no longer get burning eyes in the shower after switching to sulfate-free shampoos.
4 - They help colored hair keep their color longer
The strong detergent action of sulfate doesn’t only strip away the natural oils from the hair, it also strips the pigment in hair color, making the vibrancy of the color fade more quickly. So going sulfate-free can mean less visits to the salon!
5 - They allow you to avoid long-term exposure to possibly toxic chemicals compounds
Studies at University of Georgia Medicine showed that sulfates can lodge themselves permanently in organic tissues such as those of eyes, brain, liver and heart. While there is no definitive proof that these substances are toxic, one may still prefer to avoid exposing themselves to them. Furthermore, sulfates leave the cells more porous, potentially leaving them more susceptible to other environmental pollutant. So why take chances with your health when natural alternatives are available?
At Oneka Elements we use no sulfates in our hair, skin and face products and never will. We prefer using natural formulas in synergy with essential oils and herbal extract from our own gardens. Working in harmony with nature to offer you the best personal care products simply makes sense to us.