Here’s what you need to know about sulfates: what they are, why they are in so many shampoos, and why they aren’t in ours!
What the heck are sulfates?:
On the most basic level, sulfates are primary surfactants. A surfactant is a mixture of molecules that attracts both water and oil. This unique property allows soaps, shampoos, and body washes to separate dirt and oils from your skin and hair. You need surfactants in your body wash products. While sulfates are particularly great at getting dirt and oil off you, this is not always a good thing—think overkill.
In comparison to other surfactants, sulfates are especially harsh and can strip your hair and skin of natural oils and proteins that work to keep your locks looking lush. Not all oils are bad –especially not the protective ones that sulfates have a knack for rinsing away. Sometimes your body will react in overdrive by producing excessive amounts of oil in response to the extreme lack due to sulfates. Eventually, your hair and natural oils succumb to the sulfates and the results aren’t so nice.
The real damage occurs to your hair when shampoos that contain sulfates are used for a prolonged period of time. This will significantly weaken your hair because it is repeatedly stripped of healthy oils. The result is split ends, frizz, and very little moisture left in your hair. Yuck. Curly, coarse, fine and dyed hair will especially see these awful results. Identifying this culprit is a first step—then you gotta make the switch.
So if sulfates are so bad, why are they put into shampoos?
Sulfates are great at getting that classic lathering look in the shower. They suds more easily and on an aesthetic level seem to clean more because of the thick lather. Sulfate-free shampoos provide the same cleansing benefits, but often do not have the same instant lathering look as those with sulfates. The difference in lather is a common complaint amongst first-time sulfate-free users, but there is no actual difference in effectiveness.
Sulfate-free shampoos will not provide you the same over-the-top bubbly look as their mainstream counterparts. Although this may take some getting used to, your hair will thank you for it. Natural oils will be able to do what they’re meant to do (nourish your hair) and split ends will be less likely to develop. It may take some getting used to, but for something that’s part of your daily routine, it’s worth the swap. Your hair will be more resilient against straighteners, blow-dryers, and daily weather conditions…
If you’re going to make the switch, might as well start with Sulfate-Free SoapBox Shampoos ;).