It wasn't until I took a closer look at the ingredient list on the back of my shampoo, body wash, face wash, or toothpaste that I found out how frequently harmful sulphates are included as an ingredient in several products that I use daily. Fortunately, that was a couple of years ago and I am a lot wiser now. Now I always and consistently use SL sulphate free shampoo, and there are many good reasons why.
Sulphates differ a lot, also in how harmful they are. You should stay away from especially SL sulphates when you want to buy a shampoo without sulfate. I'll get to that a little further down below.
Read on and I guarantee you that in the future you will be well prepared, know everything about SL sulphate free shampoos, and in the future avoid buying those bad hair care products that contain the harmful sulphates.
What is sulphate?
Broadly speaking, sulphate is a cleanser that removes both oil and grime. Sulphates are often added to hair and skin cleansing products because they have the ability to attract water and oil. Thus, the sulphates causes grease and oil-based grime from your scalp and hair to loosen when foamed up with water. In addition, sulphates are also responsible for the foaming of soap that many associate with freshness and cleanliness.
There are several types of sulphates, and some are even very mild, natural, and good for both hair and skin. Sodium Coco Sulphate, for instance, is a mild surfactant that does not have the same desiccating effect on the hair and scalp as the harmful SL sulphates, but instead helps cleanse the hair without removing the healthy, natural scalp oils. That is why it can be thoroughly confusing trying to understand exactly what substances to avoid in a shampoo.
However, if you wish to avoid harmful substances, a rule of thumb is to always avoid products with SL sulphates and always go for SL sulphate free shampoos. These SL sulphates are especially tough on hair and scalp, and tend to adhere to the hair as a desiccating barrier, which is incredibly difficult to wash out again. SL sulphates remove all the good, natural oils produced by the scalp and that is why they often cause irritated and dry scalp, which benefits neither hair growth, nor hair health. A healthy scalp is essential to healthy and strong hair. If you, like me, have a very delicate scalp and delicate skin, or if you are dealing with some kind of hair loss, it is recommended to try to completely avoid these harmful SL sulphates in the products you use for both skin and hair. Always go for a shampoo without sulfates, especially if the names of the sulphates have the first-letters S & L in them.
On the shampoo the harmful SL sulphates are often listed as Sodium Lauryl or Sodium Laureth Sulphates. In the article below, I will get more into the details about exactly which sulphates you should avoid, and which ones it is safe for your SL sulphate free shampoo to contain. Read more and learn more.
Why all this talk about SL sulphate free shampoo?
Sulphates are essentially safe and effective to use in a product. That is why it might be a bit hard to see the relevance of all these articles and all this talk about shampoo without sulfate. But the thing is, shampoos containing SL sulphates may be a little too strong for 'just' cleansing your hair. Although SL sulphates wash away grime and oil from hair and skin, they can also cause moisture loss. That is why a shampoo without sulfates (SLS free shampoo) is considered a gentler and less desiccating alternative.
Is an SL sulfate free shampoo for you and your hair?
To help you determine whether your hair might benefit from an SL sulphate free shampoo, I've listed some questions that helped me make the choice:
DO YOU HAVE CURLS OR FRIZZY HAIR?
If the answer is yes, then you should definitely consider an SL sulphate free shampoo. If you have curly hair, then you probably know that your hair needs a lot of extra moisture as it is already more difficult for the natural oils in the scalp to reach the ends of the hair and bring natural nutrition to the curly cuticles. Choosing an SL sulfate free shampoo will help your curly hair and scalp retain the natural oils. If you choose a shampoo with SL sulphates, then the hair tends to get frizzier and more dry due to an imbalance in the natural oils in the hair.
Whether you use a shampoo with sulphates or a shampoo without sulfates, it might be a good idea to finish off with a good conditioner to provide optimal nourishment and moisture for the hair. For those of us who struggle with frizzy hair but don’t have curls, it is recommended to use a good hair oil that tames, reduces and softens frizzy hair, read more in my other article about how to find the best hair oil treatment for your hair.
IS YOUR HAIR DYED?
If the answer is yes, then you definitely ought to consider an SL sulphate free shampoo. To keep your hair as beautiful as when you walked out of the hair salon, you need hair products that will protect your new hair colour. There are several reasons why an SL sulphate free shampoo is best suited for this purpose. One of the reasons is that after having been dyed, the hair is more sensitive and drier than it would otherwise be. A shampoo without sulfate will not desiccate the hair in the same way. Another good reason why you should choose an SL sulphate free shampoo and a good conditioner if you have dyed your hair is that the products help retain the colour and are less likely to discolour or wash out the colour.
IS YOUR HAIR DRY AND DULL?
If your hair feels dry, coarse, or dull and not smooth and soft, when you run your fingers through your hair locks, you probably have frizzy and dry hair. This hair type also benefits from an SLS free shampoo, because an SL sulphate free shampoo doesn’t remove the hair’s natural oils and moisture that contribute to a healthy, smooth, and soft hair.
IS YOUR HAIR DAMAGED AND DOES IT BREAK EASILY?
If the answer is yes, then by all means do not use a shampoo that contains SL sulphates. If your hair is delicate, brittle, or typically Scandinavian, an SL sulfate free shampoo is ideal to prevent the situation from getting any worse than it already is. On the contrary, it can efficiently prevent these symptoms. A shampoo without sulfates, can also retain the moisture in the hair, and this might be very beneficial for you if you have damaged, split or broken hair, because dryness very often causes exactly split ends and broken hair. To thoroughly strengthen and repair the hair you should consider on a weekly basis using a hair mask, which can promote protein production in the hair.