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Sulfate Free Shampoos

Updated on March 29, 2014

Sulfate Free Shampoo

As consumers become more aware of the products they are purchasing, a savvy shopper is one who has learned what I put on my body is just as important as what I put in it. Shampoo is a product that most of us use daily without really looking at the label and the potentially harmful chemicals that we are subjecting our hair, skin, and bodies to.

Sulfates are present in nearly every shampoo, hair color, scalp treatment, conditioner, and bleaching agent on the market today, and we use these products without even thinking about the harm that the ingredients are doing. Sulfates have come under some very heavy fire lately both from consumer wellness advocates, and environmental groups, but what are sulfates and why all the uproar?

What Are Sulfates

Sulfates are a detergent, surfactant, emulsifier, and a foaming agent. They are found in a wide variety of cosmetics and household and industrial cleaners including

  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste
  • Body Wash
  • Make-up Foundation
  • Dish Soap
  • Laundry Soap
  • Floor Cleaner
  • Engine Degreaser

The most common sulfate you will find in your home is Sodium Laurel Sulfate or SLS. It is the cleaning agent that has been used by manufacturers for years because it is cheap and produces the rich sudsy lather that we as consumers have been taught is the earmark of a good shampoo. In reality the amount of lather has nothing to do with the quality of a shampoo. The lather is just intended to lubricate the hair and skin so that your fingers can more easily massage the shampoo into the scalp and all those excess bubbles are just for show.

Sulfates also act as a degreaser. Great right? I mean who wants greasy hair? Unfortunately that same degreasing action not only removes dirt and grime it also removes the skin and hairs natural oils leaving them irritated, dry, and damaged.

Are Sulfates Dangerous

The topic on the dangers of Sulfates is one that is hotly debated. Studies have linked Sulfates to

  • Organ Damage
  • Hair Thinning and Loss
  • Liver Toxcity
  • Reproductive Toxcity
  • Cellular mutations

Studies are done on SLS itself NOT on the products containing it so there are many people that say that there is no evidence that the small amount that is absorbed by the skin using personal care products is damaging. However it is the long-term, gradual, repeated exposure that has many experts worried and there has not been sufficient studies done on this to confirm or deny the dangers.

One thing that is known is that Sulfates are very dry and damaging to your skin and hair. They cause irritation, clog pores and can exacerbate problems such as eczema, dandruff, and acne. So even from a purely decision based on improving your appearance, using products without this toxic chemical is a great idea.

How To Chose A Sulfate Free Shampoo

When it comes to a SLS Free Shampoo there are many choices. Most manufacturers are now realizing the harmful effect of sulfates both to our hair and to the environment and are making the switch to safer biodegradable products. My personal favorite is the Alterna Caviar line they leave my hair feeling like silk and I've definitely noticed that my hair is noticeable thicker after a year of use. If you don't want to take my word for it and want to choose for yourself there are several places to look.

  • Check your local organic shops. Many of them have organic or all natural hair care options that have no harsh chemicals.
  • Visit your local salon and ask them for recommendations. We all have different types of hair and the brand and type of SLS Free Shampoo that we use can vary greatly. Ask your local stylist what would work best for you.
  • The internet. You can find reviews and information on almost every Sulfate Free Shampoo out there.
  • Read the labels! You should know what you put on your body just as well as what you put in your body. If you can't pronounce it you probably don't want it on your skin or in your hair.
  • Make your own shampoo - there are literally thousands of recipes out there for making your own shampoo, skin care products, and cosmetics using things that you can find in your kitchen


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