Did you know that certain chemicals found in your favorite hair products could leave your strands feeling dry, brittle, and lifeless?
Sulfates are harsh chemicals commonly found in your favorite hair products and could silently damage your hair and scalp.
They can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to damage and breakage.
In this blog, we’ll dive into why sulfate is bad for your hair and how you can start replacing it with gentle alternatives.
What are Sulfates?
Sulfates, also known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are harsh detergents commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products.
They’re very common due to their cleaning power. Combined with water, they can create a lather that gives it its strong cleaning impression. Although they may do a great job of cleaning your hair, they can also be very harsh and damaging to your hair.
The Two Types of Sulfates
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, commonly known as SLS, is a commonly used detergent found in many hair care products. Known for its strong cleaning properties, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate effectively removes oils and dirt but can be hard on the scalp and hair. It can strip natural oils from the hair, causing dryness and irritation, especially for sensitive skin. Using too many products containing SLS may lead to weakened hair strands and leave it more prone to damage.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or SLES, is a gentler version of SLS. It's often used in shampoos and other hair care products. While it also functions as a detergent, Sodium Laureth Sulfate is less irritating to the skin and scalp due to its milder cleansing properties. It is good at removing dirt and oil without stripping the hair's natural oils as much. Making it a better choice for those with sensitive skin or dry hair. But, too much use can still lead to hair dryness and scalp irritation, especially those with delicate hair types.
Why is Sulfate Bad for Your Hair?
"So, why is sulfate bad for hair?”. Well, understanding the question is the first step towards removing it from your hair care routine. Here are some of the most common issues caused by sulfates below.
Harsh for certain hair types
One of the main reasons sulfates are bad for your hair is that they can be too harsh for certain hair types. If you have dry, damaged, or color-treated hair, sulfates can strip away the natural oils that help keep your hair healthy and nourished. This can lead to dry, frizzy, and brittle hair that is more prone to breakage and split ends.
Cause irritation to the scalp
Another reason sulfates are not good for your hair is that they can cause irritation to the scalp. Wow! Some people with sensitive scalp or certain skin conditions, such as eczema, may experience irritation, dryness, or flakiness when using products containing sulfates.
Fade hair color
Besides causing dryness and irritation, sulfates can cause color-treated hair to fade more quickly. So remember that before you go dying your hair in multiple colors (yes Yailin, we’re talking about you). If you can’t wait and already dyed your hair and are still using products with sulfates, they may cause the color to fade faster.
Do you have colored hair and are afraid of sulfates ruining it? Then check out the best shampoo for color-treated hair sulfate-free here.
Benefits of Sulfate-Free Hair Products
Sulfate-free shampoos offer many benefits for your hair and scalp. First, they are gentler on your hair. Since they don't contain harsh sulfates, they won't strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it feeling dry and brittle. Instead, sulfate-free shampoos help to nourish and hydrate your hair, leaving it feeling soft, shiny, and healthy. Remember, your body absorbs around 60% of what you put on it. That could even include damaging synthetic chemicals found in your everyday hair and skin problems.
They are also better for the environment since sulfates and other synthetic chemicals are harder to break down. And these chemicals (if they make it to the ocean) can get ingested by animals and plants. Additionally, sulfate-free shampoos are often free from other harmful chemicals like parabens, silicones, and synthetic fragrances.
How to Switch Over to Sulfate-Free Hair Care
Transitioning to sulfate-free hair care can be a bit of a process, especially if you've been using sulfates for a long time. Here are some tips to help you make the switch:
- Start slow: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Habits are harder to keep if you radically try to adapt to something new. Instead, first, try switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. Then when your hair has adjusted and you get better used to it, you can further reduce the usage of your other products with sulfates.
- Be patient: It may take a few weeks for your hair to adjust to sulfate free shampoos. Don’t lose hope. Just stick with it and be patient – your hair will eventually adjust and thank you for it.
- Use clarifying shampoo: If you have a lot of product buildup in your hair, you may want to use a clarifying shampoo before switching to sulfate-free shampoos. This will help to remove any buildup and give your scalp a healthy base to start growing healthier hair.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep your hair healthy and strong. Make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated has so many health benefits but one of the most overlooked. Get that water in!
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Hair Without Sulfates
Once you've made the switch, there are a few things you can do to help keep your hair healthy:
- Avoid heat styling: Heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons can be very damaging to the hair if used without caution. Try to avoid using them as much as possible, or use them on the lowest heat setting. If you have a bit of budget, look into Dyson products. They are amazing and don’t burn your hair.
- Trim regularly: Regular trims can help to prevent split ends and breakage. Aim to get a trim every 6-8 weeks.
- Protect your hair from the sun: Just like your skin, your hair can be damaged by the sun's UV rays. Wear a hat or use a heat protectant to protect your locks. Try our Hair Hydrate 2-in-1 if you need ideas. It contains yogurt and jojoba oil that help keep your hair hydrated and protected, without weighing it down.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can help to keep your hair healthy and strong. Foods like salmon, spinach, and sweet potatoes are great for promoting healthy hair.
- Drink plenty of water: Does this sound familiar? We just added it again to make sure you remember!
The Future of Sulfate-Free Hair Care
As more and more people become aware of the damaging effects of sulfates on hair, it's likely that sulfate-free hair care will become even more popular. There are already many great sulfate-free products on the market, and we can expect to see even more in the future. Additionally, we are seeing more brands focusing on organic, natural ingredients that are gentle on the hair and the environment. Agua de Cielo, we’re focused on providing organic hair care products with powerful natural and plant-based ingredients.
Sulfates can make it seem like they are doing your hair justice, but they might be really causing some serious damage. By switching to sulfate-free shampoos, you can help revive and restore your hair to its full potential. Say goodbye to sulfates and hello to healthy hair!
Are you ready to start removing sulfates from your hair care routine? Then check out our best-selling sulfate-free shampoo that's made from a powerful, organic formula. For an added boost, combine it with our Hydra Glow Mask which will leave your hair hydrated, smooth, and glowing.
Want to learn more about the dangers of certain chemicals found in your everyday hair products?
Make sure to check out our other blogs on these chemicals: