If you read your shampoo's ingredients printed on the label, you would probably encounter the words “sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate” among other things listed. Most commercial shampoos and conditioners have sulfates added as hair cleaning agents. Sulfates are what makes shampoos lather. While some studies relate sulfate use to cell damage, sulfates are considered safe to use when made in low concentration but can damage your hair overall with prolonger use. Choosing to go sulfate-free when it comes to your hair routine will give you benefits you probably didn't know.
Sulfates & Their Functions
Sulfates are strong chemicals that can remove oil, dirt and wax build-up from any surface including the hair. It is commercially prepared as surfactants for detergents, soaps, bath bombs, toothpaste, and shampoos. The primary function of sulfates in shampoo is to emulsify oil, clean out dirt and remove flakes from your scalp. The very characteristic of shampoos to form a lather or foamy residues confirms the presence of sulfates in the product you are using. According to the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, the concentration of sulfates can be considered safe for use when it is below 1% or when used periodically. The average percentage amount of sulfates present in shampoos is around 15%.
Kinds of Sulfates in Shampoos
The three most common kinds of sulfates present in cosmetics and shampoos are the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and the Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS). Sulfates are produced through the reaction of sulfuric acid to other chemical compounds. Some sulfates are derived from petroleum, others are naturally occurring in plants and water.
The process of creating sulfates has been highly controversial and criticized because of the rumors of it being a cancer-causing agent. Although there is not a scientific evidence that sulfates can cause cancer, they are not entirely beneficial to all hair types either. This is due to the presence of the chemical 1,4 dioxane when sulfates are processed in the manufacturing plant. This substance is highly known to be cancer causing agent as seen in laboratory animals.
Risks of Using Sulfates
Most sulfates used in commercial products are derived from petroleum. The use of petroleum-containing products has a negative effect on climate. It contributes to global warming and its consequences. However, when using shampoos with this chemical, the biggest concern is the long-term unfavorable effects of sulfate use. Here are some of the risks you may encounter with prolonged, daily use of sulfate-containing products:
- Sulfates are known to cause eye-irritation in shampoos. There are cases that linked sulfates to the swelling of arms, face, and hands.
- A study was conducted on lab rats revealed that a concentration of 15%, which is usually the case with shampoos, and prolonged exposure to it could cause skin irritation, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea depression, and even death.
- Sulfates strip off natural oils in your hair. If you have dry hair, continued use of sulfate products will lead to exacerbation of hair dryness or causing scalp irritation. This is also not beneficial for people with dandruff because it will cause more inflammation to the scalp.
- Hair thinning, frizz and breakage could result from the daily use of shampoo containing sulfates.
- Sulfates are easily absorbed on the skin. This may allow the chemical to travel in the bloodstream and may cause damaging effects to the internal body.
- It has also been found that sulfates can strip out hair color from your hair color treatments.
Most manufacturing companies use sulfates as lathering agents in their cleaning products because this compound is abundant, cheap and easy to produce. This also goes to show that most companies don't really care about your well-being as long as they can monetize from the product.
Go Sulfate-Free Now!
Sulfates may not pose immediate health and hair risks to all but if you have sensitive skin, dry hair, fine hair, and already damaged hair, it is probably best to do the switch now. Sulfate-free shampoos are just as effective hair cleaning as a sulfate-containing shampoo but with fewer risks. Most sulfate-free shampoos are derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. They can give you an effective cleanse without the hazards. Switching to a sulfate-free, paraben free, cruelty-free shampoos such as Earth Vibes Natural Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set is a great decision, It will protect your hair from damages, nourishes your hair with argan oil and it is made from all natural ingredients and doesn't test on animals.