With all the new hair products on the already crowded shelves in the beauty supply store, now there’s a new group of labels to grab your attention. Obviously, if the shampoo is promoting the fact that it’s “sulfate-free” then sulfates must be bad, right? Well, not in all cases.
Actually sulfates are a detergent or cleansing agent added to many beauty products and also to many commonly used household products such as dish washing liquid. In your typical supermarket deep discount shampoo or body wash you’ll find the ingredient sodium laurel (or laureth) sulfate near the beginning of the ingredient list, if not first.
The purpose of the sulfate ingredient is to attract dirt and oils and dissolve them. Sulfates create lots of suds therefore giving many consumers the feeling that whatever they are washing hair, laundry, or dishes is truly squeaky clean.
Popular commercials and advertisements have taught us that suds = clean.
So to say a shampoo is sulfate-free, technically means there aren’t any of the typical sudsing agents. Sometimes another version of a similar chemical just not called “sulfate” is used as a substitute. But generally the shampoo formulas that are sulfate-free gently cleanse the hair . It is also very likely that you will not see lots of suds either. But this doesn’t mean your hair isn’t clean if there aren’t any suds. In fact, sulfate-free shampoos should be used when deep or harsh cleansing isn’t necessary.
When should you use a sulfate-free shampoo vs. a typical shampoo?