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What are sulfate-free shampoos and is it worth buying
What are sulfate-free shampoos and is it worth buying

They are much more expensive, but the expense is not always justified.

What are sulfate-free shampoos and is it worth buying
What are sulfate-free shampoos and is it worth buying

What are sulfate free shampoos

Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acid. They are added to detergents, shampoos and even toothpaste as surfactants.

Molecules of such substances partly repel water (hydrophobic "tail") and partly bind to it (hydrophilic "head"). When shampoo is applied to hair, the hydrophobic tails of the molecules combine with sebum to form micelle balls. The outer layer of such a ball binds to water and is easily washed off along with grease and dirt.

Due to sulfates, the shampoo forms a lush foam and cleans well of sebum, dead skin particles and other impurities.

Most often, three types of sulfate surfactants are used in shampoos:

  • sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS);
  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLES);
  • ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS).

Sulfate-free shampoos, as the name implies, do not contain the sulfate surfactants listed above.

Are sulfate shampoos dangerous for hair and health in general?

Sulfate-free shampoos are marketed as "no harmful substances". Let's figure out if sulfates are really worth fearing.

Do sulfates cause cancer

Previously, these substances were suspected of carcinogenicity - the ability to cause cancer, but these provisions were refuted. The American Council on Personal Care Products Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has recognized SLS SLS, SLES and ALS as safe for short-term exposure to skin and rinse with water.

Denied Sodium, ammonium and potassium lauryl sulfate: Human health tier II carcinogenicity assessment and Australian government industrial chemicals assessment organization. She also concluded that sodium lauryl sulfate does not affect human reproductive function and development.

Are sulfates harmful to the scalp

SLS and ALS can irritate and dry the skin with Sodium, ammonium and potassium lauryl sulfate: Human health tier II assessment, but this requires high concentrations and long-term exposure. For example, when 25% SLS was applied to the skin of rabbits, irritation did not develop until 4 hours later. In humans, negative effects appeared after an application test with 2% sodium lauryl sulfate. During such a study, the substance stays on the skin for 24–48 hours.

SLES - milder Sodium and ammonium laureth sulfate: Human health tier II assessment surfactant. It can also irritate the skin and mucous membranes, but to a lesser extent than SLS. Adverse effects occur at 18% concentration and skin exposure for 24 hours. In addition, sodium laureth sulfate does not dry out the skin.

When washing your hair, the shampoo is in contact with the skin for too short a time to harm.

Therefore, sulfates should only be feared for people with sensitive skin, allergies or skin diseases. Should You Avoid Shampoos with Sulfates?: rosacea, eczema and contact dermatitis.

Can sulfates damage hair structure

If the hair is healthy, sulfates do not penetrate into the cortex - the inner layer of the hair. Their effect is limited to the cuticle - the outer scales arranged like a shingle. The shampoo will simply remove excess sebum with dirt and wash off safely.

However, if the hair is dry and weak, for example, after a perm or lightening, sulfate shampoo can “Getting past the hype: Dermatologist untangles common hair care misconceptions” even more damage them: break the "disheveled" cuticle and penetrate into the hair. Also, dry curls are sometimes badly affected by the complete removal of sebum - sebum, which protects the hair from the external environment.

Is it true that sulfates cause hair to frizz

Sulfate surfactants are anionic. This means that in water they break down into negatively charged ions. After washing, a negative charge remains on the hair, so they repel each other and the hair frizzes.

However, in addition to anionic surfactants, sulfate shampoos can contain cationic (with a positive charge), amphoteric (can be both positive and negative, depending on the pH environment) and nonionic (do not decompose into ions and do not carry a charge). Such substances neutralize the negative charge.

The effect of fluffy hair depends on the specific shampoo formula, and not on the presence of sulfates in it.

Do sulfates really make hair look dull and matted?

The hair is tangled, combed poorly and looks dull due to the same "disheveled" cuticle. When the scales fit snugly against the cortex, the curls are smooth, reflect light well and therefore shine. If the cuticle rises, the hairs cling to each other.

Sulfate shampoo will not harm healthy hair, and their absence will not cure damaged hair.

The only thing that can help is the conditioning agents in the product. The manufacturer can add Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know? into shampoo hydrolyzed silk or animal protein, glycerin, dimethicone, polyvinylpyrrolidone, propylene glycol and other substances that envelop the hairs, making them smooth shiny.

If the composition of the sulfate-free shampoo contains only mild detergents and various natural extracts, this will not help damaged hair to look healthy and comb well.

Is it true that sulfates cause oily hair?

The rate at which sebum is produced depends on the characteristics of the glands, hormones and the diet of Sebaceous gland lipids. There is no evidence that sulfate exposure increases sebum production.

Do sulfates wash out paint and keratin

In addition to sebum, sulfate shampoos are believed to quickly remove dye and keratin from hair.

Getting past the hype: Dermatologist untangles common hair care misconceptions has no scientific evidence. However, after keratin straightening, hairdressers strongly recommend washing your hair only with sulfate-free shampoos.

What replace sulfate surfactants in sulfate-free shampoos

Add to sulfate-free shampoos:

  • mild anionic surfactants: sodium laureth-5 carboxylat A new formula for a mild body cleanser: sodium laureth sulphate supplemented with sodium laureth carboxylate and lauryl glucoside, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, lauryl sarcosine;
  • cationic surfactants: trimethylalkylammonium chloride, benzalkonium cloride, alkylpyridinium ions, cetyltrimethylammonium chloride;
  • amphoteric surfactants: alkyl iminopropionates, betaines, for example, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium lauraminopropionate;
  • nonionic surfactants: coco glucoside, lauryl glucoside, decyl glucoside, fatty alcohols, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol, oleyl alcohol, polyoxyethylene fatty alcohols, polyoxyethylene sorbitol esters, alkanolamides.

As a rule, two or three surfactants are added to the shampoo, for example, two anionic (for foaming and good cleaning) and one cationic or nonionic (to soften the composition and remove the negative charge).

There are also shampoos without anionic surfactants at all. They are as soft as possible, suitable for children and people with very sensitive skin. However, such formulations do not cope well with grease and dirt.

Who should buy sulfate-free shampoos

You should pay attention to them if:

  • you have dry, brittle and damaged hair, and you are afraid to ruin it even more;
  • you have sensitive skin prone to irritation or scalp problems.

Sulfate-free shampoos cost at least twice the price of products with sulfate surfactants. At the same time, hair is not treated at all, and in the absence of conditioners, it does not improve its appearance.

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