Wet, lather and rinse, everyone knows the classic shampoo routine. However, do you know the reasoning behind the lather part? It is the most important stage of the process because it’s when the cleaning takes place. Sulphates in the shampoo cause the lather which then works to remove oil, grime and dirt. Consequently, when sulphates are used to wash hair they usually lead to a total elimination of grease and general build up on the scalp and hair.
Whilst this might seem desirable, a difficulty sulphates pose is that they can be too stripping. The scalp produces natural oils like sebum which are essential for its protection. Sebum not only defends against disease-causing microbes and potential bacterial infections, but it travels down the hair shaft from the scalp safeguarding every strand. The way sulphate shampoo strips your hair can leave it feeling dry, frizzy and brittle as well as cause irritation to your scalp. Whilst it might provide a thorough clean, the harsh properties are problematic to many. Hence why sulphate free shampoo was created, an alternative with countless benefits.
WHEN SHOULD I USE SULPHATE-FREE SHAMPOO?
There are a lot of different conditions that could be caused or worsened by sulphate. Therefore, it is to no surprise that a sulphate free shampoo is better for many different hair types, such as:
SENSITIVE SKIN CONDITIONS
For those with pre existing skin problems such as eczema, contact dermatitis or rosacea then opting for a sulphate free shampoo can be a gentle solution. Unfortunately, skin sensitivities in general tend to not cope well with sulphate. As a result of its harsh stripping properties the lather can cause further irritation and inflammation. If that is the case then prolonged usage could lead to scalp damage. The gentle way in which sulphate free shampoo works provides a significantly less abrasive solution. Which is why many healthcare professionals advocate for sulphate free shampoos, especially for those with sensitive scalps. However, always seek medical advice when suffering from specific medical conditions.
NATURALLY TEXTURED HAIR
The natural structure of textured hair means that to achieve the curl’s optimal form it needs a significant amount of moisture. Using sulphate shampoo on curly or coiled hair can leave it overly dry, tangled and frizzy. Not only would this prevent definition but leaving the hair in this condition can ruin the curl pattern. It is especially important for naturally curly and coiled hair to be protected from this. Hair that is unaltered and unprocessed needs the natural oils which are produced to maintain it. Switching to a sulphate free shampoo is not only better for the hair’s health but improving its condition can lead to further benefits. It may reduce the excessive use of products that are meant to target sulphate created issues. For example, sulphate free, hydrated and healthy hair might not need styling products like frizz control serums and heavy leave-in conditioners.
7 BENEFITS OF USING SULPHATE-FREE SHAMPOO
Maintaining Natural Oil: As a result of sulphate free shampoo maintaining natural oils, hair is more likely to be noticeably softer and shinier. Harshly stripping the hair from these oils with sulphates can lead to dull, brittle and weak locks.
- Preserving Colour: It helps save time and money by preserving the colour on dyed hair. A great investment for prolonging the life and vibrancy of coloured hair.
- Suitable for Sensitivity: For those with sensitive scalps, this is a great alternative to prevent potential irritation and inflammation. As sulphates are harsh chemicals the less they are exposed to the scalp the better it is for the health of the hair.
- Environmentally Sustainable: Commonly produced from plant derivatives, sulphate free shampoos are a more eco friendly option than sulphate shampoo.
- Added Moisture Retention: Unsurprisingly, sulphate free shampoos help the scalp with moisture retention. Especially useful for those suffering with dry or damaged hair, retaining natural moisture will help with overall hair health.
- Tear Free: Not only gentle for your hair and scalp, another benefit of sulphate free shampoo is it’s tear free. If it accidentally gets in your eyes it doesn’t cause the same burning experience sulphate full shampoo does.
- No More Frizz: Completely frizz free hair might seem an impossible feat however, sulphate free shampoos can help to reduce and even prevent chances of hair becoming frizzy.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SHAMPOO IS FREE FROM SULPHATE?
Sulphates come in many different forms and their names can be quite complicated. It makes knowing what to look for on the label confusing. We have listed the following commonly used sulphate ingredients to help make awareness easier:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES)
- Triethanolamine (TEA)
- Sodium Myreth Sulphate (SMS)
- Ammonia Laureth Sulphate (ALS)
IS SULPHATE-FREE SHAMPOO SAFE TO USE ON COLOURED HAIR?
Yes, although sulphates are safe to use on coloured hair they aren’t necessarily the best. Sulphate is known to cause the colour on dyed hair to fade, making it last for a significantly shorter time than it should. It does so by penetrating the hair’s cuticle and leaving it open, enabling the colour to escape quicker. It can affect the natural proteins and weaken the hair too. Lastly, it also removes the natural oils needed to hydrate and maintain the processed hair. It’s harder for hair to retain its colour when the it’s left in this condition as it becomes drier and more brittle than normal. In order to keep coloured hair healthy and glossy it is paramount that the condition of the hair is preserved. Sulphate free shampoos do not leave the cuticle open, affect the natural proteins or completely strip away natural oils. They work to gently lift enough oil and build up to clean without removing the essential elements. Hence why sulphate free shampoos are able to help the hair maintain colour as well as ensure it’s most optimum condition.
ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES OF USING SULPHATE-FREE SHAMPOO?
One relative disadvantage to using a sulphate free shampoo is the level of which it cleans. Those used to stripping shampoos may feel like their hair isn’t clean enough after using a sulphate free alternative. Usually, this is because they aren’t accustomed to their hair having retained its natural oils. There are several ways to remedy this and to have a deeper clean with a sulphate free shampoo.
Try spending extra time massaging the sulphate shampoo into the scalp when washing. Since it doesn’t lather, a simple way to boost its cleaning ability is by physically working it in. Scalp stimulation in itself has significant health benefits, so why not try massaging sulphate free shampoo with a scalp massager?
Secondly and more commonly, double cleansing particularly helps with removing greasy build-up. Those with long or thick hair especially might find this helpful as their hair tends to retain even more oil. The first cleanse basically removes the majority of the build-up, composed of natural oils, dead skin cells and day-to-day pollution. What the second cleanse ensures is a complete removal of any residue of this build-up, leaving the scalp and hair in its optimum condition.
There might be an adjustment period for those trying sulphate free shampoo for the first time. However, with all its benefits it is definitely worth testing out and figuring a sulphate free hair routine that works for you.