Sulfate vs. Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfate vs. Sulfate-Free Shampoo

The difference between sulfate and sulfate-free shampoos is easier to see than it is to explain. Sulfates are a chemical used in many types of shampoo, including those that claim to be "natural." Let’s dive into the differences between these two types of shampoos, what's in them, why they aren't good for your hair, and how using them could negatively impact a hair treatment.

First off, we need to know what exactly are sulfates? Sulfates are detergents, also called surfactants, and are made from a group of mineral salts that are mixed with chemicals to create compounds. The most common compounds found in consumer products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These sulfate compounds are used in shampoos, liquid hand soap, face cleaners, laundry detergents, and dish detergents. They are made to bind to oil, fat, grease, and dirt to remove them from whatever surface is being cleaned. They’re also responsible for the sudsy lather that happens when you wash your hair, but that doesn't mean it's good for your hair.

Other than the fact that you don't want to wash your hair with dish detergent, there are a ton of other reasons why you don't want to use shampoo with sulfates. If your hair is curly and frizzy, dyed, coarse, damaged, or if you can get away without washing your hair every day, then sulfate-free shampoo is the way to go. It is also a good idea if you have sensitive skin or scalp, as sulfates can cause acne or skin irritation. To avoid sulfates, try to find shampoos that are labeled as sulfate-free, but be careful. Just because something is labeled as sulfate-free doesn't mean it is. Truly sulfate-free shampoos are made from gentler plant extracts and use amino acids, seed oils like palm or coconut oil and offer many advantages over their chemically manufactured counterparts. If you see the following ingredients in your shampoo, then they are sulfate-free:

  • Glucosides — These come from renewable plant-derived raw materials.
  • Taurates and Fatty Acid Isethionates — The cleansing ability and hair conditioning effects are terrific from these. They are derived from coconut fatty acids.
  • Glutamates — These amino acid-based surfactants are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic and are often certified organic products.
  • Amino Acid Sulfosuccinates — These are often used in products made for delicate skin and baby shampoos because they are so gentle and have mild and anti-irritant properties.

What will happen to your hair if you use shampoo with sulfates? Well, for one thing, sulfates are so good at pulling grease and oil out of hair that they will actually remove the natural oils that our hair needs to stay healthy and full of moisture. They might also make the scalp dry and prone to irritation. If you feel like your hair is dry and unhealthy or your scalp starts to become irritated, you should switch to a sulfate-free shampoo. If you have treated hair from color or regularly straighten or curl your hair, sulfates can dry out and damage your hair. Sulfates can also strip the color from your hair. If you use a smoothing treatment for your hair, using a shampoo with sulfates will work against you. Sulfates can cause hair frizziness. When they make contact with your hair, a negative electrical charge is created, which will cause frizzy hair after shampooing.

So, what's so great about sulfate-free shampoo? They will keep your hair healthy, won’t be as harsh on the skin, are more environmentally friendly, and won't negatively affect hair treatments. Although they don't lather as much, and it might feel different at first, sulfate-free shampoo cleanses the hair just as effectively as the shampoos containing sulfates. If you do any sort of hair treatment, have sensitive scalp and skin, have hair that is already dry, curly, or frizzy, or want healthier hair full of natural moisture, then sulfate-free shampoo is what you should use.

We want you to fall in love with your natural hair and enjoy it in all its glory. Keratin Salon Direct offers a complete line of sulfate-free shampoo, moisturizing conditioners, styling cream, and hair treatments that will help your hair keep its natural oils and lock in moisture. Your hair will be healthier, smoother, and more manageable. Stylists use our professional smoothing products in the finest salons around the world! You can get the same treatment you would spend hours at a salon getting for in less than an hour in the comfort of your own home. Make the switch to sulfate-free shampoo today. Your hair will thank you!