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What Are Sulfates In Your Shampoo and Why You Should Switch.

Updated: Feb 15, 2023



“Sulfate” is a cleansing agent that had never been much of a trouble to any until a baby shampoo and organic movement brought it squarely into the limelight. In 1953, when Johnson & Johnson introduced a no-tear baby shampoo substituting sulfate with Coco betaine the seed of doubt began to sow in the minds of many.

Over the years, as people started to take notice of the chemicals in their products, sulfate-free shampoos became all the rage among the households. At the stir, credible sources attempted to assure the people of sulfate being safe for use. But a few reluctant made their minds to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo, initiating the rise of its fame.

Seeing as even the FDA deemed the sulfate safe for use, why is the herd heavily leaning toward sulfate-free shampoos? To discover it, let’s retrace back to what is Sulfate.

What Is Sulfate and Why Should You Avoid It?

Sulfate—you would recognize it by the name of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)—is a surfactant that produces lather to clean your hair. Attracting oil and water, sulfate binds the molecules removing dirt and excess sebum from your hair.

According to Kevin Ewell, an LA-based Chemist shared to an online magazine says, “This unique property allows soaps, shampoos, and body washes to separate dirt and oil from your skin or hair and then allow the water you rinse it with to carry it off your body and down the drain."

As sulfate is one of the highly effective deep cleansing chemicals and officially safe for use, most shampoo companies use it as a foaming agent. But despite its effectiveness, shoppers prefer sulfate-free shampoo. Initially, wellness campaigns prompted the interest of people toward them. The alarming whispers of sulfate causing cancer did not help either. Later, when researchers dissuaded the rumors and further studies were conducted, sulfate was concluded to cause hair brittleness.

It was observed that sulfate not merely removes the grime but strip away natural oils from the scalp leaving your scalp dry and hair rough. This significant disadvantage of sulfate triggered the shift in shampoo choice rocketing the demand for a sulfate-free shampoo.

How Does Sulfate-Free Shampoo Help?

Sulfate-free shampoo primarily uses Cocamidopropyl betaine(CAPB) as an alternative cleaning agent. Derived from coconut oil, Cocamidopropyl betaine—also known as Coco betaine — combines with dimethylaminopropylamine (DMAPA) to form an amphoteric surfactant. While CAPB does create less lather, its remarkable ability to clean your hair without touching the essential natural oils making it a favorable ingredient. The American Academy of Dermatology further raises the credibility by encouraging people—particularly with Rosacea—to use sulfate-free products.

For colored hair, CAPB shampoo is considered an excellent choice as well. If you’ve noticed, hair colorist often recommends their products after a service. They prefer color-safe shampoos containing CAPB for their clients which, unlike sulfate, prevent the color from fading. All in all, if you have naturally sensitive skin or fine and fragile hair, sulfate-free shampoo would undoubtedly help.

But Is Sulfate-Free Shampoo Really Worth it?

As Oribe announced turning sulfate-free this year, it makes the growing acceptance of CABP startlingly clear. And while sulfate-free shampoos are a bit on the expensive side, investing in quality salon product will pro-long your haircolor and improve your hair health.

Here are a few products we love here a Taylor Monroe:


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