Ahh, sulphate – the notorious ingredient lurking in most commercial shampoos and conditioners, so widely affixed to endless negative connotations that span over millions of Google searches. Your stylist, too, has probably mentioned it during your monthly touchups. We have all heard that sulphates are bad for the hair, but what does it do really?
Often listed as SLS or sodium laureth sulfate on the back of shampoo bottles, this cleansing agent is responsible for the rich lather created once you work the product in and also rinses away any excess oil and product buildup that may be embedded onto the scalp and strands.
Not only are sulphates highly effective, they also pass the safety regulations and have long been a go-to ingredient in the beauty industry. The question is – why are advocates of natural beauty and naysayers so adamant about voicing their concerns over sulphates?
For one, the chemical has been linked to cancer for being carcinogenic, although nothing has been proven yet. Sulphates are also known to strip the hair of its natural oils, besides exacerbating irritations and eczema. If you have experienced agonising stinging in your eyes from rinsing out your shampoo or conditioner, chances are sulphates are present.
Our verdict? Use sulphate-free products in tandem with your regular products that do contain sulphates. Alternatively, choose haircare products that have minimal sulphates. The rule of thumb when it comes to the ingredients list is that the higher the concentration of an ingredient, the higher up on the list it would be listed.
It also boils down to your hair type. Dry or damaged hair will be the most susceptible to sensitivity, and since sulphates are known to weaken hair or compromise the conditions of the scalp, you could choose to avoid this ingredient altogether. The same applies for colour-treated hair. Experiment, and use everything in moderation!
Celebrity hairstylist Adam Reed of the haircare brand Percy & Reed has also divulged with us his stance on sulphates. Find out what he said here.