What do you look for in a great shampoo? We want ours to leave our hair with volume, shine, and to help prevent split ends. And if it smells good, even better! Does this mean that the shampoo needs to be devoid of sulfates?
Just a fad or a necessity?
Lately, many women look for shampoos without sulfates. But why? Are they bad for your health? Do they damage your hair? Let’s start at the beginning, why do shampoos carry sulfates? A shampoo is a product used to clean hair dirt, the grease from the sebaceous glands, the cutaneous desquamation of the scalp and, in general, to clear your scalp of any environmental contaminating particles that accumulate progressively in your hair.
But it turns out that healthy hair has a hydrophobic surface (to which lipids adhere but which repels water) and that grease is not washed away by water. So-called surface-active substances, or surfactants, that favor the separation of the grease is emulsified with the shampoo and the water and is washed away with the rinse; both the soap and the shampoo have surfactants, but the reason why one is good for washing the head and the other is not is that the former mixes with the grease with too much affinity and removes too much sebum. On the other hand, the shampoo uses balanced surfactants to avoid removing too much sebum.
The family of sulphates are one of the most effective but also more aggressive surfactants. Their concentration is usually reduced in daily shampoos and should be non-existent in children’s or scalp shampoos which are sensitive to the skin and produce eye irritation. Sulphates are responsible for the foam that makes the shampoo a shampoo. Therefore, the more foam a shampoo makes and the more intense its essence, the greater is the concentration of chemicals in its composition.
Now, have you ever had shampoo that if it goes into your eyes it causes a burning sensation? That is caused by sulfates. Sulfates are present in almost all cleaning products; they are used because they cut grease, they are cheap and they produce foam. The problem is that their cleaning action is very strong and they leave the hair and scalp very dry because they also remove their natural oils. If a shampoo does not have sulfates, it will contain other detergent agents that are somewhat more expensive and that make less foam but are still quite effective.
Some of the reasons to buy sulfate-free shampoo, are:
- Less chance of scalp irritation.
- Greater retention of moisture and, therefore, increased resistance to breakage and detachment.
- Longer lasitng dye color.
- Better conservation of natural hair oils.
- Takes better care of curls.
Overall, it sounds like sulfate-free shampoo is the way to go!
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