Maybe you’ve heard of sulfate compounds, but do you know what they are? Here’s what sulfates do (or don’t do) and which is the best sulfate-free shampoo for you, in case you want to switch.
The ingredient list on the back of your shampoo bottle might seem confusing, but there’s one category of ingredients you should pay attention to: sulfate compounds. Whether you choose to use them or not can have a big effect on the quality of your hair. This easy primer will help you understand what sulfates do and the benefits of sulfate-free shampoo, so you can decide whether you want to switch products.
Sulfate compounds (more commonly called sulfates) are surfactants, which means they’re water- and oil-soluble and, when combined with water, can emulsify grease. They are typically used in cleaning and personal-care products (there are often sulfates in shampoo, body wash and toothpaste) as detergents that cause foaming and eliminate dirt and oils. Though many different types of sulfate compounds exist, here are three common ones found in personal-care products: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS).
Yes, Health Canada considers sulfates to be safe in hair- and body-care products because the amounts used are minuscule—thousands of times lower than the level that could potentially affect your health. Despite some grumblings about sulfate compounds causing cancer, there is no evidence to confirm this. The only potential health side effect of sulfates is that they may irritate sensitive skin and cause red, dry or itchy patches for some people—but typically irritation isn’t a big issue in products that rinse off, like shampoo.
They clean it—really, really well—because their main purpose is to remove oil (plus dirt, pollution and pollen) from the hair so that it doesn’t feel greasy or look dull. However, if your shampoo or conditioner is overloaded, they can sometimes make hair feel dry or strip hair dye during washing. Sulfate-free shampoo also removes oil, but it tends to have a milder formulation.
It’s a personal choice. If you have sensitive skin, colour-treated hair or very parched strands that are brittle or dull, you might want to give sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner a try and see if you like the results. The only downside? You won’t get the same level of suds, and your hair might not feel quite so “squeaky” clean.
The L’Oréal Paris EverPure line has a wide range of shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments that are completely free of sulfate compounds, parabens and harsh salts. They’re specially formulated for colour-treated hair, so you don’t need to worry that they’ll strip your dye and cause fading, dullness or dryness.
If L’Oréal sulfate-free products are something you’re curious about, you have plenty of options to suit your needs. And if, on the other hand, you’ve found a shampoo and conditioner that you already love that contain sulfate compounds, you’re not going to ruin your hair, or your health, by using them.
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