Sulfate-Free, Just Marketing Jargon?

26 Jul

Hmmm... Sulfate-Free?

I am sure by now you have seen on many hair care advertisements and packaging with the words boldly stated “Sulfate-Free”, which sounds wonderful right? Obviously, Sulfates are terrible and everything must be sulfate-free, or aren’t they? Did you know that if you were turn that bottle you are holding over, you would see ingredients that still contain some sort of ingredient with “sulfate” on the end, even when the shampoo claims it is “Sulfate-Free”. How can this be?

First we need to get down to brass tacks and learn about sulfates. A sulfate (can also be spelled sulphate) is an ingredient within shampoos that helps to throughly cleanse your hair and beef up the foam while you are lathering up in the shower. In order to get proper cleansing and a lather, your shampoo must contain a type of sulfate.

Sulfates = Good Lather

In order to say a shampoo is sulfate-free, the shampoo cannot contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES). However, it can contain other sulfates within the product. SLS and SLES are known as the harshest sulfates out on the market, and have been known to cause irritations in some cases, and that is why they have received so much criticism.

There are benefits, along with downsides, when using a Sulfate-Free Shampoo. Sulfate-Free Shampoos are known to protect color, and any other chemical process, more than a regular shampoo. These shampoos are also less irritating, so if you have sensitive skin/scalp maybe opt for the Sulfate-Free. On the flip side, you do not get as good of a cleanse if you were to use a sulfate-free shampoo. So those of you who go many days without washing or use a lot of product, I wouldn’t recommend using a Sulfate-Free Shampoo. You will not get as good of a lather, so if a head full of foam is important, stick with the regular shampoo. In some cases, I have heard some hair stylists complaining about clients giving off an odor from their scalp when they only use sulfate-free shampoos.

My Advice: If you are worried about your hair color fading or have sensitive scalp, I would stick with Sulfate-Free. Those of you who are the fence, try one out and see if you prefer the Sulfate-Free. But for best results, I would alternate between a Sulfate-Free and a regular shampoo – not everyday just every few months. Keep your hair on its toes!

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2 Responses to “Sulfate-Free, Just Marketing Jargon?”

  1. Lenzi July 27, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    I used to use the Loreal Sulfate free but was NOT impressed with how it left my hair. Random thought: The way that a bottle can say “sulfate-free” but not REALLY be completely sulfate free reminds me of that Mass Comm Law class we took. Remember when the teacher (can’t remember his name) brought the box of Peaches-N-Cream Oatmeal in and showed us that nowhere in the ingredients were there peaches…haha. The things I remember!

    • Ciao Beautiful July 27, 2011 at 1:35 am #

      Same thing with Fragrance-Free – although detergents, etc. claim fragrance-free these items actually contain a neutralizing fragrance. It isn’t a negative thing though because if they didn’t add a neutralizing fragrance it would smell terrible! But neutralizing fragrances are in extremely low levels, so they usually are non-irratating. Thanks for your comment Lenzi!

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