Hello everyone! I thought for my first post I would talk about an ingredient that I am sure EVERYONE uses on a daily basis, sulfates!
What are sulfates?
Although there are many combinations, all sulfates are surfactants. Surfactants are compounds that help lower the surface tension between two items (liquid/liquid or liquid/solid). Surfactants are composed of long chains of atoms, at which one end is hydrophobic and the other is hydrophilic. The reason they work is that the hydrophobic (afraid of water) attaches to the sebum in your hair, meanwhile the hydrophilic end attaches to the water you are showering in and gets washed away. What this essentially means is that surfactants are detergents, or the agents responsible for the foam produced when you scrub a bar of soap. However, what sets sulfates apart from other surfactants is that is much too effective at removing sebum from the skin’s surface.
Some variations on sulfates include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate,
What’s so bad about it?
Although we are accustomed to attributing cleanliness to foaming capability, foaming in no way equates to cleanliness and in fact in most cases represents over cleansing. Over cleansing leads to drying out hair by stripping the scalp (or any of body part) of sebum, which is the protective layer of oil, that conditions that hair. In response to this the scalps actually responds by OVER producing sebum in preparation for your next cleansing. So in fact, your cleansers may be responsible for your hair/face getting greasy quickly. In some people it can also dry out your face or body and it also irritates eyes.
Where are they found?
In nearly everything! Sulfate is cheap to manufacture and produce and is found anywhere from your shampoos, facial washes, and even your dish soap. In most products that contain sulfate, it is usually amongst the first five ingredients.
What can I do to avoid them?
No need to worry there are TONS of alternatives to these harsh cleansers. Many indie and organic companies, and even more mainstream companies, offer sulfate free options. Since sulfates are so cheap to produce though you will need to keep in mind that these alternative options do cost more however will be beneficial to your hair and body in the long run.