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Are sulfates harsh in shampoo?

April 17, 2011 By: manager Category: blonde hilites, hilites, Keratin Smoothing Treatments, shampoo

This is the skinny on sulfates in shampoo or any other detergent. You heard it here! In many yearssulfates are part of the cleansers in detergents, shampoo’s and any other cleaner. They make the bubbles. Certainly you have heard rumors that sulfate-based surfactants are harsh such as garage floor cleaners. It’s important that these “ideas” or “rumors” are taken out of context be cleared up. Many ingredients are used for multiple purposes, but at different strenghts which make them suitable for that specific use. For example, if you take cinnamon in its undiluted form, it can burn your mouth or skin, yet it is safely used in  lower levels every day in common foods and candy. How about that!

With surfactants, the same properties that make an ingredient useful for cleaning hair make it useful for cleaning clothes or floors, but not the same strength. A company we use that supplies us with shampoo’s and conditioners called P&G formulate their mixtures with different surfactants to successfully balance mildness to skin and hair with effective cleaning performance. They are used at diluted levels that are safe for intended use in shampoo. A surfactant is a primary ingredient in soaps and shampoos that provide the cleansing benefit. Sulfate-based surfactants (sodium lauryl sulfact, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laurly sulfate, ammontium laureth sulfate) are often a part of shampoos. I know from my experience learning how to make natural soaps that theremust be a sudsy type of cleaner to actually clean skin. These have been effective ingredients in the cosmetic industry for decades. Ammonium laurel sulfates can relax permanent waves and they can dry the hair if used in on color treated hair. We always recommend the “stripping” type of shampoo’s that remove the wax buildup are still recommended to prepare the hair before hair color or chemical service. However, these cleansing shampoo’s should not be used on a daily basis. If well water is existing in the household we absolutely recommend it 2-3x per week to break down the minerals that can accumulate on the shaft of the hair and become heavy and limp. There are specific times to use these stronger shampoos then other daily use.

Claims that formulas without sulfates are safter or milder than sulfate-containing formulas can be misleading. Consumers use carefully formulated products, not single ingredients, and what matters is the performance of the complete formula. P&G shampoos are formulated with mixtures of different surfactants to successfully balance to the cleanser and cleaning performance. You may have wondered, do sulfates cause cancer? This is a myth that has been circulating the internet for over a decade without merit or scientific data support. The safety of sodium lauryl sulfate, and the other sulfates mentioned above were all re-reviewed by the US Cosmetic Ingredient Revieiew Expert Panel in 2002, who thoroughly considered more than 250 new scientific studies on these ingredients, and none of the studies suggested that the sodium laurel sulfates could cause cancer.  The rumors were deteriorated by organizations that had a direct interest such as The American Cancer Society, Snopes. com, The US Cosmetic Ingredient Rreview Panel.