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Just the mention of the substance makes most naturals cringe.
You’ve probably seen all the comments on hair care forums across the web about this mysterious and allegedly highly dangerous product:
Sulfates are bad for your hair.
Don’t use a shampoo with sulfates.
Though these warnings come with some truth, they oftentimes come with no explanation.
SO WHAT ARE SULFATES?
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, sulfates are “mineral salts containing sulfur”.
Well that doesn’t explain much either, does it?
Sulfates can be divided into four categories:
Magnesium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Triethanolamine (if you can pronounce this, you are the spelling bee champ for the day) Lauryl Sulfate
and last, but not least…
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS)
SLS is most found in shampoos and used to produce lather.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists sodium lauryl sulfate as a food additive and considers the substance generally recognized as safe. According to the FDA’s website, “its non-pesticidal uses far outnumber its one pesticide use”.
What is that one little non-important pesticide use?
Flea and tick repellant.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says that SLS is used as a flea and tick repellant in pet shampoo. But the FDA insists that “exposure and health risks to people using the product (SLS) are expected to be low”.
So while I’ve explained why this product is ALMOST completely safe, I have not mentioned why it’s no good for your hair, and particularly for those with kinks, coils, and curls.
Sulfates can dry the skin by stripping protective lipids (fats and oils) from the surface, causing it to ineffectively regulate moisture to your scalp.
Your scalp, as we know, is a living breathing thing; that needs nurturing in order to produce the strong protein (hair) growing from it.
If you’ve already purchased your economy-sized bottle of sulfate infused shampoo, there is no need to rush out and find a sulfate-free shampoo.
Some alternatives to preventing the effects of sulfate on your scalp and hair, include the method of pre-shampoo conditioning, otherwise known as pre-pooing.
Most people pre-poo by applying natural oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Jojoba Oil, and Coconut Oil to their hair the night before shampooing for deep conditioning. Others use regular conditioners.
However, if you decide to throw away the economy-sized shampoo bottle and need a quick alternative, you can always use the co-wash method. (Mentioned in BC and Beyond)
Whatever your decision, I hope this information gives you some insight.