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Gramercy Hair Salon

What Sulfates can do to your Hair

Sulfates are chemicals used extensively in shampoo formulas. They’ve been considered an indispensable ingredient for decades, provide one of the deepest cleansing actions, but have also been embroiled in considerable controversy.

Sulfates are cleansing agents that produce lather and are utilized in products ranging from shampoo and soap to toothpaste and household cleaners. They remove dirt, grime, and dead skin cells, but they also strip natural oils from the hair and scalp. The result is hair that’s dull, dry, brittle, and more susceptible to damage.

There are three sulfates most commonly used in the beauty industry – laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. Sulfate versions with an “eth” in the name are milder than those with a “yl,” and ammonium types are milder than sodium versions, but all can result in reactions.

Sulfate-free shampoos are most desirable and they can be particularly important for people with kinky, frizzy, or color-treated hair. Sulfates strip natural oils from hair, along with the dye. The chemicals also leave hair with less moisture that intensifies frizziness and makes it less manageable. People with fine or delicate hair should definitely avoid sulfates.

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADD) recommends that anyone with sensitive skin, eczema, contact dermatitis, or the skin condition rosacea avoid shampoos containing sulfates. It can exacerbate rosacea on the face and spread to the back and shoulders. The ADD recommends that anyone experiencing hives, itchiness, redness, skin rash, or swelling after using their shampoo should discontinue its use as it may contain sulfates.

There are a number of sulfate-free options on the market that are also affordable. Everyone has different needs, but individuals should beware of over shampooing and ensure the shampoo they’re using is specific to their hair needs. People should use heated styling tools sparingly and always apply conditioner if they’re not using a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner.

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