The golden ticket to flourishing aging hair is a sulfate-free shampoo. The term sulfate-free has become a buzzword in the haircare industry. Similar to the words all-natural and organic, sulfate-free carries a lot of expectations and might even drive sales up. We’re all after the healthiest and strongest hair, so we must pay attention to the harmful ingredients in common hair products. Read on to learn how sulfate damages your hair and why a sulfate-free shampoo is the best choice for aging strands.
What is Sulfate?
Sulfates are chemicals used as cleansing agents. They belong to a class of cleansers called anionic surfactants, which clean away substances. Sulfates are commonly found in household cleaners, detergents… and shampoo. The main types are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). The purpose of sulfates in shampoos is to create a thick lathering effect to remove oil and dirt from your hair.
Sulfate has become a controversial ingredient in shampoos. They hold no nutritional value and often irritate the scalp. The salt found in sulfates will strip away the natural moisture in your hair. Additionally, they wash away conditioner layers and free lipids present inside your cuticle, which leads to damaged hair. As you age, it is essential to opt for gentle formulas that boost the hydration and elasticity of your strands.
Benefits of a Sulfate-Free Shampoo
1. Maintain Natural Hair Oils
Sebaceous glands cover your scalp and secrete an oily lubricant called sebum. Sulfates being inexpensive detergents will strip your hair of these natural oils. On the other hand, a sulfate-free shampoo will thoroughly wash your strands without removing essential oils. Aging hair needs to retain most of its natural moisture and oils to remain healthy. Sulfates may strip away too much moisture, leaving the hair dry and unhealthy. When you are not stripping your hair of all of its natural oils, you may find that your hair feels like it’s becoming oily quickly. If this is the case, be patient and only wash 2-3 times a week.
2. Better Scalp Health and Reduced Inflammation
Sulfates strip away too much moisture, leaving the hair dry and brittle. They may also make the scalp dry and prone to irritation and inflammation. Those with a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis who use shampoo containing sulfates may also experience itching, redness, and cracking in their scalp. On the brightside, SLS-free hair products are mild and they softly clean your hair, without creating such problems. Scalp health is an integral aspect of healthy aging hair, so use a gentle shampoo to protect your scalp.
3. Moisture Retention
Moisture retention becomes increasingly important in preventing aging hair from split ends and breakage. As mentioned, SLS shampoos strip moisture from hair fibers, causing them to turn dull and frizzy. Beware, sulfates will especially dehydrate curly locks. To avoid brittleness and lock in moisture, use a natural, mild shampoo. Look for these hydrating ingredients in an SLS-free shampoo:
- Aloe Vera
Aloe has great moisturizing properties. In addition to helping your hair grow, it also helps maintain your hair’s natural sheen and luster by sealing your hair’s natural oils.
Glycerin is an ingredient that binds water together. This means it’s instrumental in locking in moisture along with other ingredients in your products. Additionally, glycerin is used to make soaps and lotions. In both soaps and lotions, glycerin helps moisturize your skin.
- Avocado Oil
Avocado is useful in trying to recover damaged hair. Avocado oil has moisturizing properties and will relieve your scalp of itchiness and inflammation.
- Jojoba Oil
Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum that keeps your scalp and hair moistened. The molecular makeup of jojoba oil is very similar to this natural sebum.
- Shea butter
Shea butter is a natural carrier of vitamin A and is present in almost any hair moisturizer. Shea butter physically holds in moisture.
4. Color Retention
If you color your hair, the harsh cleansing that sulfate gives you will strip your hair of that color, leaving you with dull, faded locks. A gentle formula will cleanse away dirt, while also minimizing the amount of dye that washes away. Sulfate-free shampoos preserve your color and help shield strands from the sun. Use a SLS-free shampoo to hold on to your color longer and avoid excessive salon appointments!
5. Safe for the Environment
Products with sulfates that get washed down the drain ends up in our waterways, and oftentimes, pollute our drinking water, harming humans and animals alike. Research shows that sulfates can induce mutations in animals’ genetic makeup, which can be fatal. Additionally, many products with sulfates are tested on animals to measure the level of irritation to people’s skin, lungs, and eyes.
Many gentle, all-natural shampoos are eco-friendly and safe for the planet. Ingredients like water, natural minerals, herbal extracts, castor oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are also guaranteed to be non-toxic.