Have you heard? Sulphate-free shampoo is a thing now.
Well, to be fair it’s been a thing for a while, but just like green juice and acai, once mum knows about it (and how to pronounce it), we can safely say it’s hit the mainstream. And it’s no surprise really, given the rise of “natural”, “green” and our obsession with wellness.
But, where once it was just eco and salon brands shouting the benefits of a sulphate-free life, now mass market brands are on board too, and you can’t swing a cat at the local Priceline without hitting a new SLS-free variant.
But, if you’re a newcomer to the game you may be asking what the big deal with sulphates is anyway, and wondering if you too should make the switch. So let us explain.
Sulphates are what commonly referred to as a “surfactant” or Surface Active Agent, and in shampoos it’s the ingredient responsible for that rich bubbly, lathery goodness that the Decore ad made so popular in the ‘80s (now tell me you don’t have that jingle in your head right now).
You can listen to beauty guru Leigh Campbell explain it in layman’s terms on Mamamia’s beauty podcast You Beauty below…
On your shampoo bottle, they’ll be listed as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate), SLES (sodium laureth sulphate) or ALS (ammonium lauryl sulphate), and they’re also what makes your hair feel “squeaky clean”.
But, that’s precisely part of the problem as Celebrity Hairstylist and creator of the Iles Formula hair range, Wendy Iles explains, “sulphates absolutely strip the hair of everything including our natural oils, so that squeaky clean feeling is the worst thing that can happen to hair.”
Barney Martin, R+Co Creative Director in Australia adds, “sulphates can really dry out hair and cause scalp irritation, and they can also strip hair colour and make it fade faster.”
Also, if you have a keratin treatment it’ll remove that from your hair faster too. Sulphates are used in shampoos because it’s a cheap cleansing agent, but they’re also used in things like dishwashing detergent and other household cleaning products, and are derived from petrochemicals.
Knowing this backstory it’s easy to see why, in and age where everyone is more concerned about what goes on their skin and hair, more people are making the switch.