Surely at some point you have heard about the sulfates . More and more people are looking at the labels of shampoos and other cosmetic products to see their composition in search of products without sulfates and other chemical components. On many occasions we can find rumors that are out of context, giving rise to misconceptions. For that reason today, we are going to solve doubts about this ingredient. What are sulphates? What function do they have? Are they really that bad for your health?
What are sulfates and what are they for?
The sulfates are chemical compounds belonging to the family of the surfactants which are mainly used as cleaning agents both skin and hair, but also used as a thickener.
They have the function of cleaning and generating foam. When they come into contact with water they form micelles that are responsible for dragging dirt from the hair and skin.
We can find them on the labels of shampoos, bath gels, cleaning foams and other products intended for personal hygiene with different names but the most common are “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ” and “Sodium Laureth Sulfate” (SLS). In fact, this chemical component is present in 9 out of 10 products, especially in those of lower cost because it is cheaper and more effective.
Sulfates destroy the natural protective lipid barrier of the skin and this action can produce itching, peeling, sensitivity. On the other hand, in dyed hair they make the duration of their coloring shorter.
Why sulfates are harmful?
Sulfates are a potent and effective fat remover for hair and skin but you should also take into account that they destroy the natural lipids of the skin, necessary for it to defend itself from external aggressions.
In short, the SLS are irritating to human skinand its continued use is the cause of many problems of dryness, irritation of the scalp and the appearance of dandruff.
On the other hand, sulfates penetrate the skin entering our body and may become harmful to some vital organs, although it has not been possible to prove in any study that they are carcinogenic.
Should I use a sulfate-based shampoo?
Many people use shampoos with sulfates frequently and they do not present problems of itching, dryness or others. However, those with sensitive scalp should avoid them.
Specifically, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is found more frequently in cosmetics because it has less abrasive substances. The problem is that in its synthesis can produce a substance known as 1-4 dioxane, carcinogenic and can not be metabolized by the liver, so that its prolonged use can have cumulative effects.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers that SLES are safe in cosmetic formulations and personal care products , since many of these products are designed to be used in short applications (washing hands, face, hair …) and therefore, the risks are so minimal that they are not considered harmful.
Why use a sulfate-free shampoo?
Sulfate-free shampoos retain moisture better and promote the natural production of fats. They are suitable, as we said before, for those with sensitive and irritated scalps.
By not carrying sulphates they make less foam but it must be taken into account that without foam it is also cleaned . It is always more advisable to opt for a natural shampoo without chemicals or toxic components, made with organic ingredients and that does not contain sulfates, parabens, silicones, dyes or preservatives. You will always have a healthier advantage since they neither irritate nor cause itching, allergies or eczema.