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21.4.15

So What's So Bad About Sulphates? Why Should I Avoid Them In My Shampoo?

In the hope of a cleaner and more 'natural' approach to our beauty regimes, there's a never ending long list of ingredients we should be avoiding. Although parabens and mineral oil have long been slandered, it's now the turn of sulphates to be on the receiving end of mild hysteria. The previously unknown ingredient has been a favourite of manufacturers for decades, but why are sulphates all of a sudden getting a bit of a bad reputation? I've been avoiding sulphates in my shampoos for time now - a personal choice based on the need to preserve and maintain my incredibly expensive hair extensions. However, it's not because I'm scared of my morning lather giving me cancer or any such ludicrous statements, it's simply because I want to look after my tresses in the best way possible... So what's so bad about sulphates and why should we be avoiding them?


Sulphates are essentially cleansing agents that help to create a rich lather when mixed with water, lifting away dirt and grease to leave hair feeling clean. They're commonly used in the majority of budget shampoos and cleansers (including shower gels and bubble baths) because they're both effective and cheap, so much so that they're also used in washing-up liquid and laundry powder. Although they do the job effectively, these common detergents can be incredibly irritating for sensitive scalps. Not only do they wash away product build-up, dirt and grease from the scalp, but they can also strip the scalp and hair of beneficial oils and nutrients that help keep everything lubricated. If you have sensitive skin or suffer from eczema or psoriasis, sulphates more often than not make the situation even worse - which is why doctors and dermatologists often recommend sulphate-free shampoos and body products.

If your hair often feels dry, brittle and coarse or looks dull and lifeless, it may be a result of the suphates in your shampoo: they're hugely stripping on the hair, removing not only the grease and dirt we'd like to be rid of, but the goodness and natural oils that help to leave hair looking and feeling healthy. As science and technology progresses, there's really no need for the majority of brands to keep using the cheap sulphates that offer a temporary gain but long term pain. So many are now seeking softer and more natural alternatives, which although often reduces the natural lather of products we associate with a 'good' shampoo experience, really has no impact on the hair itself. Although many brands are really investing in new technology (including Liz Earle, L'Oreal and MoroccanOil) it's still incredibly common for even the most expensive brands to be using sulphates in their formula to provide consumers with a deceptive rich lather.

In my opinion, if you can pick up a sulphate-free shampoo that does the job just as well and doesn't cost the earth, then why would you continue to use products that strip hair of its goodness? Although it's definitely the buzz phrase of the moment, sulphate-free is becoming more widely understood and is definitely a selling point for many of us that want to look after our barnets. If you've coloured, dry, curly, frizzy or even over styled hair, then avoiding sulphates could help prevent the situation from deterriorating further; it won't solve the issue or inject any additional goodness, but it will help you regain control. The important thing is to make informed choices and pick what's right for you and your hair.

Do you avoid sulphates in your hair and body products, or is this a completely new discovery for you?

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9 comments

  1. I have very sensitive skin and I use Milk_Shake shampoos which don't break the bank, are sulphate free and smell divine x

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  2. I tend to avoid sulphates if I can ..but I don't worry about it too much (:
    ABlogByPhilippa

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  3. Really interesting post. My husband has very sensitive skin and we were told by a friend about sulphates in food but hadn't actually considered them in our products! Will definitely be looking into sulphate free thank you x

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    1. Definitely get rid of them as much as you can - it will really help!

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  4. Completely avoid sulfates in shampoo now as I had such an itchy scalp and anti-dandruff shampoos didn't seem to help. Switched to sulfate free and I've never looked back. Also started using sulfate free shower gel and my skin has never been happier!

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    1. It's such an unknown issue most of the time. A lot of products, such as Simple, are marketed as being sensitive but still contain stripping sulphates.

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  5. I am an eczema sufferer so this was very beneficial reading for me! I'll make sure to invest in the liz earle shampoos you recommended in your other post x

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  6. I've noticed such a difference since using sulphate free shampoo! However, I find it really hard to find! I have been using the loreal range but it's rarely in the shops and I end up having to order it online. Do you have any recommendations?:)x

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  7. The TIGI S Factor haircare range is brilliant, but for a more affordable range (available in Boots, for example!) the OGX (Organix) haircare range is really good too :)

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