Sulfates make the lather. They also make the water wet. You don’t need the bubbles, but the more wet your water is, the cleaner your hair will be. If you look at the ingredients list on the shampoo, sulfates will be listed as:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS; Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLES;
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Myreth Sulfate; TEA Laureth Sulfate.
Sulfates are a “surfactant”. Watch water as it beads up. It does this by the process known as surface tension. The sulfates break down the surface tension of water and allow it to spread easily…making the water wetter and able to penetrate more deeply.
There is no current scientific evidence of any carcinogenic effects from sulfates. There is some evidence they may play a role in hormonal imbalances, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Sulfates may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema or dandruff. They may also be lurking in your conditioner, body wash and even toothpaste.
Sulfates are what cause the sting when you get some shampoo in your eyes. They can strip hair of natural oils. However, sulfates do a really great job of cleaning your hair. It’s a trade off. So, if you are prone to itchy flaky scalp or skin, have eczema, have chemically damaged or color treated hair, it’s is probably best to avoid products with sulfates.
If you have normal, healthy hair, then using a shampoo that contains sulfates is a matter of preference. If you just don’t feel clean without lots of suds, then look for less irritating sulfates. The least irritating sulfate is Sodium Myreth Sulfate, followed by TEA Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. The most likely to irritate is Ammonia Laureth Sulfate. Just be sure to condition hair after shampoo.
Shampoos and Conditioner Brands that have sulfate free products include: Pureology, Pravana, Scruples White Tea, Structure and Zerran.