Sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate and others are found in basically any cleaning product that lathers and foams: soaps, shampoos, bubble bath, toothpaste, and yes, oven cleaner. Here’s what’s known about sulfates:
1) They can irritate the scalp, skin, and eyes.
2)They strip the essential oils from hair, which is what gives you that squeaky clean feeling. But they also cause the hair to dry out and can lead to breaking and damage.
3) They can cause allergic reactions.
4) They’re bad for the environment (they can kill fresh water fish) and don’t break down easily.
5) The jury is still out on whether they’re carcinogens. Recent studies have shown that sulfates are safe to be applied or consumed, but other studies have shown that they turn into a carcinogen when combined with other chemicals. (Some of which, yes, are also found in shampoos). The FDA isn’t all that excited about it yet, and it remains a ubiquitous ingredient.
6) And yes, they can screw up your freshly minted Brazilian Blowout.
Lots of people have chosen to use sulfate-free shampoos and the market has responded with a slew of products. We offer you some choices here.
A word of advice when using the sulfate-free products. If you crave that bubbly, super “clean” feeling you get with traditional shampoos, you’re going to have to get used to a different sensation. These shampoos generally aren’t as sudsy, and some can make your hair feel a bit limp. You may need to experiment with different brands to figure out what works for your hair type.