Sulfates have been steadily gaining a bad rep in the beauty industry for the last few years. Why and what the heck are they?
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
Inova Professional Silk Keratin Smooth Protection Sulfate Free Shampoo, $24. Lauren swears by this for
Burt’s Bees Color Keeper Green Tea and Fennel Seed Shampoo, $8. Another classic
Pureology, $27. The brand offers hydrating, color protecting, volumizing, and purifying formulas. And it smells amazing. (I got this free to try and I’ve since gone back to buy more. It’s that good.)
John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo, $16. You don’t get much more natural than this brand and we’ve heard raves about how flufffy and soft it makes your hair.
Kiss My Face Miss Treated or Frequent Use Whenever Shampoo: $23 for a pack of 3 bottles. The fave of many hard-core green product users.
Blow Make My Day Daily Replenishing Shampoo, $16. From the pros at the famed NYC blow dry salon.
Jonathan Products Sulfate Free Infinite Volume Shampoo, $20. Yes, it’s by Jonathan Antin, the “celeb” hairdresser from Bravo’s “Blow Out,” but don’t let that stop you.
AG Colour Savour Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $16.99. Lathers nicely, but it's a bit difficult to find.
Make your own, for mere pennies: Baking soda reduces oily hair and cleans up product build up, though the smell is thoroughly utilitarian. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup (more for longer hair) of baking soda with water to make a thick paste. Put the paste on wet hair and scrub into roots/focusing on the more greasy areas. Scrub in and leave in for 5 minutes, then rinse.