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The Pros and Cons of Sulfates in Shampoos

What's Your Take on Sulfate-Free Shampoos?

Sulfates (aka sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate), which are the agents that make our cosmetics lather and suds, are often looked down upon for their tendencies to dry out hair and strip color. Because of that, an increasing number of brands are joining in on the sulfate-free wagon, like L'Oréal Paris.

On the flip side, others complain that they just don't get the lather or clean feeling that shampoos containing sulfates provide, or that they just don't work as well with certain chemical services (like keratin treatments). While Aveda offers up four sulfate-free shampoos, the brand's Pat Peterson admitted to The New York Times, "You can't pinpoint one ingredient that's doing good or bad in your shampoo. It doesn't make sense."

What say you on the topic? Do you find your sulfate-containing shampoos to be perfectly lovely, or are you team sulfate-free all the way?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Advah Advah 7 years
Re the comments on the Burt's Bees shampoos, which ones did you guys use? I started with the sugar beet one and this one was super drying. I find the green tea and fennel, and the raspberry ones to be way better. As for the lathering bit, I noticed that if I've been using a lot of styling products and my hair's really dirty, it doesn't lather a lot. However if I shampoo my hair twice, the second time (guess when the hair's already cleaner) I get crazy foam and bubbles. And I use a small amount of shampoo.
bellazmom bellazmom 7 years
I was looking for something more natural, so I tried the Yes to Cucumbers shampoo and conditioner. It is petroleum, SLS and paraben-free. I thought it worked pretty well, but I got the shock of my life when I went to a salon get my hair trimmed and shampooed and the next day my scalp itched like mad! It was awful. Maybe the SLS-free is better for my scalp?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I love my sulfate free shampoos! My favorite is the No Frizz line by Living Proof, but it's pretty pricey, so I've found myself getting the L'Oreal stuff. For my hair, the Living Proof shampoo and conditioner are only marginally better and since they cost so much more, I think I will stick with the L'Oreal.
Vanonymous Vanonymous 7 years
In February, I switched to SLS-free shampoos. I was using Burt's Bees for a while, and I liked it, but I recently bought the L'Oreal EverStrong and LOVE it. I've noticed that my hair seems healthier and has a lot less fly-aways because it is not dried out. I agree with others that it takes a little time for your scalp to adjust, but I think it's worth it.
ShekinahShazaam ShekinahShazaam 7 years
I use sulfate free shampoos (And my hair is some of the thickest stuff around) that clean and even moisturize! Perhaps it is because it is a natural product, but that makes it all the better for me[;
Amelie074 Amelie074 7 years
I HAVE to use SLS free shampoos - my scalp is very sensitive to them. I always thought I had bad dandruff but when a friend suggested I try a SLS free shampoo, it was like a miracle! No more flakes, no more itching, no more red spots on the top of my head. (I also have to use SLS free toothpaste) But I will admit it has taken a long time to find the right one - think I tried every so called natural shampoo line out there! Finally settled on Aveda. Wish some of the cheaper ones worked but most of them just fried my hair.
sweetiehanny sweetiehanny 7 years
I got the L'oreal Sulfate-Free Shampoo and I have seen my hair has changed. It's usually frizzy and dry but my hair looks less frizzy, feels strong, and I feel that i can also go for 2 days without washing it and not have greasy hair or dandruff showing. I think just like any products it depends on the person but I am glad my mother told me to buy this product. I think it's worth trying. If you feel that your hair feels greasy after using one of those product maybe just use the shampoo.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
* "I use products with less toxic/as natural as possible, brands such as..."
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
I definitely avoid SLS along with ureas, proplyene glycol, and the other synthetic ingredients. I do with less toxic/as natural as possible brands such as JustNatural, 100% Pure, John Masters Organics, Dr. Bronner, etc. The chemicals used in most products are not only seeping into us over time but going into nature and the wildlife. Why use these synthetics when there are healthier, safer, alternatives.
Burkina Burkina 7 years
SLS is so bad for you. Forget cleaning your hair, they are linked to many many diseases. You can get your hair clean with other ingredients. You just have to give your scalp time to adjust. Shampoo bars are amazing.
Faylinn Faylinn 7 years
I noticed a difference. My hair is softer and moisturized, since it's not getting dried out so easily. However, my hair is pretty oily so I occasionally have to use a sulfate shampoo just to get it all out, but I still use a sulfate-free conditioner. I use the L'Oreal brand and I just love the herbal scent.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I love them... I have noticed a huge difference in the quality of my hair color using sulfate-free shampoos. Waaaaaaaaay less fading. L'Oreal's sulfate-free line is my favorite. It lathers really well, so I never feel unclean using it.
Sasseefrass Sasseefrass 7 years
Funny, I gave Burt's Bees sulfate free shampoo a good try (a few months) and didn't like it at all. I stayed with it for so long because I thought the lack of suds and tangly hair was normal for sulphate free products. Since others have had good experiences with it, I tend to wonder if the local water affects how it works. I now use either Kenra Platinum or AG Colour-Savour and LOVE them both. I buy it in 1 litre bottles to save $$ and because you don't have to use very much it lasts forever. Shampoo with sulphates makes my scalp feel dry and itchy. Once I switched I couldn't believe how much better my head felt.
Advah Advah 7 years
Went SLS-free almost two years ago and I'm never going back! I'm a huge fan of Burt's Bees shampoos, I get pretty much the same amount of lather (especially if you don't use silicone products). Not using any detergent on my scalp, thank you!
KeLynns KeLynns 7 years
I mainly use sulfate-free shampoos. When I first started cutting out sulfates, my hair was oily and gross for about a month. But then it evened out and now it looks and feels much better. I still do use sulfates a couple times a month because my hair is fine and *never* using sulfates led to it getting much too weighed down. But mostly I use sulfate-free shampoos. A bonus is that my hair color lasts longer!
kayepants kayepants 7 years
I've been using sulfate-free for a few weeks and haven't noticed much of a difference.
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