The Truth Behind Sulphates

In the past decade people have become more conscious about what they are putting in and on their body, and as such your hairstylist has probably recommended the use of sulphate free shampoo. Most lines now have switched to a sulphate free formula and for good reason.


There are two types of key sulphates that we see in sulphate based shampoos, sodium lauryl and sodium laureth. These are cleansing agents that suspend dirt, oil and dead skin cells from the hair and allow the water to rinse it away or simply, what cause the shampoo to produce suds. This is an important aspect of your shampoo and the main purpose besides keeping a healthy scalp. The problem is that sodium lauryl and sodium laureth have been found to be irritating to the skin and scalp, causing redness, itching and dryness. You will find these sulphates in almost any cosmetic product that creates a foam.


As a way to resolve this issue, many companies have gone to a sulphate free method of cleansing the hair with the use of surfactants. The difference being that a sulphate is the use of any salt or sulphuric acid, while a surfactant is a wetting agent that reduces surface tension of a liquid.


The 3 most common surfactants:


Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate: this is a water soluble surfactant that is derived from coconut and is sulphate free. This is a mild surfactant that is thought to be one of the safest on the market.


Sodium Methyl Cocoyl: is also derived from coconut and considered to be mild on the scalp and skin. This product is typically used in cleansers that require a creamy foaming effect.


Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate: this is an amino derived cleansing agent and is a skin softening ingredient. It has a naturally creamy lather and is mild and non drying.


These ingredients are one of the reasons why we see such a price difference between professional and drug store shampoos. Sulphate free surfactants generally cost more to produce than lauryl or laureth sulphates. Because surfactants do not produce as much lather individually, more ingredients and surfactants are used in a sulphate free shampoo than something you would find in the drug store. Drug store shampoo is typically made with a lauryl or laureth sulphate and what happens is when too much is added, the bonds break and the shampoo doubles in quantity, so they can produce twice as much for little cost.


So why shouldn't I use a sulphate free drug store shampoo? I researched both Herbal Essences Bio Renew Birch Bark Extract Gentle Cleanse Sulphate Free Shampoo

and Living Proof Full Shampoo

. What I found was that Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (a surfactant derived from coconut oil) are the first ingredients used in both shampoos, if you continue down the list however, you will find Herbal Essences uses Sodium Benzonate which is sodium salt. This product is used as a preservative in pharmaceutical and food preparations and makes the product have a much longer shelf life (paraben). The only other salt found in the Living Proof shampoo is Magnesium Chloride. It is used as a viscosity increasing agent to make the product thicker.


The Living Proof Shampoo line up consists of:

Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo

A rich lathering shampoo that nourishes, smooths and conditions while providing weightless humidity protection



Perfect Hair Day Shampoo

A shampoo that helps you wash you wash your hair less often. It makes your hair look healthier instantly and improves over time.



Colour Care Shampoo

This shampoo gently cleanses, nourishes and protects against UV, hard water and damage which can lead to colour fading.




Restore Shampoo

A gentle shampoo for dry, damaged hair that helps hair behave like it's not damaged at all.



Full Shampoo

A gentle, thorough cleansing shampoo that helps fine, flat hair behave like full, thick hair.


What we can conclude is that when you are investing regularly in your colour services, sulphates are going to be irritating, drying and strip your colour. A better way to care for your investment is to use shampoos that consist of surfactants that are derived from coconut. These will be gentler on the hair and colour and make your colour investment last much longer.


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