- Beauty Glossary
- Sulphate Free
Sulphate Free Cosmetics
Navigating the beauty aisle can be overwhelming to say the least. Warning signs tell us to avoid ingredients such as parabens, phthalates and sulphates, often leaving us confused and full of questions. Is my toothpaste safe? What do all these fancy stamps mean? Why should I start using sulphate free shampoo? Fear not, as we fill you in with all that you need to know.
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What is sulphate free?
Sulphates, or sulfates, are powerful detergents made of sulphur-containing mineral salts and are often added to self-care products to create a lather or bubbles. Sulphate free is the label given to products that do not contain sulphates.
How do sulphates work?
Sulphates are a surfactant, or in simpler terms, a degreaser. It’s a compound that works with both oil and water, with one end of the molecule attracted to oil and the other to water. They lift dirt and oil from your body before breaking them down so that they can be merrily washed away.
How do I know if a beauty product is sulphate free or not?
When it comes to scanning the ingredients label, the two biggies you should look out for are sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES).
It’s also good to look out for ‘sul-fake’ ingredients, AKA compounds that are only one or two atoms away from being the real deal. The list includes:
- Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
- Sodium lauroyl isethionate
- Sodium lauroyl taurate
- Sodium cocoyl isethionate
- Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate
- Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
- Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate
If you see any of these ingredients, the product is not sulphate free.
Why do we need sulphate free beauty products?
The fact is, sulphates are a little too good at cleaning. With constant use, they can strip the natural oil from your hair and skin, making them dry and irritable.
While many myths of cancer, infertility and development issues have surrounded sulphates in the past, the general scientific consensus is that they pose no major threat to your health. But it might be best to go sulphate free if you want to avoid minor irritants and loss of hair health.
Should I go sulphate free?
Going sulphate free is all down to personal preference. If you’re worried about skin irritation and are aware that sulphates are the cause, then it might be worth giving some alternatives a try.
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it might be worth scouting out sulphate free products too, as the compound can clog pores.
What are sulphate free alternatives?
Natural and organic products can be a great substitute as they often ditch the whole ‘lathering up’ aspect; however, you should always double check the labels for those ‘sul-fakes’ we mentioned.
Your best bet is to go for oil-based soaps and shampoos or switch back to solid formulas instead of liquid.