The truth about SULFATES!


Are sulfates bad for your skin and hair?


The short answer is NO! and I'll tell you why....




A Sulfate is a type of surfactant, so. lets first define a surfactant.



In the realm of skincare there are many surfactants to choose from however, they all have one goal in common. To mix with the oils of the skin and the water you cleanse with to remove dirt, debris and excess oil from the skin.


Up until 1950's there was only one main surfactant used in skincare products. Can you guess what that was?




Soap! Good O'l soap.


Until 1950 when Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) was discovered and revolutionized personal care products.


So why does SLS get such a bad rep?



Someone decided

they cause skin irritation, clog pores, cause acne, blah blah blah.

But where is the science?


Let's break down SLS


Sodium: The sodium in SLS is from Sodium Chloride .. yes SALT!


Lauryl: A purified product of coconut oil!


Sulfur: a bi-product of things such as volcanoes and petroleum which is reacted with Oxygen (yes what we breathe) to give you... Sulfate!


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is by far the most renewable surfactant out there! (naturally sourced and can be recycled)


SLS is a very safe and effective surfactant when used as directed in the products they are in. A typical and effective cleansing time is approximately 60 seconds. Your skin should be in contact with SLS for 60-120 seconds (it is meant to be washed off thoroughly!) At this allotted time SLS is effective and non irritating.





However, although completely safe, most products today don't use pure SLS, most products use what is called an Ether or a combination of both.


Think of an ether as a diluted molecule of SLS


They have an extra (or multiple) chemical (ether) groups to make them more mild.


These go by the name of SLES, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate.


These ethers in cleansers allow them to be even less "irritating" along with other chemical properties that you probably don't care about, think, viscosity, lathering, detergency.


The good thing about science and my specific love, cosmetic chemistry, is that we know that surfactants are meant to cleanse, but we also know that incorporating nourishing ingredients such as humectants, emollients and oils (mostly non-comodogenic), are able to adhere to the lipids and corneocytes in your skin.


And once you wash aways that SLS or SLES, guess what?

Those nourishing ingredients can stick around and serve their purpose.


So how does SLS and SLES compare to other surfactants?


They are the most widely used, most studied, most stable and most renewable and SLES removes the least amount of lipids from the skin!







So how did they get a bad rep?

In my words "If you can't beat them, lie about them."

Most sulfate-free products started as a marketing tactic to push new products!


Most of which use surfactants within the same classification as sulfates, OR actually do strip the skin of moisture and hydration OR are a lot less stable.


Canceling sulfates was an unsubstantiated low blow from clean beauty that spread faster than a forest fire.

Compelling you to throw out all of your products and run to the store and buy their new "sulfate-free" and "clean" products.


There is NO research that supports the claims about sulfates being problematic for skin or hair.


In fact, the irritation scale that opposing companies use as their "standard" is solely based on someone's opinion.


No science, no device that measure irritation within the corneocytes (skin cells in which irritation happens).

Nothing, Nada, Zilch, didly-fucking squat.


This is not to say that some people with compromised, sensitized or reactive skin won't experience some irritation, but they could also experience the same (and in some cases MORE) irritation and sensitization with sulfate-free cleansers using other surfactants.


You always have to find a product that best suits YOU. So the next time you shop for a cleanser and rush to find something "Sulfate-free," please think twice.

The sulfate probably isn't the problem.


Always ask yourself,





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