What are You Wearing? | Sulfates 101

Sulfates 101
Click Here for Video

Please Note: shampoos of all kinds will strip your hair of oil regardless so conditioning agents are added.

What is it?

Cosmetic companies usually get sulfur from coconuts and palm trees. Sulfates are aggressive detergents made of sulfur that contain mineral salts. The two most commonly used sulfates you will see are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). Sulfates are also known as a surfactant and an emulsifier which is great as a cleansing agent. Also remember that when you think of clean you think of suds and bubbles and that is what people associate with being clean. This only happened after we started adding sulfates to the mix.

What does it do?

Sulfates wash away the natural anti-microbial peptides, proteins and water-proofing oil our bodies create. This causes vital moisture to be stripped away thus exposing your scalp to harmful microbes, allergens and environmental pollution. There are some sources that say it can make your scalp vulnerable to damage, infection and illness but I am assuming that is for extreme cases. Sulfates also lift the cuticle of your hair which causes a reduction in surface tension and it exposes the cortex of the hair to moisture which can cause frizz and potentially cause dryness. Sulfates leave a negative charge on your scalp which can leave a dulling residue and cause static and flyaways. (Another reason to always dry with a tshirt.

What products is it in?

In the 1930s, Proctor and Gamble was the first company to create a shampoo known as Royal Drene Shampoo. They can be naturally or synthetically derived. SLS comes from lauric acid which can come from coconut oil, palm kernel oil or petroleum which can all contain high quantity of lauric fatty acid. Lauryl alcohol reacts with sulfur trioxide gas then neutralized with sodium carbonate.

Sulfate compounds (Sulfates) are found in shampoo, toothpaste, shaving foam, body washes and facial cleansers.

Side Effects

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review says that it is safe to use if used in rinse off products. “SLS and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate appear to be safe in formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by rinsing your skin.  The Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association says that when used as intended, SLS and SLES are found to be safe.

Sulfates can fade hair color and cause hair to become brittle. Sulfates can also cause scalp irritation because it strips the natural lipids off the scalp and breaks your natural water barrier. It can also cause what is known as “follicle stress” since each hair follicle is covered by a “lipid cap”and sulfates remove the cap by exposing the good microbiota that lives within.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate

Sodium Lauroyl Isoethianate

Sodium Lauroyl Taurate

Sodium Cocoyl Isoethionate

Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isoethionate

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate


Na Cocoamphoacetate

Cocoamidopropyl betaine

Lauryl glucoside

Coco glucoside

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate


I am sure you have heard that sulfates are carcinogenic and that is a MYTH. Technically in the 1970s shampoos used Ethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate which contains cancer causing nitrosamines which are actually banned from cosmetic products now. The American College of Toxicology and the Cosmetics Ingredient Review says SLS has no carcinogenic properties.


(That I will post at the end of every blog and in the description box of every video)

  1. This is just information that I have found myself while researching and therefore it is not my own information. I will leave links to all the original files and even other bloggers who dove into this before me. I am not an expert but I want to share what I have found.
  2. At no point during this series should you take the information given as the GOLDEN STANDARD. Listen to your own body and do what is working best for you. So if you find out a product has a chemical that does not work for me and your skin is fine…KEEP IT
  3. Always feel free to do your own research and come to your own conclusions
  4. A dermatologist is a great source of information



Reader’s Digest: Best Health



Sulfate Free Shampoo

XOVAIN (Really good website)

Cocoon Apothecary


One thought on “What are You Wearing? | Sulfates 101

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s