Are Shampoos With Sulphates Bad For My Hair?

'Sulphate' has become something of a dirty word in haircare. The unfortunate side of this, however, is that not all sulphates are necessarily bad—just misunderstood.

'Sulphate' has become something of a dirty word in haircare. The unfortunate side of this, however, is that not all sulphates are necessarily bad—just misunderstood.

There’s a lot to say on the sulphate debate, but ultimately, sulphates aren't the horrible ingredient they’re painted to be. Let’s go through the pros, cons, misinformation, and alternatives so you can choose for yourself whether you want to stay pro-sulphate or steer clear for good.

 

Are shampoos with sulphates bad for my hair?

 

What are sulphates, anyway?


Sulphates are surfactants, which are compounds that can attract both oil and water to remove them from a surface. Surfactants cleanse by separating oil and unwanted particles from the hair and scalp and rinsing them away.

Sulphates are chemicals, but because literally everything is made up of chemicals (even you!), that isn’t necessarily a reason to distrust them. Sulphates can be derived from natural sources, oftentimes coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and petroleum.


So why are sulphates bad for my hair?


The major issue with sulphates is that they can be very drying. With regular use of sulphates, the hair shaft may break and split open, causing flyaways and fading. However, most shampoos compensate by including conditioning and protective agents that help protect the hair shaft from damage.

Sulphates are truly dangerous for curly hair and colour-treated hair, as these types of hair are more likely to dry out, become brittle, and break. These hair types should definitely avoid sulphates as much as possible.

 

Are shampoos with sulphates bad for my hair?

 

Are there alternatives to sulphates?


With such controversy about sulphates, brands have introduced alternative surfactants, including but not limited to:

  • Sodium cocoamphoacetate
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Lauryl glucoside
  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate
  • Disodium lauroamphodiacetate

These are some names you can look for when checking that your shampoo is truly sulphate-free.

Another major concern regarding sulphates is the claim that they're linked to cancer. It's super-important to note that this rumour is absolutely not accurate and has no basis in scientific fact whatsoever. Sulphates harm your hair, but nothing about them suggests they cause cancer, so no worries in that department!

If you’d like to avoid sulphates altogether, some great shampoo options include:

Check out our other shampoo options if these three products don’t exactly suit your needs. We’ve got tons of shampoos, sulphates or no.

 

 ultimate guide to shampoo