When washing the hair and body, nothing feels more cleansing or refreshing than a nice lather. This is possible due to a little ingredient class known as sulfates. Due to their detergent properties, they create the bubbles and foam we all know and love when it comes to our bath products.
But while most brands use them because they are affordable and efficient, their effects on the hair and scalp are not always beneficial. Fortunately, you can avoid being affected by their disadvantages by using the best sulfate free conditioner. Here is everything you need to know on the topic of sulfates, as well as tips on how to choose the most suitable products.
Reasons to Go Sulfate-Free
To better explain why choosing sulfate-free hair care products is so beneficial, it is first important to understand what these chemicals are. Also known as surfactants, they are a type of detergent that is most commonly used by the beauty and cleaning industries. They are appreciated in these fields for their ability to foam up and remove grease, dirt, or oils.
Besides being present in products such as laundry or dish soap, they are also commonly found in shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner. The two widespread varieties are sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, and sodium laureth ether sulfate, known as SLES for short. They can be found in as much as 70% of the products within hair and body care lines.
Generally speaking, sulfates are non-threatening for human health. However, they can act as irritants if your scalp is dry or sensitive, which leads to itchiness, flakiness, and even rashes in some cases. What is more, if your hair is coarse or frizzy, these compounds dehydrate it even more, which can lead it to become dull, lifeless, and brittle.
In addition to these detriments, if your locks are dyed then you should switch to sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner immediately. Detergents cause the color to fade faster, which means that you will have to visit your salon for retouches a bit more often than expected. This is harmful to the strands, as well as your budget.
How to Choose Conditioner
Choosing the right sulfate-free conditioner is a matter of hair type. For example, fine and straight hair can truly benefit from a thickening formula, on the one hand. Because it can tend to look limp and lifeless, it’s important to use products that give it a hefty dose of vivaciousness. This will compensate for what nature hasn’t gifted you with.
On the other hand, kinky and coiled tresses are kept under control beautifully with a dose of deep moisture. This kind of curl is beautiful, but it can get lost in translation if you let them get coarse. Thus, a bit of shine and definition is what they need. Finally, wavy hair needs something to eliminate frizz, which means that going sulfate-free would be a great idea.
However, finding sulfate-free conditioner on the shelves of your local supermarket, drugstore, or beauty supply store can get rather tricky. As previously mentioned, well over half the market uses detergents in formulas like this. Thus, you need to learn how to spot the right choices by simply consulting with the ingredient list.
Look for anything derived from fruit sugars and coconut oil. If you’re unsure about how to recognize these, looking for the worlds ‘coco’ or ‘glucose’ is a good way to start. Some options don’t include these terms, but at least you have a fair shot at picking what is sulfate-free from an extended lineup.
A small, yet useful list to remember is that of coco glucoside, lauryl glucoside, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate, caprylyl capryl glucoside, ammonium cocoyl isethionate, sodium cocoamphoacetate,sodium methyl cocoyltaurate, andcocamidopropyl betaine. Anything containing these instead of SLS or SLES is fine in our book.
Still, if your scalp is dry or sensitive, avoid using conditioners formulated with the last substance on the list above. It is the harshest one out of all of them, which means that it is caters more towards oily areas. Therefore, if this is your situation, cocamidopropyl betaine is what you should be after. If the opposite is true, stick to the others.
Sulfates are the reason why our bath products are pleasantly frothy. However, they are also detrimental to scalp and hair health, which is why you need to choose a conditioner that doesn’t contain them. Doing so is easy as long as you listen to the specific needs of your locks, and know what ingredients to look for.