Part 2 of 4: Sulfates
Welcome back to our series of posts on harmful chemicals commonly found in hair products. We tackled parfum (fragrance) in our previous post, and up next, we’re talking sulfates. So, what are sulfates, who should avoid them, do sulfates cause cancer, and what other potential risks do they pose to humans and our planet? Read on …
What are sulfates and why are they used in hair products?
Sulfates occur naturally in nature but manufacturers frequently use synthetic forms of sulfates in shampoos and conditioners, most commonly, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates, a type of chemical known as surfactants, make it easier for liquids to combine with water. They also boost the sudsy, foaming factor of shampoo, making it easier to disperse the product through the hair, and ultimately, remove oil and dirt from the hair and scalp.
What human and environmental risks do sulfates pose?
While sulfates have long been rumored to pose a cancer risk, there is currently no evidence that directly links sulfates to cancer. That being said, the oil stripping and drying effects of sulfates may irritate the eyes, lungs and skin on the scalp and body. The higher the concentration of sulfates in the hair product the higher the risk for eye and lung irritation, dermatitis, clogged pores, acne and other skin issues.
As far as the planet is concerned, the biggest issue with synthetic sulfates is that they are usually derived from the production of either petroleum products (which has been tied to pollution and climate change) and palm oil (often involving deforestation and destruction of rain forests). Some studies also suggest that chemicals like sulfates may put aquatic life at risk when they build up in rivers, lakes and oceans.
Who should consider sulfate free shampoo?
You! No matter your hair type, if you want to be kind to you and Mother Earth – opt for sulfate-free products. In addition to sustainability-minded folks like us and people with skin sensitivities, those with dry, brittle, curly or color treated hair should also consider sulfate free shampoo and conditioner options to avoid stripping natural hair oils and damaging their hair.
Urban Spa makes it easy to go sulfate free!
Switching to sulfate free shampoo and conditioner is a great way to protect your skin, hair and the environment. Urban Spa uses ZERO sulfates in our natural, salon quality hair products, and our environment-friendly packaging ranks at the top of our industry.
Visit Urban Spa’s online shop to get your sulfate free hair care products today!