Understanding Sulphates.

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What Are Sulfates & Surfactants?
Water has tension which holds it together. When it rains each drop stays together before hitting the ground.
Once it hits the ground the surface tension is broken and it spreads onto the ground. When you are in the shower the water falls onto your hair and is held together by this tension.

Sulfates and surfactants are added to shampoo in order to break the waters surface tension so it will become MORE of a liquid and spread easier onto your hair. The shampoo then penetrates through the product buildup and dirt on your scalp easier achieving a deeper clean. Detergents are what makes your shampoo lather but the lather doesn’t really help your hair. When you get this lather into your eyes it stings from this chemical.

Sulfates such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are very commonly used in 90% of commercial shampoo’s and in high concentrations, this is also used to de-grease car engines! Yuck!
It strips your body and hair of it’s natural oils causing your hair and skin to dry out faster than it normally would. They use the chemical to get the best results possible from the product and the whole point of shampoo is to cleanse your hair.

Do I Need Sulfates?
No… Technically you do not need your shampoo to lather but YES, you will want the water in your shower to penetrate and clean your hair the best it can.
Media has made us believe that when a shampoo lathers it means it’s working but it would with or without this added chemical. The chemical is just used to enhance the results of the product it’s in.

Sulfates are both a good and a bad thing. The pro is that your hair will be very clean but the con is that your hair will become dry over time. The trade off of never using sulfates is that your hair will need to be washed more often and your hair will never be as squeaky clean as it could be. But to some people this isn’t the end of the world.

Will Sulfates Harm Me?
Sometimes… They can worsen pre-existing medical problems or burn your eyes when they come in contact with the lather of sulfates. With repetitive exposure to sulfates, coming in contact with the eyes it can cause severe damage and even blindness in infants. Some studies have found the chemical can lead to cancer or hair loss as well as liver and lung damage.

Who Shouldn’t Use Sulfates?
Age- The older you get the more sensitive your thinning skin can become, Sulfates can dry aged skin out and take away needed oils.
Eczema- Sulfates are proven to cause extreme irritation to people with eczema.
Dandruff- Sulfates will worsen this and cause more flaking from drying out the scalp even more.
Oily Skin- Even though sulfates remove oil from the skin the issue is when your constantly removing them your body over produces oil to replace what’s been lost. It’s a vicious circle of having an oily scalp –> using sulfates to get rid of oil –> your body produces more oil to replace what was stripped away so you start the cycle over again increasingly making it worsen.
Dry Hair- Not only ethnic people get dry brittle hair. Sulfates will just worsen the dryness causing more harm than good. It could even lead to dandruff over time.
Ethnic Hair- African American hair especially can be brittle and dry by nature. Chemicals like relaxers create overly porous hair as well. The sulfates just worsen the dryness and can cause the brittle hair to be breakage prone.
Chemically Treated or Color Treated Hair- Sulfates will strip the color out of your hair slowly over time with each wash or dry out and break off chemically lightened damaged hair.

Irritating Sulfates:
Sodium Myreth Sulfate
Tea Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate… The best cleaner, the cheapest, and the most popularly used.
Ammonia Laureth Sulfate… The most irritating sulfate!

What else can contain Sulfates?

Shaving Cream
Body Soap
Bubble Bath
Liquid Soap
Body Gel
Laundry Detergent

In my next post I will be listing the Sulphate FREE Products that I use, which are available in Qatar.

Based in Qatar, for the past 14 years, originally from the UK, born & bred in Newcastle, UK. Mum of 2 wicked boys and a beautiful little girl. I adore good food, good fashion and beauty product obsessed. Love women who come together instead of against each other.


  1. Marwah Mir

    August 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    This was really useful as I have dry hair and i have been looking for some really good paraben and suphate free hair products.

  2. mariam

    August 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    The thing with sulphates is that the more u use them the mire u need them …but when using sulphate free shampoos ( with no silicone of course) your hair will adjust after a while and not get dirty or oily fast. Speaking from experience ♡♡

    • Kellie

      August 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks for your imput Mariam.
      To be honest, when I changed, I never saw or felt a difference with my hair, I guess we are all different.
      I am happy I moved though, I am a major freek now when it comes to chemicals in products and food.

      • mariam

        August 23, 2014 at 6:29 am

        What brand are you using kellie? Check for silicones (any wierd ingredients ending with -cone- or -conol- or -xane- that could affect ur results ( I know l’occtaine sulhate-free shampoo has silicones )

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