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What’s This: Sulfates

What’s this?

A new series breaking down terms you see thrown around in the beauty and “green” lifestyle marketing sphere into simple easy to understand things.

So to kick it off Sulfates?! What’s this?

You see it casually when looking at the products in Target highlighted “SULFATE-FREE”
or a mention in a top ten list of ingredients to avoid or banned as a deadly sin for “curly girls”

But what IS this “sulfate” ?!

Simply put it’s a detergent that works as a degreaser removing oil and dirt from a surface. It lathers up, really well, creating lots of bubble action while doing this.

They changed the landscape of personal care and cleaning products in the early 1900s.

Companies LOVED to use sulfates because they were and still are cheap and very effective at cleaning!

However it is not so good for you or the environment.

Sulfates are really good at removing oil, like so good they are bad.
They tend to strip all the natural protective oils from your skin and hair. This can cause dryness. They are also well documented to cause numerous types of irritation.

If they weren’t just messing up your good looks they are also finding sulfates in our fresh waterways as pollution.

And most sulfates are derived from palm oil, which is a leading cause of deforestation, having huge environmental and economic impacts.

So all around big thumbs down.

Things to look out for on your ingredients lists
(Sometimes spelled sulphate)
Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Myreth Sulfate

Instead look for Sulfate Free or SLS or SLES free shampoos, I recommend a shampoo bar or a refillable one obviously. Look for ingredient transparency on their website if you are confused about any shampoo companies ingredients!

Did this help you understand sulfates a little more?

What word or term would you like to see next on “What’s This?!”

Let me know below!