The Truth About Sulfates


Are Sulfates Bad for Your Skin & Hair? 

Increasing numbers of beauty products are hitting store shelves that market themselves as free of sulfates--but what, exactly, does that mean? If you're interested in avoiding chemicals or living a more natural lifestyle, should you be avoiding sulfates? Check out these answers to your most common sulfate questions. 


What Exactly are Sulfates?

Sulfates are the chemicals most often used as cleansing agents in a variety of products that you may use on a regular basis. They're designed to help actively remove the buildup on your hair and skin from beauty products, oil, and other things that come into contact with your hair every day. Sulfates also help create the rich lather that most people expect from their cleaning and beauty products. 


Are Sulfates Bad for You?

Sulfates are specifically designed to strip oil and dirt away from your hair. For some people, however, that means that they're also stripping away natural oils from the hair, which can leave it feeling dry and brittle. When you use a face wash containing sulfates, it may leave your skin feeling dry.


According to some reports, sulfates may cause irritation to the eyes, skin, or mouth, in some people. It’s important to read product labels, understand the ingredients, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have questions about chemicals or ingredients.


Which Products Typically Contain Sulfates?

Sulfates are found in a variety of products. In beauty products, they're most often used in shampoo, body wash, and face wash. However, they are also found in things like laundry detergents and dish detergents. 


If you're wondering whether a product you're interested in contains sulfates, make sure to read the label carefully. Many beauty products, in particular, will label themselves as being sulfate-free if they do not contain sulfates. You can also check for the most common sulfates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate, in the ingredients. 


What Do Sulfates Do to Your Hair?

In the short-term, sulfates can help strip oil, dirt, and residue away from your hair. They are highly effective cleansers that help break down many of the products you use on a regular basis. However, in some cases, this cleaning power can actually turn out to be a detriment: routine sulfate use may, over time, strip the moisture from your hair, leaving it dry and brittle. 


What Do Sulfates Do to Your Skin?

The impact of sulfates on your skin can vary depending on your personal sensitivity and your skin type as well as how long you have been using a given product. As when used in your hair, sulfates are a very effective cleaning product. They're very effective to wash oil from your skin, which is why they are commonly used in many acne-fighting products. However, sometimes, those products can prove too powerful and heavy on your face. They may actually strip away more oil than you want, leaving your face dry and your skin feeling rough. It’s important to check with a healthcare professional to determine the best skin care products to use for your skin type.


The Environmental Impacts of Sulfates

Sulfates may have an impact on the environment. High levels of sulfate, particularly in water, may influence the ecological balance. Sulfates in an aquatic environment can result in the release of specific toxic substances that can prove even more detrimental, overall, to the ecological balance in the area. Unfortunately, high levels of sulfates in the products we use on a regular basis can also lead to an increased level of sulfates in the water around us, ultimately resulting in substantial environmental contamination and a number of other challenges. Reducing the number of sulfates in common products, and choosing sulfate-free products, can help reduce many of these risks.


Shop Co-op Market's Sulfate-Free Products

Are you looking for sulfate-free products that may be easier on your hair or skin and better for the environment? We can help. Check out Co-op Market's array of sulfate-free products to learn more about the ones that are most likely to fit your specific needs. 

Become a lifetime co-op member for just $10