Sulfate-Free Shampoos: Why Make the Switch?

Until I got my first keratin treatment, I had no idea what Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) was.

However, this is what I was recommended to eliminate from my shampoo to make my keratin treatment last longer – it was less “stripping” of my hair and thus, the keratin would stay strong. It got me curious about this little ingredient, and I was introduced then and there to the magnificent world of Sulfate Free shampoo.

All my life, my hair has fallen out like crazy. I have a LOT of hair though, so it never really posed a visible problem – except to my shower drain, which would require unclogging almost weekly. I remember all my life apologizing for “shedding like a dog” on people’s furniture.

When I switched to a Sulfate Free shampoo? Gone was the shedding and excessive hair loss. I mean, GONE.

Within a week or two of use. No more did I need to scoop a chunk of hair out of the drain after a shower, or spend hours trying to get the massive amounts of hair loose that would wind around my brushes.

At first, I thought maybe it was the keratin treatment that made my hair stronger, or something – I wanted to remain in denial that all these years, my hair shedding was nothing caused by shampoo.

However, one weekend I went out of town and stayed in a hotel, leaving my Sulfate Free shampoo behind and using whatever the hotel provided me. I experienced a moment of horror when I returned home, took a shower, and looked down at my drain – the dreaded shedding was BACK! I was finally sold. I am now forever dedicated to the world of Sulfate Free shampoo and other products – my face and body washes are now Sulfate Free as well. And my shower drain thanks me.

So, what is SLS?

It’s a surfractant – it’s the ingredient in your shampoo that traps dirt and oil – and because it is the detergent or cleaning power behind your foamy hair suds, it is also the harshest part. On top of that, SLS is believed to be one of the harshest surfractant choices out there. I read a fascinating article from Killer Strands on the topic, and my eyes were opened to the issue. Read this article, it’ll change your understanding of the shampoos you use in the shower everyday.

What’s the problem with SLS?

At certain levels, this is a chemical detergent that has been found to cause skin irritation and hair loss, and some even believe it can lead to eye damage, liver toxicity, and cancer (Source). What!? I was shocked. You may be asking the same question I am wondering: why on earth is it in nearly every shampoo on the shelves!?

Killer Strands presents in it’s article the blatant truth – it’s all about money, and SLS is dirt cheap and creates tons of bubbles that we love.  We are trained to believe that the more lather we experience from our shampoo, the better it is cleaning our hair – when lather is really created by a surfractant trapping air, not dirt or oil. Killer Strands says it quite clearly:

“The truth is, lots of foamy lather only means too much shampoo was used. Excess foam equals waste. Sebum and other oils quickly destroy foam. Ideally, the head should have just enough lather to lubricate the scalp and hair. This will help your fingers massage the shampoo more effectively into the hair. Fragrances and foaming qualities are not good ways to evaluate shampoos.”

What do you think of this issue? Have you heard about it before? Would you make the shampoo switch and see if it works for you hair?

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3 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve read on numerous sites that sulfate free shampoo’s were better for you hair but the only reason they explained why was usually just because it would strip the natural oils in your hair or ruin the color.

    I lose a lot of hair in the shower just like you and Im sick of all the hair that gets stuck in my brushes. I never had a clue that it could be from the sulfate. I am def going to try a sulfate free shampoo now. Do you have any recommendations??

    1. So many people aren’t aware of why sulfate in shampoo is bad for your hair, and there lies the big problem!

      You should definitely try out a sulfate free shampoo and see how you like it. We of course recommend our own formula infused with keratin, which can be found on HSN.com (http://beauty.hsn.com/zelo-keratin-shampoo-8-oz_p-6267990_xp.aspx?o=PD-RI&sz=0&ocm=apch&attr=&subcat=&cat=&dept=&sf=&gs=&prev=&cm_sp=Recommended*PD*right) as well as our website (http://www.shop.zelocare.com/).

      Also, Killer Strands, the blog we mention several times in this post, has compiled a great list of shampoos to try at the end of their SLS post: http://killerstrands.blogspot.com/2008/01/sulfate-free-shampoo-list.html

      Just like any shampoo, each sulfate free formula differs, so try a few and be aware that most of them are made for very dry, frizzy hair – so if you have fine or thinner hair, avoid dry therapy sulfate free shampoos that will just add more weight.

      Let us know if you get any results or if you blog about it – we’d love to see more people talking about this topic!

  2. I appreciate the tips you gave in the post above but SLS belongs to only one group of sulfates that shampoos shouldn’t contain. There are many more dangerous sulfates and when there is a declaration on a shampoo “sls-free”, that doesn’t mean that there are no some other types of sulfates in a specific shampoo. So it’s a good idea to look for sulfate free shampoo and not just the shampoo with only “sls-free” label.

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