Hair & Beauty Magazine

Sulphates – What’s the Fuss and What Are They?

By Nlakic @natashalakic


Sulphates – What’s the Fuss and What Are They?Sulphates (sulfates), or sodium laureth sulphate, ammonium laurel sulphate and sodium lauryl sulphates are well known foaming agents or detergents used in loads of cosmetics products and industrial cleaners. 
When I say in loads of products, I’m not joking. Sulphates are in toothpaste, shampoos, washing up liquid, shower gels, cleansers, laundry detergents, bath salts, hair colours etc. Pretty much in everything that cleans, foams and washes.

The sulphates originate from coconuts so they can be both created from nature or in a lab. They are cheap to produce and do the job well.

But they can also cause irritation. The sulphates that come from coconuts are no less likely to cause irritation than the lab created ones, but the “green” or “natural” manufacturers will never say that their products contain sulphates, it will be called “natural detergents from coconuts” or something like that. I just thought I’d let you know in case you’re convinced you are using something sulphate free when in fact you might not be at all.

Now the major issue about sulphates are that some studies show that they are possibly linked to some cell mutations that lead to cancers. Other studies are inconclusive and claim that the concentration of detergents present is never high enough to cause any damage. Plus there’s also skin’s permeability. Most sulphates will not be absorbed through the skin or stratum corneum, but there is some danger that they can be absorbed via eyes and other mucous membranes. Now some say that there are the cumulative effects to take into consideration too. So the jury’s still out.

Where do I stand on sulphates? To be honest I’m a bit in the middle about it all.

To me if I can’t see the irritation, it’s probably ok.
Saying that I don’t leave cleansers on for longer than necessary. I don’t take long foamy baths, but I’m happy to take my make up off with foamy cleanser.
At the end of the day I like stuff to do the business it’s made to do. I don’t generally like brands or products that centre their marketing about things their products “don’t contain” or are “free from”. Seriously, I don’t care. Tell me please what is actually in your products that will do the job that it’s designed to do.And write the ingredients in their latin name and state the source where it comes from. Then I’ll be very happy.


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