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View Full Version : Sulfate shampoos better than sulfate free?



HappyFoo
October 4th, 2013, 07:20 PM
Is there such a thing as posting too many threads in one week? :) Oh well though, I'm half expecting a mod to tell me to stop asking so many darn questions!!

I recently posted a thread in the natural hair care forum thingamajig asking about gentle shampoo, and one girl told me that she actually switched back over to sulfate shampoo, and it was better for her. "Rubbish!!" most people would say, but for certain people.... I'm beginning to think it might be true. Sulfate is better than sulfate free.

I always used sulfates and never had any issues with hair loss. But I jump on the sulfate free bandwagon, and every sulfate free shampoo I've ever tried has made my hair fall out in copious amounts, so much so that I actually FEAR shampoo days. When I comb my hair over my sink (I have 4" hair, tangles don't exist for me, it's no big deal to brush my hair wet right now), I can see about fifty hairs+ that clog the drain in just a few washes, when there used to be absolutely none. But sulfate shampoo CAN'T be better, I told myself... Well crap, I'm starting to think it may be.

I'm not saying sulfate shampoo is better for everyone, Lord no. But after my experiences, I'm a bit more open to the idea that for some people, sulfates are the answer. I'm posting this because a lot of people tend to write off any ill effects of sulfate free shampoos as just a bad shampoo overall, switch to another sulfate free one, but that really just isn't working for me.

I have baby fine hair that grows in copious amounts, thus making it somewhat thick despite the skinny hair diameter, and I feel like I may have some mutant hair type that doesn't respond well to what most other hair does. Of course I'll still want to do treatments on my hair, DC it and add in some protein, but I feel the need to suggest to people that sometimes all of the things people think are bad may actually be what some people need, like sulfates and such.

Any thoughts?

starlamelissa
October 4th, 2013, 07:33 PM
sulfates are super rad for some of us, apparently quite a few of us, considering that you have to LOOK for sulphate free shampoo.

Ms. Littlefish
October 4th, 2013, 07:44 PM
You have to do what works. There is nothing inherently wrong with sulfates. They personally inflame my skin; my skin in fact hates much soaping action what so ever. But if your hair is great with them I highly encourage whatever makes your hair great.

emilylightning
October 4th, 2013, 10:52 PM
Completely depends on you and your hair! For me personally, baking soda and apple cider vinegar get my hair as clean as basic shampoo and conditioner did, with less weird chemicals! :D

bubastis
October 5th, 2013, 02:59 AM
I switch between the two.Non sulfate shampoos leave my hair shinier and less dry,but over time my scalp seems to get 'gunky' and I also experience more shedding.So one wash out of three I use a sulfate one to get the best of both worlds :)

Stray_mind
October 5th, 2013, 03:08 AM
I use shampoo with sulfates. It used to make my hair a little dry, but now that i oil much, it doesn't.

donnalouise
October 5th, 2013, 03:11 AM
My hair prefers sulfate shampoos, you are not alone. I can stretch my washes much more and my hair doesn't feel as greasy/heavy. I only use a small amount of shampoo and wash as infrequently as possible.

LadyCelestina
October 5th, 2013, 03:11 AM
Oooh you are so going to get talked into CO washing or a different sulfate free shampoo if you mention that your hair likes normal shampoo :D

Seriously now,if your scalp feels better with it...Stick with it.

bunnylake
October 5th, 2013, 07:41 AM
After using sulfate free shampoos for years I recently switched back to sulfates and I love it. Just do what works for you. ~chemicals~ are in literally everything, water is a chemical. No need to fear! SLS is only "bad" because it can irritate the skin for some people but that's honestly it. Otherwise the sulfate free craze is all marketing hype.

WilfredAllen
October 5th, 2013, 07:54 AM
are the common ingredients in the SLS-free shampoos? I think it would be interesting to determine if your reaction is from a new ingredient, or from the lack of SLS

I prefer SLS-free because I like to to have some sebum left on my after washing, which I don't really get with SLS. Neither causes shedding for me.

sarahthegemini
October 5th, 2013, 08:32 AM
Sulfates were absolutely fine on my scalp, but it dried my length out.

renia22
October 5th, 2013, 09:05 AM
Sulfates are better for me but it really depends on the formulation. I have tried some sulfate shampoo bars that contained tons of fragrance & essential oils and that were too alkaline & even with an acidic rinses, they wreaked havoc on my hair. Other sulfate shampoos, that are simply formulated & ph balanced, are fine.

As far as sulfate free, I made myself crazy trying to get them to work for me, and after years of trying everything under the sun, I gave up. I really don't have that much hair to spare, and aside from times when there was a medical reason for my hair loss ( post pregnancy/ hormonal changes/ nutritional deficiencies, etc), I really don't recall having such problems with my hair as I did with sulfate/ silicone free. It would be nice to be one of those people with glorious hair who can just use herbs, or cider vinegar/ baking soda, or whatever, but the reality is, that does not work for everyone & it certainly did not work got me. I slowly introduced sulfates back into my hair care routine, and my hair got better & the crazy shedding stopped. I started with George's aloe shampoo, which is a very simple, ph balanced formula, and from there I added drugstore shampoos. I still have some sulfate free ones that I periodically will sneak in to see what happens, and sure enough, loads of hair in the drain.

There is so much information (and misinformation/ advertising) out there, I think it's a matter of shifting through the muck & figuring out what works best for you, even if others scoff at it or find that it's not what works best for them.

Panth
October 5th, 2013, 10:03 AM
I can think of a couple of reasons why certain individuals might find sulphate-free worse (or no better) than sulphates:

1) They have resilient hair and/or scalp, so don't find sulphates irritating or overly damaging.

2) The type of non-sulphate cleanser vs. sulphate cleanser tried (see here (http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2012/06/are-sulfate-free-shampoos-really.html)) - olefin sulphonate is technically not a sulphate but is as irritating as SLS. In contrast, SLES is less irritating. Also, sulphates can be less irritating when present as a mixture rather than just one alone.

3) The fact that some scalp conditions are bettered by sulphates or worsened by sulphate-free. E.g. fungal infections can be bettered by sulphates (as sulphates are better at cleansing away some of the fungal overgrowth) but can also be worsened if they irritate the scalp. Certain scalp conditions (psoriasis?) can be exacerbated by certain sulphate-free cleansers.

4) The fact that most sulphate-free shampoos are aimed at the "natural"/"chemical free"/"organic"/etc. market. Thus, they are much more likely to contain masses of plant extracts ... many of which build up terribly (and particularly so when you're using a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo). I suspect this is one of the main reasons that sulphate-free shampoos require so much more trial and error compared to sulphate-containing ones.

Personally, I think you should consider sulphate-free shampoos if you are having scalp/skin irritation, if you have delicate hair or hair that you otherwise damage (e.g. bleached hair), or if you are growing to super-long lengths. I.e. if you appear to be having symptoms from its irritating properties or if your hair needs all the babying it can get. However, it's always a YMMV and if sulphates are what makes your hair and scalp happy, then you should just keep with what works.

ratgirldjh
October 5th, 2013, 10:21 AM
Different things work for different people...

I hardly ever use shampoo but I found that Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser which has SLS works very well for my hair!!!

Firefox7275
October 6th, 2013, 05:40 AM
Is there such a thing as posting too many threads in one week? :) Oh well though, I'm half expecting a mod to tell me to stop asking so many darn questions!!

I recently posted a thread in the natural hair care forum thingamajig asking about gentle shampoo, and one girl told me that she actually switched back over to sulfate shampoo, and it was better for her. "Rubbish!!" most people would say, but for certain people.... I'm beginning to think it might be true. Sulfate is better than sulfate free.

I always used sulfates and never had any issues with hair loss. But I jump on the sulfate free bandwagon, and every sulfate free shampoo I've ever tried has made my hair fall out in copious amounts, so much so that I actually FEAR shampoo days. When I comb my hair over my sink (I have 4" hair, tangles don't exist for me, it's no big deal to brush my hair wet right now), I can see about fifty hairs+ that clog the drain in just a few washes, when there used to be absolutely none. But sulfate shampoo CAN'T be better, I told myself... Well crap, I'm starting to think it may be.

I'm not saying sulfate shampoo is better for everyone, Lord no. But after my experiences, I'm a bit more open to the idea that for some people, sulfates are the answer. I'm posting this because a lot of people tend to write off any ill effects of sulfate free shampoos as just a bad shampoo overall, switch to another sulfate free one, but that really just isn't working for me.

I have baby fine hair that grows in copious amounts, thus making it somewhat thick despite the skinny hair diameter, and I feel like I may have some mutant hair type that doesn't respond well to what most other hair does. Of course I'll still want to do treatments on my hair, DC it and add in some protein, but I feel the need to suggest to people that sometimes all of the things people think are bad may actually be what some people need, like sulfates and such.

Any thoughts?

A lot of people confuse more objective hair health with more subjective aesthetics. Sulphate surfactants ARE damaging to both skin and hair, it's proven by scientific research, however some have more sensitive skin or more delicate/ porous hair so they may well suffer visibly first. For those with resilient skin, low porosity or coarse hair or washing infrequently the level of damage caused may be completely acceptable and outweighed by the aesthetics. Ultimately nobody 'needs' sulphates any more than we need any other modern cosmetic ingredient or product.

Also sulphate free encompasses a HUGE category of surfactants and products, many of the commercial ones utilise other anionic surfactants which are just as harsh. Others utilise super gentle surfactants like the glucosides which will simply not address ingredients prone to building up so require an adjustment of routine. Some sulphate free products are marketed as natural and so laden with oils, butters or plant extracts any of which can be irritants or allergens, some are highly alkaline.

What people also forget it when you switch from product A to product B you do not make one change, you make many - you quit using one product and you start using another, and each of those changes encompasses quitting multiple ingredients and introducing many other ingredients, in some cases there is also a change in technique for example more or less massage. When some people quit using harsher cleansing methods their scalp seems to begin recovering quickly, for others it takes time for the skin barrier to repair and regenerate, in that time at least the scalp may be particularly vulnerable to irritation from other ingredients or products or even from one's own sebum. Involved here are both genetic factors (risk of dermatitis) and lifestyle factors (diet etc).

Aesthetically some people prefer very sleek flat hair so adore silicones and even flat ironing, others like a lot of volume and texture which anionic shampoos are more likely to confer by being highly effective degreasers and changing the electrical charge on the hair. In a similar manner I prefer the aesthetics of my colour treated hair, but I am not going to claim there is no damage (my hair is not splitting or breaking, doesn't look fried to the naked eye, but I know it has increased porosity and it does well with 'patch repairing' ingredients). Do try hydrolysed protein, baby fine hair tends to respond well to it.

renia22
October 6th, 2013, 08:20 AM
*****edit*****

spidermom
October 6th, 2013, 08:24 AM
I can't think of any mechanism by which shampoo would make hair pull itself out by the roots and jump off your head.

But sulfates are not the evil. As mentioned, every single thing in the world is made up of chemicals, and some of the most natural stuff imaginable is toxic.

Natalina
October 6th, 2013, 08:51 AM
I think it differs from person to person. For me personally, I need to have both. I've learned that my hair loves most wash days with sulfate-free shampoo, but gets upset if I don't clarify with sulfate at least twice a month. The amount of hair sheds on both are the same, sulfate does make my hair dryer/a bit more tangle prone but not too much. It's better than having itchy scalp and greasy hair.

My advice is - give your hair what it wants, not what other people want. If sulfate makes it happy, then don't stop using it!

lapushka
October 6th, 2013, 09:09 AM
This is just a case of doing what your hair likes. It might be "better" to go sulfate free, cone free, but ultimately it's what your hair likes, not what *you* like.

I'm not sulfate free, not cone free and it's good enough for me. ;)

sharonluvscats
October 6th, 2013, 09:18 AM
My scalps prefers sulfates. My attempt to go sulfate-free was a disaster.

Iolanthe13
October 6th, 2013, 10:16 AM
You know, sulfate-free shampoo is disastrous for me if I'm also using conditioner. When I have time to mess with catnip rinses, it works beautifully. But these days, I really can't do that, so my current routine is a small amount of sulfate shampoo, a large amount of coney, proteiny conditioner, and some sort of leave-in treatment. It's not ideal or chemical-free, but my hair smells good, looks good and stays clean enough for a couple of days. I've learned to stop beating myself up for using 'normal' haircare methods.

Maybe natural methods are ideal, maybe not. But what's right for you is a matter of practicality as well as ideals.

Rosetta
October 6th, 2013, 10:55 AM
I try to alternate between sulfate and sulfate-free shampoos (though the latter are almost impossible to find here, so have to buy those online), mainly as sulfates have this rap of being very harsh, so just to be more gentle to my hair - but I must admit I usually get better-looking results with sulfate shampoos, shinier hair etc...

Othala
October 6th, 2013, 01:41 PM
I am back to using a shampoo containing sodium laureth sulphate after months using a non-sulphate shampoo, simply because now that I am regularly working out and sweating a lot I need the superior cleaning power of SLES. The formulation matters a great deal I find as I have used sulphate-free shampoos that I found harsh e.g. Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose shampoo, and sulphate shampoos that I found gentle e.g. Nexxus Theratin extreme moisture shampoo. Currently I am using Klorane Centaury shampoo for brightening up my white hair!

summergreen
October 6th, 2013, 02:10 PM
My scalps prefers sulfates. My attempt to go sulfate-free was a disaster.

Mine too, non-sulphate shampoo made me itchy. I only wash once a week so maybe it wasn't shifting any build-up.