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What you need to know about sulfates

The 411 on sulfates

From SheKnows Canada
We’ve all heard it before: Sulfates are bad for you, use sulfate-free shampoo, sulfates give you cancer -- and the list goes on. But how much of that is actually true? Read on to find out!

woman with super lathered hair in shower

We all want to look like the models in shampoo commercials when we lather up, but did you know that all those luscious suds may have negative effects on your scalp?

For those of us who aren’t particularly fluent in scientific jargon, sulfates, also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS), are the agents that are found in most, if not all, cleaning products -- from body, to hair, to bathroom -- and make our shampoos and cosmetics lather. These suds are often looked down upon because they tend to dry out hair and strip that colour you’ve been protecting your whole life or been paying those big bucks to achieve.

The real deal

Healthy and luscious locks start off with a healthy scalp. And using a shampoo packed full of sulfates won’t help you achieve any of that. Sulfates dry out the scalp, which can lead to dandruff, itchiness and eventually may reduce the hair follicles' ability to produce that healthy, vibrant hair all the models on TV have. Not only that, but they’re also a culprit in eye irritations and allergic skin reactions. In addition, a dry scalp can slow hair growth, leaving you with thinning, fragile and lifeless hair. And though SLS is not recognized as a carcinogen, it’s usually combined with chemicals that lead to its becoming a carcinogenic substance.

Why use sulfate-free shampoo?

Avoiding sulfates in shampoos is the best way to maintain your hair's shine and body. By using sulfate-free shampoo, the scalp and hair follicles are able to maintain their natural moisture and oils, which in turn will help in the growth rate of hair.

What to use

Browsing through your local drugstore's shampoo aisle can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t know what you’re looking for. But we’ve got a simple tip to keep in mind while on your next shopping trip -- ditch all the shampoos that contain sulfates. It’s as simple as that. When reading the label, make sure to avoid anything that includes SLS, ALS and SLES in its ingredients list. Try Aveeno’s Pure Renewal shampoo. This sulfate-free shampoo won’t over-strip your hair and helps in rebalancing hair’s optimal moisture levels. It also has seaweed extract, which is full of essential vitamins needed for hair growth.

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