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Does it Actually Matter if Shampoo has SLS In It? (Answer Inside)

best sulfate free shampoo

Over the years, the beauty industry has rolled out an exhaustive list of bad-for-you ingredients. We’ve also published our own version too so that you can stay educated on what ingredients to avoid in skin care and hair care. But there's a catch that even we have mentioned and it’s this: The claims aren't always supported by research, the FDA doesn't regulate ingredients, and it makes shopping for products confusing and complicated. Today’s beauty era has evolved so drastically that it’s now becoming more and more common for us to look at the back of bottles and comb through those confusing ingredients lists to make sure nothing harmful is in it.

We’ve discussed this one before, and we’re circling back because one of the "dirty," hot-button ingredients you've probably heard of regarding hair care but haven’t taken seriously is Sulfates.

The concern about sulfates has everything to do with their external effect on your hair and scalp, and have no proven negative effects on your internal health (though there have been studies that say otherwise). But what exactly are they and why might you want to opt for a sulfate-free shampoo? Ahead, experts break down the pros and cons. 

What are Sulfates?

If you want to get scientific, sulfates refer to the SO42- ion that is usually formed or generated as a salt of sulfuric acid. But in plain speak, sulfates are surfactants (aka cleansing agents), commonly used as an ingredient in shampoo, body wash, and face wash (in addition to household cleaning products, like dish and laundry detergent) because of their ability to lather. Sulfates attract both oil and water, then remove it from the skin and hair. A must have in shampoo, right? Keep reading.

Why Choose a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

When you're looking at an ingredient label on a hair care product, there are two main sulfates you'll want to watch for and avoid: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Why? Why does it matter? It matters more than you realize, unfortunately. While you can thank sulfates for your shampoo's amazing ability to lather, they are also quite problematic.

Sulfates can actually remove too much of your hair's natural oils. This is especially important to consider for curly or keratin-treated hair, which craves moisture, or color-treated hair, as sulfates can also strip away the color. So that expensive trip to the salon after they all opened back up (and the many, many times before the pandemic hit) are literally being washed away every time you shampoo your hair. Plus, stripping your hair of oil can also cause dryness and irritate the scalp. So, no matter how luxurious and “clean” your hair feels once you shampoo it thanks to SLS, it’s actually much more damaging than it is beneficial.

So What's the Alternative?

It's natural to associate a foamy lather with a good clean, but that's not necessarily the case, we’re happy to inform you! A product doesn't need to lather in order to cleanse; however, some sulfate-free shampoos will still foam to suit consumers' preferences (thank the heavens for that)!

That being said, Wild Naturals has a natural hair care line with shampoo and conditioner that are made without sulfates – and these won't dull your fresh highlights or suck all the natural oils from your hair.  For the best sulfate-free shampoo, you need to discover why natural and no SLS in the ingredients is a choice that is well worth the change to your normal hair care routine.

Head over to the Wild Naturals online store and see for yourself how you can still get a big brand lather with a natural shampoo free of sodium lauryl sulfate!