I felt compelled to write this since I’ve been seeing an emergence of shampoo bars made from sulfates. What are Sulfates? Sulfates are detergents found in most hair and body care products. I started my zero waste hair care journey 10 years ago with these but when I learned they are not good for us I was challenged to create a hair cleanser without them. A little history you may already know. Sulfates began as industrial strength cleaners made to cut through grease and deeply soiled surfaces. They were not intended for consumers to use in their hair, or on the delicate skin of their face and body. Especially with how frequently they’re used(many shampoo and wash their skin daily with them). Since the 50s, when sulfates were added to household products, people got used to and started to expect high lathering products that left hair and scalp “feeling” squeaky clean.
Sulfates are abundant, cheap, and one of the most widely used chemicals in America now used to create that foamy lather. Problem? SLS is a skin irritant. It’s actually stripping skin and hair of it’s own protective barriers and disrupting it’s natural moisture balance. It can also easily penetrate dermal layers and enter the bloodstream. It can destroy the delicate lipid layers which keep skin supple and smooth. Harsh sulfates can dry out skin and hair while also inviting other toxins to more easily penetrate the skin’s surface. Yikes. Many products contain many additives like silicones to mask this which are really just coating the skin and hair and blocking follicles. As if our bodies are not burdened enough.
“SLS has shown up in the tissues of the brain, liver, heart and other vital organs. This strongly suggests it is retained long term in several body tissues.” (Natural News) In addition, the chemical causes erosion and irritation of the eyes and mouth. My aunt shared with me that it created sores in her mouth. Once she stopped using the sulfate toothpaste they went away. Prolonged exposure is also associated with hair loss, gum problems, blurred vision and more.
Luckily, many natural companies have banned sulfates. You’ll often see “SLS Free” and “Sulfate Free” on personal hygiene products at health food stores. We’ve studied natural plant saponins and have found that these are what were used before these sulfates became such big business. Plant saponins are ph balanced naturally. It’s time we get back to connecting with our natural world. We were meant to live in harmony. Wellness for humanity and the planet. <3 e