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Should You Use Sulfates in Your Hair Care Routine?

Make It Classy Team



There have been some disagreements regarding whether or not it’s safe to use sulfates in your hair care routine. Recently, many hair care bloggers have advised their audience to check the ingredient labels on their shampoo bottles and dump the brands that still use sulfates.

On the other hand, some hair care bloggers believe sulfates are safe for use, but it depends on how you use them. Let's take a deep dive into what are sulfates and should you use them in your beauty routine.

What are Sulfates?

Sulfates are the cleaning agents often used in shampoos, detergents, and household cleaners. The two main types of sulfates used in shampoo are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. They remove the oils from our scalp and hair and create the lather effect we often see in these products. 

Why Are They Considered Harmful?

Many people believe that sulfates can cause cancer. Currently, sulfates are not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but studies are still being conducted.

In terms of hair, because of sulfates’ oil-stripping properties, however, they also remove the oils in hair that helps seal in moisture and promote hair growth. 

This can cause excess drying, especially if your hair has lower porosity and, thus, has difficulty retaining moisture already. People who have curly or kinky hair types tend to avoid these sulfates because they are believed to cause frizz, dry scalp, and split ends. Some have noticed their hair improving in health and moisture after cutting out sulfates from their hair routine.

Are Sulfates Harmful? OR Why are They Considered Safe?

Some people believe that sulfates are safe for use as long as people know how to take care of their hair. For people with loose or straight textured hair, oils from the scalp easily travel down their hair strands and cause a buildup within the strands themselves. Because of this, they tend to favor the cleansing properties of sulfates, while they avoid using it too often. They limit their use of sulfate shampoo to once a week, every other week, or even once a month depending on how often they need to wash their hair.

This prevents the access drying that lathering shampoos tend to cause. They stress the importance of cleansing the scalp properly to remove access buildup. If the hair has too much buildup, there is a tendency for hair follicles to shrink, causing thinning and breakage. Clearing the scalp of this breakage prevents follicles from shrinking. 


At Make It Classy, sulfates are on our “Ingredients to avoid” list, and, therefore, we advise against using them in your beauty routine. If you have sensitive skin, it might be an ingredient to avoid. If you have low porosity hair, hair that has difficulty retaining moisture, or are in the transitioning stages of your hair, you may want to limit your use of sulfates or avoid it entirely. There are other cleansing shampoos without the potential harm a sulfate shampoo can cause. 

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