Over the past few years, parabens and sulfates have become major buzzwords in the beauty industry. You’ve likely noticed an increase in products claiming to be sulfate free shampoo or paraben free shampoo. But, what are sulfates and parabens? Should they be avoided? The hair experts here at PlanB Headquarters have you covered and here to give you the down low on these ingredients! Keep reading to learn more about the hype around these ingredients, and whether you should be avoiding them in your beauty routine!
What are Sulfates and Parabens?
First, you may be wondering what sulfates and parabens are. This might get a little scienc–y, but hang in there with us! Parabens and Sulfates are both chemicals found in beauty products since the 1950s. Parabens specifically act as a preservative in a range of beauty products: from shampoo to lipsticks and even deodorant. They preserve the shelf-life of products by preventing the growth of bacteria and fungus. Sulfates, however, are a surfactant, which is a fancy word for a chemical that attracts both water and oil. As you wash your hair, these surfactants are effective at pulling dirt, grease and product buildup off your hair, leaving you with that clean, light feeling everyone loves after washing their hair. Sulfates are also responsible for giving shampoo that satisfying bubbly lather.
Read more on our previous blog post: 7 Secrets to Healthy Hair here.
Why are Sulfates and Parabens Bad for Hair?
So, if parabens preserve your products and sulfates clean your hair, what’s the issue? While these ingredients have been used in hair products for a long time, the safety and effectiveness of using them have only recently been questioned.
Sulfates work to clean your hair, but sometimes the cleaning properties work a little too well. Depending on how much oil your scalp naturally produces, sometimes sulfates can over-cleanse, stripping natural oils, leaving you with dry, brittle hair. This is especially true if you have wavy or curly hair. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, sulfates can cause irritations like redness or itching.
Read more on our previous blog post: Product Review: Fight Frizz With a Leave-In Conditioner here.
Parabens, on the other hand, work to keep your products lasting long. However, they can cause your hair to dry out and frizz. Additionally, they can actually enter your body through your scalp. Some studies have suggested parabens and sulfates may be toxic and even carcinogenic, however, these studies haven’t been proven. If you’re concerned, you can always play it safe by choosing a paraben and sulfate free shampoo, or shampoos with low concentrations of both ingredients.
Should I be Choosing a Sulfate Free Shampoo?
So, after all that, what’s the verdict? Should you be throwing away all your products containing sulfates and parabens? The answer: It depends. There’s a myriad of factors that determine whether a shampoo will leave your hair feeling parched and frizzy; from your how moisturized your hair is naturally, to the concentration of sulfates to what other ingredients are in a product.
If you struggle with naturally greasy hair, choosing a shampoo with a light concentration of sulfates can provide a rich lather and a clean feeling on the skin and hair. Complementing it with rich, hydrating ingredients can prevent your hair and skin from over-drying.
Best Low to No Sulfate Free Shampoo
If you’re considering cutting out sulfates from your hair routine, there are a few options. You can seek out shampoos with milder sulfates, or alternate between shampoos with sulfates and without. You can also start washing your hair less and using less shampoo when you do wash. Additionally, we carry paraben and sulfate free shampoos and other products here at PlanB. Ask about our Evo and Crosn’s Shaving Co. lines next time you’re in!