Sulfates, silicones, and parabens are something I am sure you may have heard of by now. The reason there is so much talk around them is because they are extremely damaging to your hair, however are found in so many big brand shampoos and conditioners. Are they actually bad for you though? First let’s start by looking at what they are.
What Are They?
Sulfates are a detergent often found in shampoos, soups, and cleaning products. In general they are not a bad thing, the problem arises when you start adding them to shampoos. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is one of the most common sulfates you will find in shampoo, it is also found in engine degreaser. Which begins to explain why we do not want this in our shampoo. Most common sulfates are too harsh for our scalps and completely strip all natural oil. This Is why people can experience oily hair a day after washing it; your scalp is reacting to the lack of oil and overproducing to replace all the oil that was stripped away the day before.
Silicones add slip to your shampoos and conditioner to make your hair easy to detangle and add a shine. They are also found in many styling products for the same reasons. Everyone loves silky and shiny, tangle free hair, however silicones build up in your hair over time, causing your hair to become weighed down, look greaser and if you have curls it can stretch them out and change your curl pattern. Basically a bunch of terrible side effects, but it does not stop there. The only way to get rid of all of this built up silicone is to wash it out with a sulfate shampoo, and we already know why that is not an option.
Well, the pharphen has a lot to them. There has been research that suggests it links to breast cancer and possible hair loss. Although currently nothing is decided so I suggest doing your own research.
Why are They Bad?
Sulfates can strip all natural oil from your hair, turn causing your hair to over produce oil and causing greasy hair. Sulfates can also dry out your scalp causing dry scalp and flakes. On top of that, they can dry out your hair as well, causing breakage and split ends. Parphens is a wax like substance that can cause a coation on your hair. This can block beneficial products that you are using from entering the hair shaft.
What To Use Instead?
The public has been more aware of sulfates and silicones lately and companies are starting to react. Hair care companies have taken a financial hit by those who top using their products because of the harmful ingredients. In turn these companies have been creating new products, with safe ingredients. New companies have also been starting up like crazy to fill the gap.
Product Recommendations :
-Noughty Wave Hello
-Solid Shampoo Bars
What Does This Mean?
-Can I still use products with sulfates, silicones, and pharaphens?
-Should I throw them away?
– What now?
-Do I need a cleanse?
-Should I still see my stylist?
This will vary from person to person. I still use some once in a great while and do not see any long term effect. I do not use sulfates, silicones or parabens on a day to day basis. Try out different products and then decide what is best for you and your hair. Many hair youtubers will completely avoid them after reading books like “The Curly Girl Method ” however many still use them daily with no issue.
Personally I experienced dry, frizzy and damaged hair after using them for years. After I made the switch all of these issues went away or significantly lessened. If you have zero hair issues, or scalp and have great hair days every day, and have zero concerns about the ingredients in your hair products, then by all means continue using what you are using. Personally, even after getting my license in cosmetology I still do not have perfect hair days everyday and have absolutely zero issues, although I have learned a lot I still have so much to learn about hair and the overall health of our hair.
Another concern people have when deciding to ditch the sulfates, silicones, and paraphens is that their stylist uses products with those ingredients. I don’t know about you but when I find a good stylist I stick with them, they are hard to find. I personally would not just ditch my stylist and move on, I would start by talking with your stylist. Generally stylists use an entire collection of a company’s product, meaning every product the company has made; or they use some top selling products from a few different companies. Try talking with your stylist and sharing your concerns, a good stylist will understand and make accommodations if possible.
A lot of larger companies today hear our concerns about these ingredients and in turn have released new products without these ingredients. This means your stylist most likely will have something to offer you without these ingredients. However, if worse case scenario they have nothing to say or offer then try talking to other stylists in the area. Social media is huge today and most stylists use Instagram to show their work and use hashtags to help people find them. So if you do need a new stylist you can search on instagram #(your city) Hair Stylist. Using hashtags like this will help you find a stylist in your area and let you see if you like their work. Stylists generally post about which products they use, so you should be able to see if it is free of ingredients you prefer not to use and if they don’t have what product they use posted then send them a DM!
More information on sulfates, silicones, and pharphens
I, Molly Moulder, am a licensed cosmetologist in the state of Michigan. All posts are from my personal experience or opinion as a cosmetologist and are not meant to be taken as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or specific medical conditions, I recommend you contact a healthcare professional.