hair science

How Sulfates Mess With Your Colored Hair

There has been a lot of controversy mulling around lately about sulfates – particularly in your shampoo. Have you noticed those little labels on your bottle that say ‘sulfate free’? If you’ve got colored hair (and we’re guessing that there’s a good chance you do, since you’re hanging out with us), you’re probably already up on this trend.

Originally under attack for being cancer-causing, sulfates are basically a cheap detergent that give a heavier lather to inexpensive shampoos. According to other reports (and a little hearsay), we also know that sulfates are supposed to dry your hair out faster, manhandle your curls into an extra frizzy state, and fade your colored hair like mad.

The recent question on everyone’s mind is this: Is any of this even true?

Sulfate free shampoos have been all over the market and have recently become even trendier along a “the fewer chemicals the better” line of logic.

I’ve used all kind of shampoos – the kind with sulfates, the kind without, the kind that lather, the kind that don’t lather at all, the kind for color-treated hair, and the ultra moisturizing kind made especially for curls. After all of that, I can definitively say that in my experience, shampoo formulas with sulfates DO mess with your ‘do. It will strip your color faster and dry it out like crazy. I’m originally from a way more humid place and am currently living in the desert, so my strands need an extra boost of moisture to keep things in line.

Third-party research or not, here’s what I avoid based on the research I’ve done on my own head:

  • Shampoos with sulphates
  • Anything that contains the word ‘clarifying’

All of the guys listed here will strip your color. Especially if you’re pre-lightening your hair, coloring it, and/or damaging it on a regular basis with heat styling, you want a moisturizing shampoo without sulfates.

Filed Under: hair science

2 comments on “How Sulfates Mess With Your Colored Hair”

  • Rozlynn says:

    Can you recommend specific shampoos or brands?

    • Alee says:

      Hi there! Brand is not nearly as important as making sure it’s completely sulfate free! A lot of popular shampoo brands make a sulfate free option, so grab your favorite and you’ll be good!

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