Are Sulfate Free Shampoos Just A Con?

Various shampoo bottlesBlack women love a scapegoat. Since hair forums and blogs became popular and we learned from each other exactly how black hair can be grown long, we’ve been looking either for that 1 product that will guarantee us long locks or that 1 evil product that stunted our length retention efforts in the first place.

Scapegoats for our breaking locks have been named and shamed over the years, from mineral oil and it’s sidekicks petroleum and paraffinum liquidum to silicones and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). We sing the praises of overpriced cosmetics that are free from either one or all these ingredients telling anyone who’ll listen that avoiding them is the reason for our sudden success in hair growth.

I won’t pretend otherwise, in the past I was just a fearful of using some of these ingredients as the next person but I quickly debunked the idea that mineral oil is as evil as all that and I have even mentioned in previous articles that silicones can be used as part of a good hair regimen. I’ve personally used silicones throughout my hair journey.

I’m not giving the green light on mineral oil per se, many products containing this oil are of inferior quality and natural oils will always be superior anyway, I’m just saying that mineral oil in and of iteslf is not the cause of black women’s length retention issues. Neither are silicones or any other suspect ingredient that comes to mind.

With that thought, SLS is the next item on my list of myths to debunk. Among the ‘dangers’ assigned to SLS are the following:

1. It’s a skin irritant that some people may be allergic to.

2. In animal studies, SLS penetration and uptake is much greater in neonatal and young animal eye tissue, compared to adult animals, and shows “penetration into the eye, as well as systemic tissues (brain, heart, liver, etc.). SLS also showed long-term retention in tissues, up to five days after a single drop. This has not been researched in humans.


3. It is a possible carcinogen.

4. It strips the hair of natural oils making it more likely to break.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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Lisa1230Adilma SpaldingRo Williams Recent comment authors
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Ro Williams
Ro Williams

I think that sulfate free shampoos are not a ‘con’ since SLS is not the only surfactant that could be used in a shampoo. There are plenty of less harsh ingredients that could be used to lift dirt and build up off the hair and scalp, such a ‘coco betaine’ (I don’t know how to spell the full name of that, but that is sufficient). The title including the word ‘con’ suggests that someone (“They”) is trying to trick us somehow by taking out or never using sulfates. I think that is misleading. Or the title may imply that sulfate free shampoo are being touted as some kind of wonder cure for the hair or that they are all more expensive. Also misleading. I don’t see how at least Trying avoid stripping the hair too much, whatever chemical you choose to avoid, could hurt.

Adilma Spalding

I’ve been using sulfate free shampoos since before it was made aware, Creme of Nature has always been sulfate free and it hydrates my locks like nobodays business.

Lisa1230
Lisa1230

Ive used sulfate shampoo for the longest with no problems and will continue to use it. Sulfates have been around longer than non sulfates.