Two words that have caught the interest of all organic and natural beauty enthusiasts are – Sulphates and Parabens.
These two words have emerged as very controversial ingredients which most people will tell you to avoid in your hair care and skincare products. The question here is why are they so bad for you and are people aware of which products in their daily usage contain these ingredients? Most consumers often miss reading the labels in the products and choose to go with a big brand, fancy packaging and marketing gimmicks promised in advertising, without choosing to know the ingredients.
So let us understand what these terms are ?
What are sulphates?
Sulphates are cleansing and foaming agents which are usually found in shampoo, body washes and toothpastes. Essentially the main job of sulphates is to cause your shampoo to lather. To check if your products contain this, try to spot the word ‘sulphate’ listed on the ingredients label.
Sulphates are essentially chemical detergents in your beauty products.. They are extremely effective at removing dirt and oil while being harsh on the hair and scalp. Given the harsh nature of sulphates they can strip away that natural moisture that keeps your hair shiny and soft. Dry hair, Scalp irritation, fading of colour, and even hair loss are often due to sulphates present in your products which overtime lead to the weakening of your hair from the roots.
Coloured hair, especially when subjected to non natural colouring agents, becomes dry overtime and loses its salon-like shine. You often see this as a complaint by consumers who colour their hair and then experience hair fall or loss of shine. They then get caught up in a vicious cycle of more treatments to bring back the lost shine to their hair.
If you use sulphates on top of coloured hair, the colour will also fade quicker and dry it out even more.
To identify sulphates in your shampoo look for
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Sodium
- Laureth Sulfate Sodium
- Lauryl Sulfoacetate Sodium
- Sodium Lauroyl Taurate
What are parabens
Parabens are often used in products to act as a preservative and commonly found in shampoos, lipsticks, scrubs and lotions. They have been investigated to pose cancerous risk
If you want to spot parabens in your ingredient list of the products you are using, try to spot ‘paraben’ in their name – butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben or Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates. If you spot one of these, Bingo you have identified the parabens in your products
Studies have shown that some parabens specifically mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen and therefore can interfere with estrogen production. Too much estrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and tumor growth, which is why paraben use may be linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
The role of a sulphate in cleansing in largely being a good surfactant, which means creation of lather and getting rid of dirt and grime. Some surfactants are plant based as well, for example Sodium Cocyl Isothionate and Coco Betaine. Both of these are extremely gentle and plant based surfactants that are completely bio-degradable as they are coconut derived. Which effectively translates to benefit for your hair as well as for the environment. The bestseller shampoo bars by Himalayan origins are made using these surfactants and other plant based emollients for moisturization.
Next time you reach for that fancy looking bottle, do take a minute and be kind to your hair and skin by reading the list of ingredients just to be aware of the nasties present in them !