How damaging are they, really?
Let’s get down to the ~science~ of it
You’ve seen it everywhere at this point, “sulfates are bad for you. Parebens destroy your hair!” But do they, really?
Before we get into why they’re harmful, let’s take a look at what they’re used for. Sulfates are a type of surfactant, which means its a foaming agent. It’s what produces a bubbly lather found in most shampoos, body washes, and toothpaste. Then we have parabens, which have been widely used since the 50’s on things like deodorant, lipstick, and other cosmetics; it acts as a preservative to prevent bacteria from growing on them.
Though this sounds like good news – a foamy shampoo, your deodorant bacteria-free – but, at the end of the day, they do much more harm than good. Here’s how:
Bubbles lead to troubles
For the longest time, we were always told that in order for your hair to get clean, your shampoo had to lather and foam up a storm. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Since sulfate is what produces a rich lather in most shampoos, people tend to think they’re doing their hair a service, but… they’re not. With repeated use, it can cause a number of problems; such as scalp irritation, hair loss, color fading, and it can strip your hair of all the natural, healthy oils, and lead to dehydration.
Especially if you have curly hair; because it dries out faster than straight hair, it can leave your curls dehydrated, leading to brittle ends and breakage (Noooooo!). So do yourself and favor and put down that bubbly shampoo bottle.
“Parabens” means “congratulations” in Portuguese
But there’s not much to congratulate you on when you’re using products that contain parabens. They’re found in almost everything- deodorant, lipstick, and other cosmetics. This is an outdated method of preserving hair, makeup, and skincare products. It was very popular in the 50’s… smoking while you were pregnant was also very popular, but we’ll get into the rocky history of chemicals in the U.S. another time…
Though parabens keep the product safe and free of gross, yucky germs, it may not be so good for our health. These chemicals might actually be able to enter your bloodstream through your scalp… so imagine what it might do to you, in the long run.
It’s important to be conscious of what products you put on your hair, skin, and body. After all, we want to look and feel our best, too. Keep in mind that a quick and easy fix (like sulfates that make your hair shiny for the time being), are going to have lasting impacts on the overall health of your tresses and scalp- think about that, the next time you see a budget-friendly bottle of shampoo. Sure, it’s $8 now, but at the end of the day you’ll end up spending a larger amount just to fix the effects of a cheap product that uses harsh chemicals.
Willing to make the switch?
If you’re unsure of what to start with when making the switch from sulfate and paraben-heavy products to clean and high-quality products, these are some things you can get in order to jump-start your journey to optimal #HairHealth:
1 . Get a good clarifying shampoo. This will deep clean your locks and remove ALL the gunk, so you’re left with a fresh, boucy feeling. Keep in mind that sulfates are what make the bubbles, so if your shampoo isn’t lathering as much as you’re used, that’s okay! In fact, it’s better for your hair; a calrifying shampoo of good quality will take away all the left over product without stripping your hair of it’s natural oils.
2. Invest in a treatment mask. Just like our skin, we want to treat our hair with masks as least twice a month (once a week if you’re in desperate need). Make sure to leave it in for the right amount of time, and also wash with cold water, so your follicles close up and absorb as much moisture as possible.
3. Finish off with a shiny silk spray! If you’re looking for more shine and extra moisture for your ends, finishing sprays and oils will do the trick. The best part about this one is that you can wear it wet or dry, and you only need a little bit.
Again, don’t forget to research the ingredients, and see what’s best for you. Everyone is different, so take the time to get to know your hair and its needs. If you’re stuck and unsure of what to do, consult with your sytlist- they’ll be able to educate you and lead you toward the right direction.