Sulfates in Daily-Use Products: Purpose and Effects

Why do we see more and more people opting for organic, trustworthy skin and hair care products today? Also, have you noticed that more and more people are choosing their products carefully to avoid the ones that are loaded with chemicals?
Today we will discuss one such chemical that is a part of most shampoos, conditioners, face washes, toothpastes and even home cleaning products. This chemical is Sulfate and is known by so many names that knowledge about this chemical becomes important for awareness. This chemical is most commonly known as sodium lauyrl sulfate, sodium laureth ether sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.
Purpose of Sulfates:
Sulfates were developed in 1930’s and eventually became a popular degreasing agent in skin and hair care products as well as many home cleaning products too.
The main purpose of sulfates is to clean grease, dirt and dust from skin and hair. It also contributes in making that lather that we feel makes us clean when using soaps. Sulfates are also used in toothpastes to give a clean feeling in the mouth and foaming effect.
Damage caused due to prolonged use:
There are various side effects of sulfates because of which we should really try and avoid sulfate-based products. We should also be careful of products that claim to be sulfate-free but carry sulfates in other forms as close substitutes which have deceptive names and are almost similar or even more damaging than sulfates themselves. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to select brands and products that give complete information of the ingredients and are mainly focused on giving us real organic care. That is what we do at Rooted Organics.
Let’s look at some common side effects of sulfates:
1. Causes skin irritation:
Sulfates are known to play a vital role in being a skin irritant, it not only causes allergies to some but also increases with repeated use. Many researches in this field have revealed that prolonged use of products containing sulfates increases the sensitivity of the skin of face, body and scalp.
2. Increases acne:
Sulfates have also been reported to cause increased acne in many people who already have acne prone-skin on face, body as well as in some cases on the scalp.
3. Causes excessive dryness on the facial skin, body and scalp:
As mentioned before, one of the main purpose of sulfates is to degrease or remove oil from the skin. However, in some cases it can excessively act and remove naturally occurring oil called sebum, leaving the skin on the face, body and scalp too dry. 
4. May be toxic and carcinogenic:
Sulfates are not listed or labeled as toxic or carcinogenic but it’s a well-known fact that the manufacturing process by which sulfates are made leads to contamination of the final product with ingredients that are known to be toxic or carcinogenic for human body if used frequently. Although, there are ongoing efforts to officially call out sulfates as toxic and carcinogenic, but there are hindrances as many studies have proven some sulfates to be free of the contaminant called 1.4 dioxane which is toxic and carcinogenic in nature. However, it is difficult for a common shopper to know what is safe or not as all of us may be not have the right information or knowledge to understand the meaning or chemical formulation of each chemical in our products.
5. Strips natural hair color:
Although, there’s not much backing to this damaging effect of sulfates, some researches have indicated sulfates’ involvement in stripping the natural color off the hair and haircare experts always advise use of sulfate-free products to keep the permanent, semi permanent of even temporary hair color longer on the hair.
6. Causes eye irritation:
Many products that contain sulfates even display warnings on their labels indicating users to keep the product clear of the eyes. They also advise consumers to thoroughly wash the eyes or, in worst cases, to visit a doctor if the product accidently comes in contact with the eyes.  Although, it doesn’t specify that the irritation may be caused due to sulfates only, but it has been found by research that sulfates are a contributing cause to eye irritation.
Having discussed so much about the dangers of using products containing sulfates, it is also advised to be careful of other substitutes that claim to be free of sulfates or alkalis of sulfates. Such products may have sulfates in other forms or may have chemicals that pose an even bigger threat. Choose products that are truly sulfate-free. At Rooted Organics, we make sure that we do the hard work of selecting only the best plant based organic ingredients for our products so that your health, skin, and hair get the best treatment it deserves!