Here is what she had to share this past week…
SLS/sulphates may not be great for your skin if you have dry, sensitive or reactive skin, but what about your hair?
This is where things get a little complicated (hair care is as much a science as skin care). SLS and sulphates may actually have more use when it comes to your hair They provide a deep clean for your scalp, which is something you actually want if you use a lot of styling products, oils, or suffer from certain scalp types/conditions.
Sulphate-free shampoos can struggle to break down product build-up, meaning they are less effective than sulphate-based shampoos in actually cleaning and removing unwanted material from your scalp and hair follicles. This is why you may have tried a “natural shampoo” and found you needed to shampoo, rinse and repeat a couple of times to get your hair clean. Or you may have noticed that your oil or dandruff is actually worse with natural/sulphate-free shampoos. You are not getting the deep clean and oil removal that SLS can provide, which may then cause product build-up, more oil production, and more flaking to occur. A lot of big brand dandruff shampoos still contain SLS in them because it may have a treatment use.
Further, sulphate-free shampoos need to find a replacement surfactant to ensure their product actually cleans. What they use to replace sulphates may be just as harsh and drying.
* BUT *
The same rules for your skin apply to your hair and scalp. If you have a flaking scalp caused by dryness, dehydration or sensitivity, SLS is going to make that worse (why an anti-dandruff shampoo will make your flaking worse ). A sulphate-free shampoo is indicated for you.
Also, over use/too often use of sulphates can cause cuticle damage and potentially destroy hair proteins leading to hair loss over time (but sulphate free shampoos may also do this – we don’t have research for this yet). They also may speed up the ruin of your dye job or chemical hair treatment, since the cuticle is already damaged in those instances.
Hair care is COMPLICATED
It comes down to correct use, and knowing what your scalp and hair type are.
So how do you navigate? Without knowing what your actual scalp/hair type are, there is an effective way to use sulphates. Think of this like a reset for your hair: Use a mild SLES shampoo as a deep clean every few weeks or once a month to help clear out your scalp and follicles; make sure you rinse well after use. Use a sulphate-free shampoo for washes otherwise, and you may need to wash a little longer or use two applications of shampoo. Customize this for your specific hair condition, but this is safe for most people to try.
If you’re struggling with your skin, hair and nail health, book a Skin Intake with me and we’ll dive in, get to the root cause, and get you feeling, and looking better.
Dr. Sarah, ND