Should you make the switch to chemical and sulfate free shampoo? The term ‘chemical-free’ has become a bit of a buzz phrase in households over the past few years. Consumers are turning towards more natural and nutrient rich food sources. The trend has now continued into the skincare and beauty categories and hair care is fast following suit.
What’s wrong with the shampoo I’ve always used?
Chances are, the shampoo you’ve used for years, or the supermarket brand you pick up for your family, is laden with potentially toxic chemicals that you could really do without rubbing into your scalp. Not to mention that they strip your scalp and hair of sebum – a natural oil which is produced by the scalp and which is much needed for healthy follicles and hair growth.
Have you ever read that long list of ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle and wondered what on earth some of those things are? A word of advice – if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on your head!
Historically, many ingredients were added to hair care products purely to increase the aesthetics of the product, such as the colour, consistency and fragrance. Shampoos often contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), a detergent that gives shampoo that foamy lather when your rub it in. What they don’t tell you is that SLS is also used in industrial cleaning agents such as engine degreaser and industrial strength detergents – so it’s not surprising it’s also strong enough to strip the scalp of good bacteria, increasing the chances of irritation and hair loss.
Tricloson, anyone? It’s an antimicrobial chemical and a known skin irritant, so why would you add it to a product that you rub directly on your skin? Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. The list goes on…
But I’m only rubbing it on quickly and washing it off? I’m not eating my shampoo!
Did you know the scalp is one of the most absorbent areas of the body? It’s covered in follicles, blood vessels, sweat glands and nerve-endings. So while you may only be rubbing chemical laden products into it for a short time, evidence suggests that these toxins have a molecular size small enough to get into our scalp. So why take the risk when there are some great chemical-free alternatives?
What is the alternative?
Luckily, with a trend towards chemical-free products in many households, there are some fantastic chemical free shampoo ranges out there.
It must be mentioned that the transition to chemical and sulfate free shampoo and conditioner may take a few weeks (or even months!) to get used to. Your new products will need some time to work their magic to strip the build-up of toxins, left by your previous toxin-laden products. And your scalp will take some time to realise it doesn’t need to keep over-producing sebum, in an attempt to compensate for being stripped of oil by a toxic shampoo.
As with the product itself, there will be some differences you will notice; you won’t get that foamy lather you’re used to with your new chemical free shampoo – with SLS banished from the ingredient list, the product won’t foam as much as you’re used to… nor does it need to! Keep your head under the shower’s running water to help activate the shampoo bubbles instead. Try giving your hair a quick towel dry after shampooing and before applying conditioner. In the same way you wouldn’t rub moisturiser in to a wet face, this will boost the effectiveness of your chemical-free conditioner.
Beware of chemical and sulfate free shampoo imitations
Look for an all-natural range that is free from silicon, paraben and sulfates. Beware of the liberally used term ‘organic’ – including a few organic ingredients doesn’t always mean a chemical-free product. Also these products may not be a truly sulfate free shampoo. The words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are thrown around everywhere when it comes to labelling hair care products. One supermarket shampoo range, which claims by name to be organic, has had widespread social media coverage recently with many claims that its so called organic product is actually causing hair loss.
Also beware of products with marketing superlatives like ‘plant based’, ‘derived from coconut’, without checking out the full list of ingredients, these can be just as damaging to your hair and scalp. The best first step to chemical free shampoo is to research and educate yourself before you buy.
Whether you’re on a hair rejuvenation journey or looking to boost your general health, a chemical and sulfate free shampoo is essential for healthy hair and scalp care. Your hair will thank you for it!