The One Ingredient In Shampoo That Is Damaging Your Hair

The One Ingredient In Shampoo That Is Damaging Your Hair

mary founder of kaia naturalsWelcome to “DECODED”, a series to help you make sense of what’s actually in your beauty products. I’m Mary, the founder of kaia naturals and as a veteran product developer from the beauty industry, I’ve been witness to the harmful ingredients that are formulated in many products, and while they may work, there are effective natural alternatives.

This week we are decoding the one ingredient in your shampoo that is damaging your hair: sulfates.

We all know that sudsy lather of shampoo that makes us feel like our shampoo is really working hard to leave our hair squeaky clean. What you may not know is that lather is completely stripping your hair. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t have sulfates in shampoo.



Sulfates are harsh detergents made of sulfur-containing mineral salts. Here is why they work. Sulfates contain molecules that can attract oil and water – one side of the molecule attracts oil, while the other attracts water. This means that sulfates can loosen and lift oil and grime from your hair and dissolve it so it rinses out.



The problem is, sulfates are not selective in which oils they attract, meaning they will also attract, dissolve, and strip the good oils that our hair produces naturally to keep it in great condition. The second problem, this includes natural sulfates! Although, though they are natural, they are still very damaging and strip oils as well. So even when using natural shampoo be sure to look for sulfate-free formulas. This means you must get use to washing your hair without that lathering feeling sulfates give.



To make matters worse, because sulfates strip the hair of its natural oils, your hair starts to think it must produce more oil to keep it from over drying. Within hours of washing your hair, with sudsy lather (although I know you love it), you start producing your own oil, which creates a vicious cycle which is hard to break. Click here for a guide on how and why you should wash your hair less.




Synthetic Sulfates to look out for:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate

Sodium Lauroyl Isoethionate

Sodium Lauroyl Taurate

Sodium Cocoyl Isoethionate

Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isoethionate

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate


Natural Sulfates to look out for:

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Decyl Glucoside

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate



Look for sulfate-free shampoo and use other ingredients to help clean your hair. There are natural cleansers that cleanse the hair, but don’t strip away our natural oils.


Some of these natural sulfate-free surfactants include:

Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis leaf juice)

Avocado oil Persea gratissima

Coconut milk  (Cocos Nucifera Extract)

Green tea (Camellia Sinensis)

Lemon essential oil (Citrus Limonium (Lemon) Oil)


By switching to a sulfate free shampoo you will find less need to constantly wash your hair, as you won’t be stripping it of its natural oils. This especially helps fine hair, dry hair, and over processed hair. Also, using a nontoxic dry shampoo can help lengthen the times between washes. This will lead to much healthier hair in the long run!

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