You’ve probably heard of sulfates by now; pretty much every natural hair care brand states proudly on its packaging that a product is Sulfate-free. But what are sulfates and why should you avoid them?
The main thing to keep in mind when thinking about sulfates is that they are chemical detergents. That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that sulfates are extremely effective at removing dirt and oil … in fact, they’re a little too effective. Sulfates are harsh on the hair and scalp, so they can strip away that natural moisture that keeps your hair shiny and soft.
On a deeper level, they may carry some hormone-disrupting agents along with them. According to ‘Natural Society’, many sulfates contain traces of Dioxane, a known carcinogen. Dioxane is also thought to disrupt kidney function.
Parabens are another widely hated group of chemicals that you’ve probably been told to avoid in your beauty and personal care products. Parabens are Xenoestrogens, which means that they have a similar composition to hormones found in the human body. Xenoestrogens are thought to disrupt hormones and could even pose a cancer risk.
‘Real Simple’ even noted that British scientists found evidence of Parabens in samples of breast cancer tissue. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean the Parabens caused the cancer, most natural-minded folks try to avoid Parabens completely.