What are sulfates?

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Keune Hair Cosmetics
Keune Hair Cosmetics

Sulfates are often mentioned. There are many stories about sulfates, so we asked our experts from the Keune Lab all the ins and outs about this ingredient. What are sulfates exactly and why are they used in shampoos?

What exactly are sulfates?

Sulfates are ingredients commonly used in the cosmetic world. For example, you can find sulfates in facial cleansers, shower gel, toothpaste, and also in shampoo. They deliver the cleansing effect and also ensure that a product foams. The foam is important to be able to spread the product well over a surface, such as your face or your hair.

The most well-known sulfates are:

  • SLES, recognizable on a shampoo bottle as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and;

  • SLS, recognizable on a shampoo bottle as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

What do sulfates in shampoo do to your hair?

Besides that your shampoo foams nicely, sulfates in shampoo also ensure that your hair and scalp are cleaned. They remove excess of sebum from your scalp and the build-up of hair products from your hair. This provides a clean and refreshing feeling.

Are sulfates bad for your hair?

Although sulfates gained some bad reputation and are accused of causing irritation or dryness, the truth is that they have excellent safety records and have been widely used for many years. Sulfates are not bad for your hair as long as they are used correctly in the shampoo's formula. The key is to use them at an appropriate concentration and combine them with conditioning ingredients to ensure cleansing efficiency without compromising on scalp tolerance. 

It is good to know that in professional shampoos their concentration typically won’t exceed 15% and the possible “drying” experience is balanced with nourishing activities. A good example is the Keune Care Derma (except for Derma Sensitive) range, which is sulfate-based and still dermatologically approved.

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