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Imagine you’re standing atop a hill, the wind gushing through your hair, making them flow effortlessly in all directions. Your long, wavy, shiny hair that you can’t resist but run your hand through every once in a while. Your hair, that stir up envy everywhere that they’re flaunted.
Taking in the beautiful sight in front of your eyes, you follow with your hand the breeze- made path, through your hair once again. As you do that, you feel a tug- and your hand gets stuck in your hair. And it makes you wonder what happened to your once flawless, lustrous and voluminous hair.
Dry, frizzy and damaged hair has become a relatively common problem these days. These problems, combined with the never-ending hair fall, have become a major cause of concern for the majority of us. It is important to note that these problems are caused due to an umbrella of factors that are not only limited to the superficial level but also involve issues deep down to the molecular level.
These problems arise from a plethora of reasons. We’re positive you must have thought about and tended to all your diet and environment issues. And when they didn’t make your hair healthier, you must’ve tried going easy with heat styling your hair.
Now that you are here, we’d like you to think if you considered the most common thing you treat your hair with- your shampoo!
Your hair care routine includes products like shampoos and conditioners that may contain ingredients which may prove harmful in the long run. There’s a long list of chemicals found in their ingredient lists that are detrimental to hair health.
Two of them we’d be discussing today: sulphates and parabens.
I am sure you’ve heard these names before, but let’s get to know a little more about them, and also why you should switch to sulphate and paraben free shampoos to tackle your hair problems.
The internet is brimming with all kinds of remedies and treatments to various hair conditions, which are undeniably great, but are they practical in the long run? I think you should start by examining your bathroom shelf first. The culprit could be hiding in your ever so innocent shampoo- the base of your hair care routine.
Sulphates are agents that reduce the surface tension by binding to both water and oil, thus cleaning out the sebum and oil that makes our hair dirty. The rich and aerated lather produced by our regular shampoos is owed to this same property.
There are basically three major forms of sulphates found in cosmetic products:
1. Sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)
2. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
3. Ammonium laureth sulphate
Sulfates are some of the most effective and cleansing agents that give shampoos a luxurious lather, making it easier to spread all over the scalp.
They can get rid of the dirt and grime from your scalp within seconds of exposure.
Sulphate concentrations in shampoos tend to be so high that they end up over-cleaning and stripping the scalp of the natural oils needed to maintain healthy and happy hair.
Overly removing oil from the scalp dries it out, hence creating many new problems like scalp irritation and dandruff. Moreover, if you use hair colour, using a sulphate based shampoo will reduce its longevity.
Chemically and heat-treated hair are susceptible to further damage by application of sulphates. Thus, you will want to steer clear of any sulphates in your hair products if you’re in a habit of frequently treating your hair with heat to keep your mane looking perfect.
SLS and SLES shampoos may lead to hair fall as these chemicals have a tendency to get deposited around your hair follicles and cause damage. These deposits also lead to retarded hair growth, and in unhygienic conditions, cause dandruff.Furthermore, sulphates also cause irritation to the eyes and skin, and may even be carcinogenic according to some claims. Is that not enough reason to opt for sulfate and paraben free shampoos now?
Coming to the more commonly talked about constituent- paraben. There has been quite a stir in the cosmetic industry around this class of preservative agents, let’s learn why.
Parabens are chemical preservatives commonly found in cosmetic products to increase their shelf lives. This stable longevity is seen because of the ability of parabens to hinder the growth of microorganisms. This ability protects both, the product and the consumer.
They are most usually seen under four types of formulations:
However, they have been known to impart weak estrogen-like effects. Parabens have also been detected in the breast tissue in some cases of breast cancer (2004 Study by Darbre et al.) This birthed a hypothesis that parabens may play a role in the development of breast cancer owing to their estrogenic properties. This made people think and come up with paraben free shampoo to avoid this harmful chemical.
Using shampoo containing parabens, facilitates their absorption into the skin of the scalp, thus introducing parabens into the body/ blood circulation. It is said that the main source of exposure to parabens in humans is due to the extensive use of these cosmetic and routine hygiene products like shampoos and conditioners.
Sulfate free and paraben free shampoos are the way to go! You can look for herbal shampoos or shampoos that have naturally derived surfactants and preservatives. Always read the ingredient lists carefully.
You could try looking for tried and tested herbal ingredients like neem and honey that have inbuilt antimicrobial properties, which act as preservatives to the product, while also providing amazing benefits to your hair.
Look for safer and natural preservatives like phenoxyethanol or sodium benzoate, they are always preferable.
Many natural plant- derived surfactants will help you substitute the function of sulfates in a safer way- saponins and coco betaine to name a few.
But stay wary of formaldehyde as a preservative, it is an irritant too.
It is a given that switching to a sulphate and paraben free shampoo is going to be a slightly different experience and will take time to get used to. Also, some people recommend a paraben free shampoo but it’s always better to avoid both these chemicals and choose sulfate and paraben free shampoo.
But making a switch is always about adapting to the better, right? It may take longer to form lather with a good SLS free and paraben free shampoo, but then that means you’ll have to massage your scalp better for even distribution of your sustainable shampoo. Massaging the scalp leads to better blood circulation in the area, and in turn, faster and healthier hair growth.You can always google and find the best sulphate and paraben free shampoo or visit your nearest nature friendly store. A sulphate and paraben free shampoo is going to be good for the environment, and your hair! That’s a win-win, isn’t it?