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Sulphates in skincare and here’s what you should know!

Posted by Shea Company on


Skincare products and their benefits were often marred by ramifications caused by the presence of certain chemicals in their composition. While having such chemicals might increase the shelf life, improve the odour or enhance the feel of the product, the health concerns that surround the chemical outweigh the commercial positive aspects.

Case in point, the ‘Sulphates’. Of late, there is a lot of debate going on around the effect of sulphates in cleansing products such as shampoos, soaps, facial cleansers and other skincare products. Let’s get a deeper understanding of these compounds and what they mean to your skin health.

What are Sulphates?

Sulphates are salts or surfactants or emulsifiers that produce lather when they come into contact with water. The most commonly used sulphates are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and Aluminium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS). They help oil or fatty compounds in the products to mix with water thoroughly, attract excess oil on the skin, scalp along with dirt and wash it away as the lather. Sounds pretty harmless, doesn’t it?

Effect of the Sulphates on the skin:

In producing foam or lather and washing away the oils, the sulphate compounds actually meddle with our skin’s intrinsic pH value, stripping it away of its natural moisture and in some cases causing excessive sensitivity. Especially the SLS, which is used widely across the sectors for shampoos, cleansing foams, soaps and more. Interestingly, only slightly higher concentrations of SLS are used for detergents and washing liquids. Remember the time when you experienced a dry feeling on your hands after getting into contact with detergents, yes, that’s the handiwork of the sulphates.

Although skincare products generally have hydration agents to counterbalance the sulphate effect, sensitive skins are prone to several skin problems such as persisting irritations, in extreme cases, even dermatitis. In several cases, Dermatologists have noticed a connection to excess sebum( natural oil of the skin) production as the skin tries to recuperate the lost hydration. Regular use of Sulphates is also linked to skin rashes, again, as a consequence of stripping the skin of natural oils and in some extreme cases, hormonal disruptions.

The Sulphate effect on Environment:

The use of Sulphate is not exactly mild on our environment too. Several closed studies on water bodies have revealed that while the sulphates do not bio-accumulate on water bodies, they increase the toxicity of water significantly. The direct and irreversible effect is on aquatic life.

Needless to mention, at The Shea Company, it has been always been a conscious effort to steer away from all those commercially viable compounds which might cause long-term skin damage. As a step towards effective and meaningful skincare and sustainable environment, we made it our policy not to use sulphate compounds in any form in any of our products.

Watch out this space for more information on how we care for your skin.