Why Avoid Sulfates?

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a harsh detergent that is found in about 95 percent of liquid shampoos and shower gels; primarily used as a foaming agent, it’s the ingredient of choice for super sudsy shampoo and body wash. {{more}} It is also found in floor cleaners, degreasers, bubble bath, pet shampoos, dish liquid and more. Sulfates are used in these types of cleaners because they quickly and efficiently dissolve and remove grease; they work wonders on greasy pots, dirty floors and dissolve engine grease with ease and make mounds of bubbles, which many people believe is necessary to get things clean. Unfortunately they also dissolve and remove all traces of oil from your skin and hair. While at first blush your hair seems all shiny, squeaky clean and fluffy, what’s happening beneath is not so pretty. Sulfates cause extreme drying of the skin, are the cause of many scalp and skin irritations, aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and dandruff and will even cause pores to become clogged. I’m sure many of you have read that bubble bath bottle warning that says prolonged exposure may cause irritation to urinary tract; thank you sulfates.

Sulfates occur in foaming products under several different names: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonia Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Myreth Sulfate and TEA Laureth Sulfate. They are an inexpensive way for commercial producers to get that much desired mound of suds that we, for some reason, associate with ability to clean.

Over the years I have seen more and more people with extremely dry skin resulting in rashes, redness, itchiness, eczema, and many of these problems are directly related to these sulfates; once stopped soft, moist, healthy skin returns.

Many people seem to be hooked on shower gels, especially men. Shower gels come in a myriad of fragrances, all geared towards making us appear more attractive in some way. If you read the labels on over 90 percent of these items, they all contain sulfates of some type. The sulfates in these products make up between 10 and 15 percent of the overall product. For those showering once or twice every day, you are removing all natural oils from your skin on a regular basis; over time, this results in dry, itchy skin. So what do they push on us next? Moisturizers that match our shower gel scents, so we can strip off our natural oils with the gel, then slather on some chemical moisturizer mix to make our skin feel better.

A better choice? Search for “sulfate free” on the label; flip it over, put on those glasses, and read that label. If you see “sulfate” listed, put it down. Love lather? Natural oils, when made into natural soap, liquid soaps and gels, make wonderful lather, and these natural oils also leave your skin wonderfully clean and naturally moist.

Sabrina is co-owner with her husband, Ernie, of Sunflower Farm and Connecticut Natural Soapworks, a beekeeper, Reiki Master, and market master of the Milford Downtown Farmers’ Market. www.sunflowerfarm.com