Lately, as a society, we have become more health conscious about what ingredients we put into our bodies and that can be said for what we put on the outsides as well. Consider the shampoos we use on a daily basis! Today I will clear up any misconceptions on the main ingredients in a shampoo: water, surfactants (detergent) and softener.
There are many more ingredients other than listed above such as (foaming agent, fragrance, preservative, colorant, thickener) but we only focus on these simply because they are the ones that matter the most to our hair.
Ingredient labeling allows us to have healthy debates whether a chemical is safe enough and efficient. This results in pushing the manufacturer to innovate a better product. In fact, I wish every industry were as transparent when it come to labeling.
A long list of frightening scientific words doesn’t necessarily cover a bad sign or make it a worrisome shampoo. Let’s take a look at this organic shampoo as an example. Notice they make sure every scientific word is associated with the goods that it is extracted from.
A little dark secret that most stylists will not tell clients before selling a luxury shampoo is that ALL shampoo contains 70% to 80% water.
There are a lot of claims out there against Sulfates; a sulfate is or I should say “are” since there are many of them as you can see on the list below of Surfactants (Detergent) used in shampoos.
None of these claims are really justified in consequence; the only common sense reason to switch to a “sulfate free shampoo” would be if you have Keratin treatments or if you have sensitive skin.
List of Surfactants (Detergent):
- Sodium Laureth sulfate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Ammonium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium trideceth sulfate
- Polysorbate (PEG)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
- Cocamidopropyl betaine
- Lauryl Glucoside
- Amino Acid Sulfosuccinates
Some surfactants are stronger cleaners than others; this does not give a negative connotation, however. A stronger surfactant is needed especially for those with more greasy and coarser hair.
Not all sulfates are equal either. For example, “Sodium Laureth (or lauryl) sulfate” is one of the most commonly used simply because it’s the most efficient in cleaning hair, but “Sodium trideceth sulfate” is softer in small amounts and is most often used in baby shampoo and “tear free shampoo.”
Another secret behind shampoos pertains to their mixed surfactants making for an indecipherable ratio amount of surfactants. Overall, it can be a challenge to decide which shampoo would be better for you just by looking at the list of ingredients contained within.
- Cetyl/Oleyl/Stearyl Alcohol
- Ascorbic Acid/Citric Acid
- all kind of silicones
- all kind of natural oil
Many stylists and clients have been complaining about Silicone; silicones are cheaply injected into shampoos replacing expensive natural oils.
Debate continues to surround the use of Parabens as well.
There is NO best shampoo; there are many good shampoos out there on the market and manifold bad ones. I advise you to find the right shampoo for you depending on your budget, the sensitivity of your skin and also the qualities of your hair.
Many of you will be interested in researching the footprint including the impact on the environment and societal impact (labor and animal test).
Good luck with your research for the perfect shampoo.
Ultimate Hair Guide