Home Beauty recipe are they really that bad?

are they really that bad?


When was the last time you turned your shampoo bottle upside down to read its ingredient list? Do that and you’ll likely find 15-30 hard-to-pronounce ingredients, usually ending in “-ol”, “-ate”, or “-yl”.

Cosmetic chemists aside, most of us will struggle to decipher this kind of information, which means it’s rare for a shampoo ingredient to become a household name. That is to say, with the exception of one: sulphates.

For years, hair care brands have proudly omitted sulfates from products.Credit:iStock

Within the beauty community, sulfates are a divisive ingredient due to fears that they can strip the natural oils from your scalp and hair, leading to dry hair and scalp sensitivity. There are tons of “sulfate-free” options touted as the gentlest choice for your hair and scalp.

Generally speaking, brands that choose to go “sulfate-free” shout it from the rooftops, while those that include sulfates in their formulas keep it rock bottom.

But recently, popular skincare brand The Ordinary went against the grain for the launch of its first-ever shampoo, highlighting the fact that yes, the formula does contain sulfates – even calling it the 4-way sulfate cleanser. % for body and hair.

“Rather than focusing on fear, we want to focus on facts,” says Prudvi Mohan Kaka, the brand’s Chief Scientific Officer. “When formulated correctly, sulfates are an extremely effective shampoo ingredient that can also be an environmentally sustainable option.” The sulfate chosen by The Ordinary is “readily biodegradable [and] can easily decompose completely and fairly quickly in the environment.

Rather than eliminating sulfates altogether, Kaka says The Ordinary wants to shift the conversation around this ingredient. “We lead with science and place great importance on educating our consumers to help provide everyone with the tools to make their own informed skin and hair care decisions.”

What are sulfates and why are they used in beauty products?

“In personal care products, a sulfate is a surfactant,” says Hannah English, pharmaceutical scientist and author of the soon-to-be-released book. Your Best Skin: The Science of Skincare. “A surfactant breaks the surface tension between oil and water so that the oil can be broken up and washed away.”