Lately, the sulfates have become a popular cosmetic ingredient, which has caused plenty of controversial and edgy opinions. After all, some people hate it, others don’t mind it, and third, love it.
But behind all those opinions, there is one scientific explanation about what are sulfates, what is their main role, and why they are a key ingredient in cosmetic products.
And this article will reveal the truth about it! So next time you buy a cosmetic product with SLS, SLES or other types of sulfates, you will know what is the purpose of those ingredients. Besides, you will have the knowledge to choose adequately if you want for example shampoo with sulfates and toothpaste without.
It`s up to you!
Let’s dive in!
What are sulfates?
Sulfates in the cosmetic industry are extremely popular ingredients. They are considered to be surfactants– substances that attract oil and water. Then they interact with water and oil, they act as powerful spume agent and create foam. This foam captures oil molecules and lifts them, to leave “squeaky clean” surface. The sulfates are so strong that they strip any kind of oil and bacteria from all kinds of surfaces, including natural oils and good bacteria that are beneficial to our body.
In which products are sulfates used?
Sulfates are used as the primary foaming agent in household cleaning products, such as degreasers, dishwashers, laundry detergent, car wash, and others. They are excellent at removing stains and all kinds of products residues.
On the other hand, sulfates are widely used as foaming agents in the cosmetics industry. They are the cheap alternatives of other (more gentle) foaming ingredients, such as Cocamidopropyl betaine.
The most common sulfates used in the cosmetic industry are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS).
SLS is extracted either by petroleum, coconut or palm oil (because those oils are rich in lauryl alcohol). But don’t rush into conclusions, the SLS is not a natural product, because chemical ingredients are used in the extraction process. When SLS reacts with sodium hydroxide, it turns into SLES, and when it reacts with ammonia- ALS.
Those sulfates can be found in all kinds of cosmetic and personal care products: all kinds of liquid soaps, shower gels, shampoos, toothpaste, mouth wash, and others.
Benefits of sulfates in cosmetics
Unfortunately, only the cosmetic companies benefit from using sulfates as a main foaming ingredient in personal care products. They are cost-efficient, easily accessible, and they are doing their job- they foam, and they clean perfectly!
Some cosmetic companies use sulfates as irritators and allergens to test the effectiveness of calming skincare products.