There’s a definite buzz in the beauty industry to stay away from sulfates and parabens in your hair products. As consumers, we know we’re supposed to avoid them like the plague, but what are they?
First, let’s tackle parabens. Parabens are chemicals that are made to give products a longer shelf life. They’ve been used since the 50’s to prevent bacteria and act as a preservative in shampoos and other products like deoderant, lotions, lipsticks and scrubs. Studies have shown that parabens can mimic the activity of estrogen in the body’s cells and have been found in breast tumors. However, scientists stop short of actually saying that parabens are the cause of breast cancer.
Sulfates are the detergents responsible for the super-sudsy lather you get out of most shampoos. So why are they bad? They can strip the hair of natural oils and proteins that make it look shiny and healthy. It can also cause premature fading of colored hair and keratin treatments. In addition, if sulfates are not thoroughly rinsed from your skin they can over strip it of skin oils leaving you dry and prone to allergic reactions. Even more alarming, sulfates were found to break down proteins, which can lead to a degenerative effect on the cell membranes. Sulfates were also found to leave residue in the heart, lungs, and brain.
No matter what, chemicals are chemicals and if they appear to pose any risk at all to your health — and your hair — is it worth it? There are far too many natural, sulfate-free and paraben-free products to have to worry about the side effects. We say lather up knowing you’re not risking your health or your hair color.