You’ve probably noticed the term “sulfate-free” or “SLS-free” on many shampoo bottles, as many haircare brands—including MONDAY—have been moving away from the ingredients over the past several years. Sulfates are foaming agents, also known as surfactants, the most commonly used being Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
SLS and SLES have been staples in many shampoos, soaps, and even toothpaste over the years for their foaming and cleansing properties, because they give you that nice deep, almost squeaky-clean feeling. It’s important to note that many sulfates including SLS and SLES have undergone extensive testing to ensure their safety for use in personal care products, and are considered safe overall.
However—as with anything—sulfates aren’t for everyone, or for all hair types. Some hair types, such as color-processed, keratin-treated or brittle hair, and some curls (type 3) and coils (type 4) benefit from a more gentle cleanse. SLS can also strip natural oils from your hair, which isn’t what you want if your hair is prone to frizz or coarseness. Some people can also find those ingredients irritating for their skin and eyes, if they have an existing sensitivity.
What is SLS?
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant commonly used in haircare products due to its excellent ability to create a rich lather and remove dirt and oil from the hair and scalp. It works by binding to oil molecules and lifting them away, leaving the hair feeling clean and refreshed. SLS has been widely used for decades and has undergone extensive testing to ensure its safety for use in personal care products.
Gentler on the Scalp:
While SLS is generally considered safe, some people may experience scalp sensitivity or dryness when using products containing this ingredient. SLS-free shampoos and conditioners such as MONDAY’s offer a gentler alternative, making them suitable for those with sensitive scalps or prone to irritation.
Retaining Natural Oils:
SLS contains salt, which can strip away the natural oils that help keep our hair healthy and hydrated. Opting for SLS-free products allows the hair to retain its natural oils, promoting overall hair health, reducing dryness, and enhancing shine.
Color-Treated Hair Care:
For individuals with color-treated hair or keratin straightening treatments, SLS-free products are a fantastic choice. SLS can potentially strip away hair color faster, leading to fading, and can also interfere with keratin treatment. SLS-free formulas help preserve your intended color and extend the life of color-treated hair.
What if SLS-Free Isn’t For Me?
If you’ve recently switched from a shampoo with SLS in it to an SLS-free shampoo like MONDAY’s, your hair might feel a little different at first. This could be because some of those natural oils aren’t being stripped away like you’re used to. You can try giving your hair an extra wash before conditioning, or switching to one of our volumizing lines such as VOLUME or CLARIFY. If your hair is especially oily, you may want to try only using conditioner on the ends, or using your conditioner before your shampoo. If you’re still not seeing results or still seeing a lot of oil, it could be that your hair would benefit from a targeted scalp cleanse, or a shampoo that does contain SLS. And that’s okay! Everyone’s hair is different and needs different things at different times.
Switching to SLS-Free
If you’re thinking of making the switch to an SLS-free shampoo, we’ve got you! MONDAY Haircare’s range of shampoos and conditioners is completely free from SLS and SLES, as well as parabens (which you can read up on here). Instead, we typically use surfactants such as Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate to give a more gentle cleanse that’s suitable for all hair types. Our award-winning products are available in a range of types to cater to all hair needs, and include SMOOTH, MOISTURE, VOLUME, GENTLE, CLARIFY, REPAIR and COLOR PROTECT. Take a look at our product page and then find a stockist near you.