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Avoid sulphate-free shampoos in coloured hair? Here are ingredients to look for

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Feb 04, 2023 10:57 AM IST

Haircare experts reveal whether sulphate-free shampoos should be avoided in coloured hair and what are the ingredients to see in a sulfate-free shampoo

People are aware that the main culprit of colour-fade is generally hot or hard water and yes, sulfate-free shampoos are known to reduce the process of colour-fade. Sulphates are compounds with detergent-like properties or strong detergents added to beauty products like soaps, shampoos, creams and even toothpaste to add cleansing properties.

Avoid sulphate-free shampoos in coloured hair? Here are ingredients to look for (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)

They help in effectively removing dirt and oil and products that have sulphates tend to foam more and produce more lather. They are added to soaps and shampoos to give a lathering effect that is often desired however, they have a flip side as well as they are abrasive in nature.

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In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sravya C Tipirneni, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetologist and Trichologist at Manipal Hospitals in Bangalore, revealed, “Sulfates can negatively effect your hair’s health causing them to become dry and brittle. The main two classes of sulfates used are - those ending in “yl” commonly used is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are more harsher, and the sulfates ending in “-eth” commonly used is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are milder.”

Talking about how does sulphate-based shampoos cause hair colour to fade, she highlighted that it is dependent on the sulfate and ome sulfates that are added in shampoos can be quite strong and inadvertently lead to hair colour to fade. This is done by -

  • Striping of the natural oils: by penetrating the hair’s cuticle, sulphates strips off the hair’s natural oils and cause it to dry out. When used in small volumes their action can be minimised.
  • Reduces the hair hydration: To keep the hair hydrated and healthy, natural oils and products are needed. As hydrated hair attracts colour, lack of it can dull the high-shine and the vibrance of your hair colour.

Dr Sneha Ghunawat, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmetologist, echoed, “Sulphates are harsher in nature and can strip the hair off oil and moisture making them dry and brittle. This is the reason for the shift in consumer behaviour to opt for sulphate-free shampoos. Sulphate-free alternatives produce less lather but are much gentler on the skin and hair. Coloured hair when washed with shampoos with sulphates tends to fade faster. The hair gets stripped off the oil, making it dry and brittle. Dry hair looks less vibrant and dull.”

She pointed out, “Sulphates also damage the hair cuticle, thus destroying hair structure. The cuticle is an important protective layer of hair. Once it's breached, water can easily enter the hair and wash off the colour. Coloured hair needs extra care and protection with added conditioning and nourishment. Sulphate-free shampoos are ideal for such hair. They help to protect the hair and also the colour to last longer. Added ingredients with hydrating and nourishing properties are ideal for colour-treated hair.”

Suggesting the ingredients to see in a sulfate-free shampoo, Dr Sravya C Tipirneni recommended to look for colour-preserving ingredients like -

  • Wheat protein: acts as a primer that helps to smooth strands and lock in moisture and helps in retaining hair colour.
  • Hydrolyzed quinoa: superfood that nourishes and holds onto pigments in the hair.
  • Sunflower seed extract: antioxidant-rich which blocks out harmful UV-rays.

So, by caring for your hair with ingredients that hydrate, protect from sun damage and reduce the generation of free-radicals, you can have lasting hair colour.

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