Why You Should Minimize Using Sulfate Clarifying Shampoos
Sometimes, when you want to give your hair a good, deep clean, you reach for a clarifying shampoo. And why not? They’re super-cleansing versions of regular shampoos that include sulfates. They cut through and remove all of those tough oils, mineral deposits, chemicals, and product residue.
They work because of their strong surfactants, which usually come in the form of sulfates. These sulfates reduce the surface tension between a liquid and a solid, such as oil and hair, making it easier for the shampoo to remove all the gunk and build up.
However, because sulfates are so powerful, they can actually damage your hair. Because of that, many experts advise against using them too often. Some say once a month. Others say once a week.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Clarifying Shampoos with Sulfates
For the record, clarifying shampoos with sulfates work. But they can leave your hair dry, brittle, and damaged—especially if you have highlights, bleached hair, or naturally curly locks, and do a really good job of stripping color molecules out of your hair.
When your hair and head become dry, your skin sends signals to your brain to add more oil to it. From there, your sebaceous glands work overtime to produce extra sebum—they very thing clarifying shampoos are designed to stop.
This continuous drying out of your scalp and increased sebum production creates a vicious dependency cycle, and you, as a result, use more clarifying shampoo rich in drying sulfates.
But you don’t have to.
What Should I Use Instead Of A Clarifying Shampoo with Sulfates?
To break the cycle, you should look for a shampoo that’s both sulfate-free and paraben-free. They’ll provide just as much cleaning power while also being gentler on your hair. On top of that, they often have natural ingredients that clean, hydrate, and replenish moisture.
If you’re more DIY inclined, you could also make your own. (Be forewarned, it won’t be the best smelling thing you’ve ever put in your hair.)
To make it, all you have to do is mix ¼ cup apple cider vinegar with a ¼ cup of your favorite shampoo—preferably one that’s sulfate-free and paraben-free. Once mixed, use it the same way you would any other clarifying shampoo and only when necessary.
Can I Ever Use A Clarifying Shampoo with Sulfates?
We’re not going to say you can’t ever use a clarifying shampoo with sulfates. After all, they do have a purpose, and if you use them very sparingly (such as once a month), they won’t do a lot of damage.
But, if you have a lot of gunk you need to get out, or you’re looking to work out the last little bit of hair dye on your head, go for it.
However, since clarifying shampoos with sulfates can strip color molecules from your hair, you should use them only two or three days before you plan on dying your hair again, allowing your hair at least 48 hours to build up natural oils and protect your new color—and shine.