Is Sulfate-Free Shampoo Good for Fine Hair?
It seems more and more beauty products are claiming they are “sulfate-free.” From facial cleansers and body washes to a range of hair care solutions.
Sulfates are primarily responsible for the thick lather that forms when you clean with soaps and detergents. Some people say their hair feels cleaner after using sulfate shampoos; however, these shampoos can have a detrimental effect on your hair and scalp — exacerbating the challenges aging women face with hormone-related thinning and fine-textured hair.
Is sulfate-free shampoo good for fine hair? The short answer is yes. Sulfate-free hair cleansing options like Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo and Second Chance Low Suds Repairing Shampoo for Dry/Damaged Hair are superior solutions to treat the physiology of your aging hair.
Sulfates are synthetic chemical compounds made up of surfactant (surface action) molecules that reduce tension between liquids and air bubbles. Without surfactants, the air bubbles that form when you combine water and soap will pop immediately due to the water’s surface tension. Sulfates decrease this tension, allowing more bubbles to form, which produces a foamy lather.
Besides creating foam, these harsh chemicals attract and wash away your natural oils and lipids. This effect may not have caused issues when you were younger; however, it can lead to a dry scalp and brittle hair for those of us with aging hair. Additionally, sulfates have a cumulative effect that can build up and result in scalp irritation and inflammation for women with sensitive skin.
Despite a growing demand for sulfate-free products, most shampoo manufacturers continue to use this inexpensive surfactant in their formulations. To spot it, check your shampoo’s label for any of the following sulfate varieties:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
- Ammonia laureth sulfate (ALS)
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- TEA lauryl sulfate (TEA)
- Sodium myreth sulfate (SMS)
Avoiding these compounds will help you protect the vulnerable structure of your fine hair.
The Structure of Fine Hair
A strand of fine hair has a diameter that is smaller than average hair fibers. Even if your mane was made up of coarse hairs during your younger years, your follicles are likely to shrink due to changing hormones. Narrow follicles create finer, more fragile locks.
Each hair follicle sheath produces a hair fiber made up of three distinct cellular layers:
- Medulla — The hair shaft’s inner core, this layer is softer and more vulnerable than the other two layers. It does not always extend to the tip of the strand and may not be present with very fine hair.
- Cortex — The cortex is the layer just under the surface of your hair that makes up most of each strand. It contains keratin, a hard protein, making it harder than the medulla.
- Cuticle — Your hair’s outer layer comprises protective, shingle-like cells that open and close. In fine hair, these cells are thinner and more prone to breakage.
Since fine hair structure is more vulnerable than average- or coarse-width strands, it should be handled more carefully. This means brushing and styling your hair with a softer touch and using healthy shampoos that nourish your strands and protect your scalp.
Sulfate Effects on Fine Hair
There are three ways sulfates damage fine hair:
- They strip away natural oils — Sebaceous glands at the base of your follicles produce sebum oil to moisturize and safeguard your hair and scalp. As we age, however, our glands secrete less sebum. Sulfate shampoos compound this issue by stripping away these protective oils, leaving you with brittle, unmanageable hair.
- They cause scalp irritation and inflammation — As sulfates compromise your scalp's outer layer, shampoo chemicals permeate your skin. Women with sensitive skin can experience itching, redness, flaking, and premature hair shedding.
- They fade your hair color faster — The more damage your cuticles experience from harsh products, the more hair dye pigment can escape from your hair fibers. Sulfates and water increase color fade, so you may need more frequent dye jobs.
Sulfate-Free Alternatives From Better Not Younger
Sulfate-free shampoos are vital when caring for your fine or fragile hair, but they are only part of a bigger picture. Your tresses also need products designed for your hair biology with ingredients that treat the underlying causes and conditions of the aging process.
Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo and Second Chance Low Suds Repairing Shampoo for Dry/Damaged Hair are two high-quality sulfate-free shampoos developed with ingredients to restore and protect your fine hair.
Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo
Wake Up Call Fine Volumizing Shampoo is a lightweight formula that washes away completely. There are no thick residues or sticky moisturizers left behind to weigh down your hair.
We use bamboo with 70% silica to buoy moisture retention, and sage, a natural astringent, to unclog your follicles and balance your natural oils. In place of harsh cleansers, we include Decyl glucoside and other mild surfactants to gently wash away dirt and buildup.
To infuse bounce and body into your fine hair, follow with Wake Up Call Volumizing Conditioner.
Second Chance Low Suds Repairing Shampoo for Dry/Damaged Hair
The decreased sebum and nutritional deficiency that aging brings increases the potential for a dry scalp and brittle hair. Ensconce your frizzy flyaways and split ends in Second Chance Low Suds Repairing Shampoo for Dry/Damaged Hair.
Our low-lather, sulfate- and paraben-free solution is formulated with vitamin-rich birch bark extract to nourish your strands, passionflower fruit extract to slow free radical damage, and rice bran oil to provide body and shine.
Follow up with Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry/Damaged Hair to further strengthen your locks and restore your scalp.
Free Your Fine Hair from Sulfates with Better Not Younger
The potential downsides of using sulfate shampoos on your fine hair include scalp irritation, hair breakage, and cuticle damage. Your fine hair deserves better.
Better Not Younger thoughtfully formulates paraben- and sulfate-free shampoos for all hair types. Visit our shop page today to peruse our entire line of sulfate-free hair and scalp care products.