Sometime last fall, I mentioned to my family that my skin was feeling drier and more irritated than usual. I have sensitive skin to begin with, but the constant irritation was a new development.
My son Kell told me that he was experiencing dryness and irritation too, which makes sense since he seems to have inherited my sensitive skin. I wondered what could be causing our skin woes, so I decided to do some research to figure out what the problem was!
What I discovered is that we had inadvertently been exposing ourselves to one of the worst ingredients that people with sensitive or dry skin can use! I’ll be telling you all about what that ingredient is and why you may want to avoid it in today’s blog post!
The Worst Ingredient For People With Dry Skin: Sulfates
After doing some research online, I pinpointed the culprit of our ongoing skin woes: sulfates. Apparently sulfates, which are commonly found in shampoos and conditioners, are often too harsh for those with sensitive or dry skin.
In order to understand why sulfates aren’t friendly to those of us with sensitive skin, it helps to know what sulfates actually are and how they work!
What Are Sulfates & How Do They Work?
Sulfates are a type of surfactant that are common in soaps, cleansers, and other cleaning and personal care products. They aid in removing dirt and oil from skin and also help produce foam and lather during use.
Sulfates are highly effective at removing oils and dirt from skin, and that’s also why they are often too harsh for those with sensitive skin. Sulfates can disrupt the natural skin barrier that helps keep skin moisturized, which can aggravate sensitive and dry skin even further!
The most common sulfates found in hair care products include sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. And while they sound similar enough, it’s important to understand how they differ!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Vs. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
While these two sulfates have similar names and functions, it’s sodium lauryl sulfate that poses more of a threat to those with dry skin. That’s because it binds to proteins (like those that make up your skin) more than sodium laureth sulfate does.
Because of that protein binding action, sodium lauryl sulfate has a higher potential to irritate sensitive skin. Some people find that they tolerate sodium laureth sulfate better than its more irritating cousin, so that’s worth keeping in mind!
Making The Switch To Sulfate-Free Products
After learning all of this, I picked out new sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners for me and Kell. And after just a week or two of using them, we were both seeing improvements in the dryness and irritation we had been suffering from!
If you have dry or sensitive skin, I highly recommend trying out a set of sulfate-free hair care products. It might just be the best switch you can make for your skin! :-)
Which Sulfate-Free Shampoo And Conditioner Should I Use?
Looking to swap your current shampoo and conditioner for sulfate-free options? Here are a few good choices (both store-bought and homemade) for your consideration!
- Pantene Pro-V Blends Rose Water Shampoo & Conditioner ($20)
- L’Oréal Paris EverPure Shampoo & Conditioner ($11)
- DIY Shampoo Bars
Sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners can also be useful for those with curly hair. Some people even go without shampoo entirely, which you can read more about here.
- In addition to shampoos and conditioners, sulfates are commonly found in dish soaps too.
- If you have dry or sensitive skin, just be careful when washing dishes by hand.
- A simple pair of cleaning gloves can help keep the soap off your skin!
And while you’re at it, you should also check your body wash for sulfates too! This CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash is a good sulfate-free option.
Do you use a sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner?