Friday, April 25, 2014



What Are They:
Sulfate compounds (commonly called sulfates) are found in many personal care products such as shampoo, toothpaste, shaving foam, body washes and facial cleansers. In cleansers, they function as surfactants: water- and oil-soluble compounds that, when combined with water, foam and emulsify greasy substances.

How They Work:
“Sulfates are synthetic ingredients partially based on sulfur, which is derived from petrolatum or other sources,” explains Yves Lanctôt, a chemist and product consultant in Laval, Que. However, sulfates are not just petrolatum-derived. The largest part of the molecule comes from lauryl alcohol, which is derived from coconut oil or other plants. To make sulfates, lauryl alcohol is reacted with sulfuric acid. Sulfur can be found naturally on earth, but for manufacturing it’s generally produced using petrolatum. They’re high foaming, which means that you don’t have to use very much to get a good lather.

The Bottom Line:
Lanctôt says that while SLS and SLES are not sensitizers—molecules that cause allergic reactions—they are irritants 
and in some people can temporarily aggravate the skin, causing redness, dryness and itching. However, a by-product of SLES—the compound 1,4-dioxane—“is a carcinogen,” says Marilyn Patterson, a cosmetic chemist and owner 
of Natural Cosmetic Solutions Inc. "Sulfates can also fade hair color and cause hair to become brittle,” says Stephanie Binette, marketing director at L’Oréal Paris

Information courtesy of

*Again, here at The Spa at the Mount Auburn Club we carry a variety of sulfate free options. For more information please stop by the desk or ask you Skin Therapist during your next treatment.

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