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What Is Lauryl Sulfate in Shampoo? | Detailed Guide

If you are trying to find the best shampoo for your hair, you may have come across the ingredient lauryl sulfate. There is a lot of talk about this ingredient, what it does in shampoo, and the pros and cons of using it.

If you are wondering, “What is lauryl sulfate in shampoo,” you have come to the right place. Read on to learn about its benefits, drawbacks, and whether you should use products with it.

What Is Lauryl Sulfate in Shampoo?

What is Lauryl Sulfate in shampoo graphic

Lauryl sulfate is a cleansing agent that is a detergent. It is used in laundry detergent, shampoos, household cleaners, and more. Three are two primary types, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.

They cause your shampoo to lather so that it lifts dirt, oil, and more from your hair. They are commonly used because they have the deepest cleansing effects. 

You may want to know more about sulfates. Many people have questions, including the following:

  • How does lauryl sulfate work?
  • Are there risks to using it?
  • Are there benefits to using shampoo with lauryl sulfate?
  • How should you use shampoo with lauryl sulfate?

We wanted to find out, so we did the research. Continue reading to learn what you need to know about lauryl sulfate in shampoo.

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How Lauryl Sulfate Works

Lauryl sulfate, or sodium lauryl sulfate, is also known as SLS. It is the cleansing agent in many shampoos. It was originally discovered as a detergent because it is powerful and can lift dirt and grim from surfaces.

In shampoos, it is what allows the shampoo to lather, and as the lather is massaged into your hair, it lifts dirt, contaminants, oils, product buildup, and more from your hair.

When you rinse your hair after you shampoo, it rinses out and takes everything it lifted from your hairs with it. Your hair is left clean and free of any dirt or debris. It is popular in many shampoos because it offers the most thorough clean, and it creates a nice lather. 

Risks of Using Shampoo With Lauryl Sulfate

Woman upset because she used a shampoo that had lauryl sulfate in it

Puhhha/Shutterstock

The reason that lauryl sulfate in shampoo is a topic today is that it is so effective that it can remove your hair’s natural oils and leave your hair dehydrated. This can lead to brittle hair that is prone to breakage.

It may be too strong for people with damaged or dry hair, and if you have sensitivities to this type of chemical, it can cause irritation. For example, people who have rosacea might avoid shampoos with this ingredient.

If you have eczema, contact dermatitis, or sensitive skin, it can also cause irritation. If you notice a rash, redness, itchiness, or hives after using shampoo with lauryl sulfate, it is best to avoid it. In addition, some people find that their hair is frizzy after use.

This is especially true of people who are prone to frizzy hair.

When it removes your natural oils, it leaves your hair dehydrated, which is one of the causes of frizz. If you use shampoo with this ingredient, you will need to use a conditioner or other treatment to lock moisture back into your hair.

Read Next: What Is Sodium Sulfate in Shampoo?

Benefits of Using Shampoo With Lauryl Sulfate

Woman who used a shampoo that has lauryl sulfate in it

Josfor/Shutterstock

There are some benefits to using shampoos that contain lauryl sulfate. As a surfactant, it does a great job of eliminating dirt and oil from your hair.

Sebum is produced naturally by your scalp, and it holds onto dirt, pollen, and other pollutants, and it is difficult to get it all out without a strong lifting cleanser. In addition, it creates a foamy lather.

This means that you can use less product to get the dirt and oil out of your hair. It also lifts buildup of styling products, which can damage your hair if they remain there.

The product residue is not rinsed out with water; it actually needs to be lifted from each hair.  Sodium lauryl sulfate also shows antimicrobial properties, which fights bacteria and promotes a healthy scalp.

They are easy to rinse, along with the dirt and contaminants that they lift. As long as your hair can tolerate shampoos with lauryl sulfate in it, it does a very effective job of leaving your hair clean. 

How to Use Shampoo With Lauryl Sulfate

Most people are going to use shampoo as part of their cleansing routine. The bottom line is that shampoo is the only effective way to remove dirt and other pollutants from your hair.

All shampoos will remove some of your hair’s natural oils, eleven though shampoo with lauryl sulfate remove them more thoroughly. The best way to use this type of shampoo is in moderation. When you shampoo your hair, don’t leave the shampoo in your hair.

Lather and rinse the shampoo out. You should follow up with a conditioner to hydrate your hair after you clean it. Some people wash their hair once or twice a week, while others need to wash it daily.

You have to do what works best for your hair, and then replace the moisture that is drawn out by the shampoo with lauryl sulfate. You can try sulfate free shampoos, but be prepared for less lather and less effective cleaning. They work, but they can’t remove sweat and grime the same way.

Read Next: How Often Should I Wash My Hair? Quiz

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there side effects to using lauryl sulfate?

Lauryl sulfate can dry your hair out. It can cause irritation for people with sensitive skin. If you color your hair, over time, it may fade your color. There are no known dangers to using this ingredient.

Does lauryl sulfate cause cancer?

There have been rumors that sulfates may have carcinogenic effects, but the FDA and the American Cancer Society say that sulfates are safe for use in hair care and cosmetic products, and they do not consider it to be a carcinogen.

So, What Is Lauryl Sulfate in Shampoo?

Lauryl sulfate is the cleansing agent in shampoo. It is a detergent that easily lifts dirt, grime, oils, pollution, and more from your hair. This makes it easy for the water from the shower to rinse them away. It creates a foamy lather and is found in many shampoos.