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Do sulfate shampoos cause hair color loss?

Tina’s turmoil: I have been along time reader of another blog called Killer Strands and the writer (Dakota Ellis/Killer Chemist) is a hair colourist and a cosmetic chemist who has tested sulphate shampoos and proved it does fade color and may cause premature hair loss. She mentions it’s very caustic when smelled and may cause you to to faint when opening a jar of SLS !

The Left Brain’s reply:

Sulfate shampoos do cause fading however, they do not cause more fading than other types of shampoos. I can say that because I specifically evaluated all types of shampoos in unpublished research. But until that is published, it’s just hearsay. If you really wanted to prove it to yourself, use 2 different shampoos on each side of your head the next time you get your color done. One should be a sulfate based shampoo and the other should be non-sulfate based. After 5-10 washes you will not likely see any color difference between the two.

Dangerous sulfates?

The idea that sulfates make your hair fall out is just not true. No cosmetic chemist has ever proven this. Furthermore, while they are powerful degreasers and can dry out hair and skin, they are not caustic. And the notion that you will faint just by smelling a sulfate detergent is ridiculous. Sulfates have a weak, bland odor (it’s true that inhaling concentrated SLS can irritate your nasal passages but that will not make you faint.)

We have been in the cosmetic and personal care industry for many years and have not come across any published scientific study to show that sulfates are the worst thing for your hair color or would make your hair fall out. I suspect if you asked the Killer Strands folks for their data they won’t have any. And without the data, it’s just an unvalidated opinion.

Killer Strands

I looked up the Killer Strands website and it appears to be very professional and it contains a lot of good information. Dakota is doing a fine job, but I couldn’t find any references to specific studies backing up her statements. You need to consider that while Killer Strands does make some good points, they are also trying to sell you their products and services.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

The Beauty Brains do not and will not sell cosmetic products. We do not recommend specific product brands and we encourage people to make up their own minds about what to buy. We present the unbiased science. If someone is trying to sell you a product, you have to read with skepticism everything that they write. It doesn’t matter if they are cosmetic chemists, board certified colorists, or dermatologists. Once a piece of writing is put out there with the intent to convince you to buy a specific type of product, watch out. The information is suspect.

What do YOU think? Have you noticed that different shampoos cause your hair to fade differently? Leave a colorful comment for the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • interpo August 19, 2014, 2:01 pm

    I am troubled by KC Ellis’s professional claims that she is a scientist and a cosmetic chemist. But she has no applicable schooling.

    On her site, she gives her credentials as a hair stylist and outlines her educational path to become one. It says that she “took up cosmetic chemistry” after she became too sick to work standing up. According to her site, her education is taking a year and “ordering huge textbooks and reading them /ALL OF THEM!”

    • Rupee_Roundhouse February 19, 2020, 6:14 am

      That doesn’t surprise me at all. The internet is full of self-proclaimed “experts.” It’s up to us to decide who’s credible. Part of that process is credentials (and then checking the validity of those credentials).

      Another part, and perhaps most importantly, is evaluating how logical they are: Do their arguments, assuming they even provide them, flow logically with strong logical connections? Do they provide examples? Do they provide supporting evidence? Are they coherent and consistent? Do they consistently commit logical fallacies? That last one is one of the easiest ways to immediately weed out 99% of the phonies, both online and offline.

  • Lily BB May 2, 2020, 6:43 pm

    Loving your work here guys. Thank you so much!