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Truth about...sulfates

Welcome to the start of a series of posts based on everyday ingredients that we find in skincare and makeup. I will be posting a "Truth about" post every 2 weeks in between my regular beauty updates. My aim is to be objective and neutral and just present you with the facts.

Understanding what is in the products you buy can be confusing thanks to long ingredient list on labels and clever marketing. Even more confusing is knowing what ingredients to avoid and which ones are truly beneficial.

I wanted to start off with an ingredient that often gets a bad wrap - sulfates.

What are sulfates and what do they do?

Sulfates are surfactants or detergents that act as a cleansing agent to remove dirt, oil and pollutants from the skin.

Woman washing face in sink
Image: Pinterest

Are there any adverse affects to my skin?

Surfactants are great at cleansing and are effective at removing oil, dirt and pollutants. But because they are essentially disrupting the lipid membrane at the same time (which protects the skin), it can be quite drying to the skin. This is true however for both sulfates like SLS and also non sulfate cleansers that are often touted as alternatives. So you want to make sure you rinse well after cleansing and use a nourishing moisturiser after to restore moisture to the skin.

Sulfates can cause sensitivities (also like non sulfate cleansers) and this really depends on the amount of sulfates in the product (check if it's high up on the list of ingredients), the formulation (what other ingredients are in the cleanser) and your skin's own reaction. Remember that essential oils and fragrances are extremely sensitising so really it's good practice to have a quick read through the ingredient list to see what else is in your favourite cleanser.

Are there benefits?

As mentioned above, sulfates are very effective at cleansing the skin (and hair/scalp if its in your shampoo). When cleansing your skin you really do need something that can penetrate deep into the pores and cleanse out dirt and grime. Otherwise you will end up with residue on the skin which can lead to congested skin and breakouts.

What are your favourite face cleansers?

Comment below and share your thoughts..

Sarah x

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