Do sulfates cause hair fall?

Yes, especially if you have dry, dehydrated or colour-treated hair. Sulfates or sulphates – sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate – are surfactants that add the suds to your shampoo and help to clear out dirt and sebum from skin and hair. While they are very popular lathering additives in regular, commercial shampoos; they are known to be highly drying and irritating for skin. According to American Academy of Dermatology, those prone to allergies and skin sensitivity should avoid sulfate-based shampoos, as they can cause irritations, itchiness and scalp sensitivity.

When you foam up your shampoo, it does offer a sensory aspect to the whole action of cleaning your hair, giving the perception that the suds are clearing the dirt and grime. But SLS or sulfate is a very harsh detergent that not only strips the natural oils from your hair and scalp but also leaves them vulnerable to environmental toxins. Sulfates are also alkaline in nature, that disturbs natural pH balance of hair and scalp. Scalp has a pH of 5.5 while hair has a pH of 3.67. It can change the acidic nature of the hair strands making hair fragile and reducing its tensile strength. This leaves your hair frizzy, static, tangled, and split. 

If you are not thorough in rinsing off your shampoo, the sulfate residue can remain on your hair and scalp. You can check for this residue by gently scraping your scalp with your nails. If you see a powdery deposit in your nails, it’s a sign that your scalp has residue build-up. This can choke your roots, leading to hair fall. This residue also corrodes the hair follicles. In severe cases the follicle may die due to excessive dryness and irritation. As a result, hair starts thinning and hair growth slows down. Unwashed sulfate residue deposition on the strands makes them brittle and prone to damage, especially if you have dry or chemically treated hair. You may also experience hair thinning and breakage due to dryness. In some cases, sulfate-based shampoos can lead to acne around the hair line and infect the follicles, again leading to clogged roots and hair loss in the area. So, long-term use of sulfate-based shampoo can harm your hair growth. 

If you are worried about hair fall or suffer from irritated scalp, then give sulfate-free shampoos a try. Check them out at

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