Sulfates are chemicals that function as cleansing agents. You'll find them in many cleaners, shampoos, and washes. The two sulfates that you will most commonly run across are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. Usually, if your cleaning product lathers easily when you're in the shower, it probably contains some sulfates. These agents are very effective in providing a deep cleanse and remove things like dirt, salt, and oils, but are they safe?
Beard products contain sulfates are not going to be safe for everyone to use. This is because they have the potential to damage certain types of beard hair. Also, they may irritate your skin, if it's sensitive. We'll get into all the risks of sulfates in beard products in a little bit, but first, let's take a look at why these are added in so many beard products today.
Pros of Sulfates in Beard Products
Sulfates do the job they were created for well, that's for sure. They are able to cleanse beard hair, along with the skin underneath, really thoroughly. They can strip away things that can harm the health and growth of your beard. Depending on what type of sulfate is in a beard product, as well as how much of that sulfate there is, there will be either more or less stripping.
Also, you'll be relieved to hear that sulfates don't cause cancer. After some debate over the years, this has been something that has been finally put to the test, and the results are in. The American Cancer Society has stated that both sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are not known to be carcinogenic.
Cons of Sulfates in Beard Products
When you use beard products containing sulfates regularly, you may run into some problems. Yes, they remove dirt, oil, and grime from your beard and face, but they can do damage to people with sensitive skin and hair.
If you have rosacea, you shouldn't use beard products with sulfates, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The reason for this is because sulfates will irritate the skin even further, which can lead to unwanted rosacea symptoms wherever sulfate-containing products were applied.
So, if you don't have rosacea you're in the clear, right? Nope! The AAD also strongly recommends that people with eczema and contact dermatitis should avoid sulfates whenever possible. This also goes for anyone who has sensitive skin in general. Some people are also allergic to sulfates, which you would know if you started seeing redness, rashes, swelling, or hives. If your skin suddenly itches a ridiculous amount after using a sulfate beard product, you are probably allergic to sulfates.
People who have either dry or fine hair also run into problems when they use beard products with sulfates. If you have either of these, your hair will be more fragile, leading to too many of your natural oils getting stripped away. If you dye your beard, you'll risk losing some of the color in it.
While not a significant side effect, it can be annoying to have hair frizz. Sulfates cause this due to them creating a negative electrical charge when they come into contact with your beard hair. It's just one more mark against beard products containing sulfates.
According to the most recent look into the popular sodium lauryl sulfate, it can be harmful if there is over 1% concentration of SLS in a beard product. Most skin cleansers don't contain more than this, but shampoos have between 10% and 25%, so you definitely will want to avoid those like the plague. Also, if it's used for too long, it can start causing problems.
Sulfate-Free Beard Products
You can get close to the cleansing abilities of sulfates from naturally-derived cleansing agents. Here at Beard Octane, we make sure that none of our products contain any sulfates. Take our Neutral Lather Conditioning Wash, for example. This product can generate a rich lather and provide your beard and skin with a deep clean. It can do all of this without the use of any sulfates. Instead, we use a safe alternative called potassium cocoate, which comes from fatty acids present in coconut oil.
While there are definitely benefits to sulfates in beard products, there are also some risks of using them, especially if they are used regularly. If you're one of the 1% of the population that have particularly sensitive skin, then you will definitely want to stay away from sulfates, and any products that contain them. That is why we bypass the use of them entirely and give you cleansing beard products that work well, but without the unwanted side effects. When you buy one of our sulfate-free conditioning washes, you can have peace of mind knowing you're not taking an unnecessary risk.