What’s the deal with sulfates & parabens anyway!?

When you first return to natural everyone in the natural hair community will tell you that you have to avoid sulfates and parabens… but no one really tells you why! I am to blame as well so on behalf of the rest of #teamnatural, please forgive us!

I’ve tried to simplify the reasons we should avoid these two culprits. Disclaimer – I am not an expert in chemicals but I am a researcher, and this is what I’ve found:


A few years before I returned to natural I noticed that my shampoo caused my hair to dry out increasingly. It was so bad that my hands would actually start to scale. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I put two and two together and realized what the heck was happening – Sulfates!

Sulfates are detergents in every sense of the word. They can be found in floor cleaner, dishwashing liquid and even in facewash. This chemical is known to cause hair loss and skin irritation. Yes, sulfates strip your hair of buildup, but it also dehydrates your hair and skin by stripping away natural proteins and oils.

If you want to avoid sulfates from your hair care or beauty regime, check the ingredient list and stay away from anything that ends in sulfate. Eg. ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium lauryl sulfate.


Parabens are preservatives that are typically used to extend the shelflife of hair and beauty products and even some food products!!! According to this article by Sister Scientist, it was discovered that parabens could be found in breast cancer tumours. Parabens have also been linked to hormone disruption and increased skin aging.

If you want to avoid Parabens from your hair care or beauty regime, check the ingredient list and stay away from anything that ends in paraben. Eg. methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben

I really hope this breaks down why we avoid these two ingredients.

Did you find this post helpful?

Do you use sulfates and parabens in your shampoo?






  1. ashlin
    05/10/2017 / 14:19

    Hi i would like to know like a student and part time job its not easy always getting the stuff your hair needs im a month and 2 weeks natural
    what can i use like home remedies as a sulphate free wash

  2. Anne
    05/10/2017 / 15:02

    Interesting! Whilst I fully believe in avoiding sulfates, I’ve recently discovered that there was only one study conducted which inconclusively found parabens in cancerous cells,but it wasn’t sufficient to confirm their link to causing cancer. In fact, they’re one group of preservatives which is rigorously tested and is universally safe and effective, but the smear campaign against them has been pretty effective!

  3. Domelia
    05/11/2017 / 15:47

    Very useful info. Thank you.

  4. Chenay Purday Vaughan
    05/12/2017 / 07:53

    Thank you for this summary. Very helpful indeed.

  5. Tubi
    09/28/2017 / 15:23

    Informative,thank you

  6. Abigail Jeffries
    02/22/2018 / 08:54

    Your articles are always helpful .

  7. 08/28/2018 / 14:00

    Wow, thank you! Very informative…

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