Sulphates have been overused in the skincare products owing to their property of being able to lather. But, the truth is that sulphates are heavy-duty, industrial-strength cleaners. In this article we explain how Sulphates, despite of their “foamy” characteristics are bad for your skin as they damage it by eroding off the essential nutrients that your skin generates. You’ll also learn the importance of going sulphate free and how to do it.
The skin and the moisture barrier explained
Skin is the largest organ in the human body. Among the many functions it serves, one of the most important is, that it forms the first line of defense against a host of environmental factors. The topmost layer of the skin is referred to as the skin barrier also known as lipid barrier, moisture barrier or permeability barrier.
The lipid barrier performs the critical function of keeping the essential moisture and electrolytes in and protects by keeping the harmful microorganisms out. Skin with a healthy lipid barrier looks smooth, hydrated, even toned and clear. Whereas a damaged lipid barrier is often inflamed, irritated, red, dry, itchy and prone to breakouts.
What damages the lipid barrier?
There can be several causes like genetics, age, environmental i.e. sun exposure and pollution, stress, over exfoliation, certain cosmetic procedures like lasers and peels etc.
The most common cause that we unknowingly expose our skin on a daily basis are sulphate cleansers and skincare products containing harsh chemicals like synthetic dyes, lanolin, propylene glycol etc. that sensitize the skin and weaken the lipid barrier over time.
Sulphates are powerful detergents that are found in household cleaners, engine greasers, oven cleaners etc. Commonly used are SLS, SLeS, ALS, ALeS to name a few. They are petrochemicals (derived from petroleum). These detergents are added to skincare products like shampoo, face wash, body wash, toothpastes, basically anything that foams because they are inexpensive and lather well. But, the truth is that sulphates are heavy duty, industrial strength cleaners. They are too strong and strip the skin of its natural oils thereby damaging the lipid barrier.
What happens when the lipid barrier is damaged?
Loss of the protective lipid barrier means accelerated loss of water from the skin leading to dry and dehydrated skin. Dry skin that is dry will show signs of premature ageing like fine lines and wrinkles. It feels smooth but papery to touch and can also flake. With continued exposure to sulphates and other harsh chemicals, it can develop dermatitis and become red and inflamed.
Dehydrated skin will overproduce oil to compensate for the lack of moisture in the deeper layers of the skin. Which may lead to clogged pores and acne. Insufficient moisture levels overtime cause ageing and dull skin. Apart from stripping the skin of the natural oil barrier, sulphates can disrupt the skin pH balance, making the skin more susceptible to harmful microbes and sensitized to other products.
5 Benefits of sulphate free skincare products
Sulphate free cleansers for the scalp, body and face are mild and gentle.
- They do not strip away the natural lipid barrier and only draw out the impurities gently from the pores
- The natural pH level of the skin remains undisturbed
- It may not lather or foam much but are effective cleansers nonetheless
- Contain plant-based surfactants that do not cause any toxicity
- Nourish and moisturize the skin which feels clean and supple
They are also biodegradable hence environment friendly!
Pilgrim products follow The Pilgrim Code and are free of sulphates and other harmful chemicals (The Toxic 20). Pilgrim face washes clean gently and are safe for regular usage.
Choose wisely and yes to green chemistry!
Sulfate Free Shampoo
Thoughtfully crafted with natures’ best, to bring you the most loving yet thorough care. White Lotus, Argan oil, and Camellia work together to soothe the scalp, strengthen the hair, repair the damaged strands and fights dandruff.