You may have heard about an increasing number of sulfate-free skin care and beauty products. In particular, it’s increasingly popular for luxury skin care products to tout the fact that they are sulfate-free. But what is it that makes sulfates so bad in skin care? Turns out their use is less cosmetic and more about a look and feel expected from products.

What Are Sulfates?

Simply put, sulfates are detergents, also known as surfactants. They’re often added to health and beauty products to help create a certain desired effect, such as a healthy lather in shampoos or toothpastes, as well as aiding in removing dirt and oils. While there are a number of sulfates you may see in the ingredients list on your skincare and beauty products, a common one you will notice is sodium lauryl sulfate.

They Contribute to That “Clean” Feel

Their ability to help get rid of dirt, oils, and other particles while cleaning means that they’ve been increasingly popular in the beauty industry since they were first developed in the 1930s. They create the full lather we have come to expect in our shampoo and toothpaste, as well as help remove stuck food particles from our mouths when brushing.

What Can They Do to Your Skin?

With all the seemingly positive effects from sulfates, why are sulfate-free products trending now? Despite the ways in which sulfates can be helpful, there are also some downsides to including them in beauty products.

Skin Irritation & Dryness

Depending on how much is used, how often, and where on the body, sulfates in products like body wash and lotions can actually dry out and irritate your skin. Inflammatory conditions such as acne can actually worsen when products containing sulfates are used because they can be harsh on the skin, especially facial skin. People are more likely to tolerate body wash with sulfates than facial cleansers or moisturizers, though those with sensitive skin would especially do best to avoid sulfates altogether.

Stripping of Natural Oils

Mostly with shampoos, but also some skin products, the sulfates work too efficiently at cleansing your hair and skin. This can lead to them stripping your hair and skin of their natural oils that are actually beneficial. When this happens, you can notice dry or brittle hair as well as a dry and irritated scalp.

image of pier in front of mountains during orange sunset

Sulfate-Free Skin Care Offers a More Natural Alternative

There are many alternative ingredients that help create the same cleaning effect as sulfates, though the lathering effect is hard to replicate. For exfoliation and cleansing, there are a number of natural alternatives that are often used in luxury skin care boasting that they are sulfate-free.

Apricot Seed Helps Exfoliate

Certain cleansers and exfoliating creams may use apricot seed powder to help get rid of dead skin cells and keep pores clean. While this won’t directly combat bacteria, it does help skin look and feel brighter, cleaner, and healthier. You can see the results in our Exfoliating Cleanser as it eliminates dead skin cells and excess oils while moisturizing and rejuvenating your skin with every use.

Coconut Oil & Palm Oil Eliminate Bacteria

Many luxury skin care products may use natural ingredients like palm oil, olive oil, or coconut oil to fight bacteria. They’ll help with a cleansing effect for toothpastes and some skin care products. While they don’t necessarily have the foaming effect of sulfates, they are just as effective at fighting bacteria without the negative effects of dryness and inflammation.

Lathering and Cleansing Do Not Go Hand-in-Hand

It’s important to keep in mind that your natural skincare products are still cleansing your skin even if they do not lather like other products. While sulfates often carry out both purposes, most natural substitutes will have one effect or the other rather than both lathering and cleansing.

Glucosides Help Sulfate-Free Products Lather

Some products may use glucosides to help create a lathering effect. While the negative side effects of glucosides are not the same as sulfates, some people may still be sensitive to them. If you have noticed a sensitivity to sulfates, focus more on the cleansing than the foaming when choosing your skin care and beauty products.

KULCBD Offers Natural Solutions with Sulfate-Free Products

All of our luxury skin care and beauty products are made sulfate-free, so you don’t have to worry about irritation or dryness from using our cleansers and moisturizers. Whether you use our Glö Serum or Anti-Aging Moisturizer, you won’t strip your skin of its natural ability to maintain moisture and stay firm. Instead, you’ll simply notice brighter, softer, younger looking skin.