Around 6 months ago I decided to take the plunge and go SLS free. So what is SLS? Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) works as a surfactant, it creates the rich lather which most of us experience when washing our hair with commercial shampoos. It is a detergent and can strip the scalp of many of our natural oils.
Here are a few things I learnt when using SLS free shampoo…
1) You will go through the transition period. For the first few weeks of using an SLS free shampoo my scalp got oilier much quicker, I was having to wash my hair every other day (usually I have a 2 day gap in between washing). This is because your scalp is so used to being stripped of the oils. Don’t worry though, your scalp will eventually calibrate itself and you can reduce the frequency of washing.
2) Your fingers are your best friend. Now this is a bit gross but it’s quite important to know. Between months 2 and 4 I experienced extreme itchiness and scabs on my scalp. I mean I would itch my scalp and would be able to peel bits of my scalp off (I did warn you). I did some research online and it seems a lot of people get this scalp build up because the shampoo isn’t lifting the dirt and grime away. This is where your fingers come into play. As SLS-free shampoo doesn’t foam or lather as well as normal shampoo you really have to work the product into your scalp for a few minutes by physically massaging and scrubbing your scalp. Since changing the way I wash my hair I have not experienced the scabby-scalp issue. If you have long hair (below your shoulders), or if you use a lot of product, you may also need to double rinse your hair to make sure all the dirt is lifted out.
3) Your hair colour will last longer. I dyed the ends of my hair with semi-permanent dye 3 months ago. The colour was supposed to last 6 weeks but it still hasn’t washed out. This is great news if you dye your hair often.
4) It will cost you more money. SLS-free shampoos are way more expensive than SLS shampoos at this current point in time. Also you will be using a greater quantity of it if you are double rinsing.
5) Your scalp will be happier in the long run. 6 months after going SLS-free I can happily say that my scalp has adjusted to the new shampoo, it feels healthier, my hair and scalp aren’t as dry, my hair is falling out less and my colour has lasted longer.