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March 08, 2022


Sulphates and Cheap Shampoos: UK’s Top Hair Expert Busts Common Haircare Myths!

Top trichologist Eva Proudman answers your questions and busts some common hair myths - from sulphates to cheap shampoos, some of the answers may surprise you!

March 08, 2022

Photo showing Eva Proudman, a white woman with short blonde hair, wearing a blue face mask and studying the hair of a white woman with long brown hair as she sits in a clinical room

March 08, 2022

We’re proud to work with top trichologist, Eva Proudman MIT IAT, here at Absolute Collagen.

Think of a trichologist as a doctor for your hair - and as the Chairman of the Institute of Trichologists, Eva truly knows all there is to know about hair and scalp health, inside and out. It’s her job to help people with their hair concerns, including thinning hair, hair loss, scalp issues, and more.

Today, we’re sharing some of the common haircare myths Eva is often asked about - read on for the truth about sulphates, using a cheap shampoo, overwashing your hair - and whether or not thickening shampoos are just for thin hair. The answers may surprise you!

Are all sulphates bad for hair?

No - the short answer is that while some sulphates can be bad for hair, this isn’t the case for all of them.

A sulphate is a chemical that is used as a cleaning agent - they’re found in household cleaners, shampoos, and other everyday products. There are a wide range of surfactants, which are cleansers based on sulphates. However, due to a very harsh sulphate called Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) all sulphates have been given a bad press, which isn’t actually justified. Some sulphates are great!

Infographic explaining the difference between good and bad sulphates in shampoos

Why do I need sulphates in my shampoo?

Sulphates are important for one main reason: if there are no surfactants in a shampoo, then the cleansing ability of the shampoo is never going to be as good.
The slightly more detailed explanation is that using the right sulphates is actually the best way to avoid scalp imbalance problems, which damage and harm your hair. The ‘good’ sulphates work by cleaning hair just enough, when other surfactants either don't clean enough or are too stripping.

Poor cleaning of hair leads to an irritated scalp, which means less vigorous growth. Using the correct sulphate helps balance the scalp, allowing a good growing environment for your hair.

What are good and bad sulphates?

SLS is the most widely used surfactant in the world and is used to make most shampoos and shower gels. However, SLS is extremely harsh on skin and hair, because the molecules in it are very small and so penetrate into the outer layers of the epidermis and hair cuticle. Once inside, they can combine with the oil protecting the skin and hair and actually remove it, causing the skin and hair to become dry and brittle - and nobody wants that!

For this reason, SLS has developed a very bad reputation, which has since spread to make us think all sulphates are bad for us - they’re not!

TEA-Lauryl Sulphate (TLS), for instance, is a good sulphate. TLS is made of larger molecules which means it can’t penetrate into the skin and cuticle, but simply removes the surface oil and all grime from these areas. Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is another gentler sulphate - it is typically used to make baby shampoos! Combining two gentle sulphates in a shampoo will deliver an effective yet gentle cleanse that’s kind to skin and hair, so keep an eye out for these two ingredients in your shampoos.

Are cheap shampoos bad?

I’m often asked whether people can economise on their shampoo and pay more for a premium or more high-end conditioner, as there’s a perception that conditioner is what makes the most difference to the condition of hair - after all, it conditions! The clue is in the name!

However, don’t be fooled. Using cheap shampoo and premium conditioner is a false economy, and I advise everybody to invest in their shampoo and conditioner equally.

This is because using a cheap shampoo will never give you the same results as a better quality one, as it simply won’t be able to clean your hair and scalp properly, and no amount of premium conditioner will be able to counteract this. A poorly or harshly cleansed scalp is the source of scalp imbalance, which is the root of many hair problems - so a good shampoo is absolutely key to good, healthy hair and scalp.

Why is cheap shampoo bad?

This comes right back to sulphates. SLS sulphates are the main cleansing agent in many cheaper shampoos, and as mentioned, these are not hair and scalp friendly.

Cheap shampoos often also contain silicones that are not water soluble, which means that they build up on the hair and cause dullness, as well as low quality perfumes which can irritate the scalp. A poorly cared-for scalp can become itchy, flaky and inflamed when using shampoos that are not designed to deliver effective yet gentle cleansing - so your shampoo may be cheap, but at a cost to your hair and scalp health.

Remember, your scalp is skin - and you wouldn’t use harsh products on any other areas of your skin!

Infographic explaining why you should not use cheap shampoo with premium conditioner

Will thick hair still benefit from thickening and volumising shampoos?

The answer might surprise you - yes, thick hair can still benefit from thickening and volumising shampoos.

Thick hair still needs looking after and conditioning, and thickness and volume are actually two different things. You can improve the condition, strength, and overall health of thick hair by using a good quality volumising shampoo and conditioner, which will make your hair shinier and easier to manage, as well as working to reduce shedding.

Will thickening shampoo and conditioner make my hair frizzy?

And don’t worry - using a good quality thickening shampoo on already thick hair won’t make it thicker to an infinite degree, and it won’t cause it to frizz, either. Frizz happens when hair isn’t hydrated, so there are key ingredients to look out for to prevent this.

Glycerin and coconut oil, for instance, are both fantastic for supporting hair hydration, which reduces frizz and those annoying flyaway strands we sometimes see.

Is it possible to wash hair too often?

Short answer - no, it is not.

The longer, more detailed answer is that your scalp is skin, and as such it needs frequent washing just like the rest of your skin. You wouldn’t go days at a time without washing your face - and your scalp should be no different. That’s why I recommend washing your hair frequently - it’s not just your hair that needs cleansing regularly, it’s your scalp too.

The exact frequency of hair washing differs from person to person; some benefit from daily hair washes, while others can go two days. I recommend going no longer than three days without washing your hair.

So there you have it - hair advice from the UK’s leading hair specialist. And remember, as an Absoluter, you can enjoy exclusive 1:1 consultations with Eva about your specific hair needs and queries - just one of the many perks of subscribing to Absolute Collagen!