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Home / Smooth Talk Blog /
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So What’s the Deal with Sulfates for Your Hair?

There are plenty of hair care products that are now sulfate-free, but just as many quality hair care products still use sulfates. What gives?

You might have seen that the debate is heating up about sulfates and whether or not they are damaging to your hair. Many brands are now offering ‘sulfate-free shampoo’, saying it gives your hair a more gentle clean, resulting in your hair looking healthier and stronger. There are plenty of hair care products that are now sulfate-free, but just as many quality hair care products still use sulfates. What gives? The fact is this: sulfate has an important role in the process of cleaning your hair by ridding it of dirt and grime, and shouldn’t be ignored. But sulfates can damage certain types of hair more than others. 

What are Sulfates?

Sulfates are a type of chemical called surfactants that help clean your hair. Most importantly, they help lower the surface tension of shampoo, making it easier for the liquid to mix with water and turn into a nice foam. While that foam is soothing and feels great after a long day or late night, it also helps spread the shampoo over your scalp to dig deeper into your hair to remove dirt and other nasties. But everything should be done in moderation. Digging too deep can not only remove dirt and excess oil, but it can also strip your hair of natural oils and moisturizers that keep your hair happy. Sulfates can also be harmful to color-treated hair, as they remove the absorbed hair colors with each usage.

 What Does Sulfate-Free Mean? 

Sulfate-free shampoos  use a variety of different chemicals, usually derived from plants to result in a gentler touch for your hair:


  • Coming from raw materials like vegetable oils, or made from coconut oil and sugar, glucoside is one of the gentlest alternatives to sulfates. 

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein 

  • Made from breaking down soy, this product increases the hair’s ability to bind moisture. That’s why we use it in our upkeep shampoo!


  • A very mild active agent often found in organic products. 

Amino Acid Sulfosuccinates

  • With anti-irritant properties, these amino acids are perfect for those with ultra-delicate skin.

These are just a few examples of alternatives that are used in sulfate-free shampoo

When Should You Use Sulfates?

As with everything in life, make sure to do it in healthy moderation. Sulfates can still have a place in your hair care routine, it needs to just be monitored. When washing your hair you don’t want to remove all those healthy oils and moisturizers, so you should avoid a daily dose of sulfates. Sulfates should be only used when you need a really deep clean, like when removing salt or chlorinated water.

A great example of when using sulfate shampoo is necessary is when using the Gussi At-Home Keratin Treatment.  Sulfates are required in the preparation period in order to open the hair cuticle to maximize the effectiveness of the Gussi keratin treatment. Gussi’s Squeaky Clean Priming Shampoo is designed with your hair’s health in mind, making sure it has a pH level equal to water (and therefore slightly higher than hair), making it far less damaging than other similar priming shampoos. This preparation allows the keratin and all those good nutrients to penetrate the hair shaft. The Priming Shampoo is only used once every six weeks with your Gussi At-Home Keratin Treatment. For daily use we recommend our Protection Plan™ Upkeep Shampoo & Conditioner , both of which are sulfate-free and deeply nourish your hair while prolonging that beautiful keratin sleek!

How Do You Get Beautiful and Healthy Hair? 

Haircare is a process. We know that, and so do you. So let us deal with monitoring the sulfate intake so you can be guaranteed to enjoy healthy and radiant hair. 

During the one-time step of applying Priming Shampoo, sulfates are used to open the hair cuticles so they can accept the Gussi hair treatment. This guarantees that the keratin’s frizz-fighting power can do its job and can be locked in by blow-drying then flat-ironing your hair, sealing in all those good nutrients (for all hair types)! The results? Fabulous, frizz-free hair that lasts  up to six weeks (and can  be prolonged with the sulfate-free  help of a little upkeep), giving you salon-quality hair from the comfort of your home. 


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