Liquid shampoos were introduced in 1930 followed by cream an then liquid cream shampoos, earlier people used to wash their hair with soap.
A soap contains:
- 25% coconut oil or olive oil
- 15% alcohol
- 50% glycerol (glycerin) and rest water
A soap-less shampoo cream contains 50% sodium lauryl sulfate, some sodium stearate and 40% water
Liquid shampoo which is the most popular these days contains detergents like triethanolamine, dodecylbenzene,sulfonate, ethanolamide of lauric acid, perfume and water while cream ones have the same ingredients but in different proportions to obtain a cream texture.
Surfactants are wetting ingredients that lower water’s surface tension, thereby permitting it to spread out and penetrate easily. They behave similarly to soap.
There are 4 major categories of surfactants:
Anionic: These surfactants carry negative charge, they possess excellent cleaning properties and are used in household cleaners and shampoos.
The most common surfactant or sulphates that you will notice in your shampoos are as follows:
1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) or Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate or Sodium laurl benezene sulfonate or Sodium lauroylisthionate has a higher foaming ability and is slightly less irritating than SLS. SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent.
Some products containing SLES have been found to also contain traces 1,4-dioxane; this is formed as a by-product during synthesis of SLES. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that these levels be monitored. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies 1,4-dioxane to be a probable human carcinogen (not observed in epidemiological studies of workers using the compound, but resulting in more cancer cases in controlled animal studies), and a known irritant with a no-observed-adverse-effects level of 400 milligrams per cubic meter at concentrations significantly higher than those found in commercial products. Under Proposition 65, 1,4-dioxane is classified in the U.S. state of California to cause cancer. The FDA encourages manufacturers to remove 1,4-dioxane, though it is not required by federal law. See Source
2. Sodium lauryl Sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laurilsulfate or Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS or NaDS) is a surfactant derived from inexpensive coconut and palm oils, it is a common component of many domestic cleaning products. It causes dry skin because of its degreasing properties and emulsifies fat.
3. Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS)
Ammonium lauroyl sarcorinaate or Ammonium lauryl sulfate is the common name for ammonium dodecyl sulfate which is a mild anionic surfactant derived from coconut alcohols guidelines state that its concentration should not exceed 1 percent if prolonged contact with skin.
Nonionic: They possess no charge, are resistant to hard water and dissolve oil n grease very well. Typically used in Aerosol spray cleansers.
Cationic: These carry a positive charge, due to their positive charge they are used as friction reducer in hair rinses and fabric softeners. Such as Cetrimonium chloride.
Amphoteric: These carry either -/+ charge depending on alkalinity of water, they used in cosmetics where mildness is important.
- Sulfates are salts or esters of sulfuric acid used in detergents and shampoos. They may cause allergic reaction in those sensitive to sulfur.
- Essentially Lauryl sulfates are very high-foam surfactants that disrupt the surface tension of water in part by forming micelles around the highly polar water molecules at the surface-air interface.
- SLS or SLES are surfactants used in a shampoo, they are responsible for the lather and also the “squeaky” clean finish we get after shampooing. They are surfactants that remove the build-up of non-water-soluble silicones in the hair.
Q. What Is the Mildest option for everyday hair wash?
Ans. Personally my take on all this is that of “old is gold” I have gone back to using a soap for washing my hair, I use a handmade organic soap for everyday hair wash, It does not give the squeaky clean finish comparable to that of SLS or SLES. When I feel there’s too much build up in my hair I occasionally opt for apple cider vinegar rinse and you can also try baking soda rinse. I do however use a SLES based shampoo once a week for thorough cleaning. This regime helps me keep in check the amount of harsh chemicals I put on my hair and scalp. My hair feels nice and healthy and I really like this regime.
Q. What to do if you absolutely cannot opt to use a SLS or SLES free shampoo?
Ans. Sometimes a SLS or a SLES free shampoo is not available or it costs a fortune or it doesnt suit your hair or you just love the squaky clean feeling but still want to counter the harmful effects of a harsh detergent, In such a case you can opt for a 30-6- minute pre-wash oiling on scalp and complete hair length prior to shampooing, in India it is famous by the name “champi”. You can use any oil you like. Another step is to take 5ml of shampoo and dilute it with 50ml water and shake it up and then use that mixture to wash your hair. You may also add 1 drop of your favourite essential oil to it.
You can buy handmade soaps at Amazon.com