What are sulphates?

Sulfates are surfactants that are added to most cleaning products because of their emulsifying, moisturizing, foaming and detergent power.
Today we want to write a more specific post on this subject since there are many of you writing us because you get to confuse or misinterpret sulfates with other surfactants.
Surfactants provide us with cleansing and foam. Therefore, sharing a word does not mean being the same ingredient. Sulfates all end up in SULFATE.

For instance:
1.     Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate shares the word Sodium with Sodium Laureth Sulfate and they have nothing to do with each other since Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate is NOT a sulfate.
2.     Sodium C14 Olefin Sulfonate shares the word Sodium and sufonate begins with SULF as sulfate, but they are not the same molecule, they are not in the same family and they are not a sulfate.

Let’s go there!


Are they toxic?

No! The American Cancer Society, the FDA, the European Commission and the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) allow the use of sulfates SLS as well as SLES in cosmetic products, and there are no studies linking cancer with their use. At GOA ORGANICS we do not use them, and we cannot say that enough, not because of their toxicity but because all our shampoos are formulated to maintain the professional Keratin Infusion treatment and because we opt for a gentler cleaning.

Therefore, we should not assume the aggressiveness of a shampoo because of the surfactants it contains, because WHAT IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT IS THE COMPLETE SET OF THE FORMULA.

Advantages of sulfates

  1. They effectively remove dirt from our body and hair
  2. It is affordable and effective

Disadvantages of sulfates

  1. They can cause dryness and dandruff, especially on sensitive skin.
  2. Causes a faster loss of hair dyes and treatments such as straightening.
  3. They make the hair much more brittle

How to identify them in cosmetics

They are easy to locate because in the list of ingredients (INCI) their names all end in -sulfate. They are usually in the top three ingredients, after water.

There are many sulfates but the most common ones that shampoos contain are :

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate / Sodium Coco Sulfate / Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

Alternatives to sulfates



These two components are no sulfates! They have similar qualities, but they are not the same.

The most used are C14-16 olefin sulfonate or disodium laureth sulfoccinate. They remove dirt, but in a more gentle way than a sulfate does, so they do not cause irritation, they are gentler on the scalp.


They have medium detergency. It is a good option if you are looking for low detergency and little irritability. You will find them in the list of ingredients like this: Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate


They provide a medium-low detergency and do not cause irritability and make very little foam. In INCI: Sodium acyl Sarcosinate / Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate / Polysorbate-20 / Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate.


All three have a medium detergency and do not cause irritability. Its appearance on the product increases the price. In INCI: Sodium lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Cocopolyglucose Tartrate, Sodium Cocoyl ISethionate.