Tag Archives: Sulfate

Carol’s Daughter Chocolät Shampoo & Conditioner

6 Aug

So I just did my standard Google image search to find an image of this stuff to include, and I got a lot of photos of Black women. I know the founder, Lisa Price, is Black, but are Carol’s Daughter’s products really supposed to be, like  formulated exclusively for Black people? Because I have news: I FREAKING LOVE THIS STUFF. And I am as White as they come.

I’m pretty particular when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I have been burned recently (see Organix and Phyto, ugh), have crazy hair, and require my shampoos to be sulfate free. I want my hair to feel clean, smell good, but also be tamed at least somewhat (no crazy frizz or flyaways, not impossible to get a brush through). This makes me a bit of a tough customer. I still LOOOOVE Alterna‘s line, but I like to switch it up, especially in the hair department. I went on Sephora recently and found that they have helpfully added a sulfate-free search criteria. I chose a few different shampoo/conditioner combos and ordered up.

Carol’s Daughter’s Chocolät line was first up at bat and, oh, can I marry it?!? Smells AWESOME (but NOT like chocolate, be forewarned)*, gets my hair clean and soft and brushable, and is, of course, sulfate-free. Can’t wait to use up the bottles and buy more for the next round! Nicely done, Lisa!

ONLY complaint – the dispensers are a bit awkward. But with a product this good, I can totally overlook it!

*Not sure how to define the smell exactly – not gourmand in any way. More herbal-y/natural, like sandalwood a little? Anyhow my husband can’t stop smelling me either, so it’s an all-around win.

Phyto Haircare

20 Jul

As I started this post, I was undecided about whether to link to these products for purchase. I promised when I started it that I would ONLY link to products I endorse, and there are some good things about these. Finally I asked myself: Would I buy them again? And I realized no, I wouldn’t, so there’s no reason to encourage you to.

I’m only realizing now, as I type this, that Phytojoba actually contains sulfates. I don’t know how the hell I missed this – as you may know from reading my blog, I am trying to eliminate sulfates from my life. I am usually hypervigilant about them, especially with shampoos, since shampoos contain sulfates about 90% of the time. Maybe it was the leaves on the label, maybe it was all the “natural” ingredients they claim to have, I don’t know. But I missed the sulfate connection until right this minute, which further cements my decision not to recommend.

So, Phytojoba – what’s good? It smells sensational, like coconut vanilla cookies. Not too overwhelming, not like a sunscreen, like a delicious cookie, like a kitchen with something fantastic baking. It has a nice lather (sulfates) and seemed to get my hair quite clean. What’s not so good? Why the hell is this stuff so runny?!? This is the second shampoo I have used recently with this consistency – is this a new thing? I do not like it. It’s basically got the consistency of cough syrup – slightly viscous, but mostly liquid. What this means is if you cup your hand and pour the shampoo into it (and granted, I haven’t taken any polls, but isn’t this what most people do?), it just runs right out of your hand and down the drain. Today I poured a teaspoon at a time into my hand, quickly applied it to my hair, and repeated until I felt like I had enough. If you have long, thick hair, this is a total waste of time and complete annoyance. That about covers Phytojoba – smells good, horrible consistency, and the sulfates put it over the edge into “do not want” territory.
Phytobaume is Phyto’s “normal” hair conditioner –

Highly concentrated in softening mallow extract, this lightweight conditioner gently detangles hair while eliminating static electricity. Hair immediately becomes easier to style, and regains its shine and silky softness.

LIES! It did not detangle my hair. My hair was NOT easier to style. It smelled fine and my hair looked fine after dry but I had to use even more Orofluido than normal in order to get the brush through. Yesterday my husband came into the bedroom to find me sitting on the bed after my shower looking sadly defeated. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “My hair,” I answered. I’d spent about 20 minutes trying to get the brush through – long enough that my arm hurt from brushing. He offered to help and when he tried, was horrified at the rat’s nest he found. So, Phytobaume gets even fewer stars than Phytojoba – the smell is just okay, and it doesn’t seem to do the most basic tasks I ask of a conditioner.

No good. Do not recommend either of these Phyto haircare products, and won’t be buying them – or trying any other Phyto products – again.

Borghese Bagno Di Vita Body Soak

19 Jul


First let me tell you I traditionally HATE baths, for multiple reasons. One, I don’t like how fast the water cools down. Two, I don’t like the idea of sitting in a stew of my own dirt. And three, and this is the most important reason and may actually even be the parent reason that the other reasons just branch off of, I am bigger than normal bathtubs and it’s both uncomfortable and disheartening for me to try to sit in one. Enter our new, custom-designed bathroom WITH Victorian-style slipper tub, and cue the Hallelujah chorus. FINALLY a bathtub that I feel normal in. Between the fact that I have a gorgeous bathtub that fits my gorgeous body, and the fact that I am now subjected to all sorts of pregnancy aches and pains, I have actually been on the lookout for bath products that a) don’t contain sulfates, and b) don’t make me feel all dry. Enter Borghese Bagno Di Vita Body Soak.

I got two little packets of Borghese Bagno Di Vita Body Soak (in French underneath that says Oil for the Bath, which is kind of a lie, because it’s not an oil at all but a powder/salt, but I digress) in my Birchbox last month. I love that they sent me two packets because sometimes it’s hard to tell if you really like something after only one shot. This is a direct quote from their packaging – you can’t make this stuff up:

Receive the luxurious skin treatment of hydrotherapy – a therapeutic soak in mineral waters – in the comfort of your own home. Mineral infused crystals transform your bath into an oasis of calm, blue waters while the uplifting scent of botanical oils soothes tense, tired muscles.

Okay, I guess SOMEBODY made that stuff up, but still. An oasis? Really?

In spite of the silly description, I have to say, I fully endorse this product! I dumped the packet into my bath and it turned it a pretty blue color. No bubbles, but that’s usually what sulfates do, so that was okay. Additionally, even though it’s a powder, it really did feel like an oil! I left the bath feeling soft, silky, and refreshed – NOT like I’d just been soaking in my own filth for half an hour. The smell is pleasant, herbal, and spa-y, and I actually didn’t even need to use the second packet to know I wanted more – I just went ahead and bought some. I used it again a couple nights ago with an equally pleasant result.

Nicely done, Borghese! Now work on that copy.



Let’s Talk About Sulfates

28 Feb

I know this is Exfoliation Week, and I’m going to get to another of my favorite exfoliants shortly. But after my rude awakening yesterday, I wanted to take a pause to talk about sulfates.

It's exfoliation. For your teeth.

If you do some research on the word “sulfates,” you find a couple of things. One, the Wikipedia entry for sulfates doesn’t actually mention them in a cosmetic sphere at all. Two, there are a LOT of different “sulfates” out there. And three, images like this:

So what the heck are sulfates, what do they do, and should we really be worried about them? Unfortunately, I can only partially answer those questions, but I can provide my insight into the matter.

My first encounter with discussion of sulfates came when I got a keratin smoothing treatment on my hair. Jen from Pinup Salon told me that I needed to use sulfate-free shampoos after the treatment to keep my hair smooth. The reason for this is that the most common sulfate found in shampoos is sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, which is a surfactant that is harsh enough to wash the keratin right out of my hair. Basically, SLS is an abrasive scrubber that gets rid of dirt, oil, and anything else, stripping your hair right down to just the hair itself. There was briefly a big cancer scare regarding SLS, which has subsequently been disproven. What is not disputed, however, is that SLS can cause skin irritation in some individuals, especially when left on for long periods of time. What I found most interesting, however, is that SLS is actually in most commercial toothpastes and has been found to aggravate, and possibly trigger, canker sores. If you’ve never had a canker sore, then just get down on your knees and thank God right now, because you are a lucky em effer. Canker sores are genetic, so if you’re an adult reading this and have never had one, the chances are good you never will. If you’re like me, however, and have suffered from canker sores your entire life, then you know just how awful these mouth lesions are. They’re EXTREMELY painful and can interfere with eating, talking, swallowing, and kissing, to name a few mouth-related activities. I have suffered through monthly canker outbreaks for my entire life – until I read about SLS. I immediately switched to an SLS-free toothpaste (Burt’s Bees makes a great one that still contains fluoride) and VIVA LA DIFFERENCE! I literally would get a cluster of cankers once a month around my period. We’re talking anywhere from 2 – 4 cankers a month. Now I get one every few months at most. I cannot believe this information is not more widely known and disseminated, but let me just say it here once more to make everyone aware:


Okay, so moving on. I switched away from SLS shampoos and toothpastes, and since I knew SLS was causing me mouth misery once a month, I decided to eliminate SLS from my life altogether. I started purging SLS face washes (including one of my favorites, a L’Occitane foaming wash), SLS body washes (more favorites – Philosophy, really?), and any other foamy product that said SLS in the ingredients. Here’s where things get confusing, though. What about ammonium lauryl sulfate, or ALS? Not as bad, just as bad, worse? According to some sources, it’s actually worse than SLS. According to MOST sources, it’s at least just as bad. So ALS has to go, too.

This then begs the question… Are all sulfates bad? If you refer to the first picture I posted above, some people certainly seem to think so. I’ve also noticed a trend when it comes to organic/natural products:

NO SULFATES. Not “No SLS, No ALS.” No sulfates PERIOD.

While in the shower this morning, I carefully read the label on my Estée Lauder face wash, and noticed the ingredient sodium coceth sulfate. I had to do some serious research to find anything viable out about this, and I guess the real concern about this or ANY sulfate is whether it has been contaminated in the ethoxylation process by the potentially hazardous ether of 1,4-Dioxane. Confused yet? I am. In spite of the shunning of all sulfates by some, SkinDeep seems to have little to no information on sodium coceth sulfate, which is some small consolation, I suppose.

After all this research, what conclusion can we really come to? SLS is clearly an irritant – I can tell you that firsthand, based on my canker sore history. Most people seem to agree that ALS is as bad if not worse than SLS. So probably cutting SLS and ALS out of your beauty routine is not a bad idea, as long as it’s feasible for you. More and more companies are releasing sulfate-free products, so your choices are getting better by the day.

But what about other sulfates? The jury’s still out. This is a decision you’re going to have to make for yourself. As for me, I think I’ll finish my Estée Lauder face wash, which has SCS, but pitch my Laura Mercier exfoliator, which contains SLS. And I emailed L’Occitane yesterday to see if they make any sulfate-free face washes, because the ingredient list on their website looks like this:

Seriously? There are more ingredients than that in my tea.

Very helpful, L’Occitane. Very helpful bullsh*t.