Sulphate Free – What’s Wrong With Sulphates and Are the Alternatives Any Better?

Time: 09:10 - 09:35

Date: 3 July 2019

Theatre: Brooks Building


Sulphate-based surfactants have been the back-bone of most shampoos and liquid skin cleansing products for decades.  Recently, however, they have had some bad press and launches of sulphate-free products have rocketed.  This presentation will examine, from the perspective of a neutral observer, the arguments for and against moving to sulphate-free products.  The presentation will first cover the key roles that surfactants must play in shampoos and liquid cleansing products: cleansing, foaming, viscosity building and polymer deposition.  It will then look at how well sulphate-based surfactants currently fulfil these requirements.  Next, the presentation will look at the evidence behind some of the stories in the press about sulphate-based surfactants.  For example, that they contain dangerous impurities, that they dry and irritate the skin and that they are not environmentally sustainable or natural.  Finally, the various challenges in moving to sulphate-free formulations will be presented.  Alternative surfactants will also be critically reviewed.  It is hoped that this presentation will help cosmetic scientists make better evidence-based decisions on whether to move to sulphate-free formulations.


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