This Is What We Really Think of Sulfates, Silicones and Phthalates

When searching for hair products, you probably come across many mixed messages about specific ingredients that are traditionally found in hair care: sulfates, silicones, phthalates and synthetic copolymers that can compromise the health of your hair. While certain brands now use lower levels of these chemicals, some opt to continue to use them in higher amounts. And then there’s Innersense. We will never use sulfates, silicones, phthalates or cosmetic ingredients in our clean formulas. With so much confusion around whether or not these ingredients can or should be used at safe levels and if there’s a way to achieve true efficacy without them, we want to cut through the noise and provide you with our crystal clear stance: we believe that there is no need to ever formulate with these ingredients that can compromise our health and that they have no place in our personal care products.

What’s more, there are natural ingredient swaps that are just as, if not more, effective and powerful in cleansing, nourishing and protecting your hair. We sat down with Greg Starkman, our co-founder, to dispel some of the untruths we’ve seen and heard about sulfates, silicones and phthalates. Read on to get the Innersense perspective and then take a second to scan the ingredient labels on your products to better understand what you’re using on your hair. 

What are your thoughts on the current industry trend pushing for “safe levels of sulfates” in haircare?

At Innersense we rely on what we know. We know that sulfates are irritants for eyes, skin and lungs. We also know that SLES can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. Therefore, we don’t believe there is such a thing as “safe levels” of these chemicals and continue to make our formulas 100% sulfate free. When choosing products, make sure to read the labels as they’re not always as obvious and ingredients can go under many names. All of the following are types of sulfates: Alkylbenzene sulfonate, Ammonium laureth or lauryl sulfate, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium cocoyl sarcosinate, Sodium laureth sulfate, Sodium myreth sulfate, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, TEA- dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Ethyl PEG-15 cocamine sulfate and Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate.

What do you say to those who believe natural ingredients can’t replace the efficacy of sulfates, silicones and phthalates?

This is a common misconception that we find many consumers and professionals have been fed over the years. The truth is that clean chemistry has come a long way and there is nothing more powerful than nature. We now have safe, effective and natural alternatives that perform as well, if not better, than their conventional counterparts. We find that professionals that try our brand for the first time are thrilled with the performance and efficacy that they can get from natural ingredients

What’s better is that as you transition to clean hair care, you find that you don’t need many of these ingredients because your hair naturally becomes healthier, shinier and less oily. Take our Detox Challenge and experience the clean beauty difference.

What are some of the pure ingredients you lean on in your formulas in lieu of these synthetics?

We utilize coconut based surfactants in all of our Hairbaths instead of harsh sulfates that can strip hair of natural oils. These natural replacements provide the soapy lather and fresh clean our community wants without over cleansing or drying. 

We also love charcoal, kaolin and white vinegar as potent natural cleansers in our Detox Hair Mask. This hydrating and deeply cleansing mask removes product build up and impurities without damaging the hair like other detox products can.

In our I Create Shine oil, we opt for natural oils such as macadamia, cranberry and sesame seed oil which are nutrient and antioxidant rich. These provide the smoothing benefits and high shine wanted from a shine oil without the buildup that silicones can leave behind.

Are you seeing a shift in the professional community towards natural and organic formulas? How is Innersense playing a part in that movement?

Absolutely, we’ve seen professionals and consumers alike shift to the clean beauty space as information becomes more accessible. The beauty industry is highly unregulated and conventional beauty has long gone unchecked. Fortunately, thanks to the rise of the clean beauty movement, ingredient checking apps and even industry documentaries, people are quickly becoming more informed and looking for clean and safe alternatives.

Our goal is to remove the guesswork for our community so they can make better choices for themselves and their customers. We partner with ThinkDirty to provide details on all of our ingredients through their app and utilize ClearForMe on Innersensebeauty.com so that stylists can truly understand the impact and purpose of each of our ingredients. We always disclose all of our ingredients, including incidentals and never hide behind “proprietary blends” or “fragrance.”

If there is resistance in the pro community, what barriers do you think there are, and how is Innersense addressing them?

There are a few barriers we see in the pro community regarding the clean movement. Some don’t believe the products will be as efficacious. To those people, we invite them to try our products. Others don’t see a need for clean beauty or don’t fully understand the health risks associated with certain chemicals, which is why it’s so important to do your research. Surveys have found that over 60% of salon workers suffer from skin conditions, such as dermatitis, on their hands. These conditions often start during cosmetology school or other salon work training. Women’s Voices for the Earth is a great organization we partner with. They work to put in place legislation that supports salon workers’ health. 

With this knowledge, we hope that you are able to make better choices about the products you use on your hair each day. Our non-toxic hair care formulas are packed with highly concentrated pure ingredients that you will feel good about using. When high performance is guaranteed through ingredients found in nature, it’s an easy decision to make. From providing a deep cleanse, to removing buildup, to adding a dose of shine and so much more, the Innersense lineup is here to give you the results your hair craves with the pure actives you deserve. 

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