How sulfates can impact your skin

How sulfates can impact your skin

Are you dealing with dry skin that seems impossible to combat? Don’t give up yet. 

In today's blogpost, we're zooming in on the ingredient lists of your everyday products, when we investigate how (harsh) sulfates can impact the skin's balance. Here, we take a closer look at the possible drawbacks that research has suggested – and the products they're found in, which you may be using every single day...

What are harsh sulfates?

Harsh sulfates are used in various self care products due to their ability to create a foamy lather, which can leave an impression of an enhanced cleansing capacity. In consumer products, synthetic-based chemicals like SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) or SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) are typically used – and these are also the names they go by on the ingredient lists of your everyday products.

These compounds are also referred to as detergents or surfactants, which means that they impact the surface they come in contact with by binding to build-up to rinse it off the skin. Most often, these chemicals are produced from fatty alcohols made from palm kernel oil or petroleum oil sources. These questionable sources have aided in sparking the speculation about them as ingredients in products many of us reach for multiple times every single day.

Do harsh sulfates dry out the skin?

The potential issue with harsh sulfates is that they risk stripping the skin of its natural oils (sebum), thereby disturbing its natural processes. This reaction can shake the skin out of its natural balance and lead to a compromised barrier, leaving it vulnerable to further damage.

Harsh sulfates like SLS and SLES have been associated with redness and itchy skin, which is most likely a symptom of a stripping cleansing procedure. Also, SLS and SLES have been linked with eye and skin irritation, especially with long-term use (cf. source 1).

Because harsh sulfates are present in lots of the products many use every day (think shampoo, shower gels, and hand soaps), it's not hard to understand why fatty creams and nourishing lotions can't seem to combat their effects. Therefore, it's important to target the root of the concern.

Our founder is an example of what can happen if you use ingredients that your skin doesn’t cooperate with. For years, he struggled with dry and damaged hands, continually searching for the remedy that could bring them back into balance. He then turned his attention toward the ingredient lists of the products he already used. After switching from harsh sulfates to natural and gentle cleansing actives, he noticed a significant difference in his skin’s behavior and appearance. We've attached a photo to let you in on the exact reason why the ingredients of your formula matter. 

Dry hands

If you struggle with symptoms like the ones mentioned, opting out of harsh sulfates can, therefore, help you determine whether these compounds are the culprits causing your concerns.

Do you use harsh sulfates?

As mentioned, harsh sulfates are present in an abundance of regular consumer products out there that we use each and every day. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Body washes.
  • Bath bombs.
  • Facial cleansers.
  • Tooth paste.
  • Hand soaps.
  • Laundry and dish detergents.

Shortly put, you may expose your skin to these types of sulfates unknowingly more often than you’d think. Therefore, it’s important to know how these chemicals can impact your skin, so you can tailor your routine to your skin’s actual needs.

Are there any natural sulfates?

The short answer: Yes!

Natural cleansing actives, like coconut-based surfactants, create a creamy, dense foam lather that feels indulging to the skin and gently lifts away build-up while being extra mild on the skin's natural environment. With natural cleansing actives, you won't experience the tight feeling that many associate with cleansing, but rather a refreshed result.

You can experience the skin-loving effects of 100% natural cleansing actives with our Aromatique Hydra Hand Wash, Soothing Body Wash, Cleansing Balm, and Daily Foaming Cleanser.


Source 1: Ginta, D. (2019) Should You Be Going Sulfate-Free? Medically reviewed by Wilson, D. R.,

Source 2: (2023) What to Know About Sulfate, medically reviewed by Jaliman, D.