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Try the No-Salt Diet for Your Hair! Switch to a Sodium Chloride-Free Shampoo!

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Do you know how your hair gets crunchy, frizzy, dry, and brittle after a dip in the ocean? You are not imagining things and no, it’s not (just) the sun! It’s also the salt! While salt, aka sodium chloride, can often be found in shampoos, it’s not your hair’s best friend. It’s a cheap and relatively safe detergent and it acts as a preserving agent. It also thickens shampoos, making them easy to spread and not drip. Quite great for the manufacturer. However, salt messes with the keratin protective layer (the cuticle) and it seriously dries out the hair. Not so great, especially if you have damaged hair, keratin or color-treated hair. That’s why you should switch to a sodium chloride-free shampoo and conditioner!

Table of Contents:

1. Your hair and saltwater = frenemies
2. So why do they add salt to shampoos? 
2.1 The effects of sodium chloride on your hair
2.2 The benefits of using a shampoo with no sodium chloride
2.3 Is sodium chloride-free the same as sulfate-free?
3. Should you be using a sodium chloride-free shampoo?
3.1 The connection between keratin and a “no salt diet” for your hair
3.2 Invest in a sulfate-free shampoo and a balanced protein-moisture conditioner

    1. Your hair and saltwater = frenemies

    Is salt bad for your hair? Yes and no. Saltwater, aka water with sodium chloride, can have some benefits on the hair and scalp. It provides minerals and has a cleansing effect on the scalp and antibacterial properties. That’s all good, right? Well, not on all hair types! Dry, damaged hair, color treated hair, permed hair, any type of chemically treated hair, and especially hair that’s undergone a keratin treatment, will not be too happy about saltwater. That includes seawater, FYI. 

    2. So why do they add salt to shampoos? 

    Can salt in shampoo damage your hair? Is sodium chloride in shampoo bad for your hair? Why is it an active ingredient in most shampoos? Well, it gets the jobs done. Sodium chloride opens up the hair cuticle and it’s a potent surfactant, acting as a detergent. That is why shampoos use sodium chloride. That and because of its preserving and thickening properties. And it’s quite cheap!

    Sodium chloride detoxifies the skin, reduces swelling, helps treat wounds, disinfecting them, and soothes rashes. So, on the one hand, it's a good ingredient to relieve scalp issues. On the other hand, the hair shaft doesn't get too happy about sodium chloride. Does sodium chloride make your hair fall out? Well, no, but it can enhance the probability of hair loss due to other complications. 

    2.1 The effects of sodium chloride on your hair

    Do you know how when you go to the beach you instantly get frizzy hair? Well, a dip in the ocean comes with minerals and vitamins for your locks, but also with some negative side effects. It’s because hair can become too dry, brittle, and lose its moisture under salt’s effects. In turn, parched hair leads to dullness and a coarse texture due to rough, aggressively open cuticles. This can only mean more tangles, a hair shaft that’s weak and vulnerable to breakage, hair knots, split ends, and hair breakage. To prevent such effects on your locks, you should switch to the best sodium chloride-free shampoo.

    2.2 The benefits of using a shampoo with no sodium chloride

    Here’s what you must know about sodium chloride: it’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either. In fact, there are so many options you can go for to protect your hair, without sacrificing its health. Here’s what you need to know about salt-free shampoos and their benefits:

    • Most salt-free shampoos do not dehydrate the hair shaft and do not leave your hair prone to damage.
    • Most sodium-chloride-free shampoos contribute to a healthy hair cuticle and protect the keratin in your strands.
    • Some sodium-chloride-free shampoos can be keratin infused, since keratin is the protein that makes up the hair. Keratin helps smoothen the hair’s texture, protects the hair follicles, diminishes frizzy hair, and leaves a healthy luster.
    • Salt-free shampoos still cleanse the hair, while also protecting it and keeping it moist and balanced.

    2.3 Is sodium chloride-free the same as sulfate-free?

    Well, no! Sodium chloride contains both sodium and chloride ions. Sulfates in shampoos and conditioners are variations of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. While Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is not the same as salt, it’s still a harsh surfactant, probably harsher than salt, stripping keratin in the cuticle, the protein that protects the hair and makes it strong, soft and shiny. So, make sure to stay away from sulfate and sodium chloride products. You may find them labeled as:

    • Diethanolamine (DEA);
    • Sodium Laureth Sulfate;
    • Triethanolamine (TEA);
    • Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate;
    • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate;
    • Monoethanolamine (MEA).

    3. Should you be using a sodium chloride-free shampoo?

    Sodium chloride-free shampoo: is it worth the switch? Because most cleaning products contain salt, many people have become accustomed to it. That doesn't make it right, though, and, sooner or later, issues like dry skin, fragile hair, a sensitive, flakey scalp will show up. While it's been deemed as a low hazard by the Environmental Working Group and is considered relatively safe (compared to toxic substances), salt remains an irritant. 

    You should switch to the best sodium chloride-free shampoo especially if you have dry hair or curly hair, if you color treated hair or use keratin treatments to enhance the moisture and smoothness of the hair shaft. While for people with oily scalps a salt-free shampoo can appear to reduce greasiness, it can imbalance the sebum secretion in the long term and strip the hair of its moisture, making it more porous.

    3.1 The connection between keratin and a “no salt diet” for your hair

    Does your hair need salt-free shampoo? Well, if your locks are dry, frayed, dull or damaged, it can help to wash your hair with a healthier shampoo. It can also help to offer it a keratin treatment - be it at the salon, or at home, with natural products. Either way, when you have keratin treated hair, sodium-chloride is a definitive no. The connection? 

    Keratin in treatments is stripped off by salt in the shampoos. Salt decreases keratin’s effects in smoothing the cuticle, adding luster, and reducing frizz. Salt in shampoos acts the same way with keratin contained naturally by the hair shaft. The protective layer of the hair, the cuticle, can get damaged and broken due to harsh shampoos, and that’s how moisture gets out, and damaging agents get in. That's why you need a salt and sulfate free keratin booster shampoo to begin with! What is a good sulfate-free shampoo? What is the best shampoo for keratin treated hair? 

    3.2 Invest in a sulfate-free shampoo and a balanced protein-moisture conditioner

    What shampoo is salt-free, you may be wondering. Well, there are some options out there! Most of them are also salt and sulfate-free shampoos. We recommend you switch to a natural shampoo, one that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients. In fact, we recommend you up your entire hair care routine. Common surfactants, while they get the job done, aka clean, they also damage the hair and the scalp. However, shampoos and conditioners with natural, organic active ingredients help maintain balance and health of both your hair and scalp. They can sustain hair regeneration and prevent moisture loss. 

    So there you have it! While salt adds flavor, you're better off with less of it when it comes to hair care. 

    Iulia Claudia Dumitru

    I feel happy when I get to tell meaningful stories. About people. About the world. About life. About what people need to feel good. Healthy food, a balanced lifestyle, a grateful approach to relationships with others and ourselves. That is how I keep myself grounded and purposeful. That is how I aim to contribute: striving to make ourselves the best we can. Creating life in the little things. Living every day with the joy, wonder, and curiosity of a child. Trying to #seeKbeauty. Inside and out.

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