Ask The Experts: When is it Okay to Use Sulfates on Your Curls?

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Sulfates get a bad rap, but Deshawn Bullard, founder of NouriTress, believes not all sulfates are horrible for your hair.

Ask any curly girl about her favorite shampoo and conditioner, and 90 percent of the time it’s sulfate-free. Sulfates have been around forever, and most of us have washed our hair with it for as long as we can remember. But within the past 10 years, the general thought around sulfate hair care products is that it strips your strands of its natural oils, leaving it feeling dry, brittle and unmanageable. However, Deshawn Bullard, founder of NouriTress believes not all sulfates are bad. In fact, Bullard says your hair could use a few sulfates on occasion to thoroughly cleanse your scalp and hair. Here, she gets down to the bottom of the trend, and answers our most burning question: When is it okay to use sulfates on your curls?

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ESSENCE.com: Most people would say sulfates strip your hair of its natural oils and ever coloring. What is your rebuttal for women who believe it to be too drying on their scalp and hair?
Deshawn Bullard: Everything is not for everybody. If sulfate dries your hair out that's fine but at some point you have to use it. I tell people [to use sulfates] at least once a month and then do a steam conditioning treatment. I understand we have concerns about moisture, but it’s very important to really cleanse that scalp and use an anti-fugal ingredient such as camphor or tea tree oil. Then after that, the rest of month you can continue to use sulfate-free products. What I find is that people blame the shampoo and they're not really putting the proper moisture in their hair in the proper way. You can't just use conditioners and expect not to use anything else.

ESSENCE.com: Do you think that sulfate free hinders your hair growth?
Bullard: No, it doesn't. But, if you use no sulfates at all it will clog your follicles and then eventually it will hinder your hair growth because your hair can't push through the follicle because it's clogged. Deshawn Bullard: I always say oils are great for the hair but it's not really meant for the scalp because oils are designed to sit on top of the skin and hair.

ESSENCE.com: Where did the crazy of sulfate-free come from?
Bullard: Somehow we were taught that. Someone somewhere did a hair YouTube video and said sulfate-free stripped her hair. Now, you have 90,000 people who said, ‘okay well then it's going to strip my hair too I'm not using sulfate.’ The bottom line is, if your shampoo has less than 1% sulfate then it's fine. We're not talking about the same amount of sulfate that's used in cleaners. Let’s try to steer clear of blanket statements and just really practice what works for you.

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