Sulphate vs. Selenium Sulfide
June 14, 2011 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Silly question, I must wash my hair with a sulphate-free shampoo because I have my hair straightened (this was my question about that) can I still use Selsun Yellow whose active ingredient is Selenium Sulfide?
posted by moody cow to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sulfide is not sulfate. But they're talking active ingredient as in medicaly active ingredient - it might still be fat with sulfates.

Now the warning: you don't need much selenium in your world. A nickel's worth of selenium would cover your USRDA for 200 years or more. After that, selenium moves into the things that will cheerfully kill you camp in a big ugly hurry with symptoms that make lead poisoning seem downright homey.

So, if you're just shooting for cleanliness and not trying to treat one of the indications they list (Seborhoeic Dermatitis,Tina Versicolor, Dandruff of Tines Capitis), I'd give this a miss.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:52 AM on June 14, 2011

Selsun Blue has Triethanolamine Dodecyl Sulfate which is one of those evil surfactants. I would be surprised if it (or another sulfate) wasn't in Selsun Yellow, actually I would be really surprised if they changed more than the active ingredient from shampoo to shampoo.

What issues are you using the Selsun for? You might find that your scalp changes a bit since your hair is straightened, and certainly the rest of your hair habits will change.
posted by anaelith at 5:52 AM on June 14, 2011

All soaps and detergents are surfactants. Their surfactantness is inherent to their functionality as soaps and detergents. Sure, we confuse process with product and use about 10-fold as much as we need to because "more soap=more clean" but that's another issue. I'd be hesetant to call the entire class of molecules "evil" becasue I'm pretty sure you'd miss them if they went away. For a minute or so, at least.

Anyhow, back to hair. All the "sodium mumble mumble sulfate" type detergents are ionic surfactants. There are also "non-ionic surfactant" - the ones I'm most familiar with are Polysorbate 20 and Polysorbate 80. A quick Google reveals that shampoos based on these detergents do exist. Also, that they are credited with all kinds of near magical powers on various health forums. So, watch out for people wanting to charge you the biotechnology grade price for industrial grade detergent.

Really any shampoo that doesn't mention sulfates specifically or ionic surfactants should do what you need if avoiding sulfates is all you have to worry about.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

try l'oreal's no sulfates line—i've been using their eversleek shampoo & conditioner since my previous favorite sulfate-free brand closed down, and i like it a lot.
posted by lia at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2011

I use the Selsun Yellow shampoo to control my itchy scalp = scabs = dandruff. I've used it with great success for a number of years. After a month or so using the sulphate-free shampoo my scalp became itchy again. Hence my desire to go back to the Selsun, but I don't want to undo the benefits of the straightening treatment, which sulphate apparently does.

"Sulfide is not sulfate. But they're talking active ingredient as in medicaly active ingredient - it might still be fat with sulfates.
How can I find out the non-active ingredients of a shampoo?
posted by moody cow at 4:27 PM on June 14, 2011

Another option would be to use a dandruff conditioner. Head and Shoulders makes one, as does Biolage. I accidentally bought this stuff in a foreign country, thinking it was shampoo. Turns out I like this a lot better because I no longer have to use a sulfate shampoo.
posted by emkelley at 4:10 AM on June 15, 2011

have you tried any of the sulfate-free tea tree oil dandruff shampoos? nature's gate's tea tree shampoo was reformulated without sulfates recently and gets pretty good reviews on makeupalley.
posted by lia at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2011

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