According to the shampoo commercials of yesteryear, the mark of a good cleanser is its lather. The more bubbles, the better — and boy was the marketing effective. Up until recently, I would only cherish the shampoos that mimicked one of those ads, lathering up until I turned my hair into a big, frothy, soapy creation. Of course, my hairstylists thought the same. Whenever I'd bring in a new product to test, they'd deem it unworthy if it didn't bubble up enough.
We were all blissfully unaware of the fact that lather isn't necessarily a good thing. A ton of lather is normally an indication of a product having sulfates (including lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulphate) — surfactants that can actually dry your hair and skin out.
Now, that's not to say that sulfates are bad. "Not everyone needs to use shampoos without them," celebrity stylist Derek Yuen tells us. "Sulfates work to dissolve oils and clean the strands. If you have very oily hair, then a regular shampoo is fine for you." But for chemically-processed hair (including those with keratin treatments, color, perms, and relaxers), sulfates can actually reverse the results of those treatments.