Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, also known as SLS, is something I’m very allergic to. Any time I am contacted for a review for hair products, I’m up front about how any products I use on my hair MUST BE sulfate free. Wikipedia says Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is not to be confused with Sodium Laureth Sulfate. If I use SLS, my scalp burns, turns red, feels hot, feels like it’s swelling, and flakes.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as SLES, I’m slightly less allergic to SLES than I am SLS. I had no idea that I was allergic to SLES, because I’d never tried it. I typically avoid all hair products with SLS. I look for and use sulfate-free products.
When I repeatedly ask a company if a product is sulfate-free and cruelty-free, and they repeatedly tell me yes, I believe them.
I made a big mistake in doing this with nunaat products!
From the beginning, I should have recognized that there was a problem with nunaat. They made me fill out a hair profile and then ‘matched’ me up with their Brazilian Keratin line. As I have fine, thin, naturally STRAIGHT hair and have never had a Brazilian blowout in my life, I couldn’t understand this.
I tried their Brazilian line three times. Each time, I had a reaction. My scalp turned red, was unbearably itchy and hot. I had to wash in a different shampoo to ease the reaction.
I contacted nunaat about it and told them it was very similar to my reaction to SLS, only there was no flaking. They said they had no idea why I had a reaction, but offered to send me a different line.
They sent me their chocolat Special line. After receiving that shampoo, I looked at the ingredients and saw Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Because it contained the word Sulfate, I researched it. It’s slightly less harsh than SLS. It makes sense that I would have a slightly less severe reaction, but it’s essentially a very similar ingredient. I avoid Sulfate because not only am I allergic, it strips color from your hair!
This leaves me with quite a conundrum.
When contacted by nunaat, I specifically asked 2 things:
I was told Yes to both answers. I feel like I was lied to about 1 and I am left wondering if they are ACTUALLY cruelty-free. I had an allergic reaction 3 times because of this. That’s not nice. To be clear, I do think the company has a responsibility to be honest with me. If the person who contacts me tells me that their products are Sulfate-Free and Cruelty-Free, I expect them to be. I don’t expect to have an allergic reaction.
As such, I cannot recommend nunaat products.
How would you feel in this situation?
Edited to add: Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2012. This is the response I received back from nunaat.
Courtney, We are sorry that the products didn’t work well with your hair, but most of the people who use them love the products. In regards to your other statement, we guarantee that our products are cruelty free. We have printed “not tested on animals” on our bottles and you are welcome to look at all of the marketing materials we have published on our products to determine what we say is valid about what our products do and what is in them.
I was disappointed with this response.
Products sent for consideration. All opinions are my own.
How odd they gave you the Brazilian Keratin stuff. I don’t know what the rest of thier range is, but I would automatically associated that with getting straighter hair which you don’t need. That’s odd. But yeah, very lazy of them that they sent you a product with sulphates in – you said sulphates, not SLS specifically, so that’s a bit cheeky/lazy of them. You’d read a bottle in the store but maybe not one that someone had sent you and said was ‘X’ free already.
robynheartsslap Right. I’m an extra moisture type of girl, since I dye my hair.
I too avoid sulfates, both SLS and SLES, at all costs. I’m not allergic, but they give me acne around the hair line and I also have color treated and Keratin straightened hair. Few things annoy me more than a company telling me that something is sulfate free when it is not. I had it happen once too, but I caught it before I used the product. Also, it is interesting that they sent you a product using the term Brazilian Keratin that apparently was not sulfate free, since that term implies it is for people who have done the treatment, and those people absolutely must use sulfate free items! So, I suspect that product is just trying to get appeal from the name and not based on its real attributes, which is not good at all.
CarleenPruessCoulter Thanks for sharing this Carleen! I honestly know nothing about the Brazilian Keratin treatments because they’re not suitable for my hair needs, so that’s really good to know.
Phyrra Yeah, Brazilian Keratin has generally come to be associated with the Brazilian Blowout (aka Keratin hair straightening, Keratin treatment). People who have the Keratin treatments done, have to use sulfate free items to preserve the effects of it. But there are a lot of companies now using that term just to capitalize on it since it has become so popular. So they slap the term on any product aimed at smoothing. That practice makes it confusing for everyone, and I find it completely deceptive. There are ways to use Keratin on the hair that is not associated with the straightening treatment, but the best of those are not daily use products. Instead they are special treatments such as Joico K-Pak Reconstructor (which I believe is also sulfate free). My understanding has always been that using real Keratin protein every day can actually break down the hair, while small does of something like K-Pak once every other week can be really good. I suspect that most of the shampoos and such that have it, do so in such small amounts that it really is fairly meaningless. They can’t actually put too much in or it will do more harm than good. So, it really is all just marketing tricks all around!
Phyrra Exactly. Companies see that BB creams are hot, so they put out a product and slap the words BB on it, even though it is nothing like a real BB cream. It is annoying since I still like some of those products, but I wish they would just state what they really are.
CarleenPruessCoulter That sucks so much that’s like the ‘tinted moisturizers’ pretending to be BB creams, when they’re not.
Yikes! Allergies are serious business! I hope your scalp recovers soon!!
KellyLoganGould Thanks Kelly!
oh man I’m sorry you had such a hard time, I reviewed the Brazilian Keratin line and loved it but I was mad that it said Sulfate free when clearly its not. That is just not right.
DarciChylik Thanks Darci!
Yikes! What’s he point in not being truthful about it? As happened, you’re only going to use the product, have a reaction and write truthfully about your experience. And they look like the assholes. They would have been much better off telling you the truth and having you skip out on their product. It just seems like in life in general these days truthful people are fewer and more far between. Thanks for being one of the truthful ones!
RebeccaRussell You’re welcome Rebecca!
Ouch. I’m sorry you had a reaction and I hope your scalp is doing better. I wonder if the person you spoke with even knew anything about the product or if she told you what she thought you wanted to hear so you would agree to review the product. Thanks for bringing this to light. A company should never misrepresent their products for this very reason.
Hipstermama I agree. I think they should have just said ‘sorry, we don’t have any sulfate-free lines.’
Telling you that something doesn’t have a certain ingredient in it, when it does; is dangerous and lawsuit worthy. I’m sorry this happened to you. I stopped using hair and bath products that contained sulfates, when a friend that was in cosmetology school told me to use a sulfate-free shampoo to maintain my hair color if I was going to color my hair at home. At the time, I had been struggling with having just moved to the midwest and seeing my once soft, shiny hair turn in to a dry broom. When I noticed how SOFT and shiny my hair became once I started using a sulfate free shampoo, I started buying other sulfate free products. My skin and hair went back to normal almost immediately. I do have to be careful when purchasing new things that claim to be sulfate-free, because I have run in to the same problem you have: Seeing the label state that it’s sulfate-free, when it’s really just Sodium Lauryl Sulfate free and still contains Sodium LaurEl Sulfate.
liltea Yep, when I first found Tigi Superstar shampoo, I was in heaven! No more dry hair!
I think it’s totally unacceptable that this happened to you.. I had a smilirar issue when I explicitely asked a MAC salesperson if there were silicones in a concealer cause it breaks me out. She ensured me that it wasn’t the case, but it broke me out very bad (tragic, since I wanted to conceal) and when I googled ingredients it turned out it was packed with silicones. That wasn’t the only time I was blown off with a lie from someone that didn’t have a clue, so I always check ingredients myself now.It’s a shame that the person that provided you with the incorrect info didn’t take more care in doing their job well, because things like this stain the whole company…
SilkeSquirrel I’m so sorry to hear about your experience that sucks!
SilkeSquirrel Ooooh, that’s terrible SS. If she didn’t know, she should have just said ‘Sorry, no idea!’
I would be very angry. That is VERY irresponsible of them. Thank you for sharing, and while that chocolate shampoo sounds divine, I will most certainly be passing them by. I hope your scalp starts feeling better soon.
Elizabeth Christjansen Thanks Elizabeth. I wanted to share my experience because I don’t want someone else to try their products, thinking they’re sulfate free, when they’re not.
It sounds like they need to retrain their marketing department. I’m sorry that happened to you. My skin is impervious to everything so I had no idea others could be so sensitive (makes sense tho, people can be allergic to anything) and that sounds really painful! I hope they find a way to make things right with you, at the least an apology would be appropriate.
thecakepie Thanks TheCakePie, I hope they do, too.
I think it’s totally unresponsible behaviour from them!None should play with allergic stuff. What if the injuries you are suffering, caused by the sulfate, were even worse than what it actually does to you? What if you’d have to go to hospital or so?Thanks for sharing your experience and let us know which brand to avoid :)Not directly related but still about hair, if you are into natural stuff you could try sidr powder, it’s really nice though it’s not as convenient to use as a shampoo .
Lutrinae Thank you for the suggestion about sidr, I’ll look into that. Right now I’m using the Marc Anthony Sulfate-free products and love them. They’re also cruelty-free.
that’s so crazy.. i’m sorry that this happened to you! :/vickyhoang.blogspot.com
Vicky Hoang Thanks, me too
I would be horribly upset if a company sent me products with an ingredient that I was allergic too after repeatedly telling them I was allergic to it. That is dangerous for one thing and very bad business.
ChristinaVonKlopka I was livid last night. I slept on it before I decided to write this post. I woke up still pissed off about this entire thing.
I am so allergic to so many things that I always research any new products I use now. It drives me especially mad that something will claim to be for sensitive skin and yet have artificial fragrance. Sulfates do bad things to my skin and scalp. I usually only use shampoo when my hair has build up, and I try very hard not to let it touch my skin. I have switched to a conditioner only routine, and am quite happy. I can go months without needing to use shampoo– my hair color lasts longer, and my hair is less greasy.
Corviddreams I wonder if i could do a conditioner only routine.
Phyrra Corviddreams – It is more challenging if you use a lot of traditional products that contain silicones. Unfortunately, some silicones are only really removed with SLS type products, which is why people get buildup on their hair. I am -cone free, which is how I get away with it. I have really long hair and I could bore you to tears with how I care for it, if you wish. =D
Corviddreams if you have time, can you send me an email? I would love to hear
Phyrra Corviddreams Sent!
I have tried sulfate free shampoos and never found one that didn’t either cause me to have huge cysts on my scalp, or make my hair freak out in bad way.
There is absolutely no excuse for being given the wrong answer to such a simple question- especially when an allergy issue is at stake! I have no patience for company representatives that can not be bothered to learn about the product they’re promoting- after all, if they don’t know much about them, how can they be so sure the product is suitable to my needs?As bad as sulfates can be to those who are allergic, interestingly enough, there’s very little evidence that sulfates remove any more color than other shampoos. It’s actually the water that lifts the cuticle and allows the color to “escape”. I’ve actually spent a lot of time searching for peer-reviewed scientific literature that shows a link between hair color loss and SLS/SLES and have yet to find any. None at all. In frustration, I tweeted about it, and actually ended up in a conversation with reps from Paula Begoun (the “Cosmetics Cop”) and Chemist’s Corner, and both feel that the connection is unproven- the term “BS” was actually used If anyone has any published scientific literature on the subject, please let me know!Don’t get me wrong, sulfates can irritate and dry the skin (and for the rare few that are allergic like you, it’s definitely a no-go!) but in low concentrations and when used in rinse off products, I personally don’t feel like they’re the villains marketing agencies have made them out to be
OutInAPout I originally stopped using them because of how I was told they’d prolong color, then when I later tried to use them again, I had the flaky scalp and my stylist said I’d developed an allergy to them. Yuck. So I just avoided them (pretty easy to do these days).
You have every right to be upset and not recommend this brand. a) u had a bad reaction to it. but b) You were mislead AND they are abusing the whole Keratin label. I would too wonder how cruelty free this brand really is. I am very allergic to a specific ingredient in a lot of foundations and face creams, but sometimes I forget to ask. You DIDN’T forget and then were given the absolute wrong information. That’s terrible. Someone in marketing needs to be re-trained.
PinkSith I wouldn’t have tried it in the first place if I knew that SLES was basically the same thing as SLS, since I avoid products with sulfate.I’m glad that Carleen pointed out the Keratin labeling thing, because I had no idea on that front until she did.Thank you for your support *hug*
I would flip out if that happened to me. You told them you were allergic. They don’t know to what degree, nor did they need to know. What if it had landed you in the hospital (or worse)? nunnat is unprofessional, irresponsible, and royally screwed up for doing this to you.
kissmysparkle Originally I just asked them: are the products sulfate-free? are they cruelty-free? I didn’t mention my allergy, I just asked about those 2 things. They said yes and yes. After trying the first line and having a reaction, I said I must have had an allergic reaction to something in the keratin line. When I got the 2nd line, saw that Sulfate, I researched it against the more traditional SLS, and realized yeah I’m allergic to SLES, too.
I hope that this was just a case of an underinformed, new-to-the-job intern type. Someone who made a mistake, shouldn’t have been made, but maybe it was their first week and they read the ingredients but visually skipped right over it, or maybe they verbally asked an officemate who gave them misinformation.And then I wake up and I’m Cynical Me and rainbows are not shooting out of my fingertips.
Sparklecrack Central I am on the cynical side at this point
I saw a review for this product…can’t remember where…might have been yours~ But I remember thinking, wow, chocolate for the hair sounds incredible and when I saw the ingredients, i was also very turned off. I don’t blame you at all for this review! I hate it when companies portray themselves as something they are not!
RobinAdler I think Moxie Reviews may have reviewed the chocolate recently.
I think given that you asked specifically they should have made absolutely sure prior to sending a product. It was irresponsible on their part no matter what the ultimate reason was for the misinformation.
EvilAngelSix I agree I can’t help but be skeptical about their cruelty-free status.
I think the person who told you the wrong info was misinformed too. And that gets passed on to the consumer. They only parrot the info they are trained with. Yet it IS the responsibility of the company to provide truthful info all the way around. And it sounds like their ‘match up’ system isn’t so scientific either. I’m sorry to hear that you had to endure that burning scalp issue! I would have been beside myself!!
KimberlyisHere Their match system seems crazy, in my opinion. And thanks, yes, it was awful I feel like everything is burning lately, between my face and my scalp
Oh man, that’s not good. I have to believe this was a person who didn’t know what they were talking about (that almost makes it worse) because they sent the products to you for consideration, meaning they knew you were in the business of PR. Anyone with half a brain would understand the importance of accuracy when one of their products were going to possibly be in the hands of someone who uses them and writes their opinion of said product. Therefore, I have to think that the person who gave you such detrimental misinformation was operating on less than half a brain. Have you tried Pureology? I color and am sensitive to all sulfates as well. The line is cruelty free and vegan. Love it. I hope you are recovering from your
(continued) bad reaction! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. -Olive
IvoryandOlive I’ve had Pureology used on me at my hair salon. It’s a nice line. I Really don’t know what the person was thinking who sent me the product. I just feel like she lied to me.
I feel like at the very best it means that the person communicating with you wasn’t familiar with the products.. which is disturbing when you’re dealing with people with allergies and can mean very serious consequences for them, as you already experienced.
Makeupfancy The person that reached out to me and asked for a review is a representative of the company. It’s very strange that someone who works for the company would not be familiar with their products. The person has a company email address, so it wasn’t through an outsourced PR firm.
EEEeek! I wouldn’t be happy either. I’m allergic to Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (and all ammonia products in general) so I know how careful one has to be when shopping for hair care. I hope your next washing with a different shampoo helped your recovery!
mustbinsane Ug that is no fun!
Oh no that is terrible!!! Wow, in this situation, I would have done the same as you…inform your readers. I also was sent items from NuNaat (the same Keratin line). In the meantime, I had a VERY bad experience at a salon with my highlights (my hair is extremely dry and damaged now, so in a sense my hair type has changed). I went ahead and tried the NuNaat but did not have good results. Honestly, I am not having very good results with most shampoos and conditioners these days as my hair is in such poor condition. So, I just felt that it is not the time for me to test items that are not formulated for my current hair situation. I contacted NuNaat to tell them that I wasnt going to table the review for the time being because of my hair situation. Then they told me that was not the correct product line for my hair anyway? Strange! They offered to send me something different and I just declined. But now I do wonder, about my results from their products…maybe it wasnt just the bad condition of my hair. Sorry for the long tangent here…Between this and your peeling skin, you poor thing! Oh, I do second the recommendation for Pureology. It is amazing. Since my hair disaster, Pureology and Redken are some of the only brands that I can use on my poor hair right now. Has the company seen this post?
pammyblogbeauty I have no idea if the company has seen the post Pammy. I’m so sorry for your hair What I’m using on my hair right now is the Black 15 in 1 Miracle Spray and the Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco line.
pammyblogbeauty I did email the company the post link. Haven’t heard anything back.
That’s really frustrating – I would also be upset!If you’re looking for a good sulfate – free shampoo, I really like Trader Joe’s Nourish line of shampoo & conditioner. I just checked the label of the shampoo, and waaaay down near the end there’s something called olefin sufonate, but it’s definitely SLS and SLES free. Cheap, too!
Emi at Project Swatch Thanks for the rec! I really love the Marc Anthony stuff I have, which is cruelty-free and sulfate-free.
I found it difficult to get a straight answer from nuNaat as well, when I did a review last fall. In the end, they told me the products and ingredients were cruelty free, but I got a bad vibe from their cagey attitude. Brushed it off, but now I wish I would have dug a little deeper. I’m glad that you’re posting about this!
amogge That’s horrid, too See, I really wonder about their CF status when they act like this.
Unbelievable!!! And quite honestly, I believe I was lied to as well! When I filled out the hair profile, I actually requested this collection (not the Karite Special) and was told that this one is on the discontinued list (off the record) yet…’HAIR’ it is…to give you an allergic reaction!!!
SapphireKharyzma That’s crazy and awful
yikes… I have the keratin to review here and idk if I want to do it now lol I have enough hair issues
You did the right thing! You shared your actual experience ~people have different reactions to ingredients. What works for some may not for others. The person who gave you the answer may not be fully knowledgeable about the product, which in no way not an excuse if you are promoting or representing the company.
Kath TheFabZilla That’s what I really don’t understand. How can she work directly for the company but just be so blatantly wrong? I feel like either she lied to me, or she was lied to and then misinformed me. Any way you look at it, it’s awful.
That’s terrible! It is so frustrating trying to find sulphate products as it is without being lied to and misled. Sheesh!
perilouslypale I’ve had good experiences finding sulfate-free products, thankfully!
Hmm… after reading this review and the comments below, I’d hesitate to trust this company as well.
UneLuneBleue I don’t know if it’s intentional or unintentional, but I definitely feel lied to
I would feel exactly the same as you. When I ask a company a question, I believe it is their responsibility to answer me honestly and not tell me what they think I want to hear.
Phyrra, this is actually very upsetting and I would feel exactly as you do. If a person is *allergic to something, that should *never be taken lightly, whether or not it has to do with their skin, scalp, or something they ingest, etc. Imagine the reaction and seriousness of someone with a shellfish allergy or peanut allergy ingesting these foods. How could a company send you a product that you are allergic to? -That’s my question. They truly couldn’t be expecting a stellar review. Seriously. What were they thinking? Hmm. Well. Possibly they didn’t think this one through. So sorry to hear that you were not given the full truth, and that you had a reaction.
As a mom of a child with allergies (food & environmental) – I actively research products before using them with him. If I contact a company with questions, I expect honest answers to my direct questions. I think there is a misconception that allergies are an inconvenience & nothing more serious than that. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I would be just as upset as you are. I certainly won’t be trusting this company based on your experience.
lov2read68 I’m disappointed by the company’s response.
Sorry to hear about this experience. In addition to your physical discomfort, you had to deal with a company misrepresenting its products. Based on what seems to be a useless “matching” system and other peoples’ negative comments due to their experiences, this company just seems cagey. PASS!
misfitgirlie Their response about this issue was less than stellar, too.
I am sO sorry for your experience. I’m So glad you posted this review to share. I was contacted by them also, I’m glad I passed. I completely agree with you. People will be glad to see thi review as I’m sure it will change minds for those thinking of trying this company!
janelle06 The company was more concerned with me casting doubt on their cruelty-free claim than the fact that they told me the products were sulfate-free when they clearly are not.
Wow. Their response really astounds me. Even if I had an interest in buying from them before this, I wouldn’t based solely on their response to your experience. They just really don’t give a crap, do they?
Either lied to, or spoke to a very ignorant rep of the company. Either way, it’s inexcusable. Thanks for the article and heads up on them.
Hiya Courtney (thats my name too!) I just wanted you to know it is extremely unlikely that a small company like that would even have the funds to conduct animal testing. Its usually only done by big companies like p&g when they need to determine if a new technology is safe. Also every skin care and cosmetic ingredient was at some point tested on animals, some of them were just tested a long time ago. So when you think of it no product is really cruelty free. You might like to read a site called the beauty brains its has all the science behind cosmetics.