A sulfate (also known as a sodium sulfate) is defined as a salt or ester of sulfuric acid. To put it simply, sulfates clean. You can find them in lots of household products, from clothing detergents to dishwashing liquid -- and even in your shampoo.
In shampoo, sulfates help break down the oil, dirt and buildup left behind by hair products. They are also the ingredient that is responsible for frothy lather. However, some sulfates can be harsh on your hair. And even with all their cleaning power, the fact is that sulfates are not a must-have ingredient for great hair care.