Can these be labeled sulfate-free?

GeorgeBensonGeorgeBenson Member
edited April 1 in Formulating
Hi all,

Can you legally claim sulfate-free on a product containing either Sodium c14-16 Olefin Sulfonate OR Behentrimonium Methosulfate?

Google results say yes you can as these are not actually sulfates but I just want to double check

Thanks.

Comments

  • CamelCamel Member
    Yes, you can claim sulfate-free with those ingredients. 
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    Yes but it might be easier for your customers to understand if you claim Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) free.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Behentrimonium methosulfate is a sulfate from a chemistry point of view. If a lawyer decided to sue you what would your defense be?  I understand that it’s not the same as SLS or SLES but I don’t think you should claim sulfate free if you use that. It will also confuse consumers since the word sulfate is literally in the name.

    The sulphonate is fine to claim sulfate free because it is.
  • CamelCamel Member
    Perry said:
    Behentrimonium methosulfate is a sulfate from a chemistry point of view. If a lawyer decided to sue you what would your defense be?  I understand that it’s not the same as SLS or SLES but I don’t think you should claim sulfate free if you use that. It will also confuse consumers since the word sulfate is literally in the name.
    On second look, it appears most products containing BTMS will claim "free from harsh sulfates" rather than "sulfate free", my mistake. 😅 But it would be interesting to see someone sue over it...
  • ketchitoketchito Member
    @Camel Interestingly, Behentrimonium chloride or methosulfate have a max allowed dose (5% I brlieve) according to Cosing, precisely because of cationic's irritation potential, while SLES has no restriction. Also, SLES is always used at significantly higher dose than BMTS, which is not a fair comparison.
  • CamelCamel Member
    ketchito said:
    @Camel Interestingly, Behentrimonium chloride or methosulfate have a max allowed dose (5% I brlieve) according to Cosing, precisely because of cationic's irritation potential, while SLES has no restriction. Also, SLES is always used at significantly higher dose than BMTS, which is not a fair comparison.
    Personally, I have nothing against SLS/SLES. They just aren't the best for marketing, but interestingly enough, BTMS appears to be well-received by all the "natural" bloggers. 

    Side note: I didn't think people cared that much about sulfates until I made a shampoo and conditioner for my aunt and the first question she asked me was if it was sulfate-free. 😆
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    From a hardcore chemistry point of view, SLS, SLES, and BTMS are sulfate free because they are sulfate esters and not sulfate salts ;) . A sulfate ester just happens to contain the word sulfate. Other functional groups get new names such as sulfonate or amid. Correct claims would be 'free of sulfate ester surfactants', 'free of organosulfates', or 'free of alkyl sulfates'. Funny that some 'natural' (read white-washed) brands which sometimes even claim 'SLS/SLES free' or the aforementioned 'free of harsh sulfates' but add 'natural' and hence 'mild' sodium coco sulfate (read SLS from renewable feedstock) LoL.
    In case of BTMS, the sulfate is the counter ion, not the surfactant part. The counter ion modifies surfactant properties such as harshness. In case of methosulfate, it tends to make the surfactant milder when compared to its chloride analogue.
    I wonder what sulfateophobes would say were they to realise that many w/o emulsions contain real sulfate (i.e. Epsom salt)...
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The Honest company got in trouble for claiming their detergents which contain Sodium Cocoyl Sulfate were Sodium Lauryl Sulfate free.  They even doubled down on this claim. But in the end they had to pay a fine settling out of court without admitting any wrongdoing. 
  • AbdullahAbdullah Member
    edited April 2
    Is the product a Shampoo or a conditioner?

    If shampoo, no one uses BTMS here so why worry about that being sulfate free or not?

    If conditioner, what is the need for using sulfate free in your marketing? 
    Some companies say sulfate free in shampoo because some customers think sulfate is a bad cleanser. Conditioner is free of any cleanser.

    I think those customers will think like this.
    Mmm. Sulfate is a Shampoo thing and all conditioners are free of that. Doesn't this conditioner have anything else to ofer other than being sulfate free which all conditioners are?


  • GeorgeBensonGeorgeBenson Member
    edited April 2
    Thanks for the input ya’ll.

  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    Please remember EU regulatory guidance re. "free from" claims  - https://biorius.com/regulatory/cosmetic-claims-in-the-eu/
  • Exactly, it cannot be stated (in EU) that a product is free of permitted ingredients, because it's discrimination against other manufacturers, just as it is forbidden to indicate "free of" ingredients that are prohibited. In fact, there are very few "free of" options that are allowed.
  • IlsmeIlsme Member
    Exactly, it cannot be stated (in EU) that a product is free of permitted ingredients, because it's discrimination against other manufacturers, just as it is forbidden to indicate "free of" ingredients that are prohibited. In fact, there are very few "free of" options that are allowed.
    It is not allowed but most companies (in Germany) are using those claims. Some "smart" clients wouldn't chose a correctly labeled product because if there's not a claim "free of" on it, it "must be bad for your health" (sometimes I'm facepalming so hard when answering the client questions that I'm afraid of a concussion)
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    It's companies of all sizes.  P&G's Pantene conditioner claims of "Parabens free".  The product never included parabens and you'd be very hard pressed to find ANY conditioner preserved with parabens. 
    Advertising is an amoral process.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I suppose companies wouldn't do this type of advertising if it wasn't effective.  Fear marketing exists because it works. Consumers should share some of the blame. 
  • Just as curiosity, I looked through the natural products in a popular local online drugstore, and I did not find "free of" anything on any of them (they upload photos of packaging from all sides). On the mentioned Pantene I saw only "0% mineral oils, colorants". As a curiosity about SLS - claim on face cleanser:  "We know you don't like SLS." :smile: On the other hand, I often buy from UK online stores - "free of" on almost every package.
Sign In or Register to comment.