What’s in My Shampoo – Magnesium Sulfate

What's in My Shampoo?

Ever look at the back of your shampoo bottle? There’s usually a huge list of ingredients. Ever wonder what any of those ingredients are? In this series, we’ll be exploring what’s in your shampoo.

Sometimes taking a bath with Epsom salt feels great; but Epsom salt in your shampoo? That’s right, magnesium sulfate is just another name for Epsom salt (or the other way around, I guess). Interesting fact – Epsom salt is called such because it was originally taken from a spring in Epsom, Surrey, England.

Anyway, magnesium sulfate is in your shampoo because of its known beneficial effects on dry skin. Therefore it’s more likely to see this ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos. There’s a bit of conflicting research on exactly why magnesium sulfate is so great for easing dry skin, but it’s likely because it provides anti inflammatory effects on skin cells.

Is magnesium sulfate safe? Pretty much, yes. Epsom salt has a variety of uses and you can even ingest the salt (although, not too much and, fair warning, it turns your digestive system into a biological slip and slide if you know what I mean). It’s very unlikely that magnesium sulfate would negatively affect your skin, unless of course it’s in the anhydrous form in which case your skin would dry out wicked fast. Although, it’s important to note that some people prefer to avoid sulfates since some of these compounds can react with other ingredients to form possible (to reinforce, that’s possible) carcinogens.

Where does magnesium sulfate originate? Most likely if you see it as an ingredient in shampoo it will have been mined. Mining is much cheaper than forming the salt and Epsom salt is plentiful. However, it is also possible to form the salt by neutralizing sulfuric acid with magnesium carbonate.

Here’s the summary of magnesium sulfate (or Epsom salt) as an ingredient in your shampoo:

Compound: Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt)
Compound origin: Most likely mining of the salt, although possibly the neutralization of sulfuric acid with magnesium carbonate
Uses: Dry skin relief, dandruff remedy
Danger: Almost none, unless you eat a bunch of it or put the anhydrous form all over your skin and don’t rehydrate (very unlikely)

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