Sulfates are effective cleansing agents and are commonly found in shampoos. However, they might strip your hair of its moisture, leading to hair breakage. For those with color-treated hair, sulfates might lead to premature fading of your hair color, too. So, if you're looking for a non-drying, color-safe shampoo, consider one that's formulated without sulfates! Also, keep in mind that not all sulfate-free shampoos are suitable for every hair type.
To help you choose a product that works for your specific hair condition, we've compiled a list of the 10 best sulfate-free shampoos available online. Black Vanilla Luscious Moisture Shampoo from Carol's Daughter was our top pick as it has an ultra-moisturizing formula to keep dry, curly hair nourished. For more options, keep reading! And check out our buying guide reviewed by a licensed cosmetologist for some tips that will help make your selection process easier.
Sulfates are surfactants that are commonly used in cosmetic products, especially shampoos. They impart lather in shampoos and also act as cleansing agents to keep your hair free of dirt and daily grime.
Undeniably, sulfates are highly effective in getting rid of impurities. However, they might strip your hair of its natural moisture. For those with a sensitive scalp or skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, shampoos with sulfates might cause irritation reactions such as redness and itching.
If your hair is color-treated, sulfates can make your hair color fade faster, too. They can also dry out curls. So, if you want a gentle formula that won't irritate your scalp or dry out your hair, consider a sulfate-free shampoo!
There are many sulfate-free shampoos available on the market, so you might feel a bit overwhelmed and not sure which one to choose. Don't worry! This buying guide will walk you through all the factors that you should keep in mind, such as your hair type and what ingredients to look for.
Some brands advertise their products as free from harmful substances and similar claims, so it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly what's the shampoo is free of. That's why we suggest looking through the ingredient list to make sure it contains no sulfate ingredients!
The major types of sulfates used in shampoo include sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. To replace these surfactants, manufacturers might use ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium lauroyl isoethionate, and sodium cocoyl isoethionate.
Although their names sound similar to sulfates, they're actually derived from coconut oil and can provide creamy lather. They are effective cleansing agents as well. Those kinds of surfactants should be safe for your hair.
There's no shampoo that meets the needs of all hair types. For example, products that are packed with emollients might be great for dry hair but might end up adding extra grease to oily hair. Therefore, take your hair type into consideration when choosing a sulfate-free shampoo!
If you have dry, brittle hair, make sure the formula contains moisturizing ingredients! Supplying moisture is important to keep your hair frizz-free, too! So if you're trying to smooth down your hair and make it more manageable, a moisturizing formula will help.
Oils and plant-based butter such as olive oil, argan oil, and shea butter can trap moisture in your hair to keep it hydrated for a long time. They are also packed with fatty acids to add a nice shine to your hair, leave it soft to the touch, and promote healthy hair growth.
For those with fine, thin hair, avoid a formula that contains heavy oils like castor oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. They are ultra-moisturizing but might weigh down your hair and make it look greasy, limp, and lifeless.
It's still important to supply your hair with moisture, however. Consider lightweight yet moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and dimethicone. They can increase the moisture level in your hair and won't add unnecessary oiliness or weight to it.
You might also want to choose a clarifying shampoo to help get rid of the grease from your hair and scalp. If you're looking to add volume to your hair, see if the formula contains starch or talc, which can create volume. Vitamin E, polymers, and panthenol help your hair become more voluminous, too.
If your hair is weak or severely damaged from heat styling or coloring, go for a sulfate-free shampoo with keratin, collagen, or silk protein. They can fortify your hair strands and at the same time promote hair regeneration.
Exposure to environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution might also weaken your hair. That's why you should look for ingredients with antioxidant properties like avocado oil and vitamin E.
For those with color-treated hair, using a sulfate-free product is a great choice as it's less likely to strip the color out of your hair. However, you should still check the review section and product description to see if the shampoo can help prolong the color of your hair.
Compared to straight hair, curly hair is more prone to frizz and dryness. So make sure to choose a shampoo with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, or shea butter. Try to steer clera of drying alcohols such as ethanol alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and alcohol denat.
On the other hand, fatty alcohols like cetyl alcohol and lauryl alcohol are actually moisturizing to your hair, so don't avoid those. Also, waxes, silicones, and mineral oils are not water-soluble and might lead to build-up. That's why you're better off avoiding those.
If you have an itchy scalp or are suffering from dandruff, consider ingredients with strong anti-inflammatory properties such as aloe vera and lavender extract. Antifungal ingredients like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and rosemary oil can soothe your scalp irritation as well.
To keep your scalp healthy, look for ingredients that can improve blood circulation in the scalp. Peppermint oil, thyme oil, and cedarwood oil are some options for your consideration. They will promote healthy hair growth, too!
After combing through the Internet, we've tracked down the 10 sulfate-free shampoos that work for different hair types. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Denise Campbell.
Pure Nature Lux Spa
Black Vanilla Luscious Moisture Shampoo
Argan Oil Deep Hydra Nourishing Shampoo
Free & Clear Shampoo
Curl Nourish Fortifying Shampoo
Hydrate Sheer Shampoo
Tea Tree & Lavender Water Purifying Shampoo
Lisse Design Keratin Therapy
Ever Pure Volume Shampoo
Soothing Fragrance Free Shampoo
Ultra-Moisturizing Formula to Soften Your Hair
Targets Hair Loss for Fuller and Thicker Hair
A Gentle Formula for Those With Sensitive Skin
Alleviate Dandruff and Itchy Scalp
Effectively Hydrates and Defines Curls
A Holy Grail for Color-Treated Hair
Get a Deep Cleanse With This Purifying Shampoo
Maintains the Results of Your Keratin Treatment
A Vegan Formula That Adds Volume to Thin, Flat Hair
Fragrance-Free and Great for Chemically-Treated Hair
|Good for||Dry, curly hair||Thin, chemically-treated, damaged hair||All hair types (great for sensitive skin)||Color-treated, thin hair||Dry, curly hair||Dull, dry, color-treated hair||Color-treated hair||Normal, keratin-treated hair||Color-treated, fine, flat hair||Color-treated, chemically-treated hair (great for sensitive skin)|
|Formulated with||Aloe vera, sweet clover, rose extract||Argan oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, dimethicone||Glycerin, panthenol, coco glucoside||Tea tree oil, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemongrass, witch hazel||Coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, lemon peel extract, macadamia seed oil, glycerin||Jojoba, tea tree, sunflower seed, vitamin E, wheat protein||Tea tree oil, lavender flower extract||Castor oil, keratin, collagen, bagasse oil||Peppermint extract, lotus flower, rosemary leaf extract||Matricaria flower extract, sage leaf extract|
|Amount||12 oz.||9 oz.||12 oz.||17.75 oz.||12.5 oz.||9 oz.||17.9 oz.||8.45 oz.||8.5 oz.||32 oz.|
|Good for||Dry, curly hair|
|Formulated with||Aloe vera, sweet clover, rose extract|
|Good for||Thin, chemically-treated, damaged hair|
|Formulated with||Argan oil, hydrolyzed wheat protein, dimethicone|
|Good for||All hair types (great for sensitive skin)|
|Formulated with||Glycerin, panthenol, coco glucoside|
|Good for||Color-treated, thin hair|
|Formulated with||Tea tree oil, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemongrass, witch hazel|
|Good for||Dry, curly hair|
|Formulated with||Coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, lemon peel extract, macadamia seed oil, glycerin|
|Good for||Dull, dry, color-treated hair|
|Formulated with||Jojoba, tea tree, sunflower seed, vitamin E, wheat protein|
|Good for||Color-treated hair|
|Formulated with||Tea tree oil, lavender flower extract|
|Good for||Normal, keratin-treated hair|
|Formulated with||Castor oil, keratin, collagen, bagasse oil|
|Good for||Color-treated, fine, flat hair|
|Formulated with||Peppermint extract, lotus flower, rosemary leaf extract|
|Good for||Color-treated, chemically-treated hair (great for sensitive skin)|
|Formulated with||Matricaria flower extract, sage leaf extract|
In order to keep your hair in its best condition, you need to make sure that it gets all the nutrients it needs. There are many hair care products that can help nourish and soften your hair effectively. Want some suggestions? Check out our articles below!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
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