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Last updated: 02/17/2020

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People have been talking about sulfate-free shampoo for a while. It is possible that you use this type of shampoo or are planning to use it in the future. Sulfate shampoo seems to be irritating to the scalp but do you know exactly what sulfate is and what it is used for? Are sulfates really harmful to everyone?

Don’t be afraid! Sulfates clean the skin and hair by dissolving grease and are often used because they are cheap and produce suds when used. Sulfates are not completely bad, but if you use them in excess, they can cause irritation and can dry out the skin on your body and scalp.

Key Facts

  • Sulfate-free shampoo is much softer on the hair and the scalp. It can also help you get rid of the peeling and itching of your scalp.
  • Although sulfate-free shampoo is not as cheap as conventional shampoo, a little bit goes a long way. Also, currently there is a variety of sulfate-free shampoo that adjusts to each type of hair.
  • When you buy a sulfate-free shampoo, we recommend that you keep in mind the size of the bottle, if it contains any other harmful ingredients, and what you need for your hair type.

Our Selection of the Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo on the U.S. Market

Sulfate-free shampoo has been very popular recently, and there are a lot of different products to choose from. We understand if you feel overwhelmed with the selection of shampoos that are out there. The following is a list of various products that we think are the best quality and price on the U.S. market.

Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo With Apple Cider Vinegar

The first item on our list is the number one bestseller on Amazon! It contains apple cider vinegar in the shampoo and conditioner. This shampoo and conditioner can repair your damaged hair as it contains coconut and avocado oil. If you have a thinning problem, this product is for you as it also slows down hair loss! It does all of this and more and contains only natural ingredients.

Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo Kit

The second item on our list is an “Amazon’s choice.” You are sure to be satisfied! It does not just come with a sulfate-free shampoo, but also includes conditioner. Depending on your order it also can come with a hair mask, detangling milk, hydrating oil, and hydrating buttercream! This product does not just omit sulfates, but it is also paraben-free and dye-free. This is everything you need to keep your hair and scalp happy and healthy.

Best Cruelty-Free Sulfate-Free Shampoo

The last product on our list contains tea-tree oil. As many essential oil lovers probably already know, tea tree oil has many healing factors. This shampoo also comes with a conditioner, and they are both sulfate-free and paraben-free. You can use this product on all hair types, but before you use it, you should rub a little bit on the inside of your elbow area to make sure you have no allergic reactions. This shampoo and conditioner set is cruelty-free and not tested on animals!

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Now that it is popular to buy natural house and beauty supplies, there is a lot of information available about certain products. The internet is filled with confusing information that sometimes even contradicts itself. It is not always easy to tell what is true or not, so we made you this shopping guide to help you understand sulfate-free shampoo and how it works! Keep reading, we will answer all of the most common questions about the type of shampoo.

girl cleaning her hair

Sulfate-free shampoo is perfect for people who need to wash their hair every day.
(Source: Ponzi: 40657969/ 123rf.com)

What are sulfates exactly?

Sulfates are found in almost all beauty supplies for the hair, but do you know what they are? Sulfates are surfactants that attract water and oils. This basically means that they are the elements responsible for creating foam in shampoo and soaps. These elements grab onto the filth and then can be washed away. Sulfates are often used in the industry because they work extremely well as soap, and they are not very expensive.

The negative side of using sulfates in beauty supplies is that that our scalp is not always capable of handling such chemicals. Gloria Garnacho, a dermatologist from Madrid, Spain says, “Sulfates are one of the most effective but most aggressive surfactants.” This is true especially for children and people with sensitive skin.

pink products

It is important to choose your shampoo based on your hair type.
(Source: Kolpakova: 11963030/ 123rf.com)

How can I find out if my current shampoo contains sulfate?

Don’t panic, it is not very difficult to figure out if your shampoo contains sulfate or not. Does it have the word “sulfate” in the list of ingredients? If it does, it contains sulfates. However, sulfates are from a family of chemical compounds and each one has a different name, so this can make things a little bit more complicated.

It is extremely important that you take a moment to read the ingredients on a shampoo bottle before buying it. We know that it is not always easy, but understanding if your shampoo has one of these chemical compounds is vital to your health. We should not put unnecessary chemicals into our hair. So, if you want to avoid sulfates, please read the following list:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (sls)
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (asl)
  • Sodium Alkyl Sulfate (sas)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (sles)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Isoethionate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Taurate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isoethionate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isoethionate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

Why should you try out a sulfate-free shampoo?

As we have mentioned before, sulfates are not a terrible chemical, but if you use sulfate shampoo in excess, it can be harmful, especially for people with sensitive scalps or skin problems, like seborrheic dermatitis. In time, sulfates can also break down hair and skin, even for people who do not suffer hair or skin problems already!

Although there are a lot of people that use a shampoo that contains sulfates without any problems, there are still many people that suffer from itchiness or peeling of the scalp and have no idea why. Avoiding sulfates in your shampoo can be the first step to getting rid of these problems.

green shampoo containers

One of the benefits of sulfate-free shampoo is that you can use it every day.
(Source: Kachmar: 70097121/ 123rf.com)

What hair type can I use sulfate-free shampoo on?

Manufacturers currently create sulfate-free shampoo for all hair types: dry, curly, sensitive, colored, or oily. However, sulfate-free shampoo is recommended especially for those that have undergone damaging treatments, like coloring or perming. Sulfate-free shampoo maintains the hir color and is not irritating.

Sulfate-free shampoo is also perfect for people who wash their hair every day because they have very oily hair or they frequent the gym. This type of shampoo is very easy on the scalp and hair.

What are the pros and cons of using sulfate-free shampoo?

This type of shampoo is great for everyone, even small children who have especially sensitive scalps. Although sulfate-free shampoo is for people with all hair types, like most things, it also has its cons. It is important to know the pros and cons of sulfate-free shampoo, so we have created a list for you below.

Advantages
  • They are easy on the skin
  • Prolong the effect of keratin
  • Makes hair shiny and strong
  • Reduces frizz
  • Prevents dandruff
  • You can use daily
  • Does not cause allergic reaction
Disadvantages
  • People with a very oily hair type may notice that it will not remove as much of the oil as regular shampoo.
  • Less foam.
  • Does not remove silicone.
  • More expensive

Why does “natural” shampoo dry out hair?

If you decide to use “natural” shampoo you will probably notice that your hair is much drier. Shampoo that contains sulfate prevents the production of natural oils on your scalp and hair. Although this makes the hair feel cleaner, it throws your hair off balance. This effect of feeling “cleaner” usually only lasts for one day at most.

This “natural” shampoo causes these types of problems on your scalp and hair and offers the solution to these problems! When you decide to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo, you might feel that your hair dries out for a few days. This is because your hair and scalp are used to the shampoo that you always use. You can take comfort in the fact that this effect will not last.

girl applying shampoo on her hair

Sulfate-free shampoo is environmentally friendly.
(Source: Goodluz: 15290641/ 123rf.com)

This is what is known as the “detox process.” If you need extra hydration as your hair gets used to a sulfate-free shampoo, you can use a natural hair mask made of egg yolk, olive oil, lemon juice, castor oil, and a few drops of rosemary essential oil.

In addition to sulfates, what other ingredients can be harmful to my hair and scalp?

As we have already mentioned in this article, sulfates are not the only ingredients that can be harmful to your hair. You can find other harmful ingredients in your shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoo usually does not include these other harmful ingredients, but it does not hurt to look at the ingredients list to make sure. We have provided a table of harmful ingredients below.

Ingredient Characteristics
Silicones Silicones, most commonly dimethicone, are often used in shampoo, conditioner, and hair masks, especially those that claim that they are hydrating to the hair and scalp. After using them, your hair will feel soft, but they also block pores in your hair. After this, it is harder for your hair to receive nutrients.
Parabens People have been studying parabens recently after a study published by the University of Reading in the year 2004 found that they can cause hormonal alterations and breast cancer. The most common parabens are methylparaben and propylparaben.
Lanolin Lanolin is a type of wax that has water repellent properties. This chemical is used in products that are advertised for dry hair. The problem is that they usually contain alcohol that can cause allergic reactions.
Sodium Chloride Shampoo contains salt that adds consistency to the product. The problem is that this salt can dehydrate hair and skin. This can cause flaking and itchiness.
Synthetic dyes You can find this ingredient in shampoo that is meant for dyed hair. This ingredient can cause scalp sensitivity and irritation.

Shopping Criteria

If you have gotten this far in the article and you still are not sure which product to buy, don’t worry. The following is a list of shopping criteria that you should keep in mind when buying sulfate-free shampoo. They are all very important:

Size of Bottle

This factor can seem pretty obvious, but the size of the bottle of these not so cheap products is very important. When you are buying sulfate-free shampoo online, pay attention to the description of the size and don’t just look at the photo to get an idea of how big the container is. The photo can always be deceiving.

Manufacturers of this type of product are aware of this problem and often provide a big bottle of sulfate-free shampoo. It is common to find sulfate-free shampoo in a bottle up to one liter! It is also a great idea to buy one big bottle instead of various smaller bottles to take better care of the environment.

girl relaxed washing her hair

There are many brands of sulfate-free shampoo, choose one that is best for your needs.
(Source: Racorn: 21235159/ 123rf.com)

Local Production

In this article, we have given you a list of sulfate-free shampoo that you can buy online. Most of these products are made and shipped here in the U.S. Many people that are advocates about healthy self-care also want to take care of the planet and our environment.

People that worry about these issues often face conflict when deciding to buy products online. It is not always easy, but it is important to buy locally because the transportation of goods from different parts of the world is not very environmentally friendly.

Use and Hair Type

We are beginning to see more and more types of sulfate-free shampoo on the market. It is not easy to find the perfect product for your hair type. When sulfate-free shampoo was not as popular, there were not as many options available and people made do with limited variety. Many people were turned off of the idea of sulfate-free shampoo when they tried it out and it did not work properly because it was not made for that person’s hair type. This is not a problem anymore as there are many varieties of sulfate-free shampoos on the market. The following is a table we have made for you of what type of sulfate-free shampoo you should buy depending on your hair type.

Hair type Recommended type of sulfate-free shampoo
Naturally blond Chamomile shampoo. Enhances the natural shine of your hair.
Dyed hair Very soft products or products that include natural color intensifiers to help your color stay in longer.
Highlighted hair Hydrating shampoo that will heal the bleached hair.
Hair loss Strengthening products.
Curly hair Hydrating shampoo that prevents frizz and defines curls.
Dry hair Formulas that contain nutritious ingredients, like olive oil, avocado, or almonds.
Greasy hair Shampoo that regulates the production of hair oil.
Straight, flat hair Volume, conditioning, and hydrating shampoo.

Harmful Ingredients

We have already talked about this, but it is very important to keep this factor in mind when buying your sulfate-free shampoo. There is no point in buying a sulfate-free shampoo if there still are harmful ingredients in the product. The good news is that if a shampoo is sulfate-free, it usually does not contain any other harmful ingredients.

In any case, we advise you to be skeptical. Take a moment to read the ingredients of the shampoo to make sure there is nothing on the list of harmful ingredients that we provided you earlier in the article. We know that this can be very tedious, but it is worth the effort to understand exactly what we are putting in our hair.

Summary

Sulfate-free shampoo is gaining popularity. As you have read throughout the article, this type of product is easy on the hair and scalp. Currently, there is a variety of sulfate-free shampoo on the market that adapts to every hair type.

We hope this article has helped you to understand a little more about what sulfate is and to decide if you are ready to change to a sulfate-free shampoo! It is worth it. Your hair is going to feel great!

Have you tried out sulfate-free shampoo? How was it? Tell us about your experience. We want to see your comments below. If you liked our article, don’t forget to share it with your friends on social media!

(Source of featured image: Torwai Suebsri: 81560069/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

As a lover of languages, linguistics, and art, exploring, traveling, and experiencing new cultures around the world is my passion. I try to learn something new from the people around me everyday. I’m a foodie, geography nerd, and love nature but can’t get enough of the excitement of big city life.