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Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of your bottle and wondered what they all are?

Is your shampoo sulfate free? You might see sodium laureth sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate listed. Or perhaps the vague letters ‘ALS’ or ‘SLS’. Whether your shampoo brand chooses to list the names in full or not, they’re the same thing: Sulphates.

Sulfates are a chemical detergent; often added to shampoo to quickly and efficiently clean your hair by stripping it of dirt and grease. You’ll find sulfates in other cleansing products too and whilst they are considered safe to use, for some of us, they can irritate skin and cause problems with your hair.

If sulfates are potentially an irritant, why do beauty companies use them? Probably one of the biggest reasons is because they help give that luxuriant bubbly lather you see on adverts. This is because as well cleansing, sulfates are also a foaming agent and so, the first thing you might notice when you switch to a sulfate free shampoo is the absence of foam. Sulfate free shampoo is less likely to give you that rich bubbly lather and so, many brands opt to include them for that reason.

Sulfates are especially damaging when used on colored hair and for those with sensitive skin. On top of dry hair, loss of color, split ends and frizz, they can cause more serious damage by stripping the natural oils from your hair follicles. In extreme situations they can also contribute to scalp irritation and hair loss.

If you’re someone who frequently uses a hairdryer and heated products such as curlers or straighteners, switching to a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner is one of the easiest ways to help protect your hair from drying out. In my profession as a hair stylist I’ve tried plenty of products and know which ones are the best and why!

So, you’re thinking of moving to a sulfate free shampoo. But don’t know where to start?

As awareness on the downsides of sulfate based shampoos has increased in recent years, the number of sulfate-free products available to buy has increased. There are plenty to choose from and usually, it’ll be clearly stated on the label. If you’re unsure, look for shampoos which use all natural and organic products or check the list of ingredients on the reverse of the bottle.

As with any type of cleansing product, there are many different options available and the one you choose will depend on a number of factors including your hair type, budget and whether or not you color treat your hair. For example, an argan oil based shampoo is likely to be better for dry or damaged hair whilst those of you with color treated hair need an extra gentle cleansing shampoo to avoid fade out.

Don’t panic! To make it easy for you, I’ve done some research and found the five best sulfate free shampoos for the most common hair types. These are all tried and tested and I know that they will leave your hair feeling soft, shiny and most importantly, clean.

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Frizzy Hair: Art Naturals Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo

Let’s start with frizzy hair. Just like Monica in Friends, we’ve all suffered the frizz at some time in our lives! Frizz doesn’t just affect curly hair, it can happen to us all: long hair, straight hair, bobbed or curly. And with summer approaching and holidays planned, those balmy days are only going to make it worse!

Being based in California where the salty sea air and summer sun can be fierce, frizz is something I have to deal with a lot! After trying quite a few, my favourite shampoo for frizzy hair is the Art Naturals organic Moroccan argan oil shampoo.

Over the last few years we’ve seen an explosion of argan oil products onto the beauty market and it’s something I use a lot in my line of work. I really recommend argan oil here at Shampooist.

Argan oil (also known as Moroccan oil) is well-known for its restorative and nourishing properties to hair – perfect for combatting frizz. This shampoo pairs argan oil with botanical extracts to enhances the shine and health of your hair by coating and conditioning your hair shafts.

This in turn helps prevent frizz and of course, gives a natural healthy shine and several of my customers have noticed a thicker, shinier texture to their hair within a few washes. The cleanser is gentle enough to prevent breakages meaning it’s also good for brittle, dry hair.

Finally, this product gets extra brownie points because it’s both paraben and cruelty free! Want to try it for yourself? You can purchase it by clicking here.

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Color Treated Hair: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo

I’ve already mentioned the dangers of using sulfate-based shampoo on colored hair. Sulfates work by stripping your hair of dirt and grease and so, as you can imagine, they can also strip color. Over time this can leave your hair lacklustre and faded. Not ideal!

The answer? The Hydrate shampoo from Pureology. It’s my absolute must have for color-treated hair and a product I’ve used myself. Pureology have won a number of awards for this product and I’m a big fan too. This shampoo uses a special ‘Antifade Complex’ formula which is highly moisturizing and protective. Chemically colored hair can dry out and be more prone to frizz so it’s really important to use a hydrating shampoo like this if you color treat your hair.

Most importantly, this shampoo has extra gentle cleansers which won’t strip color from your hair, meaning it will stay bright and fresh for longer. Finally, I was really impressed too with the lather on this shampoo, especially because this is usually created with sulfates. Why not pick up a bottle for yourself?

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Damaged and Dry Hair: Maple Holistics Argan Oil Shampoo

Many of us have suffered with dry and damaged hair at some point in our lives. Either from overusing the straighteners, harsh winter weather or perhaps without realising it; using sulfate-based shampoos and conditioners.

If you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo to combat dryness, I recommend another argan oil product. I’m a big fan, can you tell?

This argan oil and sulfate free shampoo from Maple Holistics contains six natural oils all known for their soothing and hydrating qualities – perfect for dry scalps and damaged hair.

The ingredients list reads so well, it sounds like a menu for massage oils at your local spa: Aqua, argan oil, botanical keratin, peach kernel oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, camellia seed oil, natural vanilla, honey fragrance and avocado oil. These oils combine to give a pleasant smell and importantly for healthy hair: an impressive wash. The key ingredients for damaged hair are the avocado oil which is packed with vitamins and peach kernel oil which is very moisturizing. Peach kernel oil will also help rejuvenate dry hair and did I mention that it’s also good for sensitive skin?

One of my customers tried this shampoo recently because she wanted to repair her hair after years of coloring it. She noticed that her hair was not only thicker but also softer and healthier looking. And that was after just a few weeks of daily use. No doubt thanks to all those vitamins and essential oils.

Finally, this shampoo can help combat hair shedding and even hair loss making it a great product for men. If you want to share it that is…

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Moisturizing Hair: Shea Moisture – Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Combination Pack

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want the shiny, glossy looking hair sported by celebrities on the red carpet. You can guarantee they’re using a highly moisturizing shampoo because hydrated hair equals shiny hair.

You’ll have heard of Shea, a popular ingredient used in body moisturizers? Well, my recommended shampoo for moisturizing hair contains it too! Aptly named, the Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner set contains shea along with Jamaican black castor oil to deeply cleanse and moisturize your hair.

This product is probably the most unusual on this list. But, feedback has been excellent and one of my customers is converted for life! Despite using sulfate-free shampoos for over a year to combat dandruff, she was still finding it hadn’t quite cleared. After one wash she found the shampoo had eliminated her dandruff. It made her hair feel super shiny and soft. Most importantly too, it helped boost her confidence again! Why don’t you try it too? Check it out here.

Its deep cleansing formula which pairs Jamaican black castor oil with apple cider vinegar softens brittle hair and deep cleanses. The conditioner contains keratin, peppermint and organic shea butter to detangle and smooth dry hair. This makes it especially good for curly hair although Shea Moisture recommend it’s use on any type of hair.

As a bonus, if you’re environmentally aware, these products tick all the right boxes. Cruelty free, sulfate free, paraben free and full of organic and natural ingredients.

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Fine & Oily Hair: Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals Argan Oil Shampoo

Fine, fly-away hair can be incredibly annoying and oily hair can destroy your confidence. I’ve found a shampoo which helps weigh down fine hair and rejuvenate oily hair. It’s another argan oil based shampoo, from Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals.

Like the argan oil shampoo I recommended for dry and damaged hair, the Majestic Pure product is made up of natural oils including avocado, jojoba, camellia seed, almond and coconut.

Despite what you might think, the number of oils in this shampoo make it a great choice for oily hair. Vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E from the avocado oil and botanical keratin combine to give your hair a healthy gloss. Almond oil is rich in protein too and helps nourish your hair right to the roots. Fine hair will feel thicker and better nourished too.

A gorgeous honey and vanilla scent and attractive packaging make this shampoo feel like a luxury purchase! So you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wallet-friendly price tag!

There you have it: the five best sulfate free shampoos for different hair types!

Although many of us use shampoo with sulfates and see no negative impact, there are many reasons why switching to a sulfate free shampoo is a good idea. Especially considering the long-term health of your hair. It goes without saying that natural ingredients are going to be less harmful to your hair. Many the shampoos I’ve recommended make use of natural oils and botanicals like shea, argan oil, avocado oil and keratin too.

By now you should be able to easily choose the best sulfate free shampoo for your hair type. Along with my customers, I’ve tested lots of different brands and ended with this selection of five shampoos. I’m confident that they will give you shiny, healthy and most importantly happy hair!

From the author:

My name is Amanda Cooper, and I’ve spent the last seven years of my life as a stylist in Orange County, California helping women like you feel confident about their hair. One of the most important parts of maintaining beautiful hair is using great hair products. That’s why I’m excited to tell you that there are great shampoos and conditions for YOUR hair. I’ve helped hundreds of women find the perfect hair products for them, and I can help you, too. It’s easy… and I’ll be here to guide you every step of the way.


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