At the end of a long day, all you want to do is lie back in a relaxing bath and let your worries gently melt away—relatable! And during your soak, you probably aren’t thinking about whether you’re using a shampoo with or without sulfates. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how your bubble bath transforms from a liquid into hundreds of tiny bubbles or how your shampoo whips itself up into a thick and luxurious lather? Well, sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) are likely responsible. Sulfates are commonly found in a whole host of products, including shampoo, bubble bath, shower gel, and even toothpaste. The big question that’s been going around the beauty industry as of late is do you need sulfates in your beauty products? We’re tackling this topic and sharing five reasons you may want to switch to a sulfate free shampoo or add sulfate-free hair styling and hair care products to your regimen.
WHAT IS SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO?
If you pick up a bottle of shampoo and look at the label, you may notice the ingredients sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), these are two of the most common ingredients that shampoos are formulated with. Both are types of detergents that produce a lathering effect that can help get rid of dirt and debris on your hair. If you couldn’t guess by now, sulfate free shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products are not formulated with sulfates—AKA what some would consider a chemical free shampoo option. But don’t worry, they still cleanse and condition! Keep reading for our best SLS free shampoo options and more.
ARE SULFATES BAD?
Shampoos without sulfates receive a lot of hype, which may make you wonder if using a shampoo with sulfates is bad. The answer? No! According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, lauryl sulfates are excellent cleansers that are commonly used in shampoos for oily hair. Laureth sulfates, on the other hand, are good cleansers with a foaming property that can benefit normal-to-dry hair. The bottom line, as the McGill Office for Science and Society states, is that sulfates have been studied and approved many times for use in hair products. Of course, that doesn’t negate the fact that you may be interested in going sulfate-free, speaking of which…
WHY SHOULD YOU USE A SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO?
There are a number of reasons you may want to add a sulfate-free shampoo (and an entire sulfate-free hair care system) to your routine:
1. COLORED HAIR NEEDS SPECIAL CARE
If you have colored-treated hair, you may find that shampoos formulated with sulfates have an impact on your color, leaving it looking lackluster and faded. Color-treated hair needs extra care to keep it looking vibrant and healthy. There are sulfate-free moisturizing shampoos (we'll recommend one later!) that help lock in moisture and keep colored hair feeling silky, soft, and manageable.
2. ...AS DO SENSITIVE SCALPS AND SENSITIVE SKIN
If your skin is more than a little sensitive, the AAD states that using shampoos and other personal products that contain sulfates, may potentially irritate your skin. If your skin becomes easily irritated, using a sulfate-free shampoo could help prevent this. In addition to trying a sulfate-free shampoo, if you’re experiencing itching, a flaking scalp, or red patches, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your dermatologist/doctor to determine what is really happening to your scalp.
3. STINGING EYES AREN’T FUN
Now, this won’t be a problem for those of us who can manage to avoid getting shampoo in our eyes in the shower. But, if you ever suffer from the occasional eye stinging because you’ve let a bit of shampoo get too close to your eye area, switching to a shampoo without sulfates may help keep them from becoming red and irritated. This is because, as the McGill Office for Science and Society reveals, some sulfates are simply more irritating to eyes than formulas without them. So, if you tend to get suds in your face or eyes and want to stop the stinging, consider trying a shampoo that doesn’t contain any sulfates.
4. SULFATES CAN BE DRYING TO SOME HAIR TYPES
According to the AAD, using shampoos that are formulated with strong sulfates can be drying to some hair types. If you’ve noticed your hair becoming overly dry, it may be time to try a new shampoo— maybe one without sulfates.
5. NEW HAIR CARE TRENDS ARE WORTH TRYING
There’s no doubt that sulfate-free hair care products—namely, shampoos—have been a huge trend in recent years. So, if for no other reason, why not try out sulfate-free shampoos simply to join in on the latest hair care trend! If you’re anything like us, curiosity about beauty and hair trends tends to get the best of you. And, as we said, we’re all different—our skin and hair have different needs—so it’s likely that you’ll need to play around with beauty products before finding your perfect match. They’re not one size fits all! Perhaps a sulfate-free shampoo could work wonders on your hair—you’ll never know unless you try!
DOES SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO HELP HAIR GROWTH?
Were you expecting hair growth to be among our list of reasons to use a sulfate-free shampoo? Well, while we’ve heard that rumor too, we couldn’t find any research supporting the idea that sulfate-free shampoos help grow hair or are better for thinning hair. If you are hoping to grow out your hair, check out our article on The Truth About How to Grow Hair Faster.
OUR BEST SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOOS
Fortunately, when it comes to sulfate-free shampoo options, there are plenty to choose from—no matter what your hair care concerns and needs are. Below, find a list of our best sulfate free shampoos for various hair types and concerns.
If you have dandruff…try the L'Oréal Paris EverFresh Antidandruff Shampoo. This shampoo is formulated with Indian lilac and can help restore scalp balance and stop itching. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverFresh Balancing Conditioner and L’Oréal Paris EverFresh Micro-Exfoliating Scrub.
If you have frizz and flyaways…try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Frizz-Defy Shampoo. This shampoo, which is formulated with marula oil, cleanses frizz-prone hair and helps protect against humidity. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Frizz-Defy Conditioner and L’Oréal Paris EverSleek Frizz Finish Oil-In-Serum.
If you have damaged hair…try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo. This sulfate-free formula will gently cleanse strands while also deeply strengthening them and helping to protect against daily color aggressors like UV rays and heat styling. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair and Defend Conditioner and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair Remedy Balm.
If you have fine hair…try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Volume Shampoo. Formulated with lotus flower, the volumizing shampoo helps revive flat hair and boost body without weighing down strands. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Volume Conditioner.
If you have dry hair…try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo, which is especially gentle on colored hair and can help replenish essential moisture and luminous shine. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Conditioner.
If you have blonde hair…try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Blonde Shampoo. This sulfate-free shampoo will help balance blonde strands and hydrate over-processed hair. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Blonde Conditioner and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Blonde Shade Reviving Treatment.
If you have brassy hair…try the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Brass Toning Purple Sulfate Free Shampoo. This sulfate-free, purple shampoo works to deeply moisturize and neutralize brassy yellow and orange tones in blonde, bleached, highlighted, and silver hair. Pair it with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Brass Toning Purple Sulfate Free Conditioner.