Our Top Pick...
And, while there’s a shampoo here for each type of user, you know there has to be one that trumps all. Get the drums ready… it’s the Maple Holistics Argan Oil Shampoo!
No surprise right? They just have a knack for providing the absolute best of the best products – their high reviews speaks volumes!
Sulfate Free Shampoo Buying Guide
What’s the Deal with Sulfates Anyway?
You don’t have to be into an organic life style to want to make the switch to a shampoo with no sulfate. In fact, the only question you should ask yourself is, “do you love your hair?”. While you may think you do, if you have a bottle of sulfate-containing shampoo in your tub, then get ready for a scolding!
In a nut-shell, sulfates aren’t part of the “in” crowd. In fact, they wear the disguise of being your friend by being all cute and sudsy. How? They’re the detergents that put on a darn good show of cleaning your hair and producing lots of good bubbles, lather, and foam that we’ve all come to love.
Well, get ready to fall out of love with sulfates because regular and long-term use of sulfate-containing shampoos, and even lower concentrated ones, can cause a variety of nasty consequences.
- Skin irritation
- Dry hair and dry scalp
- Worsen dandruff
- Aggravate eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis
- Fade hair color
- Strip natural oils
- Imbalance natural pH levels
- Cause or worsen hair loss
Are you scared yet? While all these symptoms don’t always happen, you can be the judge yourself. When you’re ready to quit itching or you’re sick and tired of lack-luster hair, shampoos without sulfate will be here, ready and waiting!
Train Your Sulfate Radar
Do your due diligence and read the ingredients list. Completely forget about what the pretty label says and check out what ingredients make up the shampoo.
Sometimes labels will brag about being SLS-Free, but that only means it’s free of one type of sulfate.
So, what are some common types of sulfates to keep an eye out for next time you’re buying online or in the grocery store aisle?
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
- Ammonia (Laureth) Sulphate (ALS)
- Sodium Myreth Sulphate (SMS)
Low Poo vs No Poo
If you’ve done even just a small amount of research into shampoos without sulfate, you’ll find that there’s an interesting and cute name for the movement. Low Poo and No Poo… stay with me, don’t get distracted here – no, we’re not talking about bowel movements.
One aspect of the low poo movement encourages the use of shampoos with a low concentrated amount of sulfates. Since sulfates are extremely efficient at removing debris, dirt, and microbes, not everyone is ready to give them up entirely.
And, then there are even some sulfate free users that do what you call “clarifying” every once in a while. To clarify a little here (pun totally intended!), users may switch to a sulfate-containing shampoo for a deeper or more clarifying wash.
We do have to admit that it does have its benefits. Sometimes you can experience “plateaus” with shampoos without sulfate where the advantages you saw really strong and fast in the beginning, now start to slow down.
Others say that shampoos without sulfate don’t wash or cleanse as well, and after a few months, they’ll switch back to regular shampoo for a wash or two and then return to the sulfate free lifestyle.
Finally, even an entirely sulfate free lifestyle is still considered part of the low poo crowd.
However, the no poo movement is just straight up no shampoo products at all. Instead, no poo users typically apply a homemade washing solution of something like apple cider vinegar and baking soda – all power to you if that floats your boat.
Natural vs Chemical
Naturally, the shampoos without sulfate movement is going to address the use of natural and organic ingredients vs chemicals.
While both types of shampoos have their place in the world, it’s encouraged to go the natural way if you’re after a more organic and hair-friendlier lifestyle.
Some natural ingredients that are often used in shampoos without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are:
- Oil – Argan, Coconut, Almond,
- Butters – Shea, Almond, Cocoa
- Essential Oils – Jojoba, Rosemary, Sage, Orange Peel, Tea Tree
- Vitamins – A, B-Complex, C, D, E
And, even though a shampoo can be labelled “Natural”, it can still have chemicals.
Some common chemicals found in shampoo without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are:
- Propylene Glycol
- Sodium Chloride
- Dimethicone Copolymer
- Benzyl Alcohol
- Fragrance (synthetic)
The word of caution here in choosing a shampoo with chemicals is to make sure there’s more natural ingredients than there are synthetic compounds.
How to Use Sulfate Free Shampoo
Step 1 - Dry Brush
If you have thick, curly, and long hair, brush your hair while it’s dry first before getting it wet. It helps to detangle hair and allows product to be evenly distributed.
Step 2 - Get Soaking Wet!
Make sure your hair is thoroughly and completely wet. Otherwise the shampoo will be difficult to spread and use.
Step 3 - Use the Right Amount
Apply a dime size amount of shampoo to short or thin hair and a quarter size amount to thicker and longer hair.
Step 4 - Don't go Crazy!
Don’t make the rookie mistake of using more than you need. Really, a little goes a long way. So, if you’re having trouble feeling like you’re getting enough, apply more water instead. It’ll help distribute the small amount more evenly, and it will activate the ingredients.
Step 5 - Play the Waiting Game
Normally, you can wash out regular shampoo right away because it’s fast-acting. With shampoo without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate you want to really allow it to absorb into the roots to cleanse and unclog pores. The waiting game is usually somewhere between 2-3 minutes, so lather on up some luxurious body wash to enhance your therapeutic and remedial experience.
Step 6 - Rinse
Pretty self explanatory… Just make sure you do it properly.
Step 7 - Go for Doubles
Some shampoos and some hair types may need a repeat treatment to really get the maximum benefits. The second time should be easier to apply, and you might even get some lathering action here too.
Step 8 - Repeat the Rinse
Again, this is self explanatory.
Step 9 - Time for the Follow Through
It’s a rookie mistake to skip the conditioning process, and there are many complaints of dryness and stiff hair if you don’t do it right. So, listen up!
Step 10 - Brush Again
Brushing wet hair in the shower? Gross, right? Wrong! You should notice that your hair should be pretty much tangle-free at this point, but to help the moisturizing process, simply comb your hair from mid-length to the ends. If you have long, thick, and curly hair, you might also want to section it out for easier application.
Step 11 - Apply the Conditioner
You don’t need to condition your roots, especially if you have oily and perhaps even fine hair. From about ears on down, apply the conditioner liberally to the very ends. Oh! And, be really generous with the conditioner too!
Step 12 - More Waiting
Tick tock tick… Allow the conditioner to sit for a few minutes to treat strands.
Step 13 - The End Game
Rinse thoroughly to remove all product, unless you’re specifically using a leave-in conditioner.
Step 14 - Lightly Dry
And, we mean lightly towel dry your hair just to the point where you’re not dripping and soaking through your shirt. You don’t want to leave your hair wrapped up in a towel – that opens a whole new can of worms! Enjoy the freedom and air dry the au natural way!
Choose a quality conditioner, this can’t be stressed enough! It’s a wonder why many sulfate free users would invest in a premium shampoo, but then totally skimp on the conditioner! It could be the reason why so many ignorant people complain of little beneficial results, skin irritation, and even dryness. Come on now!
Addressing the “Sulfate Free Shampoos Don’t Clean My Hair!” Complaint!
Nonsense! These shampoos, as a matter of fact, are excellent cleansers when they have the right ingredients. So, if you spend $40 on your salon-grade shampoos without Sulfate only to be left disappointed, here’s some more helpful tips on converting yourself from a whinging whiner to a staunch and stubborn believer.
Is your Scalp Overactive?
If you’ve been using a shampoo free of sulfate and you still feel some buildup going on, then what you’re noticing is your own scalp’s natural oils mixed with dead skin cells. Continue with the shampoo and allow a detox period, also known as the “adjustment to going sulfate free”, of 2-10 washes for maximum benefits.
Check Your Conditioner
If your conditioner has silicons in it, it’s most likely that the buildup is caused from silicon-based ingredients. And, the sad news is shampoo without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are fighting a losing battle against silicons because most types of silicons can only be thoroughly washed away with sulfates like SLS which you’re trying to avoid.
Ugh. That silicon buildup from previously using regular shampoos or silicon conditioners can be the culprit of weighing down hair, especially fine hair. Doesn’t this complaint sound familiar? Continue with the shampoo without Sulfate and ditch the silicon conditioner.
You're Using the Wrong Sulfate-Free Shampoo!
If you have oily hair and you’re unwittingly using a shampoo for dry to normal hair, do you see the error here? While some shampoos are excellent products for all types of hair, look for one that’s specific to treating your type and condition of hair that can also treat your hair problems. For example, shampoos for dandruff, shampoos for curly hair, or shampoos for color treated hair. Get the point?
Don’t let the dreaded words of “I still feel dirty” leave your lips prematurely. The culprit may still be on the shower shelf with you.
Yes, there’s a lot that goes into going sulfate free. You have to be aware, diligent, and informed. But, is there really any other way to be when you want shiny, voluminous, and healthy hair?
You may be surprised at the frizz-free, silky smooth, and strong, healthy hair benefits that you will have in abundance when you make the switch. And, when you are, just know that while every other woman, or man, is glaring at you in envy, the rest of us are saying, “told you so”.