Switching to a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner has been a complete game-changer for me. My hair is noticeably smoother, shinier and more hydrated. For some, sulfates are no big deal, but as someone with naturally textured, dry hair who sometimes gets chemical treatments, this simple switch has totally transformed my hair’s health. It’s one of the eight habits I adopted to fix my hair, and the one I get the most questions about. So here are 3 reasons why you should use sulfate-free shampoo.
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What are sulfates?
Sulfates are prevalent in shampoo because they’re cheap and effectively remove dirt, product build up and dead skin cells from your scalp and hair so they can be washed away with water. Essentially they’re aggressive detergents that are also used in household cleaning products, and even in products designed to clean the grease off heavy machinery. They also help to make the product bubbly, and we’ve become accustomed to associating cleanliness with these foaming products. There is a whole list of different sulfates, but the two most common are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). To make my life easier I generally only go for products that specifically mention they’re sulfate free. So, what are the reasons you should use sulfate free hair products?
Reason #1: Sulfates are too harsh and strip your hair of it’s natural oils
The fact that sulfates are powerful cleaning agents is very reason that makes them damaging to your hair. They do such a ‘good’ job at cleaning that they also strip away the hair’s natural oils, which are needed to keep your locks healthy. Inevitably, stripping your hair of it’s natural oils leaves it dry and brittle. They can also damage the hair’s cuticle structure, which naturally lie flat like fish scales. This weakens the hair strand making it dull and more prone to split ends.
Reason #2: Sulfates can dry and irritate the scalp
For the same reason, that sulfates are harsh chemicals, they can also cause scalp irritation by permeating the top layers of skin and causing inflammation. If you have dry skin, or any allergies or sensitivities to these types of chemicals, it’s a good idea to skip sulfates altogether. While I didn’t have any scalp issues before switching, I did notice that I was able to go longer between washes if I wanted to.
Reason #3: Sulfate free products help to protect colored or chemically treated hair
If you’ve spent your time and money at a salon, I assume you’d like to keep your results for as long as possible. A good hairdresser will tell you when a specific treatment you’ve had needs sulfate free products, but don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t. The research on sulfates stripping color from the hair isn’t conclusive, which is why you might be finding it confusing. However, I think it’s prudent to make the switch and be on the safe side. I know for straightening treatments, you need to use sulfate free products or you’ll be washing all the money you spent on it down the drain.
The best sulfate free shampoos:
Finding the right sulfate-free products can be overwhelming and confusing, so below are four of my absolute favorite brands. All of them are non-toxic, cruelty-free and sustainable. Be prepared that when you first switch, you might find it dissatisfying how little they lather, but you (and your hair) will get used to it and be better for it in the long term 😉
The Red Yao women have an incredible hair care culture, and their natural beauty is fast becoming famous worldwide. Even women in their seventies have jet black, thick, long and glossy hair. Viori staff have been tutored personally by the Red Yao women, and they use the same ancient rituals and natural ingredients to handcraft their shampoo and conditioner bars. All Viori hair care products are made with the same natural rice found only in the Longsheng Mountains.
Their shampoo and conditioning bars moisturize, strengthen, regrow, volumize, increase natural shine, repair, and reduce scalp irritation. They’re vegan, plastic-free, sustainable, sulfate-free, paraben-free, pH balanced, ethically sourced. Their only ingredients are: Longsheng Rice™, cocoa & shea butter, rice bran oil, hydrolyzed rice protein, aloe vera, bamboo, vitamin B8, vitamin B5 and vitamin E.
Also, they give back to the beautiful Red Yao community by donating 5% of their profits back to them.
Check out Viori here.
Love Beauty And Planet
I’m kind of obsessed with Love Beauty And Planet, I mean they’re packaging is stunning, they have an awesome variety of sulfate free goodies, they’re vegan, their packaging is sustainable and they all smell like heaven. They’re also very reasonably priced for the size, and therefore great value for money. My only complaint is that they don’t yet have sulfate free conditioner, or at least I haven’t been able to find any. I’ve reached out to them to inquire about this and I’ll update this post when I get a response. However, they do have a great range of sulfate free shampoos, like Argan Oil & Lavender, Charcoal & Bergamot, Murumuru Butter & Rose, Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang, Shea Butter & Sandalwood, Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver, Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower, and this Charcoal & Bergamot sulfate free shampoo scrub (pictured above).
Masami products use botanically hydrating Mekabu, which is a type of Japanese seaweed. It’s filled vitamins and minerals from the ocean that nourish your hair, making it healthier and glossier.
They have a gentle cleansing shampoo and conditioner that leave your hair feeling fresh and silky. A styling cream that helps to protect against humidity and eliminate frizz, and a shine serum that is a hydrating, lightweight and protects your hair from heat styling. All Masami products are made with clean ingredients, so that means no phthalates, sulfates, or parabens. They also work to protect the natural habitats where their ingredients are sourced.
I love how hydrating yet lightweight their products are! I recommend starting with their travel kit so you can try out all four of their amazing products.
Check out Masami here.
Petit Vour is a great one stop shop for the best natural, cruelty free and sustainable beauty products. They have a fantastic range of sulfate free hair products, like Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner from Yarok, which is a detangler, heat protector and leave-in conditioning spray. Also, the rich and creamy Hydration Conditioner from Rahua (pictured above), which has the most amazing tropical scent you’ll ever smell! There’s also the best selling (900+ five star reviews) UltraShine Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner from Evolvh.
Shop Petit Vour here.
P.S. Looking for an inexpensive, cruelty-free keratin treatment?
I’ve been obsessed with Brazilian blowouts and Keratin treatments for the the past 10 years. I adored how easy my hair was to manage after a treatment; but I was often frustrated with the amount of time and money it cost me. Plus, I’m sure the amount of chemicals I’ve inhaled over the years has not done my health any favors. I learned about O’WOW earlier this year, and am totally sold on it because:
- It comes in an easy to apply home kit
- The product uses natural Brazilian Botanical Bioactives – meaning no nasty chemicals like formaldehyde!
- It repairs and deeply moisturizes the hair cuticles resulting fuss-free smooth, shiny hair that really does last 3 months
- It’s only $70.90, a huge saving compared to salon treatments.
The O’WOW team have kindly given me a special discount code to share with my readers, just use 10HANNAH at checkout to get 10% off.
Check it out here.
Have I convinced you to give sulfate-free products a try? Let me know in the comments below. If you want to learn the eight simple ways I fixed my hair, check out my post, “8 Habits Of Girls Who Have Healthy Hair.”
My Favorite Healthy Habits
My FREE ebook Refresh is a collection of eight healthy habits that I’ve picked up along my journey. Don’t worry, they’re not the usual ones you’ve heard before – we all know we should drink more water. Instead, these habits are lesser known and have seriously improved my life.
They’ve helped me reduce stress, be more productive and improve my mood.
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