The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Shinier, Healthier Hair
When we pick shampoos, we tend to look for ones that target our hair concerns. Like frizz, greasy roots or something to keep our balayage hair color from fading. Then we often choose the winning formula from the contenders based on how good it smells. We tend not to scan the labels of our shampoos, but we should. Harmful chemicals, like sulfates, are often hiding in that long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Which is why you should look for sulfate-free shampoos.
Unsure what sulfates are? Sulfates are a type of detergent that helps get hair squeaky clean and are often used as foaming agents in shampoos. They’re usually listed as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates can be harsh and sometimes even contribute to hair problems.
Ivan Rodriquez, BioSilk hairstyling ambassador, says that sulfates can damage hair because they’re strong enough to eliminate fatty acids and essential oils that strands need. Sulfates can also dehydrate hair, causing the cuticle to thin or even break. Curly- and wavy-haired people need to be especially careful because the breakage can also impact the density of hair. Those with pretty blorange or ombre hair colors should also be wary of shampoos with sulfates because they can fade hair color. What’s more, they can cause irritation to the scalp.
A sulfate-free shampoo is a gentler alternative. It still cleanses hair, but uses ingredients that don’t strip strands of their essential oils or cause breakage. It’s also kinder to colored hair.
Keep reading to see the best sulfate-free shampoos for shinier, healthier hair.
Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, $11.49 at Ulta Beauty
Coconut stars in this sulfate-free shampoo along with hibiscus and neem oil. The formula tames out-of-control curls by hydrating, smoothing and giving them more bounce. The shampoo is color-safe, too, so use it on dyed locks with confidence.
Top Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo, $29 at Sephora
Bad hair days? What bad hair days? Those will soon be distant memories thanks to this innovative shampoo. The more it's used, the better hair will be. It has a patented healthy hair molecule, OFPMA, that cleanses while promoting shine and softness. And the formula doesn't rely on sulfates, parabens, phthalates or silicone.
Affordable Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Aveeno Oat Milk Blend Shampoo, $6.36 at Amazon
Free of sulfates, dyes and parabens, this shampoo relies on oat and almond milk to nourish and soften strands. It'll also soothe your scalp. And the price can't be beat.
Anti-Dandruff and Sulfate-Free
Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $46 at Sephora
Oribe's purifying shampoo is formulated with salicylic acid. So it fights flakes while soothing your stressed-out scalp. The sulfate-free shampoo also leaves strands hydrated.
AG Hair Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $65 at Ulta Beauty
Wellness gurus praise apple cider vinegar for its numerous uses and rightly so. Here, it's incorporated into a gentle shampoo that's over 98 percent plant-based and naturally derived. Combined with essential oils and organic argan oil, the formula boosts shine and gently cleanses without the need for sulfates.
OGX Repairing Awapuhi Ginger Shampoo, $43.14 at Walmart
Ginger is a go-to spice for cooking, but awapuhi ginger is actually a Hawaiian beauty secret for keeping scalp and hair balanced. This creamy shampoo moisturizes dry, coarse hair from the inside out.
ARROJO SHINE LUXE Shampoo, $26 at ARROJO
Sulfate-free? Check. Paraben-free? Check. Shine-enhancing? Check. This shampoo relies on oils, including macadamia and grapeseed, to increase softness and shine. It also has a luxurious black orchid scent.
Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Blondes
Joico Blonde Life Brightening Shampoo, $37 at Ulta Beauty
Blondes may have more fun, but they can sometimes struggle to find a shampoo that keeps their hair looking its best. This sulfate-free version keeps highlighted blond hair on point by banishing brassy undertones and restoring hair's optimal pH. Use it and never worry about tresses turning brassy.
IGK 30,000 Feet Volume Shampoo, $24.16 at Walmart
This shampoo takes hair to sky-high heights without heavy teasing or using half a can of hairspray. It's all thanks to the ultra light formula that boosts volume while strengthening hair. Did we mention that it's free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates?
Super Sulfate-Free Shampoo
It's a 10 Miracle Whipped Sulfate Free Shampoo, $13.99 at Amazon
It's no exaggeration to say that this shampoo is a miracle. It has a creamy whipped formula that deeply cleanses hair without weighing it down or leaving behind a sticky residue. It's gentle enough that it can be used on all hair types and applied on a daily basis. Keep it handy in the warmer months because it is even humidity-resistant.
Shampoo for Colored Hair
BioSilk Color Therapy Shampoo, $16.98 at BioSilk
Instead of harsh sulfates and parabens, this shampoo is infused with silk proteins for softer, shinier hair. It's suitable for all hair types and colors.
Hot Tresses Sulfate-Free Rehab Shampoo, $21.97 at Amazon
Are those strands in need of some TLC? This shampoo will revitalize even the most fried manes. The multitasker cleanses, detoxes, exfoliates and even stimulates the scalp. Best of all, it does so without the use of sulfates, parabens, artificial colors, harsh detergents, synthetic fragrances, palm oil and mineral oil. The hero ingredients include a blend of coconut, castor and ylang-ylang oils with paw paw and French green clay.
Best Shampoo for Curls
Ouidad Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo, $23.99 at Pandora Beauty
Superfoods are taking over beauty. This sulfate-free cleanser contains pomegranate, acai, blueberry, cranberry and papaya to keep curls looking #flawless. It's specifically designed for those with kinky locks and effectively removes dulling residue without stripping strands.