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The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos

By Mandie Brice·· 2 min read

The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos

One of the latest trends in hair care you may have heard of is the term “sulfate-free.” It’s more than just a trend, however. It could be a life-saver. Okay, that’s dramatic - but it could at least be a hair saver!

First things first - what exactly is a sulfate? It’s a surfactant (or detergent) that causes foaming. It's generally in the form of sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or ammonium laureate sulfate (in order of decreasing strength/harshness), and it's fantastic at cutting through oil and dirt to clean your scalp and your hair.

“But if it’s so fantastic, why should I avoid it?” you may be wondering. Well, the truth is, you may not be in the group of people for whom sulfate-free shampoo is recommended. If you don’t produce enough oil to make you need to wash your hair daily (and we’ll count dry shampoo here), if your hair is dry, coarse, curly, frizz-prone, or damaged, or if you dye (or bleach) your hair, you're part of the sulfate-free fam. Your hair and scalp don’t need the big guns.

If your hair is already oily by the time that you’re done drying it (that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean!), then you can use the shampoos with the sulfates without worry!

For those who should be using sulfate-free shampoos, but don’t know which are best, here are a few suggestions! Just prepare for a less bubbly experience, since you’re without the surfactants.

the O.G.

The O.G. Option

I remember as a kid in the shower, reading “Awapuhi” and giggling at the name, but Paul Mitchell’s "Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lathering Shampoo" is no laughing matter. It works great and smells great - what more could you want?

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kiehls repairing shampoo

For Dry Hair

If you’ve been paying attention to the most celebrated active ingredients in skin care, you’ve heard of hyaluronic acid. It’s super moisturizing! It makes sense that the best sulfate-free shampoo for dry hair would have it as a central feature, along with ceramides and moringa oil. Sound good? Then you should probably go get yourself a bottle of Kiehl’s "Damage Repairing and Rehydrating Shampoo."

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aveeno pure renewal

For Damaged Hair

If you’ve been using sulfates (and maybe skipping thermal protectant), or otherwise have damaged your hair, you can rely on the sea to come to your rescue, in the form of Aveeno’s "Active Naturals Pure Renewal Shampoo," which has seaweed extracts that provide excellent moisture to work on restoring your hair to new! Plus, it’s readily available at drugstores and is inexpensive!

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deva curl

For Curly Hair

The girls (or guys) with the curls will most likely be happiest with a gentle milk cleanser, like the DevaCurl "No-Poo Decadence Zero Lather Ultra Moisturizing Milk Cleanser," which has a luxurious feel and is full of vitamins to keep those curls healthy!

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nexxus color assure

For Colored Hair

Those with color-treated hair can rely on the white orchid extract in Nexxus "Color Assurance Replenishing" shampoo to keep their color vivid and fresh, as well as moisturized and healthy!

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moroccan oil shampoo

For Fine Hair

If your hair has been falling flat, let MoroccanOil "Extra Volume Shampoo" come to the rescue! It’s full of nutrients and anti-oxidants that will help restore your hair’s thickness, without stripping it of its natural oils. It also is free of unhealthy parabens or phosphates. As an added bonus, it smells fantastic!

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kerastase shampoo

For Frizz-Prone Hair

Feeling frizzy? Fix it with French brand Kerastase "Bain Fluidealiste," which uses their signature formulas to drench hair in moisture, and provide flexibility - which will hopefully encourage those fuzzy strands to lie down!

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seed shampoo

A Clean/Green Option

If you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo that's great for the environment and doesn’t have harmful chemicals, check out Seed Phytonutrients. They have a wide variety of formulas for whatever your hair needs are, and all of them lack sulfates. Best of all, they come in mostly paper bottles that survive all the water in your shower, and have seeds in the packaging you can plant!

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Bb hairdresser shampoo

The Splurge Option

Bumble & Bumble’s "Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo" doesn't have sulfates, but it does have six different oils working together to give you soft, healthy hair. If you’re treating yourself, go this route...you deserve it!

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l'oreal ever pure

The Budget Option

If you want great hair, but don’t have a ton of cash to spare, check out L’Oreal "Ever Pure Moisture Shampoo." It’s very moisturizing, helps keep your color fresh, and doesn’t break the bank!

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