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Sulfate Free Shampoo and Hair Care

Have you tried sulfate free shampoo? If not, consider giving sulfate free hair care a chance, especially if you have color treated hair.

One of the main ingredients in most shampoo is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), or Sodium Lauryl Ether (aka Sodium Laureth Sulfate) (SLES). These are surfactants, which in basic terms is a detergent, and it helps shampoo lather well. Sure, a nice lather always seems nice, but it isn’t without problems, and that has led to an increase in the number of sulfate free hair products on the market. There are a number of issues with Sulfates as a shampoo ingredient:

  • It can aggravate acne and can act as an irritant.
  • It can be hard on hair color
  • It has been linked to cancer, although only in much larger amounts than what you would find in your hair products
  • It you do keratin hair straightening treatments, it will decrease the length of time that your treatment remains active

In my case, I became interested in finding a sulfate free shampoo because of acne concerns. Then, after trying a few, I found that my color generally lasted longer as well. I also found that sulfate free hair care items worked just as well as their high lather cousins and, with the advent of a couple of drugstore brands jumping on the sulfate free bandwagon, sulfate free hair care doesn’t have to be expensive.

Affordable Sulfate Free Hair Care

In the drugstore, look for the relatively new L’Oreal EverPure Line Sulfate Free Shampoo and Hair Care, which is a full line of sulfate free hair products with various shampoos and conditioners available. I found the L’Oreal EverPure line to be good quality and, at around $7, the price is quite affordable. I am currently using the volumizing products and find that they do indeed add good volume, while taking care of my oily scalp, yet leaving my hair quite soft.

In addition, you can look for products from Renpure Organics Sulfate Free Shampoo and Hair Care.  Also running in the $7 price range, RenPure is an organic line with sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo has a nice feel to it and the conditioner leaves my hair soft.  I initially purchased my set of RenPure at Walgreens, but later had a hard time finding it there.

Premium Sulfate Free Hair Products

At the higher end, there are a number of brands that leave SLS or SLES out of their hair products. My favorite by far is the Pureology Line. Pureology simply has the best hair products I have ever used.  They feel great, smell great, preserve color, and leave the hair feeling soft and smooth. They are not my everyday choice, however, simply because that quality comes with a high price tag. Besides being the best, Pureology is also one of the most expensive lines out there, with a regular to smallish sized bottle of shampoo running about $28-30.

Like Purelogy, Alterna provides sulfate free hair care in their hemp line of products. Alterna also provides high quality items at an equally high price point. Bonacure also has a sulfate free offering now. They happen to be one of my absolute favorite hair care brands, but I have not tried their SLS free products yet.

For a bit more affordable option in the premium brands, take a look at the Tigi Bedhead Superstar hair care line.  These sulfate free shampoo and conditioner products also provide quality cleansing, but the price is in the more reasonable $15 range. I have been using Tigi quite a bit lately and alternating it with the L’Oreal everpure line.

There are many more premium brands that offer sulfate free products. You can locate premium items at  Ulta Sulfate Free Shampoo and Hair Care stores.

Note: This article is based in part on products sent to me by a representative of the company (L’Oreal EverPure).

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  1. I have the Everpure shampoo and like it for the most part, but since I have oily hair, I don’t use it that often. I know it doesn’t contain sulfates, but I have been wondering if it’s really any gentler than other shampoos… I like the L’Oreal Vive shampoos too, but again they aren’t ideal on my oily hair.

  2. do you know anything about Enjoy hair care products? My hairdresser used them on me and i was impressed. They are really expensive.

  3. I like the SLES free shampoo, however i noticed that my hair feels more oily… and also more on the heavier side, while using shampoo with that ingredient, my hair feels light and more shiney and bouncy!!! I like the feeling… but i continue to use the SLS free anyways.

  4. Nancy, I haven’t tried enjoy Enjoy products. I’ll have to look into them.

    Tasha, I too find that the sulfate free items tend to be a bit too heavy on the moisturizing side. I have slightly oily hair (even though it is color treated) and that can be problematic for me. Ever Pure volumizing formula is not too bad with that as long as you don’t use much of the conditioner.

  5. Some shampoos may be sulfate-free but they may contain other toxic chemicals like parabens and PEGs. It’s important to read over the ingredients and if you see ingredients that are super long and scientific, it’s a good indication they’re bad for you.

  6. I’d used other sulfate-free shampoos before and found them to be expensive and usually a little heavy. Shielo’s Hydrate Shampoo (shielo.com) was totally different–my long, thick hair is left smooth and shiny but not weighed down.

    My hairs looks fantastic with this, and I looked up every single ingredient in it on cosmeticsdatabase.com, which researchs the chemicals in products, and every one was either zero hazard or low. It is safe.

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