Fact: When it comes to the products that go into our hair, we all want the absolute best, regardless of hair texture or curl pattern. While we’re always on the lookout for a new moisturizing styling cream or nourishing hair mask, it might be time to rethink our bread and butter of hair care: shampoo and conditioner.
ICYMI, your typical shampoo and conditioner combo, could be formulated with sulfates, a preservative made from sulfuric acid salts. In shampoos, sulfates help cleanse and remove oil and dirt buildup on the scalp and hair strands. Why is that bad, you might ask?
Well, while sulfates help create the lather you feel when you shampoo, they can be quite damaging to your hair. While they remove dirt and debris, sulfates can also strip your hair of the good stuff it needs, like natural oils, moisture, and even hair dye if you have color-treated hair. As a result, sulfates can leave your hair feeling drier and lackluster than before. The solution? Simple, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.
But we want to give you all the information about the tea about sulfates how they can affect your hair and what the best sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners are out there. So we sat down with some of the best celebrity hairstylists to get their verdict.
Meet the experts
- Monae Everett is a famous hairdresser, author and speaker with over 20 years of experience specializing in natural hair. She has worked with celebs like Tia Mowry, Yara Shahidi, Lizzy Greene and more.
- Bianca Hiller is a famous hairstylist and colorist specializing in custom beach balayage. She is also a global brand ambassador for Olaplex.
Our top picks for 2022 in sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners
- Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Fine Hair: Sexy Hair Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Shampoo
- Best Sulfate-Free Conditioner For Fine Hair: Verb Ghost Conditioner
- Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Natural Hair: Pattern Hydration Shampoo
- Best Sulfate-Free Conditioner For Natural Hair: adwoa beauty Baomint™ deep care treatment
- Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Curly Hair: Vernon François shampoo for curly hair
- Best Sulfate-Free Conditioner For Color-Treated Hair: Color Wow Color safety rinse
Are sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners really better for your hair?
TBH, there is no “better” or “worse” option when choosing a sulfate or sulfate-free formula. It all comes down to personal preference and depends on which one works best for the texture of your hair and the condition of your scalp. “General, [sulfates] can be tough for people who don’t have thick and/or oily hair,” Everett said. In order to If your hair is relatively thin, a sulfate-free formulation is probably best as, according to Hillier, “this texture can benefit from natural oils that remove sulphate”.
It’s important to consider your hair goals when switching to a sulfate-free formula. If you’re coloring your hair for the first time or just want to keep up with your routine coloring routine, a sulfate-free formulation is probably ideal. “If you have colored hair, a [sulfate-free] Shampoo helps prolong your toner,” says Hillier. She also mentioned that prolonged use of sulfates in your shampoo or conditioner could cause your hair’s color to fade and become less shiny, as well as potential scalp irritation and hair loss.
The same goes for those who choose to go all natural with their hair journey. For those who have thicker textures and curl patterns, like 3B through 4C, it may not be enough, just Stop processing or straightening your hair. “When people choose to go natural with their hair, they often choose to eliminate all synthetic products from their treatment,” says Everett. While sulfates are not necessarily harmful to natural hair, If you’re experiencing hair breakage or even going back to natural hair, it might be worth getting rid of the sulfates to experience maximum benefits for natural growth.
How to choose the best sulfate-free formula
Not all sulfate free Formulas are the same, especially when you consider We all have different hair textures and concerns. Before you make the big switch, here’s some important information on how to find the right sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner to you.
Testing for harmful ingredients
According to Hillier, it would be a good idea to make sure there are no silicones on the ingredient list — these types can usually smother your hair and prevent moisturizing factors from getting in. So, while a sulfate-free product might claim to be “clarifying” or “cleansing,” it might still be quite dry and streaky. Also, watch out for formulas with parabens, formaldehyde, alcohol, artificial colors or fragrances that could damage your hair.
Also pay attention to caring ingredients
Because sulfates help you feel sparkling clean when washing Your hair, you need just as many healthy hair ingredients that are present if you use a formula without them – if not more. Everett recommends looking for formulas that include nourishing ingredients like vitamins, natural oils, and moisturizers like argan oil, mango butter, and B-complex. This is especially important for those with tight natural curls. A clean and healthy scalp is essential for hair growth, and your sulfate-free formula shouldn’t be lacking in good, clean ingredients that your hair needs to thrive.
All right, we think you’re ready to take the leap to a sulfate-free life. Below are 23 of the best sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners that are really, really excellent. They gently cleanse your hair (so no grease or oil) and restore shine and moisture.