SLS Free Shampoo

Categories: Hair Care
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sls free shampooSLS Free shampoo is all the rage right now, and there are lots of shampoos marketed as sulfate-free (at least free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate). What are sulfates, and are they bad? Sulfates are the detergents in shampoo that clean your hair by removing the dirt and oil. In my shampoo ingredients to avoid post, I have a list of the harsher sulfates to avoid in shampoo.

Even though I have nothing against regular shampoos that contain gentler sulfates and don’t think they are “bad,” recently I have jumped on the sulfate free shampoo bandwagon! As you can read on my new site hair loss hell, my hair loss has been progressing rapidly and I thought I would try out SLS free shampoos. I didn’t expect them to fix my hair loss, but I have become desperate and wanted to see what the hype is all about. Navigating the category of sulfate free shampoos is complicated because there are so many different shampoo ingredients, and I haven’t become an expert on every single shampoo ingredient yet.

I’ve tried these shampoos lately, which are SLS free (meaning they are free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate):

* Free & Clear Shampoo *
If you have fragrance allergies and are very sensitive to skin and hair care products, this is a shampoo you want to try! I got a sample of it from my Dermatologist, and it gets a lot of great reviews. It’s from the makers of Vanicream, one of my favorite sunscreens, and it contains fewer ingredients than most shampoos, so it’s less likely to cause a problem. It’s a very boring shampoo – it has no smell, but it does what it’s supposed to do – clean your hair nicely and gently, without leaving it greasy or overly dry. It’s also free of dyes, lanolin, and parabens.

* Yes To Tomatoes Volumizing Shampoo *
This is my current new favorite shampoo. I love the smell of it (it smells like baby powder), and it cleans my hair well, without over-stripping it, nor does it leave it greasy. It’s also paraben and petroleum free. Its main cleansing ingredient is sodium coco-sulfate (which is a gentle cleansing agent, – very similar to sodium laureth sulfate, but gentler). This shampoo has a lot of plant extracts, which makes me a little nervous because a lot of plant extracts can be irritating, but I haven’t noticed a problem. I wouldn’t say this shampoo is that volumizing, despite the name. A similar shampoo I like is the Yes To Carrots Daily Pampering Shampoo. I know it’s silly to use a shampoo mostly because it smells good, but washing my hair is traumatizing, so at least I look forward to using these nice smelling shampoos. Both of them can be found at Target for around $9.

* Jason Natural Thin To Thick Shampoo *
This paraben-free product actually worked as a volumizer and made my hair feel about 20% thicker! It’s definitely one of the most volumizing shampoos I’ve tried. It has a mint like smell that I really don’t like, but it worked really well. Please note I tried the new version that lists decyl glucoside as the second ingredient (they recently changed their formula). I used this for about a month with great results, until my hair started falling out like crazy. It was probably not the shampoo (I was experimenting with Rogaine at the time), but I got so spooked and stopped using it. This has a lot of ingredients in it, and some ingredients like menthol and citrus extract, could be irritating to your scalp. You can get this at Whole Foods for about $7.

* Avalon Organics Biotin B-Complex Thickening Shampoo *
This is another one of those shampoos that smells terrible to me (like mint and essential oils), but scent is of course subjective. This shampoo wasn’t very volumizing and left a weird plastic feel on my hair, so it’s definitely not my favorite, although a lot of people like it. It’s paraben free. The product is not tested on animals, and it contains 100% vegetarian ingredients. It costs around $10 at Whole Foods.

* Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo *
This has a pleasant fruity pomegranate scent and the shampoo feels very gentle (although not really volumizing). This leaves a plastic-like coating on my hair, and my hair sometimes still feels greasy after using it, so this isn’t my top pick, but it’s worth trying because a lot of people love it. It’s free of parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, and it’s not tested on animals. This retails for around $6 at Target.

* L’Oreal Paris EverPure Volume Shampoo *
This shampoo lathered pretty well and made my hair feel soft, but again the fragrance was horrible to me. I had to stop using this after a few days because of the scent. The matching conditioner was even worse, and smelled like cheap men’s cologne. This has some potentially irritating ingredients like linalool (citrus), and this product actually gets a “hazardous” score on the cosmeticsdatabase.com website. Just because something is sulfate free doesn’t mean it’s great for your hair. You can find this at your local drugstore for about $6.

The SLS free shampoo bottom line:
I think there is a lot of hype and gimmickry about SLS free shampoos. Just because a product is sulfate free doesn’t mean it’s any better than a regular shampoo that contains gentle sulfates, and a lot of the SLS free shampoos come with potentially irritating “natural” ingredients. On the other hand, a lot of sulfate free shampoos are not tested on animals, and they contain less of the ingredients that could pose a potential health danger (according to the cosmeticsdatabase.com website). I will continue researching SLS free shampoos and keep you updated with what I find. As far as helping my hair loss issues – I haven’t noticed a change overall since I’ve gone SLS-free, and my hair looks and feels the same as it did when I used regular shampoo, like Garnier Fructis. 

I know sulfates are a hot topic, and I look forward to hearing about your favorite shampoos. Who knew washing your hair would take so much work???

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16 Responses to “SLS Free Shampoo”

  1. Claudia Says:

    My favorite sulfate-free shampoo is Alterna Life Solutions Volume Restore shampoo and conditioner. It contains beneficial ingredients as well. What works best for me when it comes to sulfate free shampoos is to shampoo twice. The first time you don’t get much lather but the second time it’s like using a regular shampoo. I love the Alterna Life products because they don’t weigh down my fine hair at all. On other days I use WEN by Chaz Dean (the new Pomegranate one or my old time favorite Sweet Almond Mint).

  2. dee Says:

    i have been researching a lot of SLS free shampoos-had major hair loss-so i know the trauma behind shampooing etc-have tried 3 out of the list u have given above.would like to ask if u have tried the Organix brand?it is quite cheap at CV -around 6$.appreciate a response

  3. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I haven’t tried that brand yet, but I will look for it at the store. Which is your favorite SLS free shampoo? Have any of them helped with your hair loss?

  4. TC Says:

    I know this isn’t SLS free but I like the Garnier Fructis for color-treated hair(even though my hair isn’t color treated). I like this because the conditioner is thick and has some “UV blocking abilities”, so my hair never dries out. Although recently they changed the formula, which now has a heavier scent and the actual shampoo and conditioner are colored pink- which I don’t like. I wish everyone would stop changing their formulas for the worse!

  5. Rachel Says:

    A good, cheap, sulfate-free shampoo is Kirkland Moisturizing Shampoo – yes, that’s Costco’s own line of products. It’s $10 for a huge bottle, leaves hair soft and doesn’t exacerbate hair loss. It has a vanilla scent.

  6. sherin Says:

    In some shampoos, it is just mentioned that KEY INGREDIENTS as rosemary oil and cedar wood oil… i m using nature’s essence right now where i could find only these two ingredients … whether it is safe to use or not?

  7. LE Says:

    Hi, I have been reading alot on SLS & ALS free shampoos and have tried a few myself. I have tried Burt’s Bee’s volumizing shampoo. Smelled really good and liked it, but I don’t think it was helping my hair loss that much. I’ve tried others as well, but none of those shampoos & conditioners are ones that I would buy again. I just bought Organix Cherry Blossom Shampoo & Conditioner yesterday…..so we’ll see how that works out.

  8. nicole Says:

    I always, if i had to pick, would use let’s say sodium laureth vs. ammonium laureth in a shampoo if i had to.but def better a shampoo that contains none of those that a shampoo that does contain those ingredients…however, in my case, no matter what shampoo i used, my hair kept falling and it was brittle and dry. I ended up finding out-I have hypothyroidism. It is important that you must test for everything. Even when on medication, my TSH level was fine, I was switched to another medication that regulated both the T3 and T4 regarding the thyroid hormones. My first medication only contained T4 and my body would not convert to T3. So while my thyroid stimulating hormone was in a normal range, i still had symptoms. Now I take a medication that contains both. Everyone is different and there are many causes for the problems we have. So while shampoos can cause issues, to have that many issues, it is better to be more proactive and go to the doc and have blood work done. things like anemia can cause your hair to fall out among other conditions. So while we keep trying safer shampoos for our hair, we must keep in mind and rule out other factors too. As soon as I got the right medication, to be honest, i have used herbal essence, garnier and even the iccky pantene and my hair is not falling out. I kept blaming the shampoo but it was my thyroid. so now I seek a good shampoo, and monitor my health. be sure you monitor your health, and use a safe shampoo for ur hair..good luck!

  9. Keranique Products For Hair Loss Says:

    […] hair. So there’s no way I would personally recommend this shampoo. I review several gentler SLS free shampoos here on my skin care blog, many of which I would recommend for thinning […]

  10. Chris Thompson Says:

    Have you tried the “Wen” hair products by Chaz Dean? I have hair extension and have been experiencing drying and tangling. I wont to know if there are ingredients that my be causing damage to my extensions in the “Wen” condintioning cleanser. I use the Almond Mint.


  11. Tressa Says:

    Have you ever tried Sei Bella shampoo and conditioner? Its made by Melaleuca a wellness company. Best Shampoo I have ever used…..and I’ve pretty much tried them all….lol. It is SFS as well and does not have any other harsh chemicals. email me if you want more info.

  12. Amy Says:

    I am thoroughly unimpressed with the Organix brand. It severely dries out my hair, which is difficult to do with my hair. However, my main point in commenting here is to give you a big THANK YOU for posting all of this. My budget has really got me strapped right now, but I am also HUGE on hair care because the better you take care of your hair, the longer you can live without a trim. Your research has given me some great knowledge, and so much more than just do this or do that. Thank you for the reasoning behind it all and your willingness to be candid.

  13. Corinne Asch Says:

    Although I appreciate the great work you’ve done and all the research, I would like to point to a misconception you have that could help you in your search to end hair loss. It is that essential oils are bad or irritating to your scalp. Although, that may be true of certain essential oils they are also a leading the way in curing scalp problems. Peppermint is a wonderful essential oil used to stimulate the scalp tissue and promote hair growth. Clary Sage is another very useful oil. Don’t be afraid of them they are your allies, but do be cautious.

  14. shirley Says:

    I like your articles and thank you for this hard work :) do you think that ‘organix’ shampoo is a good one to use? Thanks,

  15. Vioke Violet Says:

    I have REALLY sensitive scalp and skin, and instead of this one, I use the Shielo Volume Shampoo. I love it!

    It’s difficult to find in local stores in my area so I appreciate being able to order it online.My hair is shiney and my scalp is healthy.

  16. Yvette Thomas Says:

    I have short natural hair. I started using WEN by Chaz Dean. I am noticing a lot of itching of my scalp. Is this Shampoo really ok to use for ethnic hair?

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