SLS 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???