Hair care at home | Why should I try a sulfate-free shampoo?
You’ve probably heard your stylist mention sulfate-free shampoo in conversation many times over the years. But have you ever wondered what sulfates actually are, or why sulfate-free shampoos are recommended by hair experts the world over? Probably not. And that’s okay! We’re here to help you navigate the world of sulfate-free shampoos. Plus – we find out why you should consider introducing one into your hair care routine at home. We also enlisted the help of our stylists. So keep reading to see 2 stylist recommended sulfate-free shampoos for you to try at home.
By the way: you may see alternative spellings of sulfate online, like ‘sulphate’. Just so you know, they refer to the same chemical. But for the purposes of this article, we will use ‘sulfate’.
What are sulfates?
Sulfate is a chemical that reacts with sulphuric acid and forms a salt. Without sounding like your high school science teacher, there are many kinds of sulfates that are widely used in industries. In the haircare industry, the most commonly used sulfates are produced from petroleum and plant oils. Needless to say, sulfates are often controversial due to their origin. The biggest concern is the long-term side effects of sulfate production. Petroleum products are associated with climate change, pollution, and greenhouse gases. So it’s no wonder why the sulfate debate has resurged itself.
Why are sulfates in some shampoos?
Sulfates are what gives your shower gel and shampoo that thick lather that we associate with cleansing. They are great surfactants too, which means they attract both oil and water. This is the important part. It means while one molecule attracts the unwanted oil particles in our hair, another clings to the water. When you rinse off the sulfate lather, the grease is then washed away with the water.
So how does a sulfate-free shampoo cleanse hair?
Although it might seem quite obvious that “no sulfate shampoo” contains no sulfates, it’s important to understand how it differs to ‘normal’ shampoos. If sulfates provided the emulsifying, cleaning ability in shampoos, you’re probably wondering what is used instead to cleanse the hair. This pretty much depends on the product. Some sulfate-free shampoos contain no lathering agents at all. And this is why you won’t get much or any foam out of them.
But despite how this might make us feel (seeing as we’re so used to lather = washing), this doesn’t mean they aren’t cleansing the hair. Despite how it may feel initially on your scalp, no-lather shampoos also have the ability to remove dirt and grime. However, they tend to leave a little more of the hair’s natural oils behind. This can be great for naturally dry hair that finds shampoos can strip too much moisture from strands. Coloured hair also tends to respond well to sulfate free shampoo. In fact, if over-used it can strip the hair of its colour just like a lathering shampoo.
So it’s safe to say that although the ‘cleaning’ ability remains the same, our ability to accept a lather-free wash may take some getting used to!
What do the experts make of sulfate free shampoos?
We asked our Creative Director Kieron Fowles, whether he personally recommended switching to sulfate-free shampoo and he advised:
“I’m a big fan of sulphate free shampoo – it’s kind for the environment AND your hair – what’s not to like?! Loads of people ask if it’s suitable for their hair and my response is this: sulfate free shampoo comes in as many variables as SLS shampoo does, so I can say with some confidence that there is a sulfate free shampoo out there that is perfect you. I actually prefer using a sulfate free shampoo (not just because it’s better for the environment), because I find that it’s less abrasive on your hair and scalp. It’s less likely to strip your hair of its natural oils and colour and you’re at much less risk of irritation with a sulfate free shampoo too – so it gets a big thumbs up from me!”
The sulfate-free shampoo debate
It’s important to note that there are varying opinions online when it comes to the sulfate vs. sulfate-free shampoos debate. There is not any concrete research (at the time of writing this article) that suggests that sulfates might be damaging to either the skin or hair. However, as research advances rapidly we hope to know more soon(ish). And trust us, as soon as we know more, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime sulfate-free haircare products offer our customers an environment-friendly alternative.
Now that we’ve (hopefully) enlightened you on the topic of going sulfate-free, here are 2 stylist recommended shampoos that’ll be kind to your hair (and the environment):
Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo
The Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo works to give fine, limp hair a boost of natural-looking volume, all without weighing down your locks. Our experts highly recommend its rich, cleansing formula infused with antioxidant-rich Argan oil and a plant extract that naturally plumps up the cuticle. Safe for all hair types and colours, this sulfate-free shampoo is the perfect addition to anyone’s bathroom cupboard. Afterall, there’s no such thing as ‘too much volume’, right?
Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo
If you are looking for a way to repair damaged, colour treated hair with a sulfate free shampoo then our stylists recommend Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo. Working to restore balance to your hair with a formula that uses Keravis, Ceramide and Arganing agents for a soft, velvety touch akin only Pureology. It also features antioxidants and ‘AntiFadeComplex’ to help strengthen and repair damage as well as protect your hair colour – all without that ‘clinical’ odour. Instead, enjoy top notes of lavender and honey as you wash away impurities and product build-up, leaving you with enviably glossy and healthy hair.