If you have dry, coloured or course hair, then you might have heard that you could be better off switching to a sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner. But what are sulphates? Why are they so bad? And out of all the choice on the market, which sulphate-free shampoos should we be reaching for? We’ve got the low-down on the gentle cleansers that still get the job done.
What are sulphates?
You might know that you don’t want them, but do you know what sulphates actually are? In essence, sulphates are simply a detergent designed to eliminate grease and dirt. Often listed on the bottle as ‘sodium lauryl sulphate’ or ‘sodium laureth sulphate’, these detergents attract water and oil and so are super-effective at lifting grease, grime and product build-up from your hair. Sulphates are the main cause of the lathering effect of shampoo, and can leave your hair feeling squeaky clean.
So what’s so bad about sulphates?
There’s actually nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with sulphates – they act as fantastic cleansers, which is why they are used in lots of products from shampoo to washing powder. However, one of the side effects of shampoos containing sulphates is that they can remove too much moisture from your hair, leaving it drier than before. For many hair types, this won’t cause enough of a problem to start avoiding them – but others may find that sulphates in shampoo leave their hair in a worse condition.
Which hair types benefit from sulphate-free shampoo?
You may be better off avoiding the harsh cleansing of sulphates if you have:
– coloured hair
– naturally dry or course hair
– hair extensions
– sensitive skin
– a dry scalp
All of these hair concerns tend to require extra nourishment, which is why sulphate-free shampoo and conditioners can be a better option. The gentle cleansing provided by sulphate-free products will help to keep your hair fresh while still retaining moisture.
Sulphate-Free Shampoos: Top 5
A must-have for hair that needs a little more moisture, the Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo (£16.55) infuses dry locks with antioxidant-rich Argan oil, as well as Vitamins A and E. It’s free from sulphates, phosphates and paraben, making it kind to coloured hair as well as dry or damaged hair. This shampoo is gentle enough for daily use, so still works perfectly for people with oily roots or active lifestyles.
Our hair naturally gets weaker and thinner as we age, so a sulphate-free shampoo can help lock in nourishment for longer. The label.m Therapy Age-Defying Shampoo (£14.95) is kinder to your hair thanks to the lack of sulphates, parabens and sodium chloride, and also uses White Caviar for its restorative, rejuvenating properties. Hair is left radiant and more youthful-looking.
Sulphates can cause colour to fade more quickly, so a sulphate-free shampoo such as Fudge’s Colour Lock (£9.95) will help prevent early fading. Additional benefits such as UV filters will ensure that your colour stays fresh and vibrant for longer.
The perfect antidote for hair that has been weakened by chemical styling or colouring, this luxe Kerastase shampoo has also been infused with a surface protector for enhanced gloss. Complete with a satisfying lather often absent from sulphate-free formulas, this shampoo will leave hair super smooth and shiny.
The unique blend of oils in Designline’s Weightless Shampoo (£9.49) have been included to add moisture and enhance shine while also washing away the day’s grime. The gentle cleansing of the sulphate-free formula helps coloured hair to stay vibrant for longer, while dry hair will love the thirst-quenching moisturing ingredients.
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