There’s no way around it: Everybody needs a good shampoo, but not all of them are created equal. No matter your hair type, cut, or color, we could all stand to pay a little more attention to the things we put in and on our bodies. Reading the back of your shampoo bottle may give you flashbacks to science class, but there is one ingredient you should pay close attention to: sulfates.
If you’ve been searching for the best formula for your mane, chances are good you’ve come across sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates get a bit of a bad rap, and while they don’t pose a serious threat to the health of your hair, some shampoo formulas containing sulfates can make your hair look and feel stripped or dry (and everyone knows dry hair is a nightmare to style). If you’re looking to swap out your old shampoo for one without sulfates, here are our 17 best sulfate-free shampoos for every hair type.
Is sulfate-free shampoo better for your hair?
Before determining whether sulfate-free shampoos are better for your specific hair type, it’s important to understand why there are sulfates in shampoos in the first place.
Sulfates are a commonly-used detergent found in beauty products that help create a sudsy lather to remove dirt, oil, and other build-up from the hair or skin. While sulfates are generally regarded as safe, these super-effective cleansing agents can make certain hair types like waves, curls, or coils more prone to dryness, brittleness, and frizz. If you typically struggle with rough, parched hair or often experience skin sensitivity or irritation, you may want to consider picking up a sulfate-free shampoo.
What is a sulfate-free shampoo?
Sulfate-free shampoo typically uses creamier, more hydrating ingredients to help gently cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping their natural oils. It’s important to note that you won’t see as much foam or lather coming from these products, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting the job done.
What happens when you use sulfate-free shampoo?
The results of switching to a sulfate-free shampoo will likely differ between each head of hair, but you may notice that your strands are more hydrated and less frizzy, and your scalp looks and feels more balanced with moisture.
Who should not use sulfate-free shampoo?
If you use a lot of heavy or greasy styling products, you may find that sulfate-free shampoos don’t fully cleanse or purify your hair. If that’s the case, we recommend occasionally swapping in a shampoo with sulfates to help fully remove build-up from your locks. Not sure where to start? Find our full offerings of shampoos here.
If you decide that a sulfate-free shampoo is just what your hair care routine needs, keep scrolling for our best sulfate-free shampoos to add to your cart.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Damaged Hair
Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Damaged Hair
Ideal for all hair types and textures, Redken’s Acidic Bonding Concentrate Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Damaged Hair helps to intensely condition, repair strength, and recreate weakened bonds on damaged hair.
Have extreme damage? Pre-treat the shampoo with the line’s Intensive Treatment to prepare strands for washing, which helps lessen the occurrence of further damage.
Kérastase Bain Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Medium to thick, damaged hair needs a richer lather, like Kérastase’s Bain Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo. This sulfate-free shampoo blends the soothing flowering plant called centella asiatica with lactic acid to help gently exfoliate and seal the surface of damaged hair.
Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo
The first step to nursing distressed color-treated hair back to life is with Pureology’s Strength Cure Shampoo. This sulfate-free shampoo provides a gentle, rich lather that fortifies and repairs damaged hair with ingredients such as keravis and astaxanthin.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Color-Treated Hair
Matrix Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair
There’s nothing worse than spending the whole day at the salon only to see your precious new color wash right down the drain. Matrix Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair strengthens hair but won’t strip your strands of moisture or color and produces a super-satisfying lather sans the sulfates.
Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Do you love experimenting with the latest hair color trends, like fantasy hair or half-and-half highlights? Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Sulfate-Free Shampoo is a must-have addition to your routine. Its sulfate-free formula produces a milky, high-foam lather that gently cleanses, so your new hue remains vibrant and lasts for up to 65 days when used as part of the Keep Me Vivid system.
L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Metal Detox Shampoo
Hard water can cause your salon color to look dull, but L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Metal Detox Shampoo can make that a thing of the past. This sulfate-free shampoo detoxifies the hair from metals, resulting in intact color vibrancy that doesn’t skimp on shine.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair
Think you need a salon appointment to envelop hair in a lustrous glaze? Think again. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair contains refining lipids that mimic the hair's natural protective varnish to insulate the cortex from water and other external stress factors, so strands receive extra care.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Blonde-Treated Hair
Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Sulfate-Free Strengthening Shampoo
Suitable for all types of lightened hair—even brunettes with blonde highlights—Matrix’s Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Sulfate-Free Strengthening Shampoo helps reinforce weakened bonds and revive sensitized hair.
Pureology Strength Cure Best Blonde Purple Shampoo
We’re all for multitasking, which is why we love Pureology Strength Cure Best Blonde Purple Shampoo. Not only does it contain purple pigments to neutralize brassiness in bottle blonde hair, but it also repairs and strengthens damaged, lightened hair.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Dry or Frizzy Hair
Redken Frizz Dismiss Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Redken Frizz Dismiss Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo features a gentle, sodium chloride and sulfate-free formula to tame frizzy hair, increase smoothness and enhance shine.
Kérastase Discipline Bain Fluidealiste Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Kérastase Discipline Bain Fluidealiste Sulfate-Free Shampoo is a gentle cleansing, sulfate-free shampoo that weightlessly gets hair to cooperate by taming frizz and making strands more resistant to humidity.
Kérastase Curl Manifesto Bain Hydratation Douceur Shampoo For Curly Hair
Curly hair needs some extra special attention. That’s where Kérastase’s Curl Manifesto Bain Hydratation Douceur Shampoo For Curly Hair comes in. It contains nourishing ingredients like manuka honey and ceramides to moisturize curls and enhance the shape of your ringlets long after you step out of the shower.
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
Struggling with damaged, color-treated hair? Containing ingredients like jojoba, green tea, and sage, Pureology Hydrate Shampoo kicks off your hair care routine with intense moisture while the brand’s exclusive AntiFade Complex protects color vibrancy.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Fine Hair
Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo
If your hair falls on the finer side, finding a formula that won’t further weigh it down is no easy feat. For that reason, we love Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo. This silicone-and-sulfate-free formula provides fine hair with the perfect level of nourishment so that you’ll never have to deal with flat, lifeless hair ever again.
Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo
Ingredients like wheat protein and eucalyptus leaf extract in Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo help enhance volume and restore movement to fine, color-treated hair that tends to fall flat.
Pureology Nanoworks Gold Shampoo
Dull, aging, color-treated hair needs some special care of its own. Pureology Nanoworks Gold Shampoo is like liquid gold for hair that’s become thin and dull over time, thanks to ingredients like keravis and marula oil.
Our Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Extensions
Matrix Length Goals Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Extensions
If you invest time and money into getting hair extensions, not just any sulfate-free shampoo will do. Matrix Length Goals Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Extensions provides delicate cleansing for the hair and extensions without compromising the extension adhesive. Plus, it contains 70 percent caring agents for a creamy texture that gently whisks away dirt without disturbing the extensions.
Find more professional products to add to your wash day routine by heading to Hair.com.