Why use “Sulfate Free” shampoo and conditioner?

Posted on May 16, 2012

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Sulfate Free. We see it highlighted on shampoo bottles like it’s a big deal, but what does this really mean? Why is it important for us to use sulfate free shampoos and conditioners?  I did a little research and here’s the short + sweet + simple answer.

Sulfate is an inexpensive chemical used by companies to provide cleaning power and bubbly lather in our shampoos (and some conditioners).

It cuts through grease and provides the bubbles that we love, so what’s the problem? The concern is that sulfates can cause skin irritations, worsen skin problems and can even be linked to hair loss! Sulfates are cheap and effective as a detergent, but our delicate scalp, hair, and hair follicles aren’t able to handle the harsh chemical- especially as we age. :(

Here are a few types of  sulfates you want to look out for (in order of most irritating to least).
1. Sodium Myreth Sulfate | 2. TEA Laureth Sulfate |  3. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (Probably the most common) |  4. Ammonia Laureth Sulfate

If you’re experiencing hair loss, skin breakouts, or dry skin… consider switching to a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner.

The harsh sulfates may be causing you more harm than good. Btw, this might be going overboard… but I even go as far as rinsing my hair without getting any of the rinse water onto my face! I know, I’m neurotic (at times).

If your shampoo doesn’t explicitly state that it’s “sulfate free,” it’s probably not. Next time you’re shopping for a shampoo and conditioner, consider trying one that’s sulfate free. There’s plenty of great products that don’t use sulfates and provides great cleansing power and lather at every price point! Here’s what I’ve been enjoying lately!

Drugstore Brand:

Not Your Mother’s Shampoo: (8oz: $5.99) Available at: Drugstore.com | Ulta
Made with essential vitamins, herbs and bioactive extracts, this salon formula will have your hair stronger, healthier and, in turn  longer by the time prince charming comes for you! Way to Grow is for already existing hair; it does not grow new hair. May be used for chemically treated hair. Made in USA

Not Your Mother’s Conditioner: (8oz: $5.99) Available at: Drugstore.com | Ulta
Made with essential vitamins, herbs and bioactive extracts, this salon formula will strengthen, moisturize and give your hair a silky texture by the time prince charming comes to you!

  • Smell: Strawberries! Yum. Seriously so good.
  • Shampoo: The lather is a bit watery, but my hair feels clean.  Remember, lather does not = clean!
  • Conditioner: Conditioner feels like a really thick lotion. Does a great job at detangling my permed hair and leaves it feeling soft! Great value. :)

Department Store Brand:

Serge Normant Meta Silk Shampoo: (8oz: $24) Available at: Barney’s New York | Sephora
Sulfate free formula cleanses away excess oil and daily debris, protects and perfects, never strips or depletes. Gentle enough for colored and chemically treated hair, including straightening processes. Enriched with Natural Rice and Camellia Oil that nourish hair to silky smoothness while adding volume, bounce and vibrancy. Keravis™*, a Vegetable Protein increases hair strength while Cedar Bark Extract, from the mountains of Morocco, clarifies hair and scalp. Leaves hair balanced and resilient, with increased shine and luster.

Serge Normant Meta Velour Conditioner: (8oz: $24) Available at: Barney’s New York | Sephora
Help hair regain its natural brilliance and vitality for long-lasting style and movement. Gentle enough for colored and chemically treated hair, this deep conditioning formula hydrates, detangles and thickens hair without adding weight. Natural Botanical Oils, Rice and Essential Fatty Acids nourish hair to silky smoothness while adding volume, bounce and vibrancy. Keravis™*, a Vegetable Protein, strengthens and protects the cuticle while Cedar Bark Extract, from the mountains of Morocco, clarifies to leave hair balanced and restored, increasing shine and luster.

  • Smell: It doesn’t smell flowery, fresh or fruity like most hair products. It’s hard for me to identify the smell, but if I had to describe how the smell makes me feel: luxurious, sophisticated and rich. :)
  • Shampoo: Thick lather. Hair feels super clean after washing.
  • Conditioner: The conditioner is VERY creamy but doesn’t weight down my hair. My hair literally ‘soaks up’ the conditioner when I work it into my hair. :)

I’ve noticed I don’t lose as much hair since making the switch to sulfate free shampoos and conditioners. I don’t think I’ll be going back to products that use sulfates. :)

Now that you have beautiful and clean hair… how about trying out some no-heat waves (tutorial here) or an easy sock bun (tutorial here)!

Hope this has been a helpful review!

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