I recently read an article in Harper’s Bazaar that listed the ten best habits for ‘great looking hair,’ some of which included things you might expect like eating healthy and using a natural bristle brush. However, when I saw using sulfate-free shampoo listed as a trick that may help to increase shine and volume, I had to see what made this type of product so great…
For years, many household and beauty products have included an ingredient called sodium laurel sulphate (SLS), which is a foaming and lathering compound. Companies also use SLS because it is a cheaper and more effective alternative to natural ingredients. In one rather alarming study from the Journal of the American College of Toxicology, SLS was actually proven as a skin irritant. As a person who has sensitive skin and who has not had the best of luck with salon-grade shampoo, I was pretty curious to see what results the alternative would bring. But, just to be sure, and since the aforementioned study’s findings were released the year of my birth, I decided to spend a few weeks testing four sulfate-free shampoos currently on the market, three of which were formulated for color-treated or highlighted hair.
Drum roll please: I can honestly say that my scalp feels completely different. In fact, it doesn’t feel like anything at all. My scalp doesn’t get oily at the end of the day (the roots used to end up looking wet), and, unlike before, my locks aren’t frizzed out from end to end after washing, or throughout the course of the day. I’ve been told that you’re not supposed to wash your hair every day, but I work in an environment where I simply don’t have the energy to constantly be spraying fixative in order to keep my oily strands at bay. So, for all you Daily Washers out there, this one’s for you:
1. L’Oréal EverStrong Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $6
You just can’t beat this price. I’m used to buying products at my salon and can’t seem to pay less than $20 for a bottle of shampoo these days. I actually used this particular shampoo before I knew it was free of sulfates and I couldn’t tell a difference. I stopped using it because it over-hydrated my fine hair (but this could work well for all you thick-haired gals out there) but I am eager to try L’Oréal’s other products in its EverStrong, EverPure and EverSleek lines.
2. Agadir Argan Oil Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, $20 at CVS or under $10 at Amazon
Certified argan oil-infused, sulfate-free, paraben-free and not tested on animals, this product has a natural foaming agent in it called sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, not to be confused with SLS. Initially, this shampoo weighed my hair down but after several days, my scalp’s natural oils adjusted. The smell is definitely more invigorating than I might want out of a shampoo, but that’s just the argan oil doing its thing.
3. Shikai Henna Gold Highlighting Shampoo, $8
Shikai has been around for 40 years and, unlike some of its competitors, the brand has always offered up outstanding products to its consumers and those that know. Moreover, all of the shampoos sold through The Vitamin Shoppe, like this one, contain no sulfates–period (even anti-lice shampoos). I have been using this product for the past five days and I really think it’s a contender. I actually might end up purchasing the conditioner as well, as I think it will help protect my blonde tresses from the elements.
4. Dermorganic Conditioning Shampoo Sulfate Free & Color Safe w/Argan Oil, $16
I really thought I was saving myself five bucks in purchasing this product but instead, I ended up giving my hair a headache. This in no way compares to the Agadir, and I have thus come to fully understand the meaning of certified now. While this shampoo smells far better than Agadir’s, it lacks the staying power that its competitor delivers. In my opinion, if you are looking to achieve really straight hair, this would be the best choice for you.
In short, each of these sulfate-free shampoos is going to treat your strands differently than mine–everyone is different. But the bottom line is that, no matter the brand you choose, you are not running the risk of stripping away all of your hair’s natural oils, nor are you using a product commonly used to clean carpets and your bathroom sink. If your skin or scalp feels better once you make the sulfate-free switch, you may also want to look into changing your lotions and toothpaste, many of which also contain SLS. There are more conscientious companies out there than you think that do not cheat their customers by using harsh chemicals for profit. Good luck in your search!