Are you sulfate-free?

 Sulfate free shampoo…Why do we care? What does this even mean?

First, there are a couple types of sulfates – these are also in order of least irritating (1) to most irritating (4):

  1. Sodium Myreth Sulfate
  2. TEA Laureth Sulfate
  3. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  5. Ammonia Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is most commonly used in all kinds of soap products from shampoo, to facial cleaners – so, let’s focus on that – what is it?:

    • SLS is a powerful, grease cutting detergent, aids in the foaming nature of soap
    • To put it simply, SLS is used to make soap ‘soapy’
    • It cuts and removes oil effectively

So…why is it in shampoo?

  • To help suds it up! We have been ‘trained’ that, we need that lather to get a good clean
  • This ingredient helps cut/remove oil…and we don’t want oily hair!
  • It’s cheap to produce (more of a reason for manufacturers to use it)

What’s the problem then?

  • Even in diluted quantities, SLS is irritating to the skin and scalp
    • Have ecezema? (like me!) – SLS can irritate this already irritating condition
  • We’ve all gotten shampoo in our eyes at one time or another…it burns! SLS is likely the culprit
    • Tear-free baby shampoo? Well, it’s ‘tear free’ because it’s sulfate free
  • It’s also been known to be damaging to the hair follicle (can lead to weakened hair structure)
  • SLS can strip colour from your hair – hello, that’s not a good thing for us girls who spend good money on highlights/professional coloring!
  • The SLS found in our soaps is the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines – ewww!!

BUT – to date, SLS has not been banned from shampoos and cosmetic agents by the FDA as unhealthy or a cancer causing shampoo ingredient.

What is sulfate free shampoo?

  • HELLO – shampoo without the sulfates. Manufacturers use alternative ingredients to get a similiar effect

Why try sulfate free shampoo? – to…

  • Avoid harsh sulfates!
  • Avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils, and your scalp too (which can lead to them drying out faster than normal)
  • Help maintain color treated hair longer…SLS stripping my nice color?! No, thank you!
  • Help avoid further irritation if you have sensitive skin

According to some critics there are a couple trade offs:

  • Sulfates do a good job cleaning…
  • Sulfate free shampoos won’t strip hair/scalp as much but will need washing again sooner
  • Some sulfate shampoos don’t lather up as well, which is the result of removing the SLS, the foaming agent. This can cause people to use more product to get the foam they’re use to

My take – I’ve been using a sulfate free shampoo, and it foams very well without needing more product (see reco below)

The main reason I initially tried this product – was to avoid sulfates to help maintain my color longer. If I can get a couple additional weeks out of my color, that’s money saved at the salon. I went with L’Oreal – because it was at CVS, and it’s cheaper. I purchased the shampoo specifically for color treated hair. Name: L’Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo, Rosemary Juniper

Why I like it:

L'Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo (sulfate free)

  • It smells amazing
  • It suds up just fine! I don’t have to use more than usual to get a good lather going
  • It makes my hair feel clean, and soft (in combination with my conditioner)
  • It’s less expensive than salon brands
  • I like the tube container- it’s lighter, and easier to carry in my gym bag
  • I can’t say that it has made my color last longer – but my highlights didn’t get brassy last time around…

More info from L’Oreal on this –

Sulfate-Free Color Care System:

  • Anti-Fade System
  • 100% Sulfate-Free
  • No Harsh Salts
  • Natural Botanicals
  • 100% Vegan
  • Not tested on animals, no animal byproducts

Color-preserving formula there are no harsh sulfates and salts that can strip and dull your color.  The EverPure Sulfate-Free Color Care System* protects and conditions hair for long-lasting color purity.

EverPure shampoos create a luxurious and rich lathering experience, while natural aromatic properties from rosemary and juniper help energize and invigorate the senses.

EverPure Moisture Shampoo gently cleanses, deeply nourishes and revitalizes dry, damaged hair.  Its rich moisturizing formula reveals your hair’s natural softness and shine, helping your color shine through.

Other sulfate free shampoos:

  • Kiss My Face – Miss Treated Shampoo
  • L’Oreal – Everstrong Reconstructing Shampoo
  • RedKen – Nature’s Rescue Detox Shampoo
  • Moroccan Oil Shampoos

Do you use sulfate-free shampoo? Is it great…or all hype?

Sources: About, BeautyTopTips, NaturalHealthInformationCentre, Drugstore

One thought on “Are you sulfate-free?

  1. Just to add to your list of alcohol sulfates & alcohol ether sulfates:

    coco-sulfate (becoming popular replacement for lauryl sulfate)
    trideceth sulfate (petroleum-derived C13 ether sulfate)
    pareth-[numbers here] sulfate (petroleum-derived, formerly popular in dish detergents)
    cetearyl sulfate (formerly in Olay bar)
    ceteareth sulfate (should be milder than myreth)


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