Which Is The Best Sulphate Free Shampoo On The UK Market?

Sulphates are the most common ingredients in personal care products such body wash, shampoos, facial cleansers and even toothpaste. There are three types that are especially common: Ammonium Laureth Sulphate (ALS), Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES).

Their work is to separate oil and dirt from your skin and hair, allowing water to easily wash them away. In a technical term, they are surfactants. Most shampoos, even some organic ones, contain at least one sulphate.

Should you be worried about these sulphates? The simple answer is, not always. Let me explain.

You may have read some sources claiming that sulphates are outright terrible chemicals. Some go as far as linking them to cancer. But researchers in places like the Journal of the American College of Toxicology and The American Cancer Society have never found any such link. Sulphates are generally safe in low concentrations.

That doesn’t mean they do not have any negative effects. Most surfactants are irritants. A sulphate-based shampoo can cause hair and skin irritation. In some people – either due to an allergic reaction or sensitive skin/scalp – a sulphate shampoo can cause severe irritation and skin damage.

If you think you need a sulphate-free shampoo, we have picked the best ones you can buy today. We not only looked for the absence of sulphates but also the presence of safe and hair-enriching ingredients.

1. Kerastase Bain Fluidealiste No Sulfates Shampoo

Over-processed hair is delicate. The last thing you want to do is stress it further.

The Kerastase sulphate-free shampoo is formulated specifically for over-processed hair. It provides a gentle and healing touch free of any irritants that could damage your hair and scalp. It also contains anti-frizz ingredients to help you achieve smooth and soft tresses

What we like about it:

  • Gentle on damaged hair.
  • Reduces frizz.
  • Ideal for sensitive scalps.

2. Loreal Pure Colour Sulfphate-Free Dazzling Colour and Moisturising Shampoo

This shampoo is formulated specifically for coloured and dry hair. It uses a gentle cleansing process that retains your hair’s colour while also enriching it with moisture and nourishing rosemary and juniper oils.

If you want a shampoo that works well for dry hair without causing any frizz or itching, this one is perfect.

What we like about it:

  • Deep moisturization for dry hair.
  • Protects hair colour.

3. Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Colour Freeze Sulphate-Free Shampoo

This is another great option if you have coloured hair or highlights. A compound called reactive silane is used to provide up to 90% colour retention, ensuring your hair maintains its dazzling look. It doesn’t have sulphates so you don’t have to worry about stripping your hair of colour or experiencing scalp irritation.

What we like about it:

  • Great for colour retention.
  • Can be used daily without any colour fading.

4. Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo

If you have eczema, a sensitive scalp/skin, dry hair or over processed hair, this is one of the best shampoos you can buy. It gently removes dirt and excess oils from your hair without stripping away all the natural oils, which could cause dryness and irritation.

What we like about it:

  • It’s really gentle on hair and skin.
  • Ideal for itchy scalp and dry hair.
  • Ideal for all types of hair.

5. Boudica Volume Sulphate Free, Keratin Friendly Shampoo

This is a certified-vegan hair shampoo. It’s perfect for all hair types including dry, sensitive, limp and over-processed hair. It also contains proteins sourced from wheat and rice to boost hair growth and volume.

What we like about it:

  • Free from harsh ingredients including sulphates, salts and parabens.
  • Includes avocado and grape seed oils for moisturisation.

Key considerations when buying sulphate-free shampoo

Obviously, sulphate-free is the first thing to check in a shampoo before buying it. But it’s not the only thing that matters in a good shampoo. A certain brand may lack sulphates but still not help with your hair needs or even worse, contain other harsh ingredients.

So as you double check that there is no mention of sulphates in the ingredients list, also keep the following considerations in mind.

1. What type of hair is it best for?

If you are not sure what type of hair you have, get a general purpose sulphate-free shampoo. It should be indicated as safe and effective for all hair types.

But it’s always better to get a shampoo that has been formulated specifically for your hair type. A shampoo for thick oily hair for instance, will be lighter so that it penetrates deeper into the hair and make sure you hair doesn’t get too heavy. A thin or limp hair shampoo on the other hand may include voluminising ingredients.

The same applies if you have dry, oily or combination hair; the best shampoo is the one that addresses your specific hair needs.

2. Is it a general or specialised shampoo?

In addition to hair type, also check whether the shampoo is specialised for a certain purpose. For instance, we have mentioned several colour-retention shampoos above that are ideal for those with highlights or hair colour.

You may also come across shampoos for over-processed hair, for itchy scalp, for dandruff and so on.

To choose the right shampoo, determine your hair needs. Is your hair chemically damaged? Is your scalp itchy? Do you have super-sensitive skin?

This way, you know whether to buy a healing, anti-itch or extra-gentle shampoo.

3. Is it moisturising?

Finally, make sure that whichever type of shampoo you get, it has the right moisturising ingredients. You don’t want to wash your hair only for it to feel flaky and dry afterwards. Even oily hair needs moisturisation.

Good quality shampoos use natural oils to nourish and moisturise your hair. They leave your hair feeling softer and smoother and with less frizz. It also makes your hair stronger and reduces breakage and split ends.

Frequently asked questions

Q: How long does it take to adjust to sulphate free shampoo?

Sulphate free shampoo is much better for your hair and your scalp, but it can take a while for your body to get used to a shampoo that doesn’t contain sulphates.

The first difference is that sulphate free shampoos don’t lather nearly as much, if at all – but they will still do the job of cleaning your hair. Make sure your hair is thoroughly saturated with water before you wash it, and it is a good idea to wash it twice, to make sure it is properly clean.

You may also notice that your hair gets oiler more quickly, because you are no longer stripping out all the natural oils with harsh sulphates. You can either wash your hair slightly more often, or use a dry shampoo on the days that your hair feels a little too oily.

Q: Which ingredients are not in sulphate free shampoo?

Sulphates are detergents that create a lather, and the most common ones are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
  • Sodium Myreth Sulphate (SMS)
  • TEA Laureth Sulphate (TEA)
  • Ammonia Laureth Sulphate

If you find a shampoo that say it does not contain these ingredients, chances are it is sulphate free – but it is always worth contacting the manufacturer if you are not sure.

A final note

Don’t forget to read usage instructions when buying a shampoo. Check for instructions on how long you should leave it in the hair for, whether it needs to be used with another product and whether you can use it on a daily basis without damaging your hair.

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