Sooner or later, everything in beauty gets a bad rap (sorry, parabens, makeup wipes, and chunky, early-aughts highlights). And while whether or not that's warranted could, for the majority of these offenders, be debated for hours, some of them are simply not up for discussion, like sulfate-filled shampoos.
As a refresher: Sulfates are crazy-harsh detergents (the same ones found in dish soap) that strip all of the moisture from your hair, leaving it brittle, faded, tangled, and, yes, even oilier. They're old school and totally unnecessary, yet, for whatever reason, they're are still found in the majority of shampoos on the market (don't believe me? Go check how many of your hair products have sodium lauryl sulfate in the ingredients list). Before there were more elegant and gentle cleansers, sulfates were a go-to for sloughing away all manner of grime, oil, dirt, and debris. But now chemistry has advanced and it's the shampoo equivalent of using an anvil to place a thumbtack. And why should that bother you? Hair color can be dulled, texture can be frizzed, and split ends can be more present.
If you do find some sulfates in your favorite shampoo and you're not into the idea of damaging your hair for funsies, may I suggest trying one of my favorite sulfate-free shampoos, below? They contain all of the good, hair-hugging ingredients you want, without any of the damaging ingredients your hair doesn't. And yes, I promise they'll still get your hair really, really clean.
With a signature dose of the brand's revolutionary
What it is: A reparative, moisture-balancing shampoo formulated for weakened or damaged hair.Hair Type: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and CoilyHair Texture: Fine, Medium, and ThickKey Benefits: Hydrates, Protects Color, and Nurtures Damaged and Broken Hair and Split EndsFormulation: Rich LiquidHighlighted Ingredients:- Argan Oil: Helps to nurture hair.- Lavender, Rosemary, Chamomile, and Jojoba Extracts: Provide nourishment to dry hair.- Keratin: Rebuilds and strengthens damaged or porous hair.
Virtue Full Shampoo, $38
VIRTUE® Full Shampoo works to add volume while it cleanses. It dissolves excess oil, lifts the roots, and plumps each strand for weightless, long-lasting body. Infused with the first-of-its-kind Alpha Keratin 60ku® protein, Full Shampoo was specifically developed to add volume and density to fine, limp hair strands and help build volume from the inside out and continue to improve the health of hair over time. Key Ingredients:Alpha Keratin 60ku®: binds directly to areas of damage and fills them in, repairing and revealing hair that’s shinier, stronger and healthierPhospholipids Molecules: derived from natural soybeans that help fight frizz and protect against humidityCynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract: natural extract known to preserve cuticle cohesion and help protect hair from environmental aggressorsKey Benefits:Cleanses and dissolves excess oilHelps fight frizz and protect against humidityFree of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, and dyes; gluten and cruelty-free
Sunflower Color Preserving Shampoo, $32
What it is: A shampoo that helps effectively protect color-treated hair by gently cleansing without stripping color.What it does: Infused with nutrient-enriched conditioning oils of sunflower, known to contain powerful levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids, combined with apricot, a fortifying blend of vitamins B3, B5 and B6, and a UV-protective filter, this color-preserving shampoo conditions and moisturizes dry hair for long-lasting color in between salon visits. Utilizing a formula which doesn't weigh hair down, hair maintains its vibrancy with a smoother, more natural look and feel.Paraben-free; sulfate-free; silicone-free
Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance™ Shampoo, $14
What it is: A highly moisturizing, reparative shampoo that leaves hair healthier, shinier and more manageable with each use.Who it's for: All hair types.What it does: This shampoo helps to repair and maintain bonds within the hair, re-linking broken ones to protect hair from everyday stresses including split ends and frizz. It helps to reduce hair breakage, too.How to use: Apply to damp hair, lather and rinse. Follow with your conditioner.Paraben-free; sulfate-free; phthalate-free; gluten-free
Frizz Dismiss Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $22.50
Redken's Frizz Dismiss Shampoo features a gentle, sulfate & sodium chloride free formula to tame frizzy hair, increase smoothness and enhance shine. bKey Benefits:Frizz-fighting, Sodium Chloride-free & Sulfate-free shampoo for all hair typesProvides enhanced smoothness and shineGently cleanses while fighting frizz
Amika Bust Your Brass Blonde Purple Shampoo, $20
What it is: A purple shampoo that neutralizes orange, brassy tones in blonde, gray, and silver hair for bright, cool-toned results.Hair Type: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and CoilyHair Texture: Fine, Medium, and ThickHair Concerns:- Brassiness- Color Fading- ShineKey Benefits:- Purple pigments counteract harsh brassy, orange tones- Enhances shine and softness- Boosts hair healthFormulation: LiquidHighlighted Ingredients:- Wild Cherry Bark Extract: Brings out color, shine, and softness to keep hair manageable, smooth, and silky.- Keratin: Provides hair with essential proteins to boost strength.- Avocado Oil: Restores moisture for smooth, hydrated hair.Ingredient Callouts: Free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban, and contains less than one percent of synthetic fragrances. This product is also cruelty-free, gluten-free, and comes in recyclable packaging.What Else You Need to Know: This highly pigmented purple shampoo counteracts unwanted orange and brassy tones so hair stays light and bright. Perfect for blonde, silver, and gray shades, it delivers cool-toned results—whether hair is natural or bleached. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, this shampoo makes blonde maintenance a breeze.
Moisture Fast Food Sulfate-Free Shampoo, $58
AG's Moisture Fast Food Sulfate-Free Shampoo is unbelievably rich and full of moisturizing lather, providing extreme hydration to chronically dry hair while being lightweight enough for all hair types. For optimal results follow with AG's nourishing Fast Food Leave On Conditioner.¿ Sulfate-free shampoo with rich, moisturizing lather¿ Provides extreme hydration to extremely dry hair while being lightweight for all hair types¿ pH 5.5-6.5No salt. No PABA. No parabens. No gluten. No DEA. No animal testing.
Living Proof Color Care Shampoo, $29
What it is: A sulfate-free, silicone-free color care shampoo that gently cleanses, nourishes and protects against UV, hard water and damage.Who it's for: Ideal for all color-treated hair types.What it does: This shampoo is designed to care for, fortify and protect your hair. A color-optimized surfactant blend free of sulfates limits the stripping of the hydrophobic layer of your hair, while slip modifiers help reduce the damaging effects of wet combing. The healthy hair molecule OFPMA helps hair stay cleaner longer, while film formers and conditioning esters enhance and replenish the protective hydrophobic layer of your hair. A UV filter stays on your hair after rinsing to protect against UV rays that damage hair and fade color while a celating agent binds to and removes hard water minerals, targeting copper and iron, which are known to degrade your color.
CHI Infra Shampoo, $14.99
About this itemGently cleanses while correcting the moisture balance of the hair and scalp.Creates healthier and more manageable hair.Contains Ionic and Catatonic Hydration Interlink technologyParaben and Sulfate freeSuitable for all hair typesSpecifically developed to work in conjunction with the CHI lineProvides gentle luxurious cleansing to the hairAlso provides a balance of moisture for softness and proteins for strength
Ouai Detox Shampoo, $30
What it is: A clarifying shampoo that deeply cleanses away dirt, oil, and product buildup with apple cider vinegar while keratin helps strengthen hair.Hair Type: Straight, Wavy, Curly, and CoilyHair Texture: Fine, Medium, and ThickHair Concerns:- Oiliness- Shine- Flaky, Dry ScalpKey Benefits:- Cleanses Without Stripping- Removes Product Buildup- Adds Softness and ShineFormulation: LiquidHighlighted Ingredients:- Chelating Agents: Helps remove hard water deposits and impurities.- Apple Cider Vinegar: Helps exfoliate and remove flakes, residue, and buildup, keeping hair healthy and shiny.- Hydrolyzed Keratin: Helps soften, smooth, frizz and add shine.
R+Co DALLAS Biotin Thickening Shampoo, $29
Go deep in the heart of volume with DALLAS Biotin Thickening Shampoo by R+Co. A shampoo that volumizes with biotin and vitamin B5, so the keratin structure of the hair is actually improved and appears thicker. Coconut oil adds luster and shine, but hair isn't weighed down. For thin, fine hair. Because bigger really is better.Key Ingredients:Pro Vitamin B5: deeply penetrates the hair and provides intense hydration while coating strands to add a natural sheenBiotin: improves the keratin infrastructure of hair to increase strength and vitalityCoconut Oil: Adds luster, shine and softness to the hair and prevents hair breakage and split ends by promoting a healthy scalpSaw Palmetto Berry Extract: adds body to hair, helping it to appear thickerKey Benefits:Adds volume for thin, fine hairImproves the keratin structure Vegan and cruelty-free
Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Shampoo, $38
What it is: A gentle, cleansing treatment with a soothing texture formulated to cleanse the scalp and eliminate impurities and buildup.What it does: It provides volume to hair, giving the appearance of thicker, fuller hair. Amla Indian gooseberry purifies and cleanses the hair and scalp; red clover improves hair thickness; and caviar contains fatty acids to help restore moisture, elasticity and shine. Vitamins A, C and D protect hair from future damage.How to use: Massage throughout wet hair. Rinse thoroughly.8.5 oz.Paraben-free; sulfate-free; phthalate-free
Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo, $11.99
THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE: Argan Shampoo is sulfate free and suitable for all hair types. It is a daily hair moisturizer & nourish the hairs with important vitamins. A new standard in moisturizing, Argan Oil Shampoo is quickly proving to be a must have for anyone looking to bring moisture rich healing, reduce flaking and dry scalp, promote the growth of healthy strong hair.WHY ARGAN HAIR SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER: With its high content of antioxidant, essential fatty acids and vitamin E, the benefits of Morrocan Argan Oil naturally help revitalize skin, increase hair’s elasticity and consistently restore shine to dull, lifeless hair. It is a powerful antioxidant, UV-Protector and FREE-Radical Neutralizer Used for centuries by the people of morocco argan oils properties have been noted for their ability to actually promote growth of healthy, more full hair.THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE: A new standard in moisturizing and volumizing, Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner is quickly proving to be a must have for anyone looking to bring moisture rich healing, reduce flaking and dry scalp, promote the growth of healthy strong hair. Argan Shampoo and Conditioner is sulfate free and suitable for all hair types. It is a daily hair moisturizer & nourish the hairs with important vitamins. SLS and cruelty free shampoo.EFFECTIVE FOR ALL TYPES OF HAIR: It is a perfect hydrate spa shampoo for dry hair moisturizing the hair with important vitamins for men and women. It is a luxurious elixir hair growth shampoo for hair loss to restore over-processed damaged hairs. Our Argan Oil Shampoo without sulfate is good shampoo for oily hair and outstanding shampoo for color treated hair
Leonor Greyl Shampooing Crème, $51
Leonor Greyl Shampooing Creme Moelle de Bambou Nourishing Shampoo features a rich, creamy texture that transforms into a nourishing lather to lift away impurities without stripping moisture. Bamboo marrow found in this moisturizing shampoo strengthens your hair against breakage, while silk proteins smooth each strand to tame frizz and seal in moisture. Collagen and wheat proteins restore softness, shine and manageability. This formula is silicone- and coal tar-free.
Playa Every day Shampoo, $32
Contrary to whatever your brain has been telling you, your flat, fine hair still needs moisture—just really, really lightweight moisture. This low-suds shampoo weightlessly hydrates with coconut water and aloe leaf extract, while also adding a tiny bit of volume thanks to sugar beet extract.
DpHue Cool Brunette Shampoo, $24
If you've ever dyed or highlighted your brown hair, you know how quickly it can take on that dreaded brassiness. Enter: this hydrating shampoo. The gentle formula neutralizes orange hues with a dose of blue pigment (blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, so they cancel each other out). Use a few times a week to keep your hair bright and fresh.
Earth's Nectar Mint Leaves & Tea Tree Shampoo, $22
Trust me—you don't need a heavy-duty, hair-stripping formula to get your greasy scalp clean. And this natural, tea tree oil–infused shampoo proves it by cutting through oils to soothe scalp irritation and banish bad smells, all without leaving your hair feeling like straw.
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Shea Moisture Shampoo, $24
Curly folks, take note: This ultra-moisturizing shampoo uses a blend of natural oils to hydrate and soften dry hair, plus a dose of humidity-fighting tomato ferment to keep curls from shrinking up or frizzing out.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo, $31
If your hair is drier than Melba toast, look for a shampoo filled with lightweight oils—like this best-selling formula—to deeply moisturize your hair and leave it shiny. And don't worry; even though it has "oil" in its title, the formula also has serious sudsing powers that actually break down product buildup and scalp oils without stripping your hair.
SheaMoisture Curl & Shine Shampoo, $10
Repeat after me: Curls need moisture. And if you're using anything other than a hydrating, sulfate-free shampoo, like this silk protein– and neem oil–infused formula, you're basically asking for breakage, tangles, and damage.
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo, $28
Sure, it's on the pricier side, but then again, it's not your average shampoo. This hydrating formula is basically the queen of all color-safe shampoos. It not only protects your hair from fading, but it also mitigates the inevitable damage that comes with each new dye job.
Ouidad Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo, $21
Most curl-specific shampoos are way too rich and heavy for fine curls, which is why I'm obsessed with this cream-based clarifying shampoo from Ouidad. Not only will it keep curls moisturized with a layer of lightweight banana oil, but it'll also give your scalp that "clean" feeling, thanks to the inclusion of clarifying fruit acids.
Verb Volume Shampoo, $14
Not sure what hair type you have? Go with whatever formula makes you look like you're constantly walking by a wind machine, like this volumizing shampoo from Verb. It uses keratin proteins to amp up limp hair, plus vitamin B5 to hydrate dry ends without weighing them down.