I’ve long been a fan of sulfate‐free shampoos. For afro‐textured hair types, it just made the most sense because it was frequently touted as significantly less drying than its counterpart. While many non‐sulfate cleansers are actually less drying, there are a few that don’t hold up to their image. After a run in with a less than moisturizing, sulfate‐free shampoo, and a modified sulfate shampoo, I uncovered the real deal on sulfate shampoos: they really aren’t so bad after all.
I’ve found that since switching to a more relaxed regimen where I wash my hair less often and usually with just conditioner, there simply are times when I need a good cleansing, and sulfate shampoos do just that without the hefty price tag of sulfate‐free. On top of getting a nice cleansed feeling, my hair tends to turn out shinier and smoother.
Next time you’re looking to pick up shampoo on a budget, don’t avoid the “evil” sulfates. Ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re picking a friendly sulfate shampoo.
1. Does the shampoo contain cationic ingredients?
Whether the shampoo has a sulfate detergent or not isn’t really the main determinant of whether it will work well for your hair. Cationic ingredients are the elements that help smooth the cuticle and minimize tangling. You can find a short list of cationic ingredients here.
2. Does the shampoo contain moisturizing ingredients?
We’re pretty familiar with moisturizers like oils, but you can look for other fats in your shampoos that contribute to a more moisturizing feeling, even if it does contain a sulfate.
3. Are you willing to use this shampoo cautiously?
For many women, a weekly conditioning wash will easily bring a sense of clean to your hair while putting moisture back into it. No need to wash your hair with a stronger detergent on a weekly basis. If you’re like me and you need a truly clean feel, you can always choose to wash your hair with a sulfate shampoo every few weeks.
Color‐safe shampoos are designed to minimize stripping of color, but also minimize the stripping of the lipid layer of your hair. This is a plus since they tend to be less drying altogether.
Some sulfate shampoos that I’ve included in my regimen are:
Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo
Nexxus Therappe Luxurious Moisturizing Shampoo
Herbal Essences Color Me Happy Shampoo
How do you use sulfate shampoos in your regimen?