Should You Switch To A Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Healthier Hair?

Should You Switch To A Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Healthier Hair?

Have you ever been to a posh hair salon and disclosed that you use a good ol’ drugstore shampoo? Have you been at the receiving end of the sulfate-free lecture? I know I have and I’ve probably not paid attention to it up until right now. Is this whole sulfate-free industry just a marketing gimmick? A way to get us all to spend more than required on shampoo? Does it really help your hair? I decided to do a quick fact-check on sulfates, the good, the bad and the ugly and here’s what I came up with.

What are sulfates?


To put it in the simplest way possible, sulfates are the reason your shampoo’s lather. The sudsy stuff that causes your bath products to foam and bubble up and gives you the satisfying feeling of being ‘clean’. Sulfates actually get rid of dirt, oil and dust effectively while you cleanse. Sulfates can be identified as sodium lauryl sulfate, just flip over your shampoo bottle and you’ll probably see this in the ingredients list. Sulphates have gotten a bad rep lately for being potentially irritating and causing cancer. While there’s no concrete research to prove the cancer-claim, they can be irritating if you have dry or sensitive skin.

Sulphates are chemicals and inexpensive foaming agents mainly used in detergents. While lather can feel satisfactory while washing our hair, shampoos with sulphates can have adverse effects on our skin and hair. Sulphates cause irritation on our skin and hair and make the hair dry and brittle, and may be absorbed by the liver.Ms. Swati Kapoor, Co-Founder, SoulTree.

What is a sulfate-free shampoo?

A sulfate-free shampoo is formulated without the foamy stuff, so this means it will clean your hair, but probably take longer to rinse out the dirt and the oil. Sulfate-free shampoos are especially recommended to people who have coloured hair and treated hair. This is because shampoos without sulfates are milder, which means that your hair treatment will last longer if you use a product that’s mild versus harsh. These shampoos are ideal for you if you have a sensitive scalp and dry, frizzy hair.

If you are thinking about making a switch, do consider this - If you use a lot of hair styling products, a sulfate-free shampoo is not going to deep cleanse your hair of all that build up. Well, not unless you use it a few times, And sulfate-free shampoos are pretty expensive so I’m not sure you want to go ham and use a lot at one go. For people who use a lot of styling products, a regular shampoo or a clarifying shampoo is recommended to be used at least once in 15 days.

Do you really need a sulfate-free shampoo?


That depends, do you have sensitive skin? Is your scalp always irritated and inflamed? Does your hair tend to look dry and frizzy? If you answered yes to all of these, you would most likely benefit by making a switch to a sulfate-free hair care routine. If you have chemically treated or coloured hair, a sulfate-free routine will definitely prolong the life of your treatment!

What are the benefits of a sulfate-free shampoo you ask? 

"Sulfate-free products can help your hair from fizziness, spilt ends, breakage, and damage. They help in repairing from hair from root to tip to improve the texture and shine of the hair. Switching from your regular hair products to a sulfate-free routine can actually make your hair healthier and help to maintain your scalp. Next time whenever you buy your products always look for sulfate-free products for better results" says Ragini Mehra, Founder, Beauty Source.

Do you shampoo your hair daily?

"If you shampoo your hair daily, you can look at using a sulfate-free shampoo or a clarifying shampoo. It doesn't lather so you may have to massage the shampoo in. Ingredients like aloe vera, apple cider vinegar or shikakai are natural hair cleansers so if you don't have chemically treated hair, you can make the most of these. If you have rosacea or eczema, speak to your dermatologist about shifting to either a medicated shampoo or a sulfate-free cleanser. However, if you have oily hair or a clogged scalp, stick to a sulfate shampoo and give it a break every now and then. Chemically treated hair needs more attention so make sure you go for regular hair spas, use a shampoo meant for coloured hair and take supplements from time to time" recommends Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, Founder and MD ISSAC Luxe.

Looking to transition? Here are some of the best sulfate-free shampoos and hair products!

Wella Professionals Elements Renewing Shampoo 


This is the perfect hair care range for anyone with chemically treated hair, you can find a shampoo, conditioner, hair serum and a hair mask in this collection. All of the products are perfect for dry, damaged and chemically treated hair.

Price: Rs 975

Buy it here

Moroccanoil Smoothing Shampoo


Dry, frizzy hair? The Moroccanoil Smoothing range will make every day a good hair day. This sulfate and paraben free hair care line comes with a pretty hefty price tag but it's really worth every penny.

Price: Rs 1,980

Buy it here

Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic Activated Bamboo Charcoal Shampoo

sulfates-sulfate-free-shampoo-hair-Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic Activated Bamboo Charcoal Shampoo final

Clogged, oily scalp? This charcoal cleansing shampoo might help you. It's 100% free of parabens, phthalates, sulphates, silicones, artificial colours and fragrances. The charcoal present in this will give your scalp a deep cleanse and absorb toxins and exfoliate dead skin cells at the same time. If you find that your scalp has odour, this might help clear that up too!

Price: Rs 245

Buy it here

Kiehl's Sunflower Color Preserving Shampoo

sulfates-sulfate-free-shampoo-hair-kiehls-Sunflower Color Preserving Shampoo

If you have coloured hair, this paraben and sulfate free shampoo has high amounts of Vitamin E and other fatty acids that will help cleanse and condition your hair while protecting your hair. It has sunflower oil as a key ingredient that conditions, protects and repairs your hair. 

Price: Rs 1,650

Buy it here

SoulTree Licorice Hair Repair Shampoo With Strengthening Bhringraj 

sulfates-sulfate-free-shampoo-hair-SoulTree Licorice Hair Repair Shampoo With Strengthening Bhringraj Rs575

Dry, damaged hair? This shampoo has natural, potent ingredients like Bhringraj, Licorice and Coconut oil to deep condition and protect your hair from breakage. It's also free of parabens, sulfates, silicones and artificial fragrances making it perfect if you have a sensitive scalp. 

Price: Rs 575

Buy it here

Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment

sulfates-sulfate-free-shampoo-hair-Olaplex-No 3-Hair Perfector

If you are looking for those salon-like results at home, this hair repairing treatment from Olaplex is sulfate-free. It contains an active ingredient that works as a bond, sealing, repairing and healing any damage caused to your locks leaving them lustrous and strong. 

Price: Rs 2,549

Buy it here

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