Sulfate free shampoo has become a beauty buzzword, but is it really better for your hair?
First of all, what does “sulfate-free” mean? “Sulfates” refer specifically to the ingredient sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) (also less commonly known as ammonia laureth sulfate (ALS). To put it simply, SLS is a cleansing agent that helps to create lather in your shampoo and unless a shampoo specifically claims to be sulfate-free (not “lower in sulfates”, but sulfate-free), SLS is a standard shampoo ingredient.
SLS can be damaging because it contains harsh salts that strip and dry out your hair. In theory, if you stop using shampoos that contain SLS, you should notice a dramatic improvement in the texture and health of your hair. The problem is that some people have tried sulfate-free products without experiencing noticeable benefits. Most stylists agree that if you colour your hair, sulfate-free is the way to go. The salts in SLS strip hair colour, causing your colour to fade more quickly, and sulfate-free shampoos will provide longer-lasting, more vibrant colour. Naturally Curly suggests that women with wavy or curly locks, who are particularly susceptible to dry hair, can also benefit from a sulfate-free hair care regimen.
If you're curious about the sulfate-free movement and would like to give it a try, here are some affordable shampoo options to check out.
1) Burt's Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo - $9.99 for 354 mL bottle – available at Zellers and Shoppers Drug Mart. It contains about 98% natural ingredients, and smells amazing. Keep in mind that this shampoo is completely free of detergents and surfactants, so it doesn't lather nearly as much as a regular shampoo.
2) L'Oréal EverPure Rosemary & Juniper Volume Shampoo - $11.99 for 250 mL bottle – available at Zellers and Shoppers Drug Mart. L'Oréal has been one of the media forerunners for sulfate-free hair care, and has a whole line of affordable shampoos and styling products. This one does lather, using surfectants that are gentler than SLS.
3) Alba Hawaiian Honeydew Nourishing Hair Wash - $9.99 for 350 mL bottle – available at Shoppers Drug Mart. This product is not only sulfate-free, but also contains 100% vegetarian ingredients, with pineapple extracts and macadamia nut oil.
4) Desert Essences Italian Red Grape Shampoo - $8.99 for 237 mL bottle – available at Shoppers Drug Mart. The award-winning Desert Essences products come in a variety of delicious-smelling scents, including Red Raspberry and Green Apple & Ginger, and infuse your hair with a variety of nutrients, using sugar cleansers.
5) Marc Anthony Be Ageless Advanced Colour Protect Anti-Aging Shampoo - $11.49 for 250 mL bottle. Marc Anthony products always deliver fabulous results, and their sulfate-free line is no exception. Don't be fooled by the “anti-aging” label—this is not just for old people! Daily wear and tear, particularly if you colour your hair or use heat styling tools, can age your hair long before the rest of your body is ready to start aging, which is what sulfate-free shampoos are designed to do: keep your hair from looking old before its time.