Be Kind to Your Hair and Scalp: Five Fab Sulfate-Free Shampoos

by Sonja on September 9, 2009

Sulfate-Free Shampoos

Be kind to your hair and scalp with sulfate-free shampoos. Traditional shampoos are usually made with harsh detergents (sulfates) that strip away natural oils. This makes hair dry and frizzy and can cause oil glands to overproduce and make hair oily and flat with dry ends, says Anthony Dickey, founder of Hair Rules hair care and celebrity stylist whose clients include Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker.

To avoid this, Dickey says we need to pay attention to how our hair feels right after shampooing and before conditioning. If hair feels squeaky clean, the shampoo is too harsh and it’s time to find another. I have a sensitive scalp so I’ve been testing sulfate-free shampoos to give my hair and scalp a break. I’ve found Dickey’s tip to be really helpful. Here are five that have been great for my hair and scalp (all pictured below).

Sulfate-Free Shampoos

Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream Moisture-Rich No-Suds Shampoo. This stuff rocks. I’ve never tried anything like it. It’s a thick, rich cream that doesn’t foam at all but still cleans my hair really well and leaves it super soft and shiny. Since my hair is on the fine side of normal, I can even skip the conditioner. It’s gentle enough to be used every day without drying hair and is especially good for kids and anyone with dry, coarse, over-processed, color-treated, and heat-styled hair. It’s made with natural cleansers, nourishers, and shine enhancers. Available for $22 at Ricky’s NY,, and

Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo. Living Proof follows up on the success of their amazing styling products with a new sulfate-free shampoo and two conditioners. They’ve skipped the damaging sulfates, heavy oils and butters, and silicones and opted for gentle formulas that wipe out frizz. Hair also stays cleaner longer, because it’s getting coated with a weightless shield that blocks out frizz-causing humidity and coats the cuticle to reduce friction. They also found that color-treated hair stayed vibrant longer. Available for $24 at Sephora,, and

ARCONA Green Tea Cleansing Base Shampoo. Got dull highlights? You can revive them and remove hair-dulling build up with eco-luxe ARCONA Green Tea Cleansing Base Shampoo. This mild, hypo-allergenic shampoo clarifies hair to revitalize highlights as it protects with green tea, horsetail, coltsfoot, and nettle. It does an excellent job of removing build-up and conditioning with karite extracts and shea butter – without weighing down hair. Available for $21 at and, and

JASON Natural Biotin Shampoo. This budget- and eco-friendly shampoo is extra gentle and designed to repair damaged hair and split ends with natural biotin, vitamin B5, organic extracts of marigold, chamomile, and ginseng, along with aloe vera, and vitamins A, C, and E. I love it, because it’s especially gentle on my sensitive scalp, gives lots of volume, and makes my hair very soft and shiny. Available for around $5 to $9 directly from JASON,, and at health food stores.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Baby Mild Soap. This is also easy on the pocketbook as well as on hair and scalp. It’s a combo of castile soap, and organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba, hemp, and essential oils. It keeps my scalp calm and my hair soft and shiny. And as the busy bottle touts, you can use it to wash just about anything – your face, body, clothes, and even your car. You can’t beat the price. A four-ounce bottle runs around $4 and could last up to a year if you’re just using it as a shampoo. Who knows, it might last even longer. That’s because you dilute the stuff. They recommend adding just two squirts to two gallons of water. Available from,,, and just about any health food store.

Note: not all sulfate-free shampoos are created equal. Some are still drying or can cause aggravate sensitive skin with other ingredients. Road test them with Dickey’s tip to see if they create that squeaky clean feel.

Do Tell

What do you think of sulfate-free shampoos? Are you getting sulfates out of your hair care?

P.S. Check out the Beauty Resources page for some excellent beauty deals from,, Sephora, and more.

Image by glitter feet / CC BY 2.0

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Ashe Mischief September 9, 2009 at 7:00 am

I’ve been using a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s (Almost flavored!) for washing my delicates for ages. Though I probably should dilute it more than I do…. it’s excellent that I already have new shampoo waiting for me! (Once I get through my HUGE bottle of Tresemme I just bought…oops…)

“This makes hair dry and frizzy and can cause oil glands to overproduce and make hair oily and flat with dry ends.” I’ve been having this problem SO much lately- typically my hair is just oily and flat. I never thought it could be my products…
.-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..“Plus-Sized” Bras for Busty Gals =-.

Jaime September 9, 2009 at 7:05 am

I didn’t even know about the bonus, sulfate-free benefits of Living Proof, and I’ve been using it for a while. My hair is a ball of curly frizz… I love LP because it actually works for me.
.-= Jaime´s last blog ..Denim Deal of the Day: SmartBargains =-.

Sal September 9, 2009 at 7:25 am

I’ll have to check these out! I’m dandruff-prone, and have been doing an apple cider vinegar rinse occasionally to offset my shampoo use, but I’d love to wean my hair off the chemicals as much as possible.
.-= Sal´s last blog ..The Body List =-.

Marilyn September 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar washes for my hair.. I’m still figuring it out but when i use the right amounts my hair is clean, with all the natural oils, and stays clean for days- regular shampoos actually made my hair stink after two days. Nothing like natural =)

rachel c. September 9, 2009 at 8:09 am

i’ve heard about hair rules before and have wanted to try it, actually. my only concern is that you would have to use a lot of it - more than a regular, foaming shampoo - and i have a lot of hair. is this true?

i have pretty dry hair myself and really only wash my hair about 2-3 times a week, but in between washed i’ve been using bumble and bumble’s dry shampoo and it’s pretty incredible!
.-= rachel c.´s last blog ..POLAROIDS OF HOME =-.

Sonja September 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

❤ Ashe Mischief, I know! I never would’ve guessed that a drying shampoo would actually make my hair oily. But it makes perfect sense. So glad I got the Dr. Bronner’s. I need to try it on other stuff. I hadn’t thought of using it on my delicate clothes. I guess I don’t need to buy a new bottle of delicates wash. Sweet.
❤ Sal, me too. I didn’t have too much luck with an apple cider rinse. The Hair Rules is excellent for dandruff-prone hair. Dickey also says to avoid any sort of dandruff-treatment shampoo, because it can really dry out hair.
❤ Jaime, yeah, I wouldn’t have guessed it myself. But I think a lot of lines are taking out sulfates now that consumers are learning how drying they are.
❤ rachel c., I love the Hair Rules Cleansing Cream but you make a good point. I would like it if he made a thinner version to make it easier to distribute. Perhaps you could dilute it. I think I’ll give that a try. Never tried Bumble & Bumble dry shampoo. But I love Klorane’s Gentle Dry Shampoo – so nice!
.-= Sonja´s last blog ..Be Kind to Your Hair and Scalp: Five Fab Sulfate-Free Shampoos =-.

Tami September 9, 2009 at 10:16 am

Another great hair line I love is John Masters Organics. They have a superb Avocado/lavender conditioner that is to die for.
.-= Tami´s last blog ..Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: 30th Annual Taste of Sonoma =-.

Jade September 9, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I use Giovanni Hair Care- it’s sulfate free too, and fab! Also, no animal testing, which is a must in my book. :)
.-= Jade´s last blog ..Tuesday’s Temptation: Anything at Forever21. =-.

anh September 9, 2009 at 12:36 pm

i will have to try these! thanks!
.-= anh´s last blog ..That’s Friendship! =-.

Sonja September 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm

❤ Ooooh, Tami, that sounds yummy. Thanks for the tip!
❤ Jade, yes, one of my friends uses Giovanni and is really happy with it. There are lots of great lines sold at health food stores!
❤ anh, you’re very welcome. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
.-= Sonja´s last blog ..Be Kind to Your Hair and Scalp: Five Fab Sulfate-Free Shampoos =-.

Annie Spandex September 9, 2009 at 9:54 pm

May have to check out that Jason stuff. I’m anti-sulfate. I’m using Loreal EverPure right now. I used to use a line made by Ken Paves-it smelled wonderful, had lots of great essential oils, but didn’t sudz. I like the Loreal because it sudz. :)

Sonja September 9, 2009 at 10:47 pm

❤ Annie Spandex, I know what you mean about the suds. Hair Rules is the only non-sudsing shampoo I like. But that’s because it’s a cream so it’s a totally different experience. With the Jason shampoo, it suds up just like a regular shampoo so you’ll probably like it. It’s really great.
.-= Sonja´s last blog ..Be Kind to Your Hair and Scalp: Five Fab Sulfate-Free Shampoos =-.

Sherin September 10, 2009 at 2:35 am

Great post. I’ve been searching for a good shampoo/conditioner for ages. I’ve tried so many different ones, and they do seem to harsh for my hair. I’m definitely trying Sulfate free shampoos.
.-= Sherin´s last blog ..Scarlett Johansson for D&G =-.

Tamara September 10, 2009 at 3:11 am

What a beautiful picture!!
.-= Tamara´s last blog ..+ EgoShoot #7 — Ray of Light + =-.

Sonja September 10, 2009 at 10:14 am

❤ Sherin, I think you’ll be much happier with the sulfate-free ones. Let me know if you find something you love. :)

❤ Tamara, Jennine snagged that pic. She finds the best stuff on Flickr!

Tricia September 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

ooh! You left out my current favorite Sulfate-Free Luxury Shampoo by Enjoy…the fab pink bottle makes me smile just looking at it in my shower, the smell is heavenly, and the results are fab! Did I mention it also works as a luscious body wash?? Do try dearie! PS…love your posts!
.-= Tricia´s last blog ..Back with a Vengeance….soon! =-.

Lalya September 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for a great post! I didn’t know about these brands so I’ll make sure to check them out.
I started using sulfate-free organic shampoos a couple of years ago and never looked back, I can really recommend it!
Right now I use Dr Hauschka’s Apricot Shampoo for dry hair, Faith in Nature’s Seaweed Conditioner (best conditioner I’ve ever used!) and Dr Hauschka’s Neem Hair Lotion on the scalp (so good that if it ever discontinues I’ll just die of sorrow). Love them!

Maria September 11, 2009 at 8:21 am

Ok I have superfine hair that gets greasy on top and sits close to my scalp as a result, and is still dry on the ends. Would any of these work? The first one (Hair rules) seems great, but I’m afraid it may weigh me down. Help! Thanks! :)

LadyLUX September 11, 2009 at 8:26 am

Great post! Thanks for sharing it with us. It’s true, we put so much stuff in our hair and on our bodies that’s formulated for anything from wrinkles to moisturizing hair, that actually ends up doing the opposite. We love these Aeto Botanica’s reviving drops (, but also love finding a great natural shampoo - and if it’s eco-friendly, that’s even better.
.-= LadyLUX´s last blog ..Remembrance of a Day Not Forgotten:  September 11 =-.

Sonja September 11, 2009 at 6:17 pm

❤ Thank you, Tricia! Never heard of Enjoy until now. Thanks so much for the tips!
❤ Layla, I forgot Dr. Hauschka has hair care. I need to check it out, especially that hair lotion. Thank you!
❤ Maria, I think you’d be fine with the Hair Rules shampoo. You could probably just skip conditioner afterward. It’s an interesting concoction. It’s creamy but doesn’t feel oily or greasy. I’ve never used anything like it before and am so happy I found it.
❤ LadyLUX, how did the drops help your hair?
.-= Sonja´s last blog ..Prevent fine lines and wrinkles with fish, flax, and walnuts =-.

LadyLUX September 11, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I was styling my hair so much, it started to get really dry and brittle. The drops made it feel more silky, smooth and manageable, not like a mop on my hair - you know how they show in Pantene commercials. Well, this actually felt like that. I usually only go for natural stuff, so I was happy to find them, because I read that they are free of color and chemicals. It’s really thick, like a serum. I was tempted by the natural ingredients because I figured that it would decrease the dry, damaged feeling better than putting another chemical on top. It’s recommended to fight stress from styling and chemical treatments, and against pollutants in the air.
.-= LadyLUX´s last blog ..Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: New York Spring 2010 Collections =-.

Sonja September 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

❤ LadyLUX, sounds like great stuff! Thanks for sharing!

leslierose September 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I’m so happy I found this blog! I too was using Loreal’s Ever Pure and thought I would try Organix just to mix it up after I got a Brazilian Blow out - the Keratin deep conditioning, de-frizz treatment, which is awesome by the way. I did the no-formaldehyde one, and you must use sulfate free treatments. Anyway, I tried the Organix twice a month after the Brazilian and it started frizzing, I know it was the Organix, I’m sure of it. The treatment should last 3 months when you have my texture. I contacted them and they claim it is sulfate free. I don’t believe it and I look forward to trying some of your suggestions because it’s fun to mix it up along with the Loreal. Just don’t waste your time, money, or damage your hair with Organix!

Molly September 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

I tried the Dr. Bronner’s as shampoo… not only was my hair squeaky clean, but quite dry and puffy afterwards… Are you sure that this is really a good idea?

Sonja September 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

❤ leslierose, oh no! That’s awful! I hope you find something better that won’t mess up your blow out. I’d be so bummed.
❤ Molly, how much are you using? It’s key to dilute it A LOT. I mean A LOT. Per the directions on the bottle, two squirts is enough for two gallons of water. When I used more than that, it was too strong, too. It worked much better when I only used a tiny amount (I premix in a bottle and keep that in the shower). My hair and scalp weren’t dry at all. Hope that helps!

NickiTay November 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

I have color treated hair, so I need a sulfate shampoo to protect the color, and make it look glossy and shiney

People complain that sulfate free shampoos the lack of sudsy action, which sometimes happens with sulfate-free shampoo, but you can try the Shielo Color Protect Shampoo, which is sulfate free and it lathers up and is better than any sulfate free shampoo I have tried. Definitely best to make your hair look great while being sulfate and chemical free…

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