How to Choose the Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Your Hair Type


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Many people prefer to take a sulfate free hair care approach these days, and luckily, there are now many effective options for those who want to cleanse their hair with shampoos without sulfates. Here’s an overview of available formulas, along with guidance from the pros at Matrix for choosing the best sulfate free formula for your hair.


Sulfates are ingredients that are found in many shampoos and soaps. They help these products foam up and they help remove dirt and debris from the surface of hair and skin. Common sulfate ingredients include sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laurel sulfate. Many people with color-treated hair feel that sulfates may strip away hair color prematurely. Others worry that these ingredients are to harsh for hair and skin, and could strip away necessary natural oils and moisture, or even cause irritation for sensitive individuals.

When shampoos without sulfates were first launched, the foaming action was curtailed, and people wondered if their hair was being cleansed effectively because there were no “suds.” But as time has gone on, sulfate free formulations have evolved, and now everyone using sulfate free shampoos experiences a clean, fresh feeling and well-cleansed hair that doesn’t feel stripped or dry!

6 Shampoos Without Sulfates to Try

If your hair is dry, coarse, thick and/or textured: Biolage 3Butter Control System Shampoo

This sulfate free shampoo is heaven-sent for anyone in need of serious moisture and gentle cleansing. The shampoo is infused with three, rich butters (hence the name)—shea butter, cupuacu butter and murumuru butter—to help replenish parched, frizzy hair. A little goes a long way—the lather is billowy, and it leaves hair soft and frizz-free. Fans report this product helps control natural curls and also supports a sleek finish.

If your hair is fine: Biolage R.A.W. Uplift Shampoo

The R.A.W. collection features natural-origin ingredients that are defined as unchanged from their natural state or have undergone processing yet still retain greater than 50% of their molecular structure from the original plant or mineral source. In Uplift shampoo, these natural-origin ingredients include black sesame and grapefruit. This sulfate free shampoo purifies flat, fine hair without stripping it, and produces airy, lightweight body.

If your hair is damaged: Biolage R.A.W. Recover Shampoo

One of the standouts in the sulfate free R.A.W. collection, this shampoo treats stressed, over-worked hair with a blend of revitalizing yucca and goji berry. Clients who have taken their hair to the limits with hair color, thermal styling or environmental exposure report this gentle cleansing shampoo brings their locks back to life. Like all R.A.W. formulas, it’s not only sulfate free, but also free of parabens, silicones and artificial colorants.

If your hair is thirsty and dull: Biolage R.A.W. Nourish Shampoo

Dryness depletes hair of its natural shine and luster, which does no favors for any hairstyle or for any hair color for that matter. R.A.W. Nourish sulfate free shampoo sources quinoa husk and honey to feed parched hair, adding the moisture and nutrients it needs to return to its original state of shining glory. And, bonus points for all R.A.W. products: the bottles are made of 100% recycled plastic!

If your hair is color treated: Biolage R.A.W. Color Care Shampoo

This sulfate free, gentle cleansing milk bathes color-treated hair in a mixture of coconut oil and meadowfoam. It carefully coddles your hair color—whether you’re on the natural end of the color spectrum, or you express yourself with one or more of the colors of the rainbow. (We’re talking to you, Ms. Unicorn Haircolor!) Make the most of your hair color investment with a color-caring sulfate free shampoo that leaves your hair soft and shiny and preserves hair color vibrancy.

If your hair is weak and seriously in need of repair: Biolage Advanced KERATIN DOSE Shampoo 

Keratin protein shores up weak, damaged hair, because keratin is the natural protein found in hair. It gives it strength and resilience. Formulated with a pro-keratin complex and silk, this sulfate free shampoo revives damaged hair and transforms it so it’s satin-smooth and manageable, while controlling frizz and damage.

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