- Shampoos with sulfates can strip the hair of its natural oils leaving it dry, and can break down the chemicals that make moisturizing treatments like keratin effective.
- If you’re looking for gentler options, you’ll find 14 great sulfate-free shampoos below — all under $30.
While typically a safe and effective cleanser, sulfates can sometimes be simply too good at their job — washing away more oil than needed, and leaving hair feeling dry and brittle or the skin and scalp feeling itchy and irritated. For those who have just undergone a keratin treatment, regular use of sulfates can contribute to the breaking down of the chemicals used — giving you less proverbial bang for your (typically quite expensive) buck.
However, you’re probably safe to keep using a sulfate shampoo you love if you’re solely concerned about color; experts like cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller have said it’s not the culprit behind fading color, though stripping your hair of essential oils doesn’t help the damage.
If you’re looking for a solid sulfate-free hair care regime, check out some industry favorites below — all under $30.
OUAI Repair Shampoo
OUAI — the haircare brand by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin — has a variety of sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. This moisturizing cleanser is a favorite of Nordstrom shoppers, using the brand’s Smart Technology complex to aid in protecting breakage-prone strands.
Pantene Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo
Pantene’s affordable Gold Series Argan Oil Shampoo uses Argan oil to soften and hydrate dry, damaged hair while gently removing buildup — without the sulfates, parabens, or silicones that can often accompany popular under-$10 shampoos.
Verb Ghost Shampoo
Verb Ghost Shampoo is infused with moringa seed oil, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a new MVP in the natural beauty community. It hails from the highly versatile Moringa oleifera tree which is known for everything short of performing miracles; it’s drought-resistant, its seeds can help purify water, and its leaves are believed to contain more calcium than milk. The tree’s seed oil is full of hydrating monosaturated fatty acids, and Ghost Shampoo is meant to naturally smooth frizz and promote shine. Sunflower seed extract is included for natural UV protection and less color fading.
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