If you’re finding that your current shampoo leaves your hair feeling lifeless and dull, sulfates might just be the culprit! Sulfates in shampoos can cause all sorts of hair nightmares, from fading your dye job to creating frizz. So, to tame your mane, why not try a sulfate-free shampoo instead?
In this article, we've ranked the top 10 best sulfate-free shampoos in the UK to help make your decision a bit easier. We share our tips for shopping online, whether you're looking to buy vegan, cruelty-free or are seeking a shampoo for curly hair. From "drugstore" faves to salon brands, read on to find out more about our favourites on Amazon, eBay and John Lewis.
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Different ingredients are better for different hair types and one type of shampoo may work for your curly hair, but not for your straight-haired friend. Read our buying guide to find out which ingredients to look for in order to properly care for your hair.
What shampoo you should use will depend on your hair type. A shampoo specially formulated for dandruff often causes dyed hair to fade, and a shampoo targeted at dry hair will be terrible if your mane gets greasy easily. So what shampoo should you look for?
Fine hair types tend to be thinner and get greasy a lot easier than thicker hair types. You should avoid shampoos with too many oils in them as they will only weigh down your hair and cause it to look limp and lifeless.
Instead, look for deep-cleaning sulfate-free shampoos. These will prevent oiliness, without completely stripping your hair and drying it out.
When your hair is dry or damaged from colouring or heat styling, it isn’t able to retain moisture as well. This results in the hair cuticle drying out and becoming coarse and frizzy.
To help fix the frizz, you should seek out shampoos with hydrating ingredients that will help restore moisture. Sulphate-free shampoos with added oils are ideal for helping to smooth down hair and tame unruly locks.
One of the biggest problems for dyed hair is your colour fading too soon. Going as many days as possible between washes is a great way to keep your colour looking vibrant. However, you'll need to wash it eventually, so it's important to find the right shampoo.
To protect coloured hair, choose a sulfate-free shampoo specifically formulated for dyed hair or one with colour-protecting properties. This will help ensure your hair colour stays salon-fresh for longer!
Whether you have tight ringlets or loose waves, finding the right shampoo is key for those who want to keep their bouncy curls in optimum condition.
Shampoos that are too heavy with ingredients like silicones will weigh down your hair and cause your curls to become loose and limp. Instead, look for products specifically targeted at curly hair types, as they’ll contain the right balance of hydrating ingredients to keep your curls in place.
If your main issue is not with your hair but your flaky scalp, you'll want to find a shampoo that deals with these symptoms directly. There are many reasons why you may be suffering from dandruff, whether your scalp has been irritated by ingredients in your hair products or it’s been dried out. Luckily, whatever the cause, there are ways to treat it!
To help soothe your symptoms, try a hydrating sulfate-free shampoo with minimal ingredients to add moisture back to the scalp and avoid any further irritation. For getting rid of the flakes, your best bet will be an anti-dandruff shampoo, although these can be slightly more drying to the hair.
We’ve established what type of shampoo is best for your hair type, but what about the actual ingredients in your product? The key active ingredients will make all the difference in what your shampoo can do for your hair.
Natural oils and fats such as argan oil and shea butter are by far some of the best ingredients for hair protection. They provide many benefits, such as adding moisture and creating a protective barrier around your strands. This not only strengthens your hair and prevents it from drying out, but will also defend against damage caused by the environment and heat styling tools.
This is especially beneficial for dry and damaged hair, but can aid those with fine hair too. Just be careful you don’t overdo it, otherwise your hair will become stringy and oily, the complete opposite of what you want!
Just as there has been an increase in the popularity of all-natural skincare, you'll be able to find plenty of naturally-derived haircare products too. Ingredients such as flower or plant extracts can provide a more gentle approach to cleansing hair than shampoos that contain harsh, synthetic ingredients.
However, be aware that many companies may use a marketing technique called ‘green-washing’ to give off the appearance that a product is more ‘natural’ than it really is. If you’re concerned about using all-natural products, be sure to research the ingredients list to ensure you're buying the product you want.
Although there has been a preference for all-natural ingredients, synthetic does not necessarily mean bad. ‘Chemicals’ in cosmetic products are not always damaging, as strictly speaking, everything is made up of chemicals - including the air you breathe!
Many synthetic ingredients are able to work on your hair in a way that natural products simply can't, thanks to newly discovered technologies. For example, micellar water is becoming popular in hair care as well as skincare. Using micelle molecules as a surfactant instead of sulfates, you can wash your hair in a much gentler way that's kinder to your locks.
Many of us are becoming increasingly concerned with the ethics behind the companies we buy from. Ensuring that your product is cruelty-free and vegan may be an important factor for you. However, it should be noted that these are two separate factors and just because your shampoo is cruelty-free doesn't mean it's vegan.
Ensuring that your shampoo is vegan means that absolutely no animal byproducts should appear in the ingredients list. If you’re very strict regarding this, ingredients such as honey or keratin are a no-no for you, so be sure to check that the ingredients state they are 100% plant-based.
Just because they don’t use animal byproducts, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t test their products on animals. Many companies are required to test their products on animals in order to sell in certain territories. So you will need to check your shampoo is clearly marked as cruelty-free to guarantee that no animals have been harmed.
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Perfect Hair Day (Phd) Shampoo
Cult Favourite Shampoo for Perfect Hair Days
Bumble and Bumble
Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Sulfate Free Shampoo
Shampoo Infused With 6 Invisible Oils For Silky Smooth Hair
Shampoo For Coloured Hair Loved By Hairdressers
No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
Patented Technology to Repair and Strengthen Bleach-Damaged Hair
Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
A Fragrant Coconut and Hibiscus Shampoo for Shiny, Bouncy Curls
Kukui Oil Shampoo
Hydrating Shampoo for Dry and Frizzy Hair
Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar for Touchy Scalps
An Eco-Friendly Shampoo Bar for Itchy Scalps
Cantu Shea Butter
Natural Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo
A Natural Shampoo for Naturally Curly Hair
A Salon-Fresh Wash With Rose Oil and Goji Berry Extract
Shampoo Stengthening for Thinning Hair
The Best for Thinning Hair
Living Proof shampoo does what it says on the bottle, helping you to achieve the Perfect Hair Day. This shampoo is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, as well as being devoid of any unnecessary phthalates, parabens, silicones and sulfates. So, you can be sure you are only using the best ingredients for your hair.
The formula is powered by the brand's patented 'Healthy Hair Molecule', which smooths hair, polishes and protects strands, for visibly healthier hair. Best of all, it repels dirt and oil to help keep hair cleaner for longer!
Bumble and Bumble's Invisible Oil Shampoo is the ultimate solution. It instantly transforms dry, coarse and brittle hair from the first wash, leaving it soft and manageable. You're sure to be the envy of everyone you walk past!
Using the perfect combination of six different plant oils it helps to hydrate and de-frizz your hair, without weighing it down or making it too greasy. Plus, this formula smells amazing and lathers up well, even without the use of sulfates!
If you're particularly concerned with making your hair colour last as long as possible, Pureology's Hydrate Shampoo does just that. Not only does it protect and ensure your colour, but it also stays vibrant, and it's hydrating enough to ensure a lasting shine.
Using a vegan formula, it includes ingredients such as jojoba, green tea and sage, as well as sunflower seed oil and vitamin E to help fight against the environmental factors that can cause your colour to prematurely fade. It's no surprise that this shampoo is loved by hairdressers everywhere!
Olaplex is known for protecting your hair during the bleaching process, but it doesn't stop there. To keep protecting your hair after it's been coloured, the No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo helps repair, strengthen and hydrates your locks.
Using Olaplex patented technology, each strand is repaired and fortified by re-linking the broken disulphide bonds in the hair. Not only does it leave hair easier to manage and healthier with each use, but it also protects your hair from future stresses.
This shampoo uses a number of organic and fairtrade ingredients, including shea butter and coconut oil for hydration and protection. Hibiscus flower extract helps improve elasticity for extra bouncy curls, and neem oil gives them an extra-glossy shine.
Best of all, OGX is a great quality high street brand, providing one of the best budget-friendly options for your locks. At less than £5, this is the most affordable shampoo on our list.
For those that suffer from itchy, flaky scalps, this vegan, plant-based shampoo bar could be the solution to your dandruff. Even better, it's completely zero-waste and lasts up to the equivalent of 3 regular-sized shampoo bottles, so you definitely get your money's worth.
Ethically sourced, all-natural ingredients like kiwi and oatmeal, as well as plant oils like neem and Karanja, come together to help combat scalp issues whilst efficiently cleaning your hair. You will be able to enjoy your freshly cleaned hair knowing you're helping out the planet too! However, if you have curly or texture hair, rubbing this bar up and down your strands will likely cause tangles and knots.
Winner of the 2014 Ebony Mag MVP award, this cream shampoo is made from natural ingredients and is completely free of sulfates, silicones, parabens and mineral oil to provide a cleansing shampoo that's perfect for curly hair.
Using a unique formula that provides a rich lather without the need for sulfates, this shampoo helps maintain natural oils and prevents breakage, which is especially important for those with frizzy curls. On the downside, the sodium chloride it contains might cause keratin-treated hair to fade out faster.
If you want a luxurious shampoo that will make you feel like you've just come back from a trip to the salon, this Shu Uemura shampoo is the perfect fit for you. Featuring rose oil and goji berry extract to help shield your hair from harmful environmental aggressors, this sulfate-free shampoo will not only protect, but smells delicious too!
About £30 for 300 ml is quite a lot of money to spend if you're not sure this is the product for you. However, you do get what you pay for and this is a high-quality luxury shampoo with a price point to match.
While losing a few strands of hair a day is normal, thinner spots of hair appearing on your head as a result of thinning hair might be something that worries you. So whilst searching for a sulfate-free shampoo that gently and efficiently cleans your hair, why not opt for one that's also perfect for your thinning hair?
This Foltene Shampoo does exactly that and more. It bulks up and strengthens your hair, adding impressive volume even as it keeps your hair healthy and normalises its life cycle. Although this is a great product, it comes in a small tube that will leave you wanting more very quickly!
Sulfates, also spelled "sulphates" in the UK, are a type of ingredient known as surfactants that are used in many shampoos and other cosmetic products due to their cleaning and emulsifying properties. In short, they are commonly what make your shampoo foam up and help wash away dirt and oils.
You may be wondering, what’s so wrong with that? Surely you want a shampoo that will do its job, but sulfates are often too good at cleaning. Which means stripping away not only the dirt and grease, but also the good natural oils that protect your scalp and hair.
If you have a sensitive scalp, sulfates may cause irritation and redness. If you have dry hair, this will dry your hair even more as your strands will be lacking the natural oils they need for protection. It can even strip out the colour if you have dyed hair! If any of the above applies to you, then it’s definitely worth considering a sulfate-free shampoo.
Whichever way you like to style it, keeping your tresses healthy is the key to having a good hair day. That's why it's important to choose the right products for your hair type. Here are some more buying guides, to help you discover the best hair care products in the UK!
There we have our top 10 best sulfate-free shampoos for purchase online in the UK. No matter your hair type or needs, we hope you’ve found a suitable shampoo that is completely free of damaging sulfates. Time to lather up and admire your new luscious locks!
Author: Dodo Wang
No. 1: Living Proof｜Perfect Hair Day (Phd) Shampoo
No. 2: Bumble and Bumble｜Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Sulfate Free Shampoo
No. 3: Pureology｜Hydrate Shampoo
No. 4: OLAPLEX｜No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
No. 5: Shea Moisture｜Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
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