If you dye or highlight your hair, you're already familiar with the unfortunate downsides. The chemicals found in most dyes can cause your hair to become weakened, which results in split ends, dryness, and a general loss of vibrancy. Add sulfates — which are used in most shampoos to produce a foamy lather, but are known to exacerbate dryness and fade hair color — and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. This is why most beauty professionals recommend switching to one of best sulfate-free shampoos for colored hair once you've gotten into the hair-dying habit.
Sulfate-free shampoos can and should do more than not strip your hair of color and make it more dry, though. Just like you'd do with your skin, you want to take your hair's specific needs into consideration when shopping for a new shampoo. For example: If your hair is seriously damaged or easily prone to breakage, look for a formula that says it's strengthening. Or, if dryness is your main concern and you're looking for added hydration, try a shampoo that's rich in emollients and humectants, like shea butter and glycerin.
Now that you know what to look for, go ahead and get shopping for the best sulfate-free shampoos. You'll find six of the best options on the market, below.
1. The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Moisture
The chemicals in hair dye tend to make your hair more porous, which means it absorbs and releases moisture much easier, causing a brittle texture. So a hydrating shampoo, like this one from Shea Moisture, is absolutely essential if you're dealing with particularly dry hair. The key ingredients here are argan oil and shea butter, two heavy-duty moisturizing ingredients, and sea kelp, which helps restore damaged hair and protect it from future damage. The other great thing about this hydrating formula is that it can help reduce dandruff and itchiness, which are typically signs of a dry scalp (though sensitivity to sulfates can also be the causing behind flaking). And not only is this formula sulfate-free, but it's cruelty-free, too — always a huge bonus.
2. The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Volume
If your hair is on the flat side and you're looking for added volume, this shampoo from Verb is a great choice. This sulfate-free formula gently cleanses your hair while adding major body, due to its lightweight ingredients that won't weigh hair down. Pro-vitamin B5 moisturizes and smoothes, quinoa and soy proteins hydrate and strengthen, and glycerin binds in moisture for long-term hydration. This is another cruelty-free pick, and it's free of parabens and gluten, too.
3. The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Shine
What's the use of having gorgeous hair color if it's not shiny AF? R+Co's Television Perfect Hair Shampoo delivers a sulfate-free wash and serious shine. Using juniper berry extract, this formula helps your hair maintain a healthy balance of oils while also keeping it soft and moisturized. It cleanses the scalp and keeps your hair follicles in tip-top condition using glycerin bonds and babassu seed oil, which is also deeply conditioning. Put that all together, and you've got a recipe for healthy, shiny hair. In addition to being sulfate- and cruelty-free, this formula is free of parabens, petroleum, and mineral oil — plus, it's vegan.
4. The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Strength
Breakage is a common issue for people who color their hair, especially with bleach (so yes, that goes for highlights, too). The solution? A strengthening formula that includes proteins, which is exactly what this nourishing shampoo from OGX delivers. It blends coconut milk, coconut oil, and egg white proteins to strengthen your hair from the inside out, which will not only make it stronger, but shinier and softer, too. This sulfate- and paraben-free shampoo is great for all hair types and smells delicious, and it's budget-friendly, to boot.
5. The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Curls
Curly hair is more susceptible to dryness whether it's color-treated or not, because the spiral pattern makes it harder for the oils from your scalp to travel down the hair shaft. So if your hair is dyed, highlighted, coarse, or dry, DevaCurl's No-Poo Decadence Ultra-Moisturizing Milk Cleanser is a great choice. It's a conditioning cleanser, which means there's absolutely zero lather here. It's made with chufa milk and quinoa protein, which moisturize and nourish hair from scalp to tip. And even though it's made for curly hair, all hair types can benefit from this sulfate-free, paraben-free, and silicone-free formula.
6. Another Great Option For All Hair Types
Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Shampoo was formulated to address all of the most common hair concerns: smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and shine. Fans claim it keeps their hair feeling cleaner for longer, as it works in the long-term to keep dirt and oil at bay. Aside from being sulfate-free, Perfect Hair Day is also silicone-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and cruelty-free. It's also won tons of awards, including Allure's Best of Beauty award in 2014.
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