Sulfates have been taking a lot of flak from the beauty world lately, and with good reason. Using products that contain sulfates on fine or fragile hair can have damaging effects, so thinner hair textures can really benefit from sticking to the best sulfate free shampoos and conditioners for fine hair. "Sulfates" are more than just another buzzword, and these harsh, sulfur-based detergents show up in the ingredient lists of a lot of shampoos, body washes, and face cleansers — just about anything you wash yourself with, really.
When it comes to identifying them on your shampoo bottle, it's important to know that they come in many forms — the most common being Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). The reason they were added to many shampoos in the first place is that they produce a rich, foamy lather and help you to get that "squeaky clean" feeling that people now associate with great hygiene.
But, the problem with sulfates is that, in addition to removing dirt and excess oil, they can also strip your hair of its natural oils, anti-microbial peptides, proteins, bacterial flora, and vital moisture. This can lead to frizz, follicle stress, static, and, in some cases, extreme scalp irritation. For fine hair, this means tons of breakage and a lot of damage.
That being said, there are now quite a few awesome sulfate free shampoos and conditioners made specifically for fine hair. These nine will make your hair soft and clean without putting unnecessary stress on your scalp and follicles.
1This Strengthening Duo To Reinforce Fine Hair
This shampoos and conditioner set from L'Oreal Paris features an amino acid complex which helps to strengthen hair, minimizing future to damage. The shampoo won't strip your hair, and the conditioner won't weigh it down either — which means more volume and body.
2This Caffeinated Shampoo For Thinning Hair
If your hair is thinning, reviewers say that this Biotin+ Caffeinated Shampoo works wonders. It stimulates the scalp with biotin and caffeine while strengthening strands with argan oil and nettle extract. The ingredient list is short and sweet, comprised of seven pronounceable ingredients — none of which are sulfates.
3This Sulfate-Free Set With Tons Of Glowing Reviews
Argan oil is an incredible moisturizer for thin hair, because it's considered a "dry oil" — which means it absorbs quickly and doesn't make your hair feel greasy. It's also loaded with nutrients for damaged hair. The Art Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner set cleanses hair gently and effectively, without stripping color or protective oils, and adds body and shine. "My hair is fine and very thin," says one reviewer. "It does not weigh it down."
4This Light Conditioner That Contains Seaweed Extract
Aveeno is a brand known for incorporating gentle botanical ingredients into their formulas, and their Pure Renewal Conditioner does just that. It's formulated with seaweed extract which helps to rebalance hair's natural moisture levels. And, it's gentle enough to use on color treated hair without making your color fade sooner.
5This Weightless Shampoo That Helps Pump Up The Volume
The Winsome & Wisdom BigWig Volumizing Shampoo uses vitamins, fatty acids, and botanical extracts to help build weightless volume and body. It cleanses the scalp without sulfates, and has a pleasant, light smell — like chamomile tea.
6This Activated Charcoal Option That Helps With Everything From Excess Oil To Dandruff
This Apotheke Sulfate Free Charcoal Shampoo is made with actual activated charcoal powder, which is an extremely absorbent ingredient that works especially well for thin, oily hair. That being said, it's also got essential oils and nut butters that keep the scalp healthy and hydrated, so it works well for flakes, as well. "This feels great and smells great!" says one reviewer. "Seems to be helping with the dandruff problem, too."
7This Set With Lightweight Essential Oils To Cleanse And Nourish At The Same Time
Made with sage and tea tree, this Maple Holistics Shampoo Conditioner Set is free of sulfates, but loaded with nourishment. It's good for any type of hair, because it uses lightweight essential oils to cleanse and hydrate the scalp, and it's formulated with amino acids, keratin, and vitamin b5 to help prevent further damage to your hair. "I have had scalp dermatitis since I can remember," says one reviewer. "This shampoo is now a permanent member of my shampoo routine. It does not strip or dry out my hair. The scent is clean and fresh."
8This Incredible Conditioner For Thin, Dry Hair
The Akimi Haircare Seed Conditioner is formulated specifically for thin hair. The formula includes carob bean extracts, keratin, and proteins to build body and fullness while controlling frizz with tons of hydration. However, it won't weigh your hair down with excess oils and waxes, either. According to one reviewer, "My hair, which is dry and very fine, was visibly fuller and my hair feels soft and smooth."
9This Hydrating Set That's Also Free Of Parabens, Phthalates, & Sodium Chloride
Another great option that uses argan oil to nourish, the Luxe Organix Rejuvenating Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner set is free of parabens, phthalates, and sodium chloride. The lightweight formulas make strands soft and manageable, without weighing them down. "I searched for a shampoo & conditioner with no mineral oil or glycerin, wax, alcohols, sulfates, parabens, or phthalates and this is the only one I could find that checks all those boxes," says one reviewer.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.