How To Check If Shampoo Is Sulfate Free

If you want to use the best natural products on your hair, you need to know how to check if shampoo is sulfate free.

Sulfates are included in many shampoos but can be hidden in the ingredient list. Read on to know what to look out for!

Sulfate-free shampoos are the mainstay of the No Poo movement. Sulfates can still be included in these shampoos though and some are labeled so that their presence may not be immediately obvious. Try to avoid the most common sulfates; Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.

Using a sulfate-free shampoo can help to improve the condition of your hair.

Making sure that your shampoo is free from sulfates is not always an easy task though.

Read on to find out how to check your shampoo is sulfate free.

How To Check If Shampoo Is Sulfate Free

Sulfates are used in shampoos for a couple of reasons:

  1. Wonderful at cleaning dirt and oils from your hair.
  2. They are surfactants – the ingredient that produces the reassuring lather that makes us feel that the shampoo is working well and helping our hair.

The problem with sulfates is that they can work far too well on our hair, removing not only the excess oil but all of our natural oils too.

With frequent shampooing, sulfates can leave our hair dry and brittle and open to damage as there are no protective oils left on the hair shaft.

In today’s society, an increasing number of people want to avoid chemicals in their shampoos, especially sulfates.

This has resulted in there now being plenty of sulfate-free shampoos commercially available.

A sulfate-free shampoo is one which has ingredients other than sulfates to keep your hair clean and remove excess oil.

Sulfate-free shampoo ingredients will be listed on the bottle just as with traditional sulfate-containing shampoos.

These are the most common sulfates to be found in shampoos according to Medical News Today.

If the following ingredients are listed, then the shampoo contains sulfates (source 1):

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate

Benefits Of Sulfate Free Shampoo

If you are wondering why you should use a sulfate-free shampoo, then maybe the list of benefits below will help you to decide:

1. Less Drying

Without the sulfates, less of the natural oils are stripped away, leaving your hair still moisturized from within.

2. Less Frizz

As fewer oils are stripped away there is less opportunity for environmental moisture to enter the hair shaft and create frizz.

3. More Natural Protection

Using a sulfate-free shampoo keeps our hair more protected against environmental damage than when using a sulfate-containing shampoo.

This is because the hair is able to retain the natural protective oils that coat the hair shaft.

4. Longer Color

Although there is no scientific evidence, many people believe that using a sulfate-free shampoo will help keep their hair color brighter, for longer.

5. Better Growth

Removing sulfates may improve the condition of your hair and scalp, which in turn allows your hair to grow at its optimum rate.

6. Less Breakage

Using a sulfate-free shampoo may lead to healthier hair and scalp.

Since less of the natural oils are being removed, less hair breakage is likely.

7. Kinder On Sensitive Skin

Sulfates can cause a reaction for those with sensitive skin, even if they are thoroughly rinsed from the scalp.

Therefore, using sulfate-free shampoo may reduce the occurrence of dandruff and other scalp complaints.

If you want to know can I use sulfate-free shampoo every day, rest assured it is perfectly safe to use every day as a rule, although you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Best Sulfate Free Shampoo

There are increasing numbers of sulfate-free shampoos available commercially.

Using a shampoo that is sulfate-free, and also paraben free, will help to keep your hair in the best condition it can possibly be.

If you are looking for a sulfate and paraben-free shampoo consider trying the following:


Buy On Amazon

This is one of the kindest shampoos you can use.

It is sulfate-free, paraben-free contains no dyes, and is phthalate-free too.

There really is nothing not to like about this shampoo that has been specifically designed for dry and damaged hair.

Problems With Sulfate Free Shampoo

There are many benefits of using sulfate-free shampoo.

However, depending on your hair type, there may be some drawbacks to excluding sulfate from your shampoo routine.

The downsides of sulfate-free shampoo include the following factors:


Sulfate-free shampoos do not lather like their sulfate-containing counterparts.

Therefore you may not feel like you have cleaned your hair properly, and/or might use more sulfate-free shampoo than necessary.


Since sulfate-free shampoo is more gentle, it may not be able to clean any and all product build-up on your hair.


Sulfate-free shampoo is considered more gentle, but to make sure that it cleans sufficiently well, other, non-sulfate ingredients can be used which are equally harsh on your hair and scalp.


There are a few sulfate-free shampoos that do not effectively rid you of dandruff.


It can take a while for your hair and scalp to adjust to a new sulfate-free regime.

During this transition period, your hair may seem greasier than normal and may have less volume.

If you suffer from dry or frizzy hair then a sulfate shampoo may help to keep your hair moisturised better.

However, if you regularly use styling products, or naturally produce large quantities of natural oil, it may take a while to get used to sulfate-free shampoo.

This is likely because your transition phase may be longer.

How To Check If Shampoo Is Paraben Free

Parabens are chemicals that many shampoos have as key ingredients since they are included as preservatives.

Without these preservatives, bacteria, and mold would multiply and quickly ruin the product as it sat on the shelf.

This is obviously neither good for the consumer nor for the manufacturer.

If you are wanting to remove parabens from your haircare products, make sure you avoid the following paraben ingredients when choosing your next bottle of shampoo (source 1):

  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

Although parabens are widely used, this does not mean that everyone thinks they are safe to use.

Indeed, some parabens have been completely banned in the UK, although the FDA has yet to follow suit in the USA.

With so much evidence of perceived risk, it is sensible to reduce exposure to parabens as far as possible.

Using the list above to check for parabens in haircare products before you buy could be the first step to a healthier new life.

Parabens come in for criticism for several reasons:


Across the internet, there are many reported incidences of sensitivity to parabens.

There is anecdotal evidence that sensitivity to parabens can lead to damaged hair and scalp.


Parabens can be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream.

Whilst the body expels processed parabens through urine, some of the metabolized parabens may remain in our bodies.


It is strongly believed by many that parabens are responsible for susceptibility to certain cancers, specifically breast cancer.

Parabens are also thought to be linked with skin problems and difficulties with the reproductive system.


Cells have been seen to be affected by parabens, increasing growth and cell division.

This is especially true when parabens bind to estrogen receptors on cells.

How To Check If Shampoo Is Silicone Free

Silicones weigh your hair down.

They also coat each individual hair strand so that moisture and nutrients are unable to penetrate through the hair shaft.

Although there is no overwhelming scientific evidence that silicones are harmful to your health, they are not great for your hair either.

Next time you go to purchase shampoo or conditioner, it is worth checking out the ingredient list below to see if any of these silicone names are mentioned (source 1):

  • Amodimethicone
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Phenyl Trimethicone
  • Phenyl Methicone
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Stearyl Methicone
  • Silicone Quaternium-22
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

It is important to be aware that silicones build up in your hair eventually and can leave your hair looking dull and dry.

Some people also report that their hair suffers more breakages after using silicone products.

It may look healthy and shiny at first, but every wash leaves a little more build-up and prevents nutrients from penetrating deep into the hair shaft, eventually leaving the hair dry and brittle.

Since silicones coat the hair, you may notice that your hair gets greasier more quickly. This is because the oil sits on top of the hair rather than soaking in.

You then reach out for the shampoo bottle to wash away the grease, which in turn leaves another coating of silicones on your hair. This is a vicious cycle!

Removing silicones from your hair care regime means that in time, your scalp self-regulates its natural oil production.

The oil is less obvious as it is taken up by the hair and the nutrients in the oil help you to have healthy hair.


If you were not aware of how to check if shampoo is sulfate free, then hopefully this article has helped.

It is important to remove synthetic chemicals and ingredients that could be potentially harmful, not only to your hair and scalp but to your health as a whole, so make sure you read the ingredients listed above.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not make life simple.

Instead, they use difficult-to-pronounce chemical names and also ones that do not automatically sound like the ingredients that you are trying to avoid.

Therefore, one simple haircare tip is to avoid products with -cone, -paraben, and -sulfate, on the ingredient list.

This is the first place to begin your journey to healthy hair.

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

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