This shampoo bar’s eco credentials are only a small part of why we love it, but it’s a good place to start. The brand uses far less water in the production process than liquid shampoo, it’s carbon neutral and it uses compostable packaging. It also plants a tree for every order and is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
If you love a strong lather, chances are sulphate-free shampoos have not yet crossed your path. Sulphates and parabens are both chemicals that are often included in formulas to make your shampoo lather well, and, for most, this is a must that makes their hair feel clean after a wash.
But sulphates – also known as SLS and SLES – come with a dark side too. In giving a deep clean, sulphates help strip away oil and dirt from your hair but, in doing so, they can also strip your hair of the natural moisture and oils it needs to stay healthy. For coloured hair, sulphates can cause the dye to fade away quicker, and hair extensions may be damaged by sulphates too.
For some – curly hair types in particular – sulphates can also leave hair feeling dry. Additionally, the chemical can cause scalp irritation for those with sensitive skin.
While sulphate-free shampoos are known for many benefits (reduced frizz, irritation-free skin, softer hair and healthy curls), they also tend to lather less than regular shampoos. However, formulas have come a long way over the last couple of years and plenty of the ones included in this round-up lather just as well – if not better – than regular shampoos.
If you’re looking to ditch sulphates from your haircare routine, there’s many options out there. Each comes with its own set of benefits – while some tackle frizz or preserve coloured hair, others are made to smooth, strengthen or add volume. Many renowned beauty brands have tapped into sulphate-free shampoo, including L’Oréal and Olaplex, and some brands relatively new to the market have made it their trademark. Read on to find out which came out on top after we put them to the test.
How we tested
We swapped our regular shampoo bar for a whole range of sulphate-free shampoos, all with their own unique benefits. We kept every other part of our haircare routine exactly the same over the testing period, to make sure any noticeable differences would come from the shampoo alone.
The sulphate-free shampoos were then judged on scent, how much product we needed for a proper wash, how well they lathered, price, and, of course, results – paying special attention to whether the product lived up to the claims made by the relevant brand. We gave extra points to formulas that were vegan, cruelty-free and planet-friendly.
The best sulphate-free shampoos for 2023 are:
- Best overall sulphate-free shampoo – Ethique bar minimum unscented shampoo bar: £12, Ethique.co.uk
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for detangling – Coco & Eve like a virgin super hydrating shampoo: £22.65, Sephora.co.uk
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for coloured hair – L’Oréal Paris hair expertise pure colour enhancing dazzling coloured hair and volume shampoo: £5.99, Sephora.co.uk
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for damaged hair – Olaplex No 4. bond maintenance shampoo: £14, Lookfantastic.com
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for CG method – Only Curls curl cleansing shampoo bar: £9.60, Onlycurls.com
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for dry hair – Maui Moisture revive and hydrate shea butter shampoo: £5.99, Boots.com
- Best sulphate-free shampoo subscription – Fiils shampoo and conditioner kit pomelo: £26 for kit, £9.60 per refill, Fiils.co
- Best budget sulphate-free shampoo – Me+ sulphate-free repairing argan oil shampoo: £4.99, Superdrug.com
- Best smelling sulphate-free shampoo – The Hair Lab by Mark Hill hydrating shampoo: £5.99, Boots.com
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for refills – Amika normcore signature shampoo: £32, Sephora.co.uk
- Best sulphate-free shampoo for thin hair – Grow Gorgeous intense thickening shampoo: £16, Lookfantastic.com
- Best botanical sulphate-free shampoo – Herbal Essences bio renew sulfate-free shampoo aloe and hemp: £3.99, Superdrug.com