You might have discovered sulphate-free shampoos when your children were small. But their popularity has grown hugely in recent years, as people become more conscious of – and careful about – the ingredients they use daily.

So, what’s the deal with sulphates? And why do we love sulphate-free shampoos?


To put it simply, sulphates are what makes shampoos sudsy – that lovely white lather that makes everything feel so fresh and squeaky clean. The technical word is ‘surfactant’ and they’re brilliant at removing dirt and dead skin cells from your scalp and hair.

How do you know your shampoo contains sulphates? Take a look at the label. If you see the words sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate or ammonium laureth sulphate, your product contains sulphates.


Shampoos that use sulphates do a great job at cleaning hair. But, that’s the root of the problem, too. They’re so good at cleaning, they can also strip the hair and scalp of the natural oils that are there to protect, smooth and keep your hair and scalp healthy. This can leave the hair dry, frizzy and prone to tangles and damage. And if your skin and scalp are sensitive – like most teens/tweens’ scalps can be – sulphates can cause irritation, redness, itching and even flakiness. (Yep, that ‘dandruff’ your tween/teen suddenly develops, could actually be caused by their shampoo!)

They’re also less than good for the environment. What you use in the shower or bath is washed down the drain and can end up in the water systems. Harsh sulphates have been shown to harm aquatic wildlife and interfere with natural processes. If that’s not bad enough, they’re also produced from petroleum and other sources, like palm oil, which have a negative impact on the environment.


First, they contain zero sulphate-based surfactants. Instead, they clean the hair with more gentle cleansers and emulsifiers. Crucially, they wash away dirt, sweat and grease, but leaving the hair and scalp’s natural oils and moisture intact. The trade off is that you won’t get that fluffy, white lather, but most sulphate-free shampoos do foam…just a little more gently.


SO many good things! When you don’t strip the hair’s natural oils, your hair will immediately feel softer and look shinier, which is a big win! But there are other benefits, too:


Moving from regular shampoo to sulphate-free shampoo can be seamless. But sometimes, as your hair and scalp adapts to a more gentle product, it can go through what we call a ‘detox’ phase. Your hair might feel different and even greasier! Here’s what you can do to make the switch as easy as possible:

  • Wet your hair thoroughly – this might seem obvious, when you’re washing it, but sulphate-free shampoos work best when the hair is properly saturated with water. Make sure it’s soaking, particularly at the roots.
  • Don’t use too much shampoo – Because they lather less, it’s tempting to use more sulphate-free shampoo to get those suds. Resist! This could lead to overload and dull hair.
  • The best way to get more lather from a sulphate-free shampoo is adding more water as you wash.
  • Focus the shampoo on your roots – and your scalp and really massage it in to loosen and lift grease and grime. (Bonus: massage is good for your scalp!). Then work the lather down to the ends.
  • Shampoo a second time – Because sulphate-free shampoos clean more gently, this second wash ensures you’ve completely removed all that dirt, oil and build up. With long or very thick hair, a second wash might always be necessary.
  • Rinse! Rinse! Rinse! – you need to rinse sulphate-free shampoos very thoroughly to get the best results. The reason? They often clean the hair with natural oils. If you leave these on your hair and scalp, it can feel waxy and your scalp oily.
  • Apply conditioner to the length and ends only – your roots don’t need it (the shampoo has given them some love). Plus conditioner on roots can weigh hair down and make it feel greasy sooner. Rinse it out well, too.
  • The bottom line? Switching to a sulphate-free shampoo for the first time can take a little adjustment – particularly if you’ve been using regular shampoos. It might take a few washes to get your hair to a good place.

But, once it’s there, it will be shinier, healthier and your scalp more balanced (and that can mean less oily!). Sulphate-free shampoos are also so much better for your skin and hair long term. And for the planet! You can find our more about our range of sulphate-free shampoo and body washes here.