Look, sulphates probably mean well, right? As an ingredient in many shampoos and conditioners, these chemicals work to cleanse your hair of oils and dirt. That's good, and we commend them on that effort. But, as much as we hate to say it, sulphates are a real case of the ends not justifying the means.
If you just ran into your bathroom to see if your haircare products contain sulphates and your heart is now racing in horror, don't fret too much. There's no point sulking about sulphates - we’re sure there are far worse things you’ve doused your hair in (hello, crusty bottle of hairspray from the 90s that you found in the bottom of your bathroom drawer). So relax, take a breath, and just consider whether you want to be a little more particular about your haircare ingredients when you make your next purchase. Here's a bit of a rundown on how sulphates can sink your haircare routine and what you can do about it, including 5 of our fave sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner combos that can get you on track.
Sneaky, sinister sulphate
While sulphates certainly do have quality cleansing powers and work wonders for some people, they can sometimes do your hair more harm than good, particularly if you have sensitive hair and skin. When you're trying to find out which shampoo is sulphate free, there are generally two ingredients to look for – sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES). Both aren't great for your hair.
The truth about SLS and SLES is that they can sometimes take things a bit too far, cleansing away not only harmful dirt and oil but also precious moisture and nutrients that keep your hair healthy and prevent common haircare concerns such as damaged hair, dry hair and split ends and breakage. Sulphates can also impact that colour you love, making them something you might want to avoid if you colour your hair. You'll often see them paired with parabens, which are other chemicals that can help clean hair, but at a cost.
Look, those of you with luscious, healthy-looking hair probably don’t need to worry too much about the presence of sulphates in your hair products. On the other hand, if you’re having more bad hair days than good thanks to dry, brittle hair or scalp irritation, you might want to give a sulphate-free haircare routine a go.
5 of the best sulphate-free shampoos and conditioner combos in Australia
Now that you know what you're up against, you can make the decision to cut out sulphates from your haircare. Don't know how to find out which conditioners and shampoos are sulphate-free? We’ve got you! Here are five of our favourite sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner combos.
We're not gonna lie. When Olaplex started rolling out freakin' amazing shampoo and conditioner for home use, we did a little happy dance. Salon-quality cleansing and protection at our fingertips whenever we want? Sign us up! Olaplex is one of the good guys when it comes to making SLS-free shampoo and conditioner. What was once a three-step hair strengthening process was extended (to our delight) with steps four and five – ongoing maintenance in the form of shampoo and conditioner. These are go-to options for those who colour their hair. They strengthen the hair through bond-building technology while providing a deep cleanse, all without the need for sulphates. What’s more, Olaplex is committed to being vegan and cruelty free as well – true clean beauty queens!
This one-two punch from Kérastase is especially great if you're prone to using a lot of products, hair appliances and styling tools on the daily. Like your friend who parties a bit too hard, sometimes your hair can get a bit out of control, and that's ok! But when you need to rein it in a bit, this shampoo without sulphates can help keep the frizz to a minimum and leave your hair silky smooth. Meanwhile, the conditioner keeps things on lock with long-lasting protection courtesy of Morpho-Keratin™ technology that features amino acids for fibre replenishment, wheat protein for repairing damage and Ceramide R for superior strength. No room for nasties in this paraben and sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner!
We absolutely cannot get enough of Pureology. One of the best vegan haircare brands out there, the name speaks for itself – clean, pure haircare that's good for not only the environment, but also your hair. And that, of course, means conditioner and shampoo that's paraben-free and has no sulphates. While you can't really go wrong with any Pureology products, if you're struggling with dry, brittle hair and looking for some no-sulphate shampoo and conditioner magic, the Hydrate line delivers the moisture in bunches (aka the opposite of what sulphates end up doing). These are great selections if you've got thick or very dry hair, and they get bonus points for their nice, fresh scent. If you have fine or thin hair, opt for the alternative Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo and Pureology Hydrate Sheer Conditioner which are a bit less heavy, but still super hydrating.
Go forth and hydrate and conquer! We're pretty sure that's the full version of this famous quote, right? Even if it's not, we're giving you permission to charge headfirst into some sulphate-free haircare courtesy of O&M (full name: Original & Mineral). In addition to the hydrating, strengthening and colour-keeping power of some of our other faves on this list, this O&M combo also promotes hair growth, so it won't just improve what you got, but also help you gain some extra length as well. While you of course won't get any sulphates in this shampoo, you will get a lineup of hair-loving ingredients, including Tasmanian Sea Kelp full of delicious nutrients such as Vitamins A, B, C and E. What’s more, this O&M duo contains 13 amino acids to help strengthen your hair.
When things get extreme, sometimes you just have to turn things up to ELEVEN. This sulphate-free combo is designed for those who find themselves in regions with wide-ranging or harsh weather (Australia, we’re looking at you). Whipping winds and steamy sun can harass your hair, but ELEVEN comes through big time with the hydration so you don't have to fear mother nature when you step out the door. You'll find all sorts of natural goodies in here, including Hydrolyzed Soy Protein that helps fortify your hair, and Cucumber Extract and Hydrolyzed Quinoa that repair and protect your locks when they feel the brunt of the elements. You'll get more of the same in the accompanying conditioner, which will leave your hair shiny and soft.
Don't let the ingredient list get you down! Keep your gorgeous head safe from sulphates with the help of Oz Hair & Beauty.