You may have heard the buzzing of health-conscious beauty insiders: Sulfate-free shampoo is the next big thing in hair care. Remember that old adage, “Lather, rinse, repeat?” Well, it’s time to forget it. Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate) are a common chemical type typically added to shampoo for the suds-factor, as they create that charming, bubbly lather we all love so much. But that’s not all they do. The inexpensive filler ingredient, often used in drugstore shampoos, can also irritate the scalp, especially in winter’s cold and dry months, strip hair of moisture and shine, cause split ends and even hair loss. Additionally, the chemicals can be absorbed into the liver and mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, harm the environment as toxic waste and a common sulfate additive, 1.4-Dioxane, is actually considered a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

And you may have been putting it on your body daily. Sounds scary, right?

If you’re wondering whether your current shampoo contains sulfates, the quick answer is most likely, yes. The majority of widely available shampoos (e.g., drugstore-carried brands) do contain them, though you’ll need to read the label to know for sure (look for ingredients such as SLS, SLES or ALS if the words are not fully spelled out).

If you’re planning on making the switch to sulfate-free, you should know that your tresses won’t foam with the best of them anymore. Sulfate-free shampoos don’t lather, instead having a creamier, almost conditioner-like consistency, but the benefits far out-weigh that minor downside. (We know, we know. We miss the bubbles, too!). Your skin will begin to hold moisture better, as will your hair. Your scalp will become less itchy in dry months, and hair will start to look shinier and healthier.

Thanks to a growing consumer awareness and eco-conscious population, some top-notch hair care brands are creating great formulas to meet the needs of beauty-seekers.

Here are some sulfate-free shampoos we absolutely adore:

  • Pureology Purify Shampoo ($28; for locations)
  • Ojon Tawaka Ancient Tribal Rejuvenating Cleanser (pricey but worth it; $32-$79 at,
  • Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo (the name says it all—this shampoo leaves hair ultra shiny; $8 at
  • Ole Henricksen Natural Hair Wash with Sea Kelp ($22 at
  • Jonathan Add Moisture Shampoo ($20 at

And there are many other great sulfate-free products out there, just begging to be tried. With a little bit of experimentation (isn’t that the best part about buying products, anyway?), you’re sure to find one you love.

Oh, and give yourself a pat on the back for being aware and selective as much about what you put on your body as what you put in to it.

“Green-eyed Girl” is’s monthly guide to the latest beauty products and treatment trends reflecting a consciousness for the environment and personal health. If it’s organic, we know about it; if it’s helping our environment while keeping us looking and feeling our best, we love it. And, you can rest assured we’ll tell you all about it. 


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