Sooner or later, everything in beauty gets a bad rap (sorry, parabens, makeup wipes, and chunky, early-aughts highlights). And while whether or not that’s warranted could, for the majority of these offenders, be debated for hours, some of them are simply not up for discussion, like sulfate-filled shampoos.
As a refresher: Sulfates are crazy-harsh detergents (the same ones found in dish soap) that strip all of the moisture from your hair, leaving it brittle, faded, tangled, and, yes, even oilier. They’re old school and totally unnecessary, yet, for whatever reason, they’re are still found in the majority of shampoos on the market (don’t believe me? Go check how many of your hair products have sodium lauryl sulfate in the ingredients list).
If you do find some sulfates in your favorite shampoo and you’re not into the idea of damaging your hair for funsies, may I suggest trying one of my favorite sulfate-free shampoos, below? They contain all of the good, hair-hugging ingredients you want, without any of the damaging ingredients your hair doesn’t. And yes, I promise they’ll still get your hair really, really clean.
FOR LIMP, FLAT HAIR
Playa Every day Shampoo, $32
Contrary to whatever your brain has been telling you, your flat, fine hair still needs moisture—just really, really lightweight moisture. This low-suds shampoo weightlessly hydrates with coconut water and aloe leaf extract, while also adding a tiny bit of volume thanks to sugar beet extract.
FOR BRASSY BRUNETTE HAIR
DpHue Cool Brunette Shampoo, $24
If you’ve ever dyed or highlighted your brown hair, you know how quickly it can take on that dreaded brassiness. Enter: this hydrating shampoo. The gentle formula neutralizes orange hues with a dose of blue pigment (blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, so they cancel each other out). Use a few times a week to keep your hair bright and fresh.
FOR FINE, OIL-PRONE HAIR
Earth’s Nectar Mint Leaves & Tea Tree Shampoo, $22
Trust me—you don’t need a heavy-duty, hair-stripping formula to get your greasy scalp clean. And this natural, tea tree oil–infused shampoo proves it by cutting through oils to soothe scalp irritation and banish bad smells, all without leaving your hair feeling like straw.
FOR THICK, FRIZZ-PRONE CURLS
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Shea Moisture Shampoo, $24
Curly folks, take note: This ultra-moisturizing shampoo uses a blend of natural oils to hydrate and soften dry hair, plus a dose of humidity-fighting tomato ferment to keep curls from shrinking up or frizzing out.
FOR DRY HAIR
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo, $31
If your hair is drier than Melba toast, look for a shampoo filled with lightweight oils—like this best-selling formula—to deeply moisturize your hair and leave it shiny. And don’t worry; even though it has “oil” in its title, the formula also has serious sudsing powers that actually break down product buildup and scalp oils without stripping your hair.
FOR KINKY CURLS
SheaMoisture Curl & Shine Shampoo, $10
Repeat after me: Curls need moisture. And if you’re using anything other than a hydrating, sulfate-free shampoo, like this silk protein– and neem oil–infused formula, you’re basically asking for breakage, tangles, and damage.
FOR COLOR-TREATED HAIR
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo, $28
Sure, it’s on the pricier side, but then again, it’s not your average shampoo. This hydrating formula is basically the queen of all color-safe shampoos. It not only protects your hair from fading, but it also mitigates the inevitable damage that comes with each new dye job.
FOR FINE CURLY HAIR
Ouidad Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo, $21
Most curl-specific shampoos are way too rich and heavy for fine curls, which is why I’m obsessed with this cream-based clarifying shampoo from Ouidad. Not only will it keep curls moisturized with a layer of lightweight banana oil, but it’ll also give your scalp that “clean” feeling, thanks to the inclusion of clarifying fruit acids.
FOR “REGULAR” HAIR
Verb Volume Shampoo, $14
Not sure what hair type you have? Go with whatever formula makes you look like you’re constantly walking by a wind machine, like this volumizing shampoo from Verb. It uses keratin proteins to amp up limp hair, plus vitamin B5 to hydrate dry ends without weighing them down.