This One Product Swap Will Prevent Stripping Your Hair This Winter

Have you ever tried a new facial cleanser, only for it to leave your skin feeling try and tight? Chances are the formula contained sulfates, which are surfactants that act as detergents to lift and remove oil and debris from the skin. When sulfates are in shampoos, they can have a similar effect on your hair by leaving it dry and even stripping your color if you dye it.

"They can strip the hair of its natural oils and proteins that make the hair look shiny and healthy," says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "They can also contribute to the fading of hair color and keratin treatments."

However, Dr. King points out that sulfates are perfectly safe and aren't linked to health problems, including cancer. That being said, if you're concerned about the aesthetic effects sulfates have on your hair, there are a number of sulfate-free shampoos for every hair type and concern to swap into your shower.

And luckily, while sulfate-free formulas are gentler on the hair, they still clean strands just as effectively. The one caveat? Sulfates are responsible for creating that satisfying lather when you wash your hair, so sulfate-free options generally don't foam as much.

"User experience would in most cases be better with a sulfate-free shampoo when compared to a sulfate-containing shampoo, mainly because of the after feel," says Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants. "Your hair won't feel and look as dull and rough. Otherwise, from a performance standpoint, meaning how clean your hair gets, both should be the same."

Ahead, we've rounded up our eight favorite sulfate-free shampoos — and yes, some of them even lather too.

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Best Overall: Crown Affair The Ritual Shampoo

Despite being sulfate-free, this universal pick for all hair types produces an impressive lather, thanks to coconut-based surfactants. The formula also includes ingredients to keep the scalp nourished and balanced. 

Best for Dry Hair: Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Shampoo

This deeply moisturizing shampoo replenishes dry, brittle hair to restore softness and shine. 

Best for Curly Hair: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo

While rice, tomato, and avocado sound like the ingredients of a grain bowl at your favorite healthy takeout spot, it’s the recipe for Briogeo’s curl-defining shampoo. The superfoods work to hydrate, enhance, and soften wavy, curly, and coily hair. Best part? They’re all found in this formula. 

Best Clarifying: Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo

Whether you scalp is naturally oily or you have product buildup, Aveeno’s gentle apple cider vinegar-infused shampoo rebalances the scalp without stripping it. Bonus: The formula also boosts softness and shine. 

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Best for Color-Treated Hair: Davines Minu Shampoo

If maintaining your color is your biggest haircare concern, Davines’ Minu Shampoo has you covered. The formula’s hero ingredient is caper blossom extract, which works to cleanse, protect, and extend color-treated hair. Consider it insurance for your investment (hair color doesn’t come cheap). 

Best for Damaged Hair: Garnier Whole Blends Sulfate Free Remedy Honey Shampoo

It doesn’t matter if your hair has been weakened from regular heat styling or chemical processing, this honey-infused drugstore find works to repair and strengthen each and every strand. 

Best for Fine Hair: Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo

All volume, no gimmicks, this Pureology shampoo is ideal for anyone with fine or limp hair. The lightweight formula adds body without weighing hair down. 

Best for Blonde Hair: Olaplex No. 4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo

Any bottled blonde is familiar with purple shampoo: it’s the key to keeping brassiness out of platinum and cool-toned shades. Olaplex has created a sulfate-free option, which also doubles as a bond-strengthening treatment. 

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate  is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.

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