1. Beauty Glossary
  2. Sulfate Free

Sulfate Free Shampoo & Cosmetics

What is sulfate free?

Sulfates, or sulfates, are powerful detergents made of sulfur-containing mineral salts and are often added to self-care and shower products to create a lather or bubbles. Sulfate free is the label given to products that do not contain sulfates.

How do sulfates work?

Sulfates are a surfactant, or in simpler terms, a degreaser. It's a compound that works with both oil and water, with one end of the molecule attracted to oil and the other to water. They lift dirt and oil from your body before breaking them down so that they can be merrily washed away.

How do I know if a beauty product is sulfate free or not?

When it comes to scanning the ingredients label, the two biggies you should look out for are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

It's also good to look out for 'sul-fake' ingredients, AKA compounds that are only one or two atoms away from being the real deal. The list includes:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  • Sodium lauroyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl taurate
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

If you see any of these ingredients, the product is not sulfate free.

Why do we need sulfate free beauty products?

The fact is, sulfates are a little too good at cleaning. With constant use, they can strip the natural oil from your hair and skin, making them dry and irritable.

While many myths of cancer, infertility and development issues have surrounded sulfates in the past, the general scientific consensus is that they pose no major threat to your health. But it might be best to go sulfate free if you want to avoid minor irritants and loss of hair health.

Should I go sulfate free?

Going sulfate free is all down to personal preference. If you're worried about skin irritation and are aware that sulfates are the cause, then it might be worth giving some alternatives a try.

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it might be worth scouting out sulfate free products too, as the compound can clog pores.

What are sulfate free alternatives?

Natural and organic products can be a great substitute as they often ditch the whole 'lathering up' aspect; however, you should always double check the labels for those 'sul-fakes' we mentioned.

Your best bet is to go for oil-based soaps and shampoos or switch back to solid formulas instead of liquid.

See our sulfate free guide to answer your questions like what is sulfate free and should I go sulfate free.

Sulfate Free Beauty Brands

  • Green People
  • The Ordinary
  • REN
  • Sun Bum
  • Hourglass
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • Alterna
  • Davines

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1,546 products found
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
$7.00
Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment
Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment
$28.00
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
$7.50
Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil
Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil
$28.00
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
$7.90
Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
$14.00
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
$8.00
Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask
Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask
$28.00
-1%
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
$5.75 $5.80
Olaplex No.4p Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo
Olaplex No.4p Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo
$28.00
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
$12.00
The Chemistry Brand Intense Youth Complex Hand Cream
The Chemistry Brand Intense Youth Complex Hand Cream
$7.00
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
$11.00
-8%
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
$9.25 $10.00
Color Wow Root Cover Up
Color Wow Root Cover Up
$34.50
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
$10.50
Biolage CleanReset Cleansing Shampoo
Biolage CleanReset Cleansing Shampoo
$8.00
-1%
The Ordinary Buffet
The Ordinary Buffet
$16.75 $16.80
-31%
Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
$12.00 $17.30
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Concentrated Serum
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Concentrated Serum
$10.00
-24%
St Tropez Self Tan Dual Sided Tanning Mitt
St Tropez Self Tan Dual Sided Tanning Mitt
$5.75 $7.50
The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%
The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%
$8.50
The Ordinary No Brainer Set
The Ordinary No Brainer Set
$28.25
The Ordinary Serum Foundation
The Ordinary Serum Foundation
$7.50
The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer
The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer
$6.00
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% In Squalane
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% In Squalane
$7.50
Davines OI Oil
Davines OI Oil
$22.39
Noughty Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner
Noughty Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner
$7.80
Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner
Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner
$45.00
The Chemistry Brand Heel Hydration Complex
The Chemistry Brand Heel Hydration Complex
$15.00
-7%
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
$9.80 $10.50
-7%
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
$11.00 $11.75
-7%
Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore Refining Treatment 2% BHA
Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore Refining Treatment 2% BHA
$35.00 $37.50
Label.M Curl Define Souffle
Label.M Curl Define Souffle
$21.80
Davines LOVE Curl Revitalizer
Davines LOVE Curl Revitalizer
$29.84
ELEMIS Frangipani Monoi Body Oil
ELEMIS Frangipani Monoi Body Oil
$56.00
Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser
Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser
$39.50
The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer
The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer
$9.00
The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane
The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane
$8.00
Color Wow Color Security Shampoo
Color Wow Color Security Shampoo
$24.00
The Ordinary Coverage Foundation
The Ordinary Coverage Foundation
$8.00
Kérastase Reflection Bain Chromatique Riche Shampoo
Kérastase Reflection Bain Chromatique Riche Shampoo
$32.63
Davines LOVE Smoothing Shampoo
Davines LOVE Smoothing Shampoo
$27.53
Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide Enriched Firming Eye Cream
Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide Enriched Firming Eye Cream
$49.00
-25%
NIOD Photography Fluid Tan Opacity 8%
NIOD Photography Fluid Tan Opacity 8%
$24.25 $32.00
-23%
Murad Multi Vitamin Infusion Oil
Murad Multi Vitamin Infusion Oil
$58.40 $75.00
-15%
NIOD Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex
NIOD Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex
$29.75 $35.00
-10%
The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%
The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%
$30.90 $34.25
-1%
Davines NOUNOU Hair Mask
Davines NOUNOU Hair Mask
$33.00 $33.05
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
$7.50
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% In Silicone
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% In Silicone
$7.50
The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA
The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA
$11.50
Color Wow Raise The Root Thicken & Lift Spray
Color Wow Raise The Root Thicken & Lift Spray
$24.00
Color Wow Color Security Conditioner For Fine To Normal Hair
Color Wow Color Security Conditioner For Fine To Normal Hair
$24.00
REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
$20.00
Caudalie Glycolic Peel
Caudalie Glycolic Peel
$39.00
NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%
NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%
$30.00
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Styling Mousse
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Styling Mousse
$38.00
Biolage HydraSource Dry Hair Deep Treatment Pack Hydrating Mask
Biolage HydraSource Dry Hair Deep Treatment Pack Hydrating Mask
$15.00
Pureology Hydrate Sheer Conditioner
Pureology Hydrate Sheer Conditioner
$33.50
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
$16.00
Paula's Choice Resist Super Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
Paula's Choice Resist Super Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
$35.00
Paula's Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer
Paula's Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer
$36.00
-47%
TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self Tan Drops
TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self Tan Drops
$13.30 $25.00
-43%
Color Wow Dream Filter Treatment
Color Wow Dream Filter Treatment
$10.00 $17.30
-42%
St Tropez Tan Enhancing Body Polish
St Tropez Tan Enhancing Body Polish
$10.50 $18.00
-31%
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water
$22.25 $32.00
-30%
Skinny Tan Body Glow By SKINNY TAN Tinted Aftersun Gel
Skinny Tan Body Glow By SKINNY TAN Tinted Aftersun Gel
$6.80 $9.70
-22%
Color Wow Dream Cocktail Carb Infused
Color Wow Dream Cocktail Carb Infused
$12.00 $15.20
-20%
TAN-LUXE The Water Hydrating Self Tan Water
TAN-LUXE The Water Hydrating Self Tan Water
$22.10 $27.60
-17%
Davines MELU Hair Shield
Davines MELU Hair Shield
$36.67 $44.00
-17%
NIOD Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist
NIOD Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist
$41.50 $50.00
-16%
The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution
$18.00 $21.25
-16%
Color Wow Extra Mist-ical Shine Spray
Color Wow Extra Mist-ical Shine Spray
$29.00 $34.50
-14%
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%
The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%
$10.00 $11.50
-10%
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
$7.25 $8.00
-8%
Color Wow Pop & Lock High Gloss Finish
Color Wow Pop & Lock High Gloss Finish
$20.00 $21.60
-4%
The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil
The Ordinary 100% Organic Virgin Chia Seed Oil
$7.70 $7.95
-3%
Murad Age Balancing Moisture SPF 30
Murad Age Balancing Moisture SPF 30
$72.99 $75.00
The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5
The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5
$8.00
The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
$12.90
The Ordinary 100% Plant Derived Squalane
The Ordinary 100% Plant Derived Squalane
$9.00
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
$10.00
The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%
The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%
$10.00
The Ordinary The Balance Set
The Ordinary The Balance Set
$31.80
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Sulphate Free

Frequently Asked Questions about Sulfate Free products

What is sulfate free?

Sulfates, or sulfates, are powerful detergents made of sulfur-containing mineral salts and are often added to self-care products and shower products to create a lather or bubbles. Sulfate free is the label given to products that do not contain sulfates.

Should I go sulfate free?

Going sulfate free is all down to personal preference. If you're worried about skin irritation and are aware that sulfates are the cause, then it might be worth giving some alternatives a try.

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it might be worth scouting out sulfate free products too, as the compound can clog pores.

How do sulfates work?

Sulfates are a surfactant, or in simpler terms, a degreaser. It's a compound that works with both oil and water, with one end of the molecule attracted to oil and the other to water. They lift dirt and oil from your body before breaking them down so that they can be merrily washed away.

What are sulfate free alternatives?

Natural and organic products can be a great substitute as they often ditch the whole 'lathering up' aspect; however, you should always double check the labels for those 'sul-fakes' we mentioned.

Your best bet is to go for oil-based soaps and shampoos or switch back to solid formulas instead of liquid.

How do I know if a beauty product is sulfate free or not?

When it comes to scanning the ingredients label, the two biggies you should look out for are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

It's also good to look out for 'sul-fake' ingredients, AKA compounds that are only one or two atoms away from being the real deal. The list includes:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  • Sodium lauroyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl taurate
  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate
  • Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

If you see any of these ingredients, the product is not sulfate free.

Why do we need sulfate free beauty products?

The fact is, sulfates are a little too good at cleaning. With constant use, they can strip the natural oil from your hair and skin, making them dry and irritable.

While many myths of cancer, infertility and development issues have surrounded sulfates in the past, the general scientific consensus is that they pose no major threat to your health. But it might be best to go sulfate free if you want to avoid minor irritants and loss of hair health.

Alex Bryson

Written by Alex Bryson, Content Editor

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