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
  • Chantecaille
  • REN
  • Paula's Choice
  • Hourglass
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • Alterna

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2,704 products found
-35%
TAN-LUXE Sleep Oil Rejuvenating Miracle Tanning Oil
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TAN-LUXE The Face Illuminating Self Tan Drops
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The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
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The Ordinary Buffet
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Virtue Recovery Conditioner
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Augustinus Bader The Body Lotion
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TAN-LUXE The Face Anti-Age Rejuvenating Self-Tan Drops
TAN-LUXE The Face Anti-Age Rejuvenating Self-Tan Drops
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La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream
La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream
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Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self Tan Eraser
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Coco & Eve Glow Figure Body Moisture Whip
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Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Joia Strengthening & Smoothing Conditioner
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OUAI Super Dry Shampoo
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Milk Makeup Flex Concealer
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Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
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Milk Makeup Cooling Water
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Dizziak Deep Conditioner
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Milk Makeup Matcha Toner
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Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer
Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer
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Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Cleanser
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Summer Fridays CC Me Serum
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Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner
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Glow Recipe Banana Souffle Moisture Cream
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Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
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Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi Shine Lip Lacquer Lip Gloss
Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hi Shine Lip Lacquer Lip Gloss
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Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Creme
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Creme
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You've viewed 90 of 2,704 productsShow Me More
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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