The 26 Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos to Moisturize the Hell Out Of Your Locks

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a collage of the best sulfate free shampoos with pink background
Paula Boudes/PureWow

Whether you wear your hair in a bun, a high ponytail or regularly opt for a glossy blowout à la Kate Middleton, a trusty shampoo can make all the difference between a good hair day and a great one. The right cleansers will promote a healthy, balanced scalp by removing flakes, oils and buildup that can weigh down your strands. And a sulfate-free shampoo can go a step further by cleansing your hair without stripping it of moisture. Here’s why you should consider adding a sulfate-free shampoo into your routine.

The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos at a Glance


Best Overall

Olaplex No4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

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Most Volumizing

Odele Volumizing Shampoo

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PureWow Readers' Favorite

Augustinus Bader The Shampoo

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Best for Thin Hair

Vegamour GRO Revitalizing Shampoo

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Editor Pick

Bread Hair Wash Shampoo

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Meet the Experts:

  • Justin Toves-Vincilione is a L.A.-based hairstylist and a design team elite stylist at Ulta Beauty. He has a decade of experience, specializing in hair styling, coloring and cutting. He spends his time educating aspiring stylists on the latest hair trends, haircut transformations and helpful tutorials.
  • Dr. Elyse Love is a NYC-based board-certified dermatologist at Glamderm, a derm adviser for Bluemercury and a contributing writer for Byrdie. She specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology such as acne treatments, injections, laser treatments and more, along with a certification with the American Board of Dermatology.

What Is a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

Simply put, a sulfate-free shampoo is one that's formulated without sulfates. Instead, it uses other cleaning agents such as plant extracts (i.e., usually palm or coconut oil) to clean your hair. Some of our favorite haircare brands like Vegamour and Ouai offer sulfate-free shampoos—and don’t even get us started on the crown jewel of sulfate-free shampoos: Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo ($30), which is our best overall pick for all hair types. If you need even more options for your wash routine, keep on reading, folks.

How We Chose the Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos

We asked our fellow editors and experts for their go-to sulfate-free shampoos. From there, we did hours of research on all of the top sellers from Amazon, Target, Sephora and Ulta Beauty to bring you a comprehensive list of the 26 best sulfate-free shampoos for every hair type, so you’re guaranteed to find at least one that's right for you.

The 21 Best Shampoos for a Dry Scalp, According to Dermatologists, Hair Stylists and Reviewers

  • What We Like: safe for color-treated hair, reportedly supports bond repair
  • What We Don’t Like: pricey, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate
  • Scent: fresh
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I'm a fan of the Olaplex shampoo, especially when I use it alongside the No.5 conditioner. It makes my hair feel squeaky clean, and just healthier overall. Plus, it doesn't have a super noticeable fragrance either.” — Destinee Scott, PureWow Assistant Editor of Sales & Deals

Between the heat, dye and stress our hair is subjected to on a regular basis, we ask a whole lot of it everyday. Give it a break with Olaplex's sulfate-free No. 4 formula, which is meant to reduce breakage and frizz while leaving your tresses with a healthy shine. Its secret weapon lies in the brand’s patented "bond-building" technology, which supposedly repairs broken bonds in your hair. With more than 1,000 5-star reviews, customers say this is a must have for dry and damaged hair. “Olaplex changed my hair. I used to have hair that broke very easily, but now it’s long, healthy and luxurious. This is the best shampoo there is [and] I’ll never use anything else!,” one Sephora reviewer adds.

Most Volumizing

2. Odele Volumizing Shampoo


  • What We Like: reportedly adds volume and thickness, great for wavy and fine hair
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, doesn’t lather well
  • Formula: amino acids
  • Scent: cucumber, oakmoss, ylang-ylang
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I’ve become a big fan of Odele shampoo! It always makes my hair feel so refreshed and healthy! Plus, you can’t beat that price tag.” — Joel Calfree, PureWow Assistant Editor for News & Entertainment

Voluminous locks? Sign us up. Our entertainment editor loves this shampoo by Odele because it adds shine and fullness back to his strands with every wash. Formulated with amino acids, rice protein and citric acid, the blend claims to strengthen and nourish right at the roots without weighing down your locks in the process. The scent is also noteworthy, as it has a refreshing fragrance of cucumber, oakmoss and ylang-ylang.

PureWow Readers' Favorite

3. Augustinus Bader The Shampoo

Augustinus Bader

  • What We Like: lightweight formula, buyers say it helps with hair loss, powered by the brand’s iconic Trigger Factor Complex
  • What We Don't Like: pricey, scent-free
  • Formula: TFC8, a blend of amino acids, vitamins and peptides
  • Scent: none
  • Cruelty-Free?: yes
  • Standout Review: "Very light and leaves your hair bouncy and shiny. You do not need to use a lot each time you wash your hair, so one bottle goes a long way. Excellent shampoo!" — an Augustinus Bader reviewer

Leave it to Augustinus Bader to create a luxe, lightweight and vegan shampoo that does more than just gently cleanse. The watercress, shikakai and maca root ingredient blend purportedly creates a strengthening formula that helps reduce breakage all while boosting thickness and shine, as supported by the brand's clinical studies. Meanwhile, the brand’s Trigger Factor Complex (aka TFC8) supposedly tackles everything from frizz to shedding, nourishing your locks with amino acids, vitamins and peptides. It's made without irritants like sulfates and parabens, too.

Best for Thin Hair

4. Vegamour GRO Revitalizing Shampoo


  • What We Like: contains clean ingredients, safe for color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: not great for thick hair, doesn’t lather well
  • Formula: phytoactives, karamtin, b-silk protein
  • Scent: natural citrus
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I adore the Vegamour GRO formula! I found my hair feels so much softer, cleaner and more hydrated than before. I’ve been using the shampoo and conditioner for about six months now and have noticed some new growth at my temples and other areas where my hair was thinning a bit post-Covid hair loss. The scent is also super subtle, which I prefer.” — Abby Hepworth, PureWow Fashion Editor

If you're dealing with hair loss, Vegamour GRO may be the sulfate-free shampoo for you. Chock-full of the brand's proprietary karmatin, which is described as a vegan silk keratin that strengthens hair follicles, enhances shine and absorbs moisture, it also has red clover and mung bean, which aims to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth. Add to that a moisturizing blend of butters (marula, baobab and murumuru) that adds intense hydration to dry strands. The company claims it's capable of making your hair look more than 50 percent denser based on a double-blind, in-vivo clinical study of 40 subjects over 150 days. It’s also beloved by many of our editors, as our commerce editor Olivia Dubyak tells us, “It leaves my hair feeling very soft and my scalp squeaky clean. It also smells floral without being too fragrant.”

Editor Pick

5. Bread Hair Wash Shampoo


  • What We Like: can act as a shampoo and co-wash, gentle formula, Black-owned
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent
  • Formula: aloe vera, argan oil, lemon tea tree oil
  • Scent: fruity, cereal-like
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “While the scent takes some getting used to, this sulfate-free shampoo is a game changer for my curls. It offers a gentle lather without stripping away my natural oils or weighing down my hair. I can also work it through my scalp and find it helps to detangle my hair after I rinse it out.” — Chelsea Candelario, PureWow Associate Editor

Natural hair requires special care, and if the reviews are any indicator, this sulfate-free cleanser delivers. With an emphasis on retaining moisture, its milky formula cleanses, detangles and softens curls. Key ingredients include argan oil, a rich emollient for moisturizing strands, and aloe vera juice to hydrate the scalp and hair—plus, a dash of lemon tea tree oil to soothe the scalp. Oh, and if you’re a fan of fruity pebbles, the scent reminds us of the cereal.

Best Purple Shampoo

6. L’Oréal Paris Everpure Shampoo


  • What We Like: claims to be certified by hair colorists, creamy formula
  • What We Don’t Like: may stain tub, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: fatty alcohols, glycerin
  • Scent: violet, fig, thyme, coconut
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I swear by L'Oréal Everpure shampoo. It's way harder to find a purple shampoo that actually tones down my brassiness but [this one] is sulfate-free, which protects my color. This stuff is like magic, and I love the low price point. I use it twice a month to keep my highlights from getting too warm.” — Jillian Quint, PureWow Editor-in-Chief

This L’Oréal Paris purple shampoo is tinged with hibiscus and purple pigments to clean your blonde or color-treated hair without stripping it of dye. It's also formulated to neutralize brassy tones (we're looking at you, bleach lovers) and nourish strands at the same time. According to the more than 19,000 shoppers who swear by it, with an additional stamp of approval from numerous hair colorists, it promises to keep your color fresh and vibrant.

Best 2-in-1

7. Hairstory New Wash


  • What We Like: gentle formula, safe for color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: pricey, not great for oily hair
  • Formula: peppermint oil, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, rose water
  • Scent: fresh
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “New Wash by Hairstory is the bomb for my fine hair and you don’t have to use conditioner with it. The lack of lather and thick texture takes a bit of getting used to, but the fluffy, healthy-looking results make me forget ever caring about suds.” — Dana Dickey, PureWow Senior Editor

You can declutter your shower with this cleansing cream because it acts as a shampoo and a conditioner. Formulated with moisturizing ingredients like sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil and aloe vera juice, it gently cleanses and conditions from root to tip. The hybrid also promises to rebalance your scalp, add volume, fight frizz and prevent flakes—just take a closer look at the reviews for yourself. “HairStory put new life into my hair. My wavy hair would go limp even after applying gel and letting it air dry. Cleaning with HairStory, and letting my hair air dry, leaves big soft waves that hold their shape,” shares one happy reviewer.

Best for Color-Treated Hair

8. Matrix Unbreak My Blonde Strengthening Shampoo


  • What We Like: contains clean ingredients, uses sustainable packaging
  • What We Don’t Like: might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: citric acid, panthenol, glycerin
  • Scent: fruity
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I've been using this sulfate-free shampoo from Matrix ever since I first took the plunge to go blonde a few years ago. It's formulated specifically for lightened hair and, IMO, it keeps my highlights looking as golden and glossy as ever between visits to the salon, while preventing my locks from looking (and feeling) over-processed.” — Stephanie Maida, PureWow Senior Commerce Editor

Blondes do have more fun and this bond strengthening shampoo is proof. It vows to revive lightened hair and strengthen strands, so you can show off your bright hue without worrying about it getting dull. Key ingredient, citric acid, works to strengthen and soften your hair while packing on all the shine. As one shopper explains, the shampoo helped restore their hair, “It completely neutralized the brassy tone of my hair. It did not leave my hair feeling dry as it usually feels after using any other shampoo I’ve tried.”

Most Customizable

9. Prose Custom Shampoo


  • What We Like: customizable to fit your hair type, contains clean ingredients, safe for color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: small bottle
  • Formula: varies
  • Scent: varies
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “The scent was definitely my favorite. It felt unique and special since it was crafted just for me. I felt like I was getting a spa experience at home every time I washed my hair. The shampoo and conditioner felt so luxurious, and I loved how clean and smooth my hair felt after each wash.” — Catrina Yohay, PureWow Managing Editor

This customizable haircare brand has been tried and tested by multiple PureWow editors and it gets a huge thumbs up from all of us. Prose gives you the ability to formulate a shampoo based on your hair needs and preferences—right down to the type of ingredients you want and the scent. The brand only uses naturally derived ingredients such as green tea water, honey, rice water and apple cider vinegar, to name a few. While you can build a whole custom haircare routine, the shampoo stood out to us the most because it gave us a gentle cleanse that left our hair feeling silky smooth.

Stylist Pick

10. Authentic Beauty Concept Hydrate Cleanser

Authentic Beauty

  • What We Like: promotes shiny locks, great for dry/curly hair
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, not great for fine/thin hair
  • Formula: violet rice extract, mango extract, basil extract
  • Scent: mango, basil
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I’m loving this haircare line. I’m picky with shampoos because many tend to weigh down my fine hair. I was surprised that this shampoo nourished my hair without weighing it down. My hair feels soft and manageable after a wash. I love the scent of this product and all their products seem to leave your hair with a nice scent. It’s just like going to the salon.” — Emilie, an Amazon reviewer

Toves-Vincilione loves this sulfate-free shampoo from Authentic Beauty Concept, specifically calling out its effectiveness for dry, damaged, color-treated and curly hair. Its key ingredients are antioxidant-rich mango and soothing basil extract, which is known for its moisturizing properties while improving elasticity and boosting shine to dull locks. Aside from being free of sulfates, the shampoo is also free from mineral oil, parabens and silicones. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Best for Flat Hair

11. OGX Thick & Full Shampoo


  • What We Like: safe for color-treated hair, promotes healthy hair growth
  • What We Don’t Like: might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: biotin, vitamin b7, collagen
  • Scent: bergamot, jasmine, vanilla
  • Cruelty-Free?: No
  • Standout Review: “I recently tried [this] shampoo [and] I highly recommend [it] for its great scent and ability to make hair soft and full. The fragrance is a refreshing blend of floral and fruity notes that lingers in the hair. After using it, my hair felt silky smooth, voluminous and healthy. It's gentle on hair and contains natural ingredients. I believe it's an excellent choice for daily use.” — An Amazon reviewer

Are you dealing with flat, lifeless locks? This shampoo is filled with biotin and collagen that aims to revive limp hair. The thickening formula include biotin, which works to strengthen strands, encourage hair growth and add volume. Meanwhile, the vitamin B7 and wheat protein nourishes your ‘do. Another reason to add this to your cart: the deliciously floral scent of bergamot, jasmine and vanilla smells like a lush garden in a bottle.

Best Vegan Formula

12. Pureology Hydrate Shampoo


  • What We Like: creamy formula, uses sustainable packaging, great for dry/color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: jojoba oil, sage oil, green tea oil
  • Scent: lavender, patchouli, bergamot
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I've always had thick hair but the past couple of years it has been pretty damaged. I've been using this shampoo and its matching conditioner for two months and my hair is now super strong and is back to growing super fast like it always used to! I'm so amazed.” — An Ulta reviewer

If you want your cleanser to be free of sulfates and animal products, check this baby out. The vegan formula checks all the boxes, relying heavily on jojoba oil, which moisturizes hair, reduces frizz and encourages thickness and regrowth. There’s also green tea and sage, which have both been shown to prevent hair loss and support hair growth. It also has an antifade complex with a UV filter, making it a good choice for those looking to maintain their hair color between visits to the salon. Customers say it cleans quite well without sulfates, but several noted that it has a strong natural scent, so if that's not your bag, move along.

Best Shampoo Bar

13. Garnier Whole Blends Shampoo Bar


  • What We Like: lathers well, contains 94 percent plant-based ingredients, eco-friendly
  • What We Don’t Like: small bar, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: coconut oil, aloe vera
  • Scent: cocoa butter, coconut
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “This shampoo bar is simply fantastic! The smell is awesome and lasts long after your hair has dried! My dry, damaged hair felt so much better after just one use! The bonus of helping the environment with no plastic packaging makes it so worth the price for me. I will be buying many, many more!” — Michelle, a Target reviewer

Need a shampoo that won’t leak all over your suitcase or gym bag? This solid cleanser from Garnier should do just the trick. Made with 94 percent plants, it's chock-full of hyper-moisturizing coconut oil and aloe vera, which aims to deeply cleanse your hair and scalp to give you a silky-smooth finish. It also comes in a recycled cardboard box, making it super eco-friendly.

Best for Curly Hair

14. Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Shampoo

Not Your Mother's

  • What We Like: contains clean ingredients, has sustainable packaging, great for wavy/curly hair
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: rice extract, keratin amino acids, jojoba oil
  • Scent: citrus, jasmine
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “This shampoo cleans my hair well and helps to reactivate my curls. I have very fine hair (which is permed), and this shampoo helps to control any frizziness. I highly recommend this shampoo for anyone who wishes to retain their curls.” — Wendy, an Ulta reviewer

Curly girls are singing the praises of this rice curl complex formula, which has a blend of rice, keratin amino acids and enzymes to cleanse and protect your hair. As you lather up your curls, the product works to add protein back into dry strands—something that's crucial for keeping the integrity of your ringlets intact. Shoppers say the shampoo has helped with softness, frizz and clearing away product build up. Add in the fact that it does it all without sulfates, and you just may have found your next curl perfecter.

Best for Men

15. Kick Active Shampoo

Kick Active

  • What We Like: reportedly treat dandruff, great for thin hair, offers rich lather
  • What We Don’t Like: pricey
  • Formula: peppermint, rosemary, aloe vera, tea tree
  • Scent: peppermint, rosemary
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I recently tried Kick Active Shampoo and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. The refreshing feeling it gave me was amazing, thanks to the combination of tea tree oil and peppermint in the formula. The shampoo also proved effective in addressing my dandruff issue; after just one use, I noticed that my dandruff had disappeared. Also, no more itchy scalp.” — Dustin, an Amazon reviewer

The men in your life can rest assured that their hair care routine always starts on the right foot. If they’re prone to dandruff, an itchy scalp and/or thinning hair, this hydrating shampoo by Kick should be on their radar—and more than 4,700 5-star reviews attest to its magic. Users say the gentle formula soothes the scalp and delivers a tingly sensation without being too overpowering in the shower. Made with 11 herbal essences, like tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, aloe vera and rosemary, this blend encourages hair growth, fights flakes and promotes stronger, fuller hair overall. Trust us, they’ll be thanking you later.

  • What We Like: promotes shiny locks, safe for color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: pricey
  • Formula: goji berry, sweet musk rose oil
  • Scent: goji berry, sweet musk rose oil
  • Cruelty-Free?: No
  • Standout Review: “Hands down the best shampoo I’ve ever used. I can get away with washing my hair once a week. I’ve had my hair colored red for almost three months and it’s red, which is the quickest to fade, but mine is thriving.” — A Sephora reviewer

Japanese brand Shu Uemura has infused the oxidation-preventing power of goji berry with fatty acid-enriched musk rose oil for a formulation that will reportedly keep your color from fading while increasing the shine, so your strands maintain their vibrancy in-between appointments. The scent description also reads like a trip to the farmer’s market, with mandarin, grapefruit, black-currant, cardamom essence, rose, freesia, violet, sandalwood, musk and vanilla—mmm!

Best for Fine Hair

17. Gisou Shampoo


  • What We Like: contains clean ingredients, safe for color-treated hair
  • What We Don’t Like: no long lasting scent, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: honey, keramatch, argan oil
  • Scent: honey, apricot, mandarin
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “This shampoo is such a perfect product because it cleanses my hair and oily scalp beautifully without leaving any buildup! It also feels very nourishing to the hair, and my hair feels very manageable and soft while looking voluminous! I’ve also noticed how shiny and healthy my hair looks! My daughter has coarser, wavy hair and it made her hair soooo soft and shiny as well!” — Nadai, a Sephora reviewer

Don’t let the packaging fool you: Gisou is more than just a pretty bottle. The brand is known for its honey-based products, including this shampoo, which uses the natural humectant to keep fine hair moisturized without weighing it down. You’ll also find keramatch (a pea protein) to boost hydration and prevent damage, as well as argan oil, which has been proven to strengthen and protect strands. While you may need to stick with it for a few washes to get your desired results, per the reviews, its benefits are said to include volume, oil reduction and a fantastic sweet floral fragrance.

Best for Sun Protection

18. Verb Hydrating Shampoo


  • What We Like: safe for color-treated hair, gluten-free
  • What We Don’t Like: not great for fine/thin hair and sensitive scalps
  • Formula: argan oil, provitamin B5
  • Scent: grapefruit, oatmeal
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “It lathers beautifully (once it has actually broken down the build up on my scalp so may take one to two times), [it] smells great, and did an awesome job of cleaning my hair without drying out. I used it for my wedding day because I KNEW it was going to give me a great hair day. [The] smell isn't strong, but it’s really pleasant.” — Kelly, a Sephora reviewer

The sun's harsh rays can do a number on your skin—and on your hair. This hydrating pick can help with its inclusion of sunflower seed extract, which acts as a natural UV protectant. Beyond that, this sulfate- and cruelty-free formula uses argan oil to condition and add shine, keratin protein to strengthen strands and pro vitamin B5 to moisturize your hair.

  • What We Like: reportedly controls frizz for up to 72 hours, fairly-traded ingredients
  • What We Don’t Like: might be drying for some hair types, not great for thin hair
  • Formula: cocoa seed butter, argan oil
  • Scent: coconut, vanilla, sandalwood
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “My hair is usually very frizzy and very dry, but this product makes it so soft and shiny! No more out of control hair.” — Tooshie, an Amazon reviewer

If the 15 minutes you get alone in the shower is the most "you" time you'll get all day, make 'em count with this Garnier shampoo. Notes of coconut, vanilla and sandalwood form its base, which shoppers say smells "heavenly." But of course, it's also got a job to do with key ingredients (like cocoa seed butter and argan oil) to smooth and soften hair. Plus, the company claims that when paired with its conditioner and leave-in treatment, it will leave hair frizz-free for up to 72 hours.

Most Clarifying

20. Ouai Detox Shampoo


  • What We Like: great for oily scalps, promotes shiny locks
  • What We Don’t Like: might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: chelating agents, apple cider vinegar, hydrolyzed keratin
  • Scent: melrose
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I’m using a fair amount of oil on my hair during the week, and this shampoo just works when it comes to getting rid of product buildup and calming the scalp a bit. I’m also a swimmer and I found this shampoo pretty effective [against] chlorine.” — A Sephora reviewer

This gentle cleanser is formulated to really get in there to remove product buildup, dirt and oil without using any sulfates. Apple cider vinegar, long prized for its clarifying properties, is the star ingredient in Ouai's detox shampoo. For a little more context: ACV helps exfoliate the scalp while keeping your locks shiny. You’ll also find color-safe keratin, which smooths down frizz and softens strands. Plus, shoppers can’t resist the pleasant floral scent of “Melrose,” one of the brand’s signature blends that features hints of bergamot, white musk, lychee and cedarwood that smell wonderful in (and out of) the shower.

Best for Frizzy Hair

21. Hair Food Smooth Shampoo

Hair Food

  • What We Like: safe for color-treated hair, rich lather
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: avocado oil, argan oil
  • Scent: avocado oil, argan oil
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “This is the best shampoo I have ever used! I have the best hair days using this and I didn't even do anything but [a] wash and go. [It] makes my dry, frizzy hair so soft, voluminous and shiny. I have long, fine, flat hair and it doesn't weigh it down.” — A Walmart reviewer

Have you ever washed your hair only to wind up with a headful of static-y tresses that look worse than they did before you hopped in the shower? That won’t happen with this shampoo, because this argan oil and avocado concoction works to fight frizz and prevent breakage, while remaining gentle enough to use on color-treated hair. One reviewer even went so far as to say it “saved their strands.” Note: Users say a little goes a long way.

  • What We Like: great for dry hair, pleasant fragrance, affordable
  • What We Don’t Like: not great for oily hair/scalp
  • Formula: provitamin b5, antioxidants, rose extract
  • Scent: rose water, mint leaves, lily
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I have curly, highlighted, frizzy hair that is prone to split ends. I struggle with my dry frizzy hair [and] finding the right cleansing and styling products for it. This shampoo and conditioner worked wonders for my dry hair! It feels so soft and moisturized now. The frizz is reduced and curls are better formed. I’m extremely happy and the scent is a beautiful light rose that I’m loving.” — Holly, a Target reviewer

You don't have to go to a high-end beauty store to get a great sulfate-free shampoo. This Pantene pick, which has a lovely floral scent, will get the job done just fine—and you can find it on the shelves of drugstores everywhere. Formulated with rose water and pro-vitamin B5, the blend offers a gentle cleanse and a boost of hydration. Although some shoppers say it may not be the best choice for those with long, thick locks who need a little extra oomph to get hair clean, those with thinner strands have found it makes hair soft and shiny. It’s also a safe choice for chemically-treated hair as it doesn’t have any stripping detergents in it.

Best for Dry Hair

23. Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo


  • What We Like: safe for color-treated hair, great for dry hair
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent
  • Formula: argan oil, algae, vitamin a
  • Scent: fresh
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “The Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo is a must-have for dry and damaged hair. This shampoo's rich and creamy formula provides deep hydration, leaving my hair feeling soft and manageable. I love how it restores moisture to my hair without weighing it down, and the signature Moroccanoil scent is simply divine. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a hydrating and nourishing shampoo that works wonders for dry hair.” — Roni, a Sephora reviewer

There’s a reason the Moroccanoil brand is beloved. This fan favorite seemingly has it all. It offers hydration with red algae, a fatty acid that controls oil production and rebalances the scalp, as well as, vitamins A and E, which reportedly encourages hair growth. Let’s not forget the argan oil in the formula, which restores elasticity and adds shine to dry, brittle hair.

Best for Sensitive Scalps

24. Aveeno Oat Milk Blend Shampoo


  • What We Like: reportedly balances moisture, great for dry/damaged hair
  • What We Don’t Like: might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: natural oat, almond milk
  • Scent: natural oat
  • Cruelty-Free?:
  • Standout Review: “I love this shampoo for my girls. Both my girls have eczema, and this shampoo has worked wonderfully for them. I love the ingredients and I’m very happy with it. They have been using it for over a year.” — A Target reviewer

While those with sensitive scalps may see improvement just by using a less harsh, sulfate-free formula, users can vouch that this shampoo isactually extra gentle. Made by the same company that provides relief to those with eczema, this one uses natural oats, which has been clinically proven to be soothing to those with irritation. The blend is also infused with almond milk to improve texture and strengthen strands. Many of the 1,700 5-star reviews cite that it makes their locks look nice and shiny.

  • What We Like: contains 98 percent naturally derived ingredients, foamy lather, Black-founded brand
  • What We Don’t Like: strong scent, might be drying for some hair types
  • Formula: aloe vera, micellar water
  • Scent: aloe vera
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “My daughter and I love this shampoo for our locs. It's watery so it gets into the locs with ease, lathers up nicely and rinses out fast. It doesn't leave build-up and leaves my locs feeling soft and light. Love it!!” — Tracy, a Target reviewer

If your hair is curly or coily, this aloe vera-scented hair wash is worth a look. The clarifying formula (which features micellar water) is made to minimize tangles and help you work your fingers through your tresses without a snag. The unique targeted applicator tip is designed to let the liquid easily flow through coily locks or give protective styles a deeper clean. Happy buyers say it’s plenty moisturizing and offers a foamy lather that doesn’t strip their natural oils.

Best Scalp Shampoo

26. Briogeo Scalp Revival


  • What We Like: great for irritated scalps, contains clean ingredients, Black-owned
  • What We Don’t Like: not great for sensitive scalps
  • Formula: binchotan charcoal, coconut oil, peppermint, spearmint, tea tree oil
  • Scent: minty
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes
  • Standout Review: “I’ve been using this shampoo for years and it’s hands down my all-time favorite. I used to have eczema on my scalp and [other] shampoos were making it worse until I tried this one. It kept my eczema at bay, and after a few months of using it my skin cleared completely. I can now tolerate other shampoos, but as soon as I notice itchiness or during a flare up, I always go back to my beloved Briogeo.” — Lenski, a Sephora reviewer

For those days when you need a deeper clean (which, if you're extra-oily, may be all the time), consider this Briogeo scalp revival shampoo. Its spearmint, peppermint and tea tree oil will go to work on soothing your scalp while binchotan charcoal aims to draw out impurities that may clog your hair follicles. Add in a dash of coconut oil for moisture, and it's sure to become your hair BFF.

Before You Go

What Are Sulfates Exactly?

"Sulfates are cleansing agents that make it easier to cleanse away oils and buildup," says Toves-Vincilione. They're also responsible for "that lather that we’re so used to experiencing when washing our hair," he says. Sulfates are often found in shampoos, body washes, detergents and toothpaste to keep things squeaky clean.

Are Sulfates Bad for Your Hair?

Good question! Some of the same sulfate-based cleansing agents that leave your locks feeling squeaky-clean can also leave you with irritated eyes and skin—particularly if you're prone to sensitivities. (Womp, womp.) To give you an idea of how strong some of these chemicals can be, "the same sulfates found in some shampoos can also be found in household cleaners and detergents," explains Toves-Vincilione.

As a result, they can strip away natural oils that serve to moisturize your hair (and potentially cause redness and acne with prolonged use), which is the complete opposite of what we want our shampoo to do.

Why Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

Our expert’s response is short, but effective: "Using a sulfate-free shampoo can ensure that your hair and scalp retain a healthy amount of natural oils, while still cleansing away build-up that’s accumulated in between washes," explains Toves-Vincilione.

Who Should Use Sulfate-Free Shampoos?

"Sulfate-free shampoos can benefit all hair types and textures, but especially hair that is already dry, damaged or chemically treated," says Toves-Vincilione. Do you have color-treated hair? A sulfate-free shampoo might be your best bet, too. As Toves-Vincilione explains, the gentle cleansing "is known to preserve the longevity of your hair color."

For those with greasy locks that tend to fall limp quickly, you may find that having some level of sulfates in your shampoo is helpful, if not necessary. “For those with fine, oily hair, [sulfates] can be helpful to use on a routine basis to control oil buildup and allow styles to hold longer," Dr. Love previously told PureWow.

What Should You Look for in a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

Ready to join the sulfate-free squad? Take these factors into consideration, because making the switch means more than just grabbing anything that says ‘sulfate-free’ on the bottle.

  • Labels are key. According to Toves-Vincilione, you should look for one without sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. "It’s also very beneficial if you find natural ingredients higher up on the ingredients list," he shares, adding, "The higher the better! This means there is a higher content of that ingredient."
  • Find sulfate alternatives. A few common sulfate alternatives to keep your eyes peeled for include glucosides (more commonly known as vegetable oils and starch), taurates and fatty acid isethionates, which are derived from coconut fatty acids, glutamates (these amino acid surfactants are among the gentlest around), and amino acid sulfosuccinates.

How Do You Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

First, decide if you want a gentle or deep cleanse, Toves-Vincilione says. For a gentler shampoo experience, he recommends that you wet your hair completely and apply a moderate amount of sulfate-free shampoo to your entire scalp. "Try not to focus a large amount on just one area," he says.

From there, massage the product throughout your scalp and make your way down your hair. "Avoid putting too much shampoo directly on your ends," Toves-Vincilione warns. "This area tends to be drier and requires less cleansing." Afterward, use a conditioner that's suited for your hair type.

For a deeper clean, you can do a second wash, taking extra care to spread the shampoo across your scalp evenly. "You’ll notice a more intense lather the second time around," Toves-Vincilione says. "Massage the scalp and work your way down to the ends." When you're finished, nurture your strands with a deep conditioner or hair mask.

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Erica Gerald Mason

Freelance Writer

Erica Gerald Mason is a freelance writer who loves shopping for the new, the next and the not-to-be-missed. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Byrdie, Reviewed...
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Chelsea Candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...
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