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18th February 2021

Sulphate-free shampoo: A sin or a saviour?

All my fellow greasy-haired girls, you need to pay attention
Sulphate-free shampoo: A sin or a saviour?
Photo: Charisse Kenion @ Unsplash

All my fellow greasy haired girls, this one is for you.

There’s no denying the fact that I have incredibly greasy hair. I’m not talking your standard bit of grease after a few days without washing. Oh, no. this is on another level. Whether I was dry shampooing my hair every day, increasing the time between washes, or avoiding putting product anywhere near my roots, I tried everything to prevent this problem.

When sulphate-free shampoos rocketed to stardom a few years ago, I was eager to put them to the test. Was the answer to my haircare prayers finally here? Almost two years and a handful of empty shampoo bottles later, I’m ready to report back on whether sulphate-free is a saviour or a sin.

If you’re unaware, sulphates are cleaning agents used in shampoo to strip the hair of any oil and dirt. They’re what causes the product to lather, creating the impression of thoroughly cleaning your hair. However, people have recently started to understand that these chemicals can be damaging. Our hair needs to retain some of its natural moisture in order to stay healthy.

This knowledge lead to the creation of sulphate-free shampoos. They offer different ways of cleansing the hair without any harmful sulphates. Although these products may not create the same lather or bubbling effect, they are thought to be much gentler, and allow some of your hair’s natural oils to remain.

You’re probably wondering, why are you testing a type of shampoo that doesn’t strip your natural oils, if you struggle with greasy hair? I thought the same until I learned this crucial piece of evidence: since shampoos including sulphate strip the hair of its oils, the scalp is then encouraged to produce more oil to restore this at an increased rate. Sulphate-free shampoos, on the other hand, don’t promote as much oil production, and thus keep any greasy locks at bay.

It checked out scientifically, but did it actually work? I’ll be completely honest. I’ve noticed a bit of an improvement with how quickly my hair gets greasy – but this is marginal. Is it enough to completely abandon dry shampoo between washes? Definitely not. But it has helped my hair feel a bit fresher and last longer before the grease takes over.

It’s also worth remembering that just because one sulphate-free shampoo doesn’t work, doesn’t mean they are all hopeless. When I first started testing these products, a lot of the options available contained coconut oil, argan oil, or something similar. While these worked wonders on nourishing the ends of my hair, they were an absolute no-go on my roots. If you’re a greasy girl like me, then steer clear of these options. I’ve found that coconut water alternatives work much better.

Garnier Ultimate Blends shampoo, conditioner and hair mask
Photo: Daisy Bradbury @ The Mancunion

This Garnier Ultimate Blends collection is a great drugstore option that is sulphate-free and not oil-based, but there are plenty of others on offer if you do some research!

The final verdict? Sulphate-free shampoos definitely help combat excessive greasiness in your hair, as long as you’re not expecting them to work miracles! It may take a bit of research and testing out different products, but the end results will make a difference, even if that difference is slight.

Daisy Bradbury

Daisy Bradbury

Fashion Editor

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