Can a shampoo help your hair grow? Probably not.
Sorry to dash your hopes, but take it from a long-term alopecian who’s tried dozens of so-called “miracle treatments” – they rarely regrow hair overnight. Even the most effective shampoos that stop hair fall need continuous use and treat the symptom of shedding, rather than the root cause of hair loss itself.
To tackle these root causes, I recommend a holistic approach – looking at your diet and lifestyle, maybe getting your hormones tested or taking some supplements with key minerals or nutrients you might be deficient in.
Still, the right moisturizing, sulfate free shampoo can be an excellent support for this integrative approach and, as I’ve seen from personal experience, can create optimal conditions to both reduce hair thinning and promote growth.
In this post, I’ll review my best sulfate free shampoos and explain how this more natural approach can benefit all types of hair.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is, however, reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
You’ve probably used sulfates before. They’re hard to avoid as they’re in SO many beauty and cleaning products. Becuase they make these products, well, pretty damn good at cleaning!
Sure, natural DIY products are great and you can do a lot with a citric acid like lemon juice and vinegar. But if you’ve ever tried to scrub out a stubborn stain with an all-natural soap, you’ll know what I mean!
My guess is no: you want to protect your scalp, the home of your hair follicles, and the foundation for healthy hair.
From a chemical perspective, sulfates are surfactants that reduce the level of surface tension between your shampoo and your skin. All so the active ingredients in the shampoo you’re using can do their job more effectively. Nice work.
But while sulfates offer a deep clean, they may also strip away your natural moisture and oils, leaving your hair dry and brittle. They can affect the natural pH level of your scalp, so it could become irritated. Finally, sulfates can leave a negative electrical charge, resulting in frizzy hair after you dry off.
Unfortunately, most popular hair products include sulfates (like sodium lauryl sulfate) for their deep-cleansing properties. But are they worth it? And what’s the alternative? Well, a non sulfate shampoo, of course! Combine your volumizing shampoo with a nourishing conditioner and you’ve no need for sulfates or parabens.
A detangling sulfate free formula can do wonders for your scalp, particularly if you already have thin hair, frizzy hair, colored hair or sensitive skin. (As certain hair types may react worse to sulfates than others.)
You might think that ditching foaming agents like sulfates and parabens might leave you with brittle hair. But good news! You can still get a deeply hydrating shampoo and a balancing shampoo that gently cleanses, like those with citric acid, without doing any damage or causing unwanted build up on that sensitive scalp of yours.
Each natural hair shampoo on my list nourishes dry hair, soothes sensitive scalps and works to detangle hair with great natural oils and ingredients, like coconut oil (for UV protection), tea tree oil, aloe vera, argan oil or shea butter. Yep, Mother Nature can still give you a deep clean from a sulfate free shampoo!
Because a sulfate free option is made up of botanical ingredients, and little else, the side effects are minimal. Whereas sulfates can lead to a very dry scalp, which could worsen conditions like dandruff or eczema for certain hair types.
Of course, people may still have allergies to natural compounds (I always get a weird reaction to cinnamon oil). And some sulfate free shampoos (like Keranique) mightn’t be the best choice for other reasons.
But for the majority, a sulfate free and chemical-free detox shampoo offers a great way to gently cleanse, moisturize and leave your hair feeling soft and volumized, without stripping it of its natural oils.
Just because you have dyed hair doesn’t mean you have to wear a processed hair look. A good sulfate free shampoo will give you a healthy, nourished sheen from its amino acids, whatever type of hair you have – without you suffering an itchy scalp beneath.
Pura D’Or is, I’ve found, the best sulfate free shampoo for color treated hair. Because alongside the classic shampoo for all hair types, they also make a shampoo and conditioner set specifically for dyed locks.
I’ve heard great things about this Color Harmony Purple Set from Lady Alopecia readers, who love it as a sulfatefree shampoo for chemically treated hair.
Sulfate free shampoos in general should suit all hair types: straight hair, wavy hair, textured hair, fine hair and those with a more oily scalp. But check up on the brand and see if they have a specific option for you!
Many hair care treatments – especially the supplements I’ve become so fond of – aren’t exactly kind to your wallet. Many of them have millions of marketing dollars behind them, so they need to get that money from somewhere!
A good sulfate free detox shampoo should be pretty affordable, though. That’s how I got into them – I wanted a gentler, less expensive way to manage my shedding. Even though I’d had success with Nioxin, I wanted a more natural hair growth option, that I could afford. So I began using Pura D’Or and later, fell in love with Revita.
I have to say, Revita is one of my all-time favorite shampoos for hair thinning (and trust me, I’ve used plenty!) Free from both sulfates and parabens, its cruelty free formula includes biotin and ketoconazole, plus caffeine to act as a natural DHT blocker and reduce hormone-related hair shedding among all hair types.
But does this sulfate free treatment work? Well, in one study of 500 men and women with moderate hair thinning (aged 18–55):
In my case, I felt like I had thicker hair strands after just one use and it definitely reduced my shedding. I even saw some white vellus hairs returning after just 2 weeks…so I’m living proof that it works!
I didn’t have any adverse side effects, I loved the smell and it’s really affordable, too! Even though I liked Nioxin when I used it, you might spend some time looking for the right system for your hair.
Revita do a range of sulfate free shampoos and treatments for all hair types, including a set with CBD oil, although my personal favorite sulfate free shampoo for hair fall is the classic one below.
Another smoothing shampoo that gets my vote for their all-natural, plant based and deeply moisturizing formula that helps oil production without weighing hair down.
Vegamour might be best known for their vegan hair serums but their other cruelty free products, like their hydrating shampoo and conditioner, are awesome, too – whatever your hair type.
Enhanced with a proprietary protein called Karmatin™, the sulfate free shampoo is designed to nourish, thicken hair and strengthen your fine hair strands. The vegan formula also includes hydrating oils like marula and baobab – not only do they provide shine, they’re antioxidants to reduce environmental damage.
The hydrating shampoo is quite lightweight, so it doesn’t make thin hair oily or heavy and is suitable for all hair types. It smells AMAZING, too – although my husband sneezed whenever I used it, or any Vegamour products, so unfortunately those with allergies may be sensitive to the long list of botanical ingredients.
It’s the most expensive option on this list but it’s also a top organic sulfate free shampoo. So if you’re looking for that salon luxury experience without the sulfates, Vegamour is a great call.
No doubt you’ve heard of Pura D’Or before. They’re a well-known brand for making great natural sulfate free shampoos and conditioners for fine hair, other hair types, and better scalp health in general. They also make a range of cruelty-free natural oils, of which I’ve bought several!
Their original gold label sulfate free shampoo is formulated for those with thinning hair that’s prone to snapping. It includes saw palmetto as a natural DHT blocker, apple cider vinegar, argan oil, coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, biotin, aloe vera plus rosemary and tea tree oil as extra plant sources.
We’re talking some amazing healthy hair growth ingredients here and one heck of a smooth shampoo, people!
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of this sulfate free moisturizing shampoo means it can prevent and repair damaged hair or split ends, deliver more nutrients to the hair follicles, and basically set the foundation for stronger hair to take root. It won’t irritate or dry out the scalp and it smells gorgeous, too!
Anyone who writes to me saying their hair goals include a gentler way to treat thinning hair, color treated hair or to use something alongside their existing hair thinning shampoo, I’ll recommend Pura D’Or’s hair care products.
Perhaps don’t expect miracles in terms of regrowth but you can enjoy a healthier head of hair!
Psst…although it didn’t quite make this list, another great detangling sulfate free brand I’ve heard about for damaged or chemically treated hair is Zenagen. Find out more about its various treatments here.
Some of the best natural hair growth ingredients I’ve found, and that I’ve written about before, are argan oil, castor oil and caffeine. (I’ve written about my top oils for hair growth too, if you’re interested!)
This thickening and sulfate-free shampoo contains all 3 of those ingredients, plus saw palmetto to naturally block DHT and biotin, to improve hair strength and structure.
Lipogaine’s proprietary formula of natural oils (it also includes essential oils, like rosemary oil and cedarwood oil) helps to reduce damage caused by environmental stressors. It also works to thicken and strengthen individual hairs while restoring your scalp’s natural pH balance. Lots to admire, here!
While I haven’t tried Lipogaine yet (as I’m still happily using Revita), I think it sounds like a wonderful option for anyone who wants to improve their general hair health and even encourage natural hair growth. Don’t expect miracles but do expect an improvement in hair quality, hair density, texture and shine!
One of the most popular regrowth treatments on the market, Shapiro MD is formulated by a team dermatologists with clinically proven ingredients to reduce hair fall, nourish the hair shaft and improve growth.
It targets hormone related hair fall by acting as a natural DHT blocker – DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that’s linked to hair loss. Shapiro MD includes some great natural ingredients like caffeine, saw palmetto and green tea extract to help prevent this build up from happening.
Although I’ve haven’t used Shapiro MD myself, I know it’s one of the most popular brands among alopecians, and the fact that it’s created by dermatologists means it carries a little extra weight. Plus, unlike many of its competitors (like Nioxin), its vegan formula doesn’t contain any sulfates or parabens.
So you get a cruelty free treatment, backed by science, that’s more natural and kind to the scalp. Best of both worlds! Note: there have been plenty of complaints about auto-ship scams with this brand, though. Read my full review for more.
Perhaps the greenest choice on my list of best sulfate free shampoos, this certified organic sulfate free shampoo is composed of 75% certified organic ingredients and 25% naturally derived ingredients. It comes in a recyclable BPA-free bottle and it’s cruelty free, too.
Hair-stimulating ingredients like ginger and cedarwood boost circulation to the scalp, allowing more nutrients and vitamins to reach hair follicles. While palmarosa gently removes dead skin cells and product buildup and clears excess oil.
The result? A healthy, nourished scalp that’s the perfect canvas for new hair. Perhaps a more ‘earthy-smelling’ hydrating shampoo but a cruelty free one that gets the ethical vote and is suitable for all hair types. Perhaps the best organic sulfate free shampoo around.
In terms of value for money, actual regrowth and minimal or zero side effects, all of which I can confirm in my own experience, it has to be Revita.
Pura D’Or sulfate free shampoo is a cost-effective choice, and brilliant if you’re just looking to switch up your regular chemical heavy shampoo for a cruelty free option with natural oils and ingredients like coconut oil.
But while Pura D’Or volume shampoo can be useful for shedding, and its essential oils can revitalize damaged hair, the only shampoos I’ve ever seen actual hair regrowth with are:
Even though I didn’t use it on a long enough basis to see full hair regrowth (I wasn’t organized enough to keep ordering it to my home in Vietnam), I’d highly recommend Revita. The shampoo alone can give you a healthy scalp and thicker hair while reducing any shedding.
(Another massively popular brand for repairing and restoring hair bonds, e.g. after heat damage, is Olaplex 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet so didn’t include it here but you can find out more about the hair growth potential of the 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo in this post.)
Remember, don’t expect miracle results from any volume shampoo – but think of it as supporting your journey towards natural hair health!
Use a sulfate free shampoo like you would any other moisture shampoo: On wash day, simply lather, rinse and repeat! (To wet hair, not dry hair. Obvs.)
In some cases, you might notice that you don’t actually get a lot of lather from your sulfate free shampoo – that’s because the detox shampoo is probably paraben free, too – and parabens typically provides that lather. Although sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are chemical foaming agents, too.
Anyway, don’t worry about wasting the entire bottle trying to get your foam on, a little will still do the trick! You might only need about half the amount of what you think. And you don’t need to use your shampoo every day – in the case of Revita, use it 5 times a week.
You many have realized by now, I’m in favor of a natural and cruelty free treatment when it comes to haircare. And in my opinion, there’s no better way to support hair, skin and nails health than with a holistic approach.
This ‘whole body wellness’ strategy doesn’t mean just snapping up the best balancing shampoo – it means looking at your diet and your lifestyle. Seeing what you might be deficient in in terms of vitamins and minerals, plus reducing stress or inflammation in the body as much as you can.
Recently, I’ve started leaning more towards supplements to reduce that inflammation I mentioned (because so many autoimmune issues begin in the gut). And one of the best ways to do that is with the right supplement.
Now, the supplement industry is extensive, and can be expensive, and it’s hard to know where to start. So I’d recommend, if you think your hair shedding might be linked to a deficiency or inflammation, talking to a nutritionist, reading my post about it or starting with an all-encompassing hair supplement.
These pills work to treat the root of whatever’s causing your shedding, encouraging healthy hair regrowth, while supporting your immune system. Folexin supplements are one of the most affordable options, they include great natural DHT blockers and hair promoting ingredients and my readers rave about them, too!
So if you want an alternative to trying a sulfate free shampoo, or you just want an extra way to support healthy hair, I’d recommend Folexin.
Honestly, it depends on what you’re looking for. These detox shampoos might not be the fastest track towards hair regrowth but they’re certainly more gentle and come with fewer damaging side effects than many popular topical treatments, like minoxidil, or the mass market shampoos you’d see in your local store.
Having had alopecia on and off for years, I know my regrowth is best when I’m kind to my scalp and use products that support better scalp health. When I use cheap hotel shampoos or a chemical-heavy soap on my head, I’ll feel the effects almost immediately – itchiness, redness and a dry, sensitive scalp; not the best environment for regrowth!
For a long-term moisturizing shampoo, I think a sulfate free shampoo is best – and it’s suitable for every hair type. Even better if you can support your scalp health further with the right supplement.
A holistic approach to beauty products mightn’t deliver immediate results but it will probably be the kindest option for your finances, your skin and your hair.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if I’ve missed out on your best sulfate free shampoo for hair loss, let me know in the comments!
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Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!
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