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8 Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Curly Hair


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When it comes to curly hair, choosing the right hair products will make all the difference in how your hair looks on a daily basis. Curly hair needs extra love and care because it tends to be drier than other hair textures because natural oils produced by the scalp have a harder time making their way down the curly strands. What makes things worse is when those with curly hair use shampoos that are made with sulfates. In this article, we will first explore what sulfates are and why they are so damaging to curly hair. Then, we will show you the best sulfate-free shampoos to use on your curly hair.

What are Sulfates?

Sulfates are a form of salt widely known for their effectiveness in removing oils and dirt from the hair. The American hair care industry used sulfates as a detergent in shampoos for a long time, until it was proven that this chemical compound is actually very harmful to the hair. Now, more and more companies are steering towards eliminating sulfates from their products and replacing them with gentler, plant-based detergents.

Why Should You Avoid Sulfates for Curly Hair?

So, what is so harmful about sulfates? Why are so many hair care companies steering clear of this ingredient? Well, the answer is that they cause damage in the following ways:

They Strip Natural Oils

As we previously stated, curly hair is already naturally drier in the majority of cases. The oils found on the scalp do not travel down the hair as easily as they do for wavy or even straight hair. Sulfates destroy oils and when applied to curly hair, already dry on its own, they make matters even worse. This can cause curly locks to appear frazzled, frizzy, brittle, and dry. It can also lead to hair loss over time.

They Irritate the Scalp

Sulfates are very drying and will lead to irritation of the scalp over time. They dry out the hair follicles and destroy the natural properties that produce those essential oils needed for a healthy scalp. As a result, you may end up with an itchy, irritated, or flaky scalp.

Remove Color Faster

Sulfates are a very harsh detergent. As a result, those who color their hair will notice their color fading quicker when they use a shampoo with sulfates in it.

1. Invigorating and Strengthening Shampoo by Blu Atlas

Our top pick for the best sulfate-free shampoo for curly hair is by far the Shampoo by Blu Atlas. This shampoo is made with origin-sourced, vegan ingredients that are perfect for curly hair. With the help of these ingredients, your curly hair texture will be defined and you will look your best every single day.

One of the key ingredients in this shampoo is aloe vera, which is especially helpful for curly hair. Aloe vera is naturally moisturizing and will help hydrate and nourish the hair, infusing it with an irresistible softness and shine. It will help tame the frizz, soothe any irritations on your scalp, and promote fuller hair growth.

In addition to the aloe vera, this shampoo also contains jojoba oil, which is rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Thanks to these nutrients, the hair will be doubly moisturized and repaired from any damage and split ends.

This shampoo also contains saw palmetto as one of its key ingredients, which is a great strengthening agent for the hair. Saw palmetto helps strengthen the hair follicles and reverse hair loss caused by the hormone DHT. Saw palmetto is paired perfectly with vegan biotin, which supports the structure and elasticity of the hair.

While many shampoos use sulfates to create that rich, lathering effect we all love in shampoos, Blu Atlas opted to use a coconut-derived surfactant. It creates that same soft, pillowy lather that removes all the impurities from the hair without stripping its natural oils.

Blu Atlas is an amazing skincare brand that uses natural, origin-sourced ingredients in its formulations. This shampoo contains only vegan ingredients that will strengthen, cleanse, and condition the hair. It doesn’t have any harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens, or phthalates and is produced using the highest industry standards for clean, cruelty-free hair care products. With all of these wonderful benefits, it is easy to name this product the best sulfate-free shampoo for curly hair.

2. Kérastase Bain Hydration Douceur Shampoo 

Kérastase always had a lot to offer the hair, especially for those with curly and coily hair types. The Bain Hydration Douceur Shampoo is especially impressive and promising for those who wish to soften and enhance their curls.

One of the key ingredients in this shampoo is manuka honey, which has been traditionally used for a variety of medicinal purposes. However, it also has a unique ability to enhance the appearance and structure of each curl. Manuka honey is a natural humectant, which helps the hair retain its moisture longer. This is especially useful for those with curly hair as it tends to be dry and frizzy.

This shampoo also features ceramides, which aid the hair with additional strength, making it more resilient against damage caused by heat tools, chemical treatments, and other environmental factors. Ceramides also seal in the hair’s moisture and improve its elasticity. As a result, your curls will bounce and stretch without breaking.

There is a good dose of coconut in this shampoo, which is naturally moisturizing and nourishing. Coconut is full of fatty acids that help condition the hair and define its gorgeous locks. With this ingredient, your hair will appear healthier, shinier, and stronger.

This shampoo is so effective and beneficial for curly and coily hair that it earned itself an award from Women’s Health, and continues to gain popularity among hair stylists and general consumers as well. The premium-grade ingredients and highly nourishing approach to curly hair make this shampoo an unforgettable product.

The Bain Hydration Douceur Shampoo also features a warm and floral fragrance. It gives off its elegant touch of roses and inspires thoughts of peace and happiness. With its rich formulation and gentle fragrance, this shampoo is a unique and effective solution for those who have curly hair. Of course, it is free of sulfates, parabens, and all the other junk that would cause harm to gorgeous, curly locks.

3. Shu Uemura Color Lustre Sulfate Free Shampoo 

There’s nothing quite as nice and elegant as the Shu Uemura Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo. This shampoo is made in Japan with the highest quality ingredients that provide a special protective treatment for curly, color-treated hair.

This shampoo is made with Japan’s finest ingredients like musk rose oil. This oil is rich in fatty acids and softening properties that nourish the hair. With their help, your curls will become softer and easier to manage. The musk rose oil is also full of strengthening and protective properties that fight off damage caused by free radicals, pollutants, and UV radiation.

The Shu Uemura Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo also has Japanese goji berry extracts, which are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants will further strengthen the hair, promoting healthy and thick hair growth. Goji berries are naturally moisturizing, which is very beneficial for curly hair that is often dry.

The other ingredients that make this shampoo especially effective for curly hair are glycerin and salicylic acid. Glycerin adds additional layers of moisture to the hair and helps lock it in for longer periods of time. Salicylic acid is helpful for removing the buildup of dead skin and products that prevent healthy and voluminous growth.

The fragrance of this shampoo is also very special, featuring the lovely mingling of goji berries and musky rose. The fragrance is alluring and grows in intensity as you lather the shampoo into your hair. It makes for a very pleasant and exhilarating aromatherapy session as you go about cleansing your hair.

Shu Uemura Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo is a premium product that is made without all the harmful additives. It will go a long way toward helping you increase the shine and bounce of your natural curls. It will also help prevent your color from fading and preserve your locks in their most appealing look. Truly, this is one of the best sulfate-free shampoos for curly hair.

4. Mizani Press Agent Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Many people who have curly hair often complain about the struggle of getting those frizzy baby hairs under control. If you’re one of those people, Mizani’s Press Agent Smoothing Sulfate-Free Shampoo is just what you need.

This shampoo is perfect for curly and coily hair and will suit those with fine, medium, and thick textures. It is made with agave extract, argan oil, and a special UV filter. Agave extract has always been known as an ingredient that will especially help those with frizzy and dry hair types. It is so rich in moisturizing and conditioning properties that it will effectively help smooth out the hair and repair the damage caused by excess dryness and heat tools. As a result, your hair will be visibly improved, with far less frizz and breakage.

Argan oil is also super helpful for curly hair, as it also reduces frizz by hydrating and softening the hair. This oil is nature’s superfood for hair because it has high levels of fatty acids and vitamin E that act as healthy nutrition for dry hair textures. This nutrition is particularly beneficial for those with curly hair. Thanks to this wonderful oil, your hair will be protected against heat damage and each curl will bounce with shine and an enhanced texture.

This shampoo comes with a built-in UV filter and protection against heat styling. It is an excellent way to prepare your hair for the heat tools you will be using to achieve your desired look. With the heat protectant, your hair will not sustain as much damage but will still look polished, put together, and extremely healthy.

This sulfate-free shampoo offers a fresh and juicy aroma of pink grapefruit and mandarin. These citrusy notes are perfectly blended with floral tones of jasmine, rose, and freesia. There are also hints of musk and wood, which add a level of depth to the fragrance. You will bask in the wonderfully bright aroma and remember all the happy events of your day.

5. Oribe Shampoo for Brilliance & Shine

If you want to give your curls and coils extra special attention, consider picking up a bottle of Oribe’s Shampoo for Brilliance & Shine. This shampoo is highly moisturizing and luxuriously nourishing. It will help resolve all dryness and infuse your hair with an illuminating shine that will attract many compliments and adorations.

This shampoo is brilliantly formulated with Oribe’s Signature Complex, which is full of protective elements that will keep away environmental pollutants, prevent oxidative stress, and preserve the hair’s natural healing properties. This Complex will preserve your hair in its luscious, youthful state and help you maintain that look of brilliance in each coil and curl.

The conditioning ingredients of this shampoo include jojoba oil, rice proteins, and sunflower extract. Jojoba is naturally infused with fatty acids and minerals that will penetrate each strand and smooth out any rough, brittle ends.

Rice proteins contain a lot of amino acids which help promote the production of keratin, the hair protein. With increased production of keratin, your hair will grow stronger and will be less prone to breakages. It also acts like a natural UV protector, which wards off the damage caused by UV rays. As a result, your curly hair will remain healthy with less brittleness at the ends.

Sunflower seed oil is also a key ingredient in this shampoo. It is a natural antioxidant and has a rich dose of vitamin E. These nutrients infuse the hair with moisture and protect it from damage caused by free radicals and environmental pollutants. Because it helps the hair retain its moisture, it also promotes healthier and thicker hair growth with its moisturizing and protective properties.

All of these ingredients are free of sulfates, parabens, and all the other destructive properties that can really hurt your beautiful curls. You will also enjoy the Oribe signature scent in this shampoo which features bergamot, jasmine, and sandalwood. Oribe is definitely one of the higher-end shampoos but it performs well and will help your curls thrive.

6. Amika Normcore Sulfate-Free Shampoo

If you’re wondering how to care for your colored and curly hair without damaging it further, we highly recommend you give Amika’s Normcore Sulfate-Free Shampoo a try. This shampoo is very creamy and soft in consistency. It lathers into a foam and will gently cleanse the hair and scalp, without stripping it of its natural properties.

This shampoo contains a few unique ingredients like coconut acid, which is very helpful for those who have fine curls. It will help clarify the scalp and remove extra sweat, oil, and product buildup. It will help you achieve a healthier foundation that will promote better hair growth and shine. As is true of any coconut ingredient, coconut acid also has fatty acids that help repair breakage and brittle ends.

The other key ingredient in this shampoo is sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn has a lot of nutrients to offer for the hair including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. With the help of these nutrients, it will nourish the hair follicles and strengthen them for better growth. The rich vitamin and antioxidant content protects the hair from damage.

The Amika Normcore Sulfate-Free Shampoo is a very effective shampoo that will leave your curls looking defined and feeling healthier. Many people love this shampoo because it is not only effective but lasts a long time. The formulation is highly concentrated and a little bit goes a long way to cleanse and condition your hair.

Beyond all these wonderful qualities, this shampoo is also set apart from all the others because it is one of the cleanest formulations on the market. It delivers high, salon-quality results without employing sulfates, silicones, or parabens. When you welcome Amika Normore Sulfate-Free Shampoo, you welcome frizz-free, shiny, defined, and lightweight curls that you will be happy to show off. Is there anything more we can ask for? Clearly, this is one of the best sulfate-free shampoos for curly hair.

7. Curl Wow Hooked Shampoo

Those who have extra coily hair will appreciate the Curl Wow Hooked Shampoo in their lives. This shampoo has all the perfect qualities that will help you care for your hair in the gentlest yet most effective way. It will work to clean your hair while protecting it against hair shedding and breakage.

These benefits are provided by Curl Wow’s Proprietary Procapil Blend. This blend plays the key role of strengthening each hair follicle and strand and preventing hair fallout. It also helps bind split ends and prevent further breakage. This is very helpful for curly hair as it is naturally more prone to breakage and fallout. Because it tangles a lot, brushing it out without causing damage is sometimes difficult, but with Curl Wow’s proprietary blend, your hair will be protected against such issues.

This shampoo also contains glycerin, which is paired nicely with the proprietary blend as it adds extra moisture and shine to the hair. Thanks to this combination, your hair will look shiny, healthy, and defined.

In addition to these wonderful ingredients, Curl Wow also included antioxidant-rich ingredients like aloe leaf, which serves as a protectant against damage. Its natural moisturizing benefits also help the hair stay hydrated, a key concern of curly hair.

If your hair is on the fine side, it will benefit from this shampoo because of the volumizing properties provided by the hydrolyzed starch. With the help of this ingredient, your hair will appear fuller and more voluminous. It will also be repaired and conditioned, with signs of damage visibly reduced.

Clearly, this shampoo has a lot to offer in terms of its ingredient content and the benefits it provides. All of these benefits are provided without the extra addition of sulfates, parabens, or silicones. The gentle scent of coconut and vanilla is an added bonus that will help you feel relaxed and at ease.

8. Vivid Tones Vibrancy Shampoo by Curlsmith 

If you feel that your hair has lost a bit of its luster, there is a great solution for this problem found in the Vivid Tones Vibrancy Shampoo by Curlsmith. This shampoo is designed to infuse your hair with shine and brilliance while accentuating its color and texture. It is the perfect option for those who have colored hair that is dry and lacking in shine.

The benefits of this shampoo are provided by unique ingredients like lemon peel extract. Lemon is one of nature’s finest ingredients that helps care for the scalp by clarifying it and removing the buildup of dead skin, product, and dirt. Thanks to this cleansing action, your hair will shine with a special, vibrant shine.

This shampoo also contains pineapple, which is rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is important to the hair because it promotes the production of collagen. Without enough collagen, your hair can be fragile and limp. However, with the boost in its production, your hair will be healthier and bouncier. Pineapple is also a natural hydrator for the hair, which is always a plus for curly hair.

Vivid Tones Vibrancy Shampoo by Curlsmith will help bring out the best in your hair and promote a luscious look that everyone will envy. All of these benefits are provided by this clean, sulfate-free shampoo. All of the ingredients are vegan and free of animal testing. It is also safe for those who color their hair, as it will protect the color and even boost its sheen. It is also safe enough to use every day, as the ingredients are all gentle and beneficial for the hair.

Tips for How to Care for Your Curly Hair

Caring for curly hair isn’t always easy. It can be temperamental sometimes and as such, it needs a carefully structured hair care routine that will ensure that it stays bouncy and beautiful. Below, we outline some of our best tips that will enhance the appearance and health of your curly hair.

Pick a Good Shampoo and Conditioner

Every hair care routine starts with a good shampoo and conditioner. Take the time to find a shampoo and conditioner that is free of sulfates, parabens, and other harmful ingredients that can destroy your natural curls. Pay close attention to the labels and make sure that the products you choose are designed for your hair type.

Don’t Use Regular Hair Brushes

Those traditional hair brushes that are closely packed with bristles are not the best for curly hair. They will tangle in your curls and tear at your hair. We recommend using a wide-tooth comb to brush out the knots and tangles from your curls. This is a gentler way of brushing your hair that will ensure your hair is healthy and free of breakage.

Limit Hair Wash Days

Unlike straight hair, curly hair thrives when its wash days are on a less frequent schedule. This allows those essential oils time to travel from the scalp and naturally nourish the rest of your hair. As a result, your hair won’t look as dry and won’t break as easily. Try to wash your hair every 2-3 days, depending on your activity levels throughout the day.

Blow Dry with a Diffuser

Blow dryers are often necessary but they put the hair in direct contact with the hair. We recommend using a diffuser attachment when drying your hair. This will keep the hot air from frying your ends and help dry the hair evenly.

Consider Using a Satin Pillowcase

Satin fabric is gentler on the hair and won’t cause as much friction as cotton fabrics. The less friction your hair gets during your sleep, the less breakage and frizz it will develop.

Deep Condition Regularly

Curly hair can benefit from regular deep conditioning treatments, as they can help restore moisture and elasticity to the hair. Hair masks made with avocado, macadamia nut, or argan oil are all good examples of deep conditioning treatments. Treat your hair to this nourishing treatment at least once a week for 20 minutes and you will see a big difference in the quality of your hair.

Use a Heat Protectant

When you blow dry or style your hair with hot tools, it is important to use a thermal heat protectant. This will prevent further breakage and frizz. Some heat protectants also shield the hair from UV rays, which are also very damaging and drying to the hair.

Schedule Regular Hair Cuts

Lastly, take the extra step of scheduling a maintenance hair trim every six to eight weeks. This will prevent split ends and help your curls look healthier and more defined.

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